International Students - Visas & Responsibilities
Mount St. Mary's University has the approval of the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to enroll foreign students into its degree programs. As with all U.S. educational institutions, the Mount is required by federal law to maintain records for such students through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The Primary Designated SEVIS Official (PDSO) is responsible for processing and maintaining international student visa records for all university programs.
NOTE: Before applying for an international student visa, students must be admitted to one of the degree programs at the University.
Obtaining an International F-1 Student Visa
An international student wishing to study in the United States must have a non-immigrant F-1 Student Visa. Applicants must complete the following steps:
- Apply to the Mount St. Mary's University degree program of your choice and submit all required materials;
- Submit TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores or other evidence of English language proficiency with program application;
- Get accepted – all academic documents and conditions must be reviewed and accepted by program - including language proficiency.
NOTE: An I-20 will not be issued for a conditional or provisional admission to an academic degree program.
Upon acceptance to the degree program, the international student must submit the following documents to a DSO:
- a photocopy of passport (personal information and visa pages): your passport must be valid for at least six months after your entry into the United States.
- documentation of financial support: you will need to submit a certified bank statement and/or affidavit of support documenting that adequate funds are or will be available for each year of expected enrollment to pay the full educational and living expenses while in the United States.
Issuing of the I-20
The DSO will issue a Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility of Nonimmigrant Student Status) to be mailed to the international student. (International students with a previous I-20 record which is being transferred to the Mount do not need a new F-1 Visa stamp in order to attend Mount St. Mary's - the old F-1 Visa stamp in the passport is still valid for travel into the USA (even though a different school is listed) as long as the date has not expired and the international student has maintained status with a current I-20.)
Upon receipt of an initial I-20, the international student must complete the following steps:
- Submit the electronic I-901 Form and $200 SEVIS fee – the receipt (i.e. form I-797) must be printed off after the payment has been processed (SEVIS does not mail a receipt).
- Complete the electronic DS-160 Non-Immigrant Visa Application and print the confirmation for submission to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Canadian citizens do not need an F-1 visa in order to study in the USA, but must have a valid I-20 and proof of payment of the SEVIS fee.
For more information regarding the visa interview and materials needed see the website for ICE Student Process Steps: How to Navigate the U.S. Immigration System or the U.S. Department of State preparation and documentation tips. The information may vary depending upon the student's home country. After the interview the F-1 Student Visa will be issued and with that stamp in a valid passport the international student can travel into the USA multiple times for the duration of their status as a student.
International Student Responsibilities – "Maintaining Status" with your F-1 Visa
International Students must comply with all USCIS regulations pertaining to your stay in the United States. Failure to do so will cause a student to go "out of status." In order to maintain status review the Office of Homeland Security's Maintaining your Status webpage and complete the following requirements:
- Report to the DSO for your degree program at the beginning of each semester (before the end of the first week of classes) - bring your passport and I-20's.
- Inform the DSO of any address changes (within 10 days of the change).
- Maintain a full-time load of courses each semester, as defined by your degree program (speak with the DSO before dropping any classes) and make satisfactory progress towards completing your degree within the time frame specified on your Form I-20.
- Speak to the DSO about applying for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) if having an internship is an important part of your degree program. Note: International students may not be employed without the permission/approval of the DSO. Part-time CPT work will not be counted against the time allowed for OPT (see below).
NOTE: Failure to "maintain status" (by not complying with your responsibilities as an international student)could jeopardize the international students future ability to stay in the USA for further study or employment. For further information visit the Study in the States website.
Leaving the Mount/ Graduation
Transferring F-1 Sponsorship
If you plan to transfer to another school, inform the DSO before the end of the semester. Upon acceptance at the other school ask the International Student Advisor/DSO there to contact the DSO at the Mount to request that the SEVIS record be transferred.
At the beginning of your final semester speak with the DSO about applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT is a period of up to one year during which the international student can retain student visa status while working full-time in the USA (some conditions apply).
Departure from the USA
There is a grace period of 60 days to leave the USA upon graduation. If an international student withdraws from the Mount and informs the DSO, there is a 15-day grace period to leave the USA. However, an international student who falls out of status, is dismissed, or withdraws without informing the DSO must leave immediately.