Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do you transfer international students’ SEVIS records from the high school to the college/university they will be attending? When should this transfer take place?
A: The DSO at the high school is responsible for electronically tranferring a student's I-20 to the college/university the student will be attending, after receiving proof of admission and a transfer request by a college/university DSO.
Q: Does anything need to be done to an international student’s I-20 before they go home for the summer following high school graduation?
A: Students must obtain a signed travel authorization, on page 3 of their I-20, from the high school DSO in order to travel home. Otherwise, they will encounter difficulty when returning to the U.S.
Q: Are there any restrictions on an international student staying in the US for the summer following their high school graduation, prior to starting college?
A: International students on an F-1 Visa may remain in the U.S. during the summer providing they've already completed a full academic year at your school. If the student wishes to take summer classes, their electronic I-20 record must be in possession of the institution--high school or college/university--where they'll be doing so.
Q: Are there any restrictions on an international student traveling while studying at a US college or university on a visa?
A: There are generally no restrictions if the student is traveling within the USA. However, international students must obtain a signed travel authorization, on page 3 of their I-20, from the college/university DSO in order to travel internationally, whether on vacation or for study abroad.
Q: What do international students who are staying in the US for college but returning home for summer do with all of their belongings?
A: It is advisable that students arrange for an appropriate storage facility for their belongings. Sometimes local mail centers will store belongings for a fee and mail them to the college at the appropriate designated time. It's possible that a friend’s family would be willing to store items on their behalf.
Q: How does an international student prepare for the student visa interview at the US consulate in his/her home country? How is this handled if s/he is a refugee?
A: The official websites of U.S. Embassies and Consulates in other countries provide guidance to students about the Student Visa application and interview process. In person advice is also offered by U.S. Department of State-sponsored EducationUSA Advising Centers. Students should be prepared to discuss why they are choosing their program and institution of study, what their career aspirations might be, and to explain their intention to return to their home country after college graduation.
Q: Are international students required to attend the summer orientation programs?
A: If students can afford to attend, they are often welcomed at summer orientations. However, the majority of international students participate in an orientation a few days or a week prior to the start of the term. More information about scheduled orientation programs is available from the college/university's International Student Services office, the Dean of Students office, or a related campus unit. Orientation programs provide a valuable introduction to the campus, students and, even when not mandatory, should not be missed.
Q: How do international students register for classes if they are not in the United States?
A: Many colleges will arrange for Skype interviews with academic advisors to discuss their options or offer to set up a preliminary schedule of classes in advance to the student’s arrival on campus. It is the student’s responsibility to ask about this process.
Q: What questions should international students ask about housing options?
A: Are students required to live on campus? Is housing available for all four years? Are all first-year students required to be housed in a special residential setting or are they housed with upperclassmen? Are single rooms available for first-year students? When are students allowed to live in apartments either on or off-campus?
Q: What kind of language acquisition support is available, if necessary? Are there special advising teams to work with international students?
A: Some students may not be comfortable with college writing or able to handle college textbook reading requirements in an efficient manner. Many colleges have special academic advising teams who work with international students. Students should ask about the Academic Support resources available on campus.
Q: If there isn’t a significant number of international students on campus, where and how can new students find a network of support?
A: It is appropriate to ask which countries are represented on campus among current students, faculty and staff. There may be clubs and organization on- and off-campus, on a regional basis involving a group of colleges, or supported by national organizations. In major cities, there are often country-specific social organizations which promote social and cultural activities. The Dean of Students’ Office or religious organizations are good places to start the conversation. A consulate in a nearby city, representing the student's home country, might also be a source of suggestions.
- Some international graduating seniors will need to have the school issue special invitation letters to family members in order that they may obtain Tourist visas to attend graduation. Make sure to offer this service early in the second semester/trimester of the senior year.
- Chapter 11 of NACAC's Guide to the College Admission Process entitled "Ease into the Transition" has useful information about the high school to college transition process.
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's list of Frequently Asked Questions about "Transfers for F-1 Students" is a good first place to look for information regarding visas.
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