INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS CENTER

 How to Get a Student Visa….

For a student visa, you’ll first need to apply for academic admission and to show that you have funding to cover your educational and living expenses in the United States.

If both your academic and financial documents meet our requirements, we’ll issue you a government document called an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student. You may then use your I-20 and other required documents to apply for a student visa at a US. Embassy or Consulate.

Financial Requirements for a CIUS I-20 imagesGQRAYFT0

As mentioned, you’ll need to document that your educational and living expenses will be covered for your first year at CIUS.  Any scholarship that you receive from CIUS will be counted among your resources.

You may have more than one sponsor, either from your family or from outside your family.  Each person or organization sponsoring you should submit a completed Statement of Financial Support form along with an original bank statement or stamp.  Statements should be in the sponsor’s name, dated within one year of your intended enrollment date, and show a total closing balance exceeding the amount pledged on the Statement of Financial Support form.

OR

If your sponsors’ banks are represented by FundsV, you may verify the account information online through their secure network. You may register for unlimited account balance verifications and access to yourFundsV profile for one year. Your FundsV profile is accessible only toCovenant International University, and does not satisfy the funds verification requirements of any other entity.

Using Your CIUS I-20 to Get a Student Visa

The EducationUSA website provides all the information you need on how to apply for an F-1 student visa.

First, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you’ll be using to find out about their process and to make an appointment for a visa interview. You’ll need to complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160, and of course you’ll need a valid passport and passport photo. You’ll need to pay the nonimmigrant visa application processing fee and the SEVIS I-901 fee.  Note that the SEVIS fee is paid to a different government department from the department that controls the visa process, so there is a separate procedure for paying the SEVIS fee and you will need a receipt to document that you have paid it.

Prepare the following to bring to your visa interview:

•Educational transcripts

•Examination results

•Your sponsor’s financial documents (income, tax, savings, and business).

The visa interview is normally very brief and covers just a few basic questions. You will need to express yourself clearly and explain, for example, why you want to study in the U.S. and particularly at CIUS, what your career goals are and how U.S. study will help you reach them, and how you will pay for your studies.  You will also need to use transcripts and examination results to show that you are a capable student.  Be prepared to explain yourself but do not memorize answers to recite.

About SEVIS

SEVIS stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is an internet-based U.S. government database that maintains information on people with student visas.  I-20s are issued through SEVIS.

What to Do If You Are Studying in the U.S. on Another Institution’s I-20

First, in order to transfer to a CIUS I-20, you’ll need to qualify both academically and financially for a CIUS I-20.  Then, after you’ve made a final decision to transfer to CIUS, you and the international advisor at your current institution should complete the F-1 Undergraduate Transfer In Form (Word document).  The completed form should be returned to CIUS along with copies of your passport identity page, visa, I-94 card, current I-20 and any previous I-20s.  The international advisor at your current institution will set a date to release you in SEVIS to CIUS.  This is normally the final day of your studies at that institution.  After this release date passes, CIUS should be able to access your record in SEVIS and issue your CIUS I-20.

What to Do If You Are in the U.S. on a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa

To get a CIUS I-20 and become an F-1 student, you must first check your passport or DS-2019 to see if you are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement.  If you are, you cannot change to an F-1 visa unless you receive a waiver from your government.  If you are not subject to the foreign residency requirement you may apply for an F-1 visa by either leaving the U.S. and applying for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate or by staying in the U.S. and applying for a change-of-status.  The first step in either case is to receive a CIUS I-20.  The CIUS International Division office can help you with the rest of the process if you are staying in the U.S. and applying for a change-of-status.

Should You Enter the U.S. on a Tourist Visa (B-2) and Then Get a Student Visa?

No, this is not recommended unless you request a special B-2 Prospective Student visa, which would allow you to apply for a change-of-status to F-1.  From a standard B-2 tourist visa, it is generally not possible to change status to F-1.  Also, it is a violation of visa status to study toward a degree while on a B visa.

F-1 Student visa – USA

F-1 visa or US student visa or Study visa is granted to students (for a full-time course) and is valid generally for the period of study and permission of work outside the university is not allowed. The F visa is for academic studies (like BS, MS, PhD).

•A person can enter US (on F-1 visa) only if he has a valid F-1 visa stamped on the passport.

•A student with F-1 visa cannot work off-campus at any time during the first year of study; however, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) may grant permission to accept off-campus employment after one year (or 2 semesters during Internship).

•No permission is required for on-campus employment (which can be max. 20 hrs/week).

•To get a student visa you need an admission letter from University (form called SEVIS I-20). You will then take an appointment with US consulate in your country. Visa officer might check your documents/your ties with home country and if you have enough funds to live and support your education.

Requirements for US Student visa (or F-1 visa)

List of SEVIS (SEVIS stands for : Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.) approved schools

How can I get a student visa?

For F-1 student visa applicants must be sufficiently proficient in English (this can be proved by Tests like TOEFL/IELTS/GRE/GMAT for non native English speakers) to pursue the course of study, should have admission letter (form SEVIS I-20) for a full-time course of study by an approved educational institution (as listed in above url), and be able to prove that sufficient funds are available (like loans/cash) to support living (for yourself and family (if anyone is coming with you)) and school expenses during the entire period of study in the United States

How to create funding documentation

Visa officer also check if you have a strong reason to return back to your home country (after completing your education).

Documents required for US F-1 (Student) visa

•Form I-20A-B , Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students or Form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students.

•SEVIS I-20, which is provided by your University/school. I-20 form must be signed by you and school official (Graduate school/International students office).

•Online Non immigrant visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.

•Passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States

•one colored photograph 2 X 2 inches square for each applicant, showing a full face, without covering head, against a light background.

•Original TOEFL scores and SAT, GRE, GMAT scores (as applicable). Students going to the United States to earn a Bachelor’s degree should bring their most recent mark sheets or graduation certificates.

•Students going the United States to earn a Ph.D/MS degree should bring their original undergraduate degree and mark sheets/Transcripts.

•Spouses and minor children accompanying the student to the United States should bring marriage certificates, wedding photos, and birth certificates with them to the interview, to prove the relationship between themselves and the principal applicant.

•A MRV fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee.

•The SEVIS I-901 fee receipt.

Some US student visa FAQs

•US Embassy and Consulate (in your home country) can issue student visa (stamped on passport) 120 days or less, in advance of the course of study registration date. So if your registration date is Aug 23rd (for Fall session) then you can get student visa after ~April 23rd. If you apply for your visa more than 120 days prior to your start date or registration date as provided on the Form I-20, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your application until it is able to issue the visa. TIP : we strongly recommend to apply in beginning depending on economic & political conditions (also try to reach your school as early as possible because on-campus jobs are generally first come first..

•Students in or outside the U.S., who have been away from classes for more than five months, will likely need a new visa to enter the U.S. TIP : be prepared to get new visa (which might require new SEVIS from your school..) especially if you are planning to do Internship outside USA.

•Always keep SEVIS documents with you.. (even if you start working for a company)

•Don’t panic if you get F-1 visa for 2 years and you are enrolling for a PhD (which is 3+ years)

•Remember student visa is only valid as long as you are a full time student..for example if you get F-1 visa for 5 years that doesn’t mean you can stay in USA after completing studies. After completing MS (1.5 -3 years) you might have to get a OPT or other US visa (to be in legal status)

F-1 student visa Interview Questions

F-1 Student visa success rate It really depends from which country you are applying. Success rate is 80%+ for some countries in Europe, Australia.. while it’s low < 50% for countries like India, China..

What is an I-20 Form?

The I-20 is a government form through which Covenant International University certifies to the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 student status. The I-20 form is issued when you have met all admission requirements, been accepted for a full-time degree program, and shown that you have sufficient financial resources to study and live in the USA without working. Working illegally in the USA is considered a serious offense by Immigration.

Who needs an I-20 Form?

The I-20 form is needed to obtain an F-1 student visa in the home country. F-1 is a nonimmigrant status, which is given to persons whose temporary purpose for being in the USA is for full-time study. You must make an appointment with the nearest American Embassy/Consulate in your home country and apply for an F-1 student visa. The American Embassy/Consulate requires proof of financial support to cover at least one year of expenses. In addition, document providing sufficient evidence that equal amounts will be available for every year of your study in the United States.

Financial documents MUST be in English, less than six months old, and in U.S. dollars. Original documents are required and will not be returned. The American Embassy/Consulate will also require original financial documents when you apply for an F-1 student visa in your home country. Financial documents will play an important role in whether you are granted or denied a visa. If the U.S. Consul determines that the financial documents are insufficient the visa will be denied. Sufficient evidence that equal amounts will be available for every year of your study in the United States must also be provided.

Financial documents that are acceptable are bank statements that state savings, proof of employment in the form of an annual salary on the companies letterhead, also notarized (certified) letters from familymembers that will provide room and board in the USA.

Business accounts, checking accounts, and the value of property are not acceptable.

HOW TO RECEIVE THE FORM I-20

IMPORTANT: Students need a Form I-20 to obtain an F-1 student visa or status. The following information carefully explains how to receive your Form I-20. Please read it and follow the directions completely to avoid delays in getting your I-20.

What is the Form I-20 and why do I need it?

A Form I-20 is a government form that tells the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 Student Status. The Form I-20 certifies that:

1) You are or expect to be a student enrolled in a college or university

2) You meet admissions requirements

3) You will pursue a full time course of study

4) You proved to Covenant International University that you have enough money to study and live in the U.S. without working illegally or suffering from poverty.

5) You need a Form I-20 to obtain an F-1 student visa or status, or to keep lawful F-1 status when transferring or changing schools with the U.S.

Does everybody need the Form I-20?

Not all international students’ need an I-20, read below to find out if your status requires an I-20.

1)  J-1 students need a Form DS-2019
2)  B Visitors and F-2 dependents must obtain an I-20 and apply for a change of status to F-1 student in order to pursue a course of study that is not vocational or recreational in nature.
3)  If you are maintaining another nonimmigrant status in the U.S., you do not have to have an I-20 and may attend school full-or part-time.
4)  Dependent children in E, H, I, J, L, M, N, O, P, R, or S status need to change status after their 21st birthday or if they marry.
5)  If you have no legal status, you may attend school but you are not eligible to change status and do not need an I-20.

How to obtain your Form I-20?

Please read the following directions step by step, you cannot complete this process without following them.

1)  First you must apply to Covenant International Universitythrough the international admissions office.  Please make sure your application is submitted to the international admissions office and includes all required documents.

2)  Once your application is complete then the admissions office will review your application and make a decision.

3)  In order to receive an I-20 you need to be accepted as a full time student in a program of study.

4) Complete the proof of financial support form, along with financial documentation and submit all documents to the International Admissions Office.  The U.S. law requires that you must PROVE to Covenant International University that you can support the cost of living and studying in the U.S. for every year of your program of study in the U.S.   Sometimes, we may have to ask you to give us more evidence of your financial ability-perhaps more than once. The U.S. government requires that we are absolutely sure, to the best of our ability, that you will have enough financial support to cover the full costs of your stay in the U.S.

Carefully view our schools “estimated annual financial requirements for international students”.  This is the amount that you MUST prove that you can support for every year in your program of study.  (Estimate a minimum of two years for an Associate’s degree; 2 years for a Master’s; four for a Bachelor’s; six for a Doctorate.)

These requirements are NOT negotiable; they represent a modest average budget that does not include luxuries of any kind. We strongly recommend that you budget at least 10% more if possible. Too little money causes pain and distress. We insist that students and their families look closely at the costs of living and studying in the U.S. and make careful plans to be sure your needs will be met. Expect Annual increases in tuition and living costs of approximately 5%.

5) If you are transferring to Covenant International Universityfrom another college in the United States, you must also complete the international student transfer form.

Can I work in the U.S. while being a full time student?

 1) In the past some international students have found on-campus employment, we need to stress that on-campus employment is limited and competitive.

2) Off-campus employment is strictly controlled by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How do I show financial support?

First you need to complete the financial support form provided by the international admissions office.  Along with the financial form you need to show financial documents. Your financial support can come from any combination of the following sources in the U.S. or abroad.

1)   Funds from sponsors (parents, relatives, friends, organizations). You may have as many sponsors as you need. Sponsors may provide you with support in the form of cash and/or room and board. Free room and board is when you live with someone and don’t have to pay for your room or food.

2) Personal funds that come from your own resources, not those of your relatives.

Recommendations when submitting your financial support

1)  It is highly recommended that at least part of your financial support come from your home country. This is important for getting your student visa!

2)  A sponsor should promise only as much money as he or she is able to give you. Some sponsors believe that the more money they promise to give the easier it will be to get your I-20. The most common reason for rejection of financial documents is that we do not believe the sponsor can afford to give as much as promised. A sponsor should promise only what he or she intends to give and only as much as can be afforded.

3)  Personal funds that come from your own resources, not those of your relatives. Unless you have enough cash to support yourself for your entire program of study or can prove other sources of personal income, you will need a sponsor with an income sufficient to support you.

4)  Funds from this school such as scholarship. Not all support covers the entire program of study or all expenses, so you may need additional support to meet your minimum annual costs.

What Documents are required when submitting my financial support?

All documents submitted must be:

1)  Less than two months old.

2)  In English. (We cannot review documents that are not in English!)

3)  Photocopies or faxes, not originals. You will need the originals of all the documents you have sent us to take to the American Embassy or Consulate when we send you your I-20.

4)  Sponsor Affidavits must be notarized, which means, signed by the sponsor in the presence of a notary public, the notary public must sign, and the official seal of the notary public mustbe on the affidavit. There are notaries public at all U.S. embassies and consulates.  There are notaries in all countries, though the names for them may be different. There are officials licensed by the national or regional government to take sworn statements for courts of law or to witness contracts and property deeds.

Financial Evidence Required:

Sponsors of cash support:

1)   Financial Support Certificate.  This form may be photocopied for each sponsor. All questions must be answered. The form must be notarized.  We recommend that this form and all documents are submitted at the time you submit the admissions application, this will help you receive the I-20 faster.
2)  Proof of income
Individual Sponsor (any of the following):
•Income tax returns or receipts with most recent pay stub, or
•Pay stubs for last six months, or
•Bank/investment statements for the last six months
Company Sponsor
•Submit tax returns and business registration and licenses
3)  Bank statement in the name of the sponsor only. A monthly statement of balances and deposits.

Evidence required for sponsors of free room and board: Free room and board is when you live with someone and don’t have to pay for your room or food.
1)  Affidavit (notarized) of free room and board

2)  Proof of income (any of the following):
•Income tax returns or receipts with most recent pay stub, or
•Pay stubs for last six months, or
•Bank/investment statements for the last six months

3)  Photocopy of lease, deed, rent receipts, or phone bill

4)  Personal funds:  bank/asset statement in your name. A monthly statement of balances and deposits.

5)  School Funds:  Copy of your award letter or contract stating exactly what you will be receiving and for how long

Please Note requirements regarding proof of support:

1)  If there is no proof of income provided with bank statement, the statement balance will be totaled and divided by the number of years in your program of study to determine the amount available to you for each year.

2) The income of a company is not the income of the owner of the business and will not be accepted as proof of income. The owner/sponsor must still provide proof of income as well as the business registration and licenses.

3) If a bank statement is in the name of more than one person, each individual must submit an affidavit of support.

4) We cannot accept bank statements that do not specify monthly balances and deposits!

5)  If you are presently in the U.S., you must be living with the sponsor at the time of filing this application for this to be counted towards your means of support.

Now that you are planning to be a student, there are two things that you need to remember in order to stay “in status” and follow the legal requirements:

1)   DO NOT ENTER THE U.S. WITH A B-1, B-2, OR B-1/2 VISA

If you use a B visa to enter the U.S. you are saying “I’m here as a visitor” only. Since you contacted the school about study, this would be viewed as a “fraudulent entry” and could be refused permission to stay longer than six months or extend or change your status. Do not listen to people who say it is easy to enter the country as a visitor and change your status. It is not true! B visitors are prohibited by U.S. law from pursuing a course of study prior to obtaining a change of status to F-1 student.

If your study plans are not certain and you want to enter the U.S. to visit schools, you must explain this on your visa application and ask the visa officer for a B-2 visa with the words “Prospective student “ noted on it or have the words added to your B visa if you already have one.

2)   DO NOT ENTER THE U.S. WITHOUT A VISA (unless you are Canadian)

If you are from a country from which you can enter the U.S. as a visitor by showing a round trip airline ticket, do not do this. If you enter without a visa, you will be permitted to stay for only 90 days. You will not be given more time or allowed to change to student status.

How to get an I-20

1. Request an application packet from the Admission Office. Telephone number: (713) 344-8475. You can also get information at: www.covenant-university.com

2. Complete the admission application as instructed and send it to the CIUS Processing Center in Houston, Texas (the complete address is on the application).

3. After you are accepted, you will be mailed or you can download the Affidavit of Financial Support. Financial documents must prove that you have the financial ability to support your studies in the United States. Please read carefully the financial documents that are acceptable. The I-20 will not be issued until your financial documents meet our requirements.

4. Complete the Application for Form I-20 which can be downloaded from this web site. A legible copy of the student passport must be attached.

5. Once your financial documents are received and meet the requirements, Covenant International University will issue you an I-20.

6. When you receive your Covenant International University1-20, take it to the American Embassy/Consulate in your home country to apply for an F-1 student visa. For more detailed information, please see section How to apply for an F-1 visa.

7. Be prepared to explain to the Embassy/Consulate why you want to study at Covenant International University.

Do not enter the USA on a Visitor or B type visa if you plan to attenduniversity.

If you are not certain of your plans to study in the United States, you can request the American Embassy for a B-2 visa with thewords “Prospective Student” stated on it. Be sure to take documents with you that prove you have enough financial support for your studies in the U.S.A.

Please be aware, you will not be able to get a student visa in the U.S.A.  All visas are issued outside the USA by an American Embassy or Consulate.

USEFUL LINKS

  • USCIS home: http://www.uscis.gov/
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.:
  • USCIS Immigration Forms: http://www.uscis.gov/forms
    Information and pdf downloads for all of USCIS’s immigration forms.
  • U.S. Embassy: http://usembassy.state.gov/
    Find the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country and learn about their visa policies and procedures.
  • U.S. Department of State: http://www.state.gov/
    U.S. issues, press, diplomacy, and public affairs
  • SEVIS by the numbers: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/by-the-numbers.pdf
    SEVIS statistics on students studying in the United States
  • Travel.State.Gov: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange/student.html
    Student Visa and U.S. travel questions and answers.
  • Visa Wait Times: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/statistics/immigrant-visas.html
    Wait time for student visa appointments at embassies and consulates world-wide.
  • Exchanges.State.Gov : http://exchanges.state.gov/
    The U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
  • EducationUSA: https://www.educationusa.info/
    A global network of more than 450 advising centers supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
  • USA Student Visa : http://www.usastudentvisa.org/
    Online information center for international students.
  • International Student.com: http://www.internationalstudent.com/
    News, information, and resources for international students preparing to study abroad.
  • Green Card Lottery – usavis.org
    Usavis offers professional help with the Green Card Lottery application process.
  • A view on cities: http://www.aviewoncities.com/houston.htm Attractions, maps, hotels, facts, buildings, pictures, posters, and history about Chicago.
  • Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about F-1
    Useful answers to common questions about the F-1 visa process.

HOUSING INFORMATION

When you arrive in Houston, Texas there are many options for housing and you can choose a housing option that fits your needs. As you consider housing please remember that in the USA voltage is different and the metric system is not used. All of the housing information below is provided to our students to help them in their housing search. Students should consider housing carefully to make sure it meets their needs and budget as BIR does not manage housing. If you have questions please contact  Dr. Levy  at (713) 344-8475, or ciusstudents@gmail.com

HOMESTAY ACCOMMODATION

Homestay is an opportunity to live in a home with an American host family located near your BIR location and public transportation. Your host family provides you with a bedroom, utilities, and the use of most of the space in the family home. You might also be provided with 1-2 meals per day and airport pick-up depending upon your arrangement. Homestay is a way to practice English and learn about American culture in addition to classroom.

THE FOLLOWING TWO HOMESTAY PLACEMENT AGENCIES CAN ASSIST IN FINDING HOMESTAY:

AMERICAN HOMESTAY NETWORK

us.homestaynetwork.com/public/student-applications

  • To create your profile, go to the above link and click “Join as a Student”
  •  Fill out the requested information; put “BIR Training Center” for “Education Provider”
  • You will receive a confirmation email from American Homestay Network; use the information in the email to access your profile and complete your application
  • After you submit your application the American Homestay Network will assign you a “Homestay Manager” to assist in finding a host family for you
  • Costs
    • One-time Placement Fee – $200
    • 4-week Homestay Fee – $798 – $1150 (depending upon option selected)
  • American Homestay Network Contact Dr. Levy,
    Managing Director for Houston, Texas
    Phone: (713) 344-8475: azhomestay.com/apponline.htm
  • To apply, go to the above link and fill out the application; put “BIR Training Center” for “Name of School”
  • Follow all instructions at azhomestay.com/howtoapp.htm to finish your application; OvECS will then begin searching for a suitable host family for you
  • OvECS will contact you when a host family has been found for you
  • Costs
    • One-time Placement Fee – $200
    • 4-week Homestay Fee – $850
  • OvECS Contact – Collectte Emenogu, Associate Director: • Phone: (713) 344-8475

HOSTEL

Hostel Hostels provide dormitory-style housing. You can choose the number of people (1-11) you share a room with and a shared bathroom inside or outside of your room. Hostels might be an option if you need housing for less than 15 nights.

APARTMENT

Renting your own apartment gives you the option between living by yourself or with one or more roommates. You will most likely need to buy your own furniture and pay some or all of your bills (water, gas, electricity, etc.). You also need to buy your own personal items, bedding, and food if you rent an apartment.

Rent.com can help you find an apartment near BIR Training Center locations. You can search online by location rent price, bed and bathroom amount, pet preference, and wheelchair accessibility. You can download the Rent.com application for your smartphone, You can search this page by entering the zip code of your preferred BIR location eg. 77036, 77099. 77459, 77074, etc.

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