Obtaining A Student Visa

As a prospective international student in the United States, you must be aware of and abide by the U.S. immigration regulations that would govern your stay here. Most applicants for non-immigrant visas are now required to have a personal interview, and as a result it can take longer to get a visa. As of August 1, 2003, all persons in F and J status are included in the U.S. government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and all visa documents are issued through SEVIS.

Visa Eligibility Form I-20

Every student must have a SEVIS visa eligibility form I-20 (F-1). You must apply for international student admission at Southeastern in order to obtain an I-20.

Visa Application

After completing all the necessary paperwork through the Admissions Office, you will receive your I-20 form from Southeastern. Once you receive this form, try to get your visa as soon as possible.

The F-1 Visa

The F-1 visa is called the Student Visa. The form issued from Southeastern is the I-20, the Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student. Specific features include:

  • Financial support for the applicant is required and may be through personal means or may be received from a sponsor.
  • Work is permitted only on campus, except in cases of unforeseen economic hardship resulting after one full academic year in the U.S. or Optional Practical Training (OPT) after one full academic year in F-1 status.
  • Spouses and dependent children of F-1 students hold F2 status and may not work in the U.S. under any circumstances.
  • An F-2 spouse may not engage in full-time study, but part-time study is permitted if it is non-vocational or recreational. *If after arriving in the U.S. the F-2 dependent wishes to change his/her status to F-1 in order to earn a degree, please discuss this possibility with
  • International Student Services.
  • All F-1 students at Southeastern are required to have health insurance.

F-1 Visa Requirements

In order to maintain F-1 visa status and keep their SEVIS record up to date, students must provide their DSO with timely information and abide by the following requirements:

  • Enroll in a full course of study at the beginning of every session (excluding authorized break periods)
  • Consult with their DSO before dropping below a full course of study for any reason
  • Report a phone number or change of address to the DSO within 10 days of the change, so that SEVIS can be updated.
  • Report any change in sources of financial support to their DSO
  • Notify their DSO about changes in dependent status
  • Not work, either on or off-campus, unless specifically authorized under the regulations
  • Seek the approval of the DSO/USCIS before engaging in employment or practical training
  • Abide by the aggregate unemployment rules while on post-completion OPT
  • Consult with their DSO to extend their program, and report any changes in program of study to their DSO
  • Report any change in academic status to their DSO
  • Notify their DSO if they intend to transfer
  • Notify their DSO prior to traveling outside the United States
  • Notify their DSO upon applying for change of nonimmigrant status
  • Notify their DSO upon approval of an adjustment of status to an immigrant
  • Abide by the F-1 grace period rules
  • Abide by rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition of criminal activity.
  • Abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirements