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Student Visa Procedures

In addition to a passport, international students need a student visa in order to enter the United States and enroll in college or university.

Who is an International Student?

Like all countries in the world, the United States has laws and regulations governing foreigners who are temporarily within its borders. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers the Immigration regulations.

International students are those who already have, or will be applying for, a temporary visa (most commonly the F-1 and J-1 visas) to study in the U.S. Therefore, it is important for you to understand the immigration rules as they apply to your student status. DHS-USCIS does not consider ignorance of the law a legitimate reason for failing to obey it.

Your Passport

Be sure to apply for a passport in your home country with first and last names that exactly match the first and last names on the education documents you will submit to SUNY Plattsburgh. Most passports are good for a limited time. Your passport must be valid at all times after you arrive to the United States. It is your responsibility to apply for the passport and to remember when it will expire and contact the nearest consulate or embassy of your country in the states to renew it.

When to Apply for a Visa

You are eligible to apply for a student visa after you are accepted into a program of study. When SUNY Plattsburgh accepts most international students for full-time study, we enter the student’s information into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and send the student a SEVIS I-20 form as proof of acceptance and to use it to apply for an F-1 student visa. Thereafter, the student must present documents to the U.S. embassy/consulate at his/her home country to apply for the visa. The official Directory of United States Embassies and Consulates Overseas will help you find the contact information for the embassy nearest to you.

For more information, please visit our Getting a Student Visa page.

After You Have Applied for a Visa

Once you have submitted all of your information to the U.S embassy/consulate to apply for a student visa, the embassy will verify your information in the SEVIS system and decide to issue or deny you a visa.

If You Are Denied a Visa

Please visit the United States’ Department of State web site to learn more about the visa denial.

If You Are Granted a Visa

The U.S embassy/consulate will add a visa sticker with your photo in your passport. The visa allows you to enter the United States for a specific purpose in a clearly defined time frame. Students are usually given an F-1 or J-1 visa. Spouses and children of F-1 visa holders are assigned an F-2 visa. J-1 visas are given to researchers, scholars and students. Spouses and children of these visitors are assigned J-2 visas.

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