The U.S. government offers Student Process Steps to guide you through obtaining and keeping your student visa status. View these steps >>
A visa is the document that allows you to travel to the U.S. A visa does not guarantee that you will be allowed to enter the U.S. That decision is made by an immigration official at the U.S. port of entry. You will be required to present your Form I-20 (student copy) as proof of your intention to attend Wheaton College. You will be given an entry document (I-94) card, which will be stamped with your date and port of entry, your immigration status (F1 or F2), and the dates your status will be valid. (Under normal circumstances, the I-94 card given to F1 and F2 visa holders will be stamped D/S meaning Duration of Status. This verifies that you will remain in F1 or F2 status for the duration of your degree program, as stated on your form I-20).
For example, if you have a student visa that is valid for five years that will expire on June 2, 2014, and you are admitted into the U.S. for the duration of your status (D/S in your passport or on the I-94 card), you may stay in the U.S. as long as you are a full time student. Even if June 2, 2014 passes and your visa expires, you will remain in legal student status while you are in the U.S. However, if you depart the U.S. with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one before being able to return to the U.S. and resume your studies. A student visa cannot be renewed or re-issued in the U.S.; it must be done at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
I-20 Certificate of Eligibility
Once you are accepted, Wheaton College will send you a Form I-20 (immigration document). This verifies that you have been accepted into a specific degree program for the expected length of your program, and that you have documented a certain amount of funds available for your education and living expenses. Read "Instructions to Students" on page 2, sign and complete item #11 on pages 1 and 3. Both copies of Form I-20 will be presented to the U.S. embassy or consulate when you apply for a visa.
You must have a passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the U.S.
All international students will apply for an F-1 Student Visa. In order to apply for this visa you will be required to present Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility. Your Certificate of Eligibility indicates the latest date by which you should report to Wheaton College. This date is generally the first day of the Orientation period for new students. If you will seek off-campus housing, we recommend you arrive in advance of this date, to allow enough time for you to locate suitable accommodations before Orientation and registration activities begin.
Important Note: If your plans change, and you decide not to attend Wheaton College, return the Certificate of Eligibility to the Office of International Student Services and notify the Admissions Office of your decision. If you wish to defer your admission to a subsequent semester, you will need to put the request in writing when you contact these offices.
Unless you are a Canadian citizen, you must obtain a passport and a visa before you will be permitted to enter the United States.
Canadian Nationals, landed immigrants, or British subjects residing in Canada or Bermuda are not required to obtain a visa, unless they are entering the U.S. from outside the Western Hemisphere. However, the appropriate immigration document (Form I-20 for F1) must be presented at the U.S. port of entry.
F-2 Visa: Bringing family members to live with you
Your spouse/children may be able to enter the U.S. with you on an F2 visa. You will want to submit their application for an F2 visa at the same time you submit yours. They must have their own I-20 immigration form from Wheaton College in order to apply for an F2 visa. Wheaton College will only issue a Form I-20 for your spouse/children if you have proven sufficient finances to support them while you are a student.
Under NO circumstances may an individual on an F2 visa be allowed to work in the U.S. There are no exceptions.