Departments looking to bring scholars, graduate students, and researchers on F-1 and J-1 visas should be aware of the following:
- All F-1 students and J-1 students and scholars are subject to strict regulations, which scholars, departments and institutions are responsible for abiding by. The J-1 regulations require very specific information be gathered on the potential scholar, and require departments take responsibility for educating and assisting the scholar, both before they arrive and for the duration of their stay. The J-1 Scholar site provides the important information and documentation which must be completed in order to request a scholar. Please note this process can take several weeks or months, depending on the circumstances, so please apply early.
- F-1 Graduate students are subject to the same regulations as undergraduates, but with more complex programs, it is even more essential they understand the regulations that govern their stay, the restrictions under which they must operate, and their obligations. Therefore we ask departments to assist us in emphasizing the importance of attending orientation. Orientation dates are usually a week before the beginning of the fall semester, and the first day of the spring semester. Students who do not attend orientation are responsible for learning everything they need to know on their own, as the International Center is unable to provide separate orientations. Students who will arrive late should consider deferring to the next semester. Students who arrive late risk denial of entry into the US and termination of status if they are unable to meet all obligations within thirty days of the beginning of the semester.
- While we appreciate departments' commitment to assisting their students, the International Center will communicate directly with the student, and may be very limited in the information we can provide to others individuals. All documents must be received directly from the student. This helps ensure we have contact with student so they understand their obligations.
- The International Center is responsible for verifying the documentation of fully admitted students' finances meets regulatory standards and issuing the Form I-20, which is required for a student to apply for an F-1 visa.
- Students must submit a completed Certificate of Finances. This verifies the student/sponsor understands their responsibilities to pay and identifies sources of funding in cases of multiple sponsors
- Student must submit supporting documentation for the Certificate of Finances. Such documentation as a letter from a bank, an assistantship award offer letter, a line of credit, or any combination of such documents can be used. All documentation must be official, for example an email from a faculty member stating an award amount would not be considered sufficient, an actual award letter would be necessary.
- Documents not in English require a certified translation. Translation by the student themselves or even a faculty member cannot be used for the purposes of creating an I-20 as these documents are an official record of institutional compliance with federal regulations.
- The International Center does not admit students, cannot speed up the admission process, and cannot make an I-20 for a student without an I-20 request from the Graduate School.
- Once an I-20 request is received from the Graduate School, the International Center will request a copy of the student's passport, Certificate of Finances, and supporting documentation. An I-20 cannot be made without all of those documents. Once all documents have been received, and the International Center verifies they meet our requirements, it takes 2-3 business days to process the I-20.
- All I-20s are issued with a program start date listed as the date of orientation. Students must enter the U.S. within 30 days of that date.
Students who will arrive late should consider deferring as they may face issues entering the U.S.
- The International Center cannot communicate directly with embassies and consulates. Nothing can be done to speed up the visa process. Students who are denied a visa should email their denial notice to the International Center. The International Center may or may not be able to assist, and cannot appeal a denial.
- Students who apply for visas may be sent to "administrative processing". This means their application requires further review. The embassy/consulate will not accept any additional information from the student unless specifically requested. Nothing can be done to speed up administrative processing.
- Please note that each institution sets policies laying out the way in which they will comply with regulations as they understand them. This means that it very possible for colleagues at other institutions to have different experiences in this process, as their institutional policies may differ from those of UND.