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Immigration FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Visas & Immigration

General F-1 Visa Information

 

What is an F-1 visa?

An F-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows students to pursue a full course of study (18+ hours per week) in the United States.  F-1 visas are only issued in U.S. embassies and consulates outside the United States.  Prospective F1 students must obtain a Form I-20 from Hunter College-IELI in order to apply for an F1 visa.


How do I get an F-1 visa?

An F-1 visa can be acquired outside the United States at a U.S. embassy or consulate. After receiving the I-20 form issued by the IELI at Hunter College, you must request an interview and apply for an F-1 visa in your country’s local U.S. embassy or consulate.  Be sure to submit the SEVIS payment fee at least three days prior to interview date.  We strongly recommend that you check the latest information at the US embassy in your country at http://usembassy.state.gov 


What is an I-20 form?

The Form I-20 is an official U.S. government form that has been issued by an SEVP-certified school in order to become an F-1 student.  This form is evidence of acceptance into a full-time program at the school that has issued the Form I-20.  The school does not issue visas.


How do I get an I-20 form?

When the Admissions Office receives your completed application, tuition payment and financial sponsor documents, your application will be processed within two weeks and an acceptance package will be sent to you. For a mailing fee of $47, the IELI at Hunter College mails your I-20 via USPS express mail. Your I-20 documents will arrive within two weeks of being mailed.

 

When must I send the school my application for admission and the I-20 form?

The I-20 Application Form indicates the application deadlines for each semester of the academic year. Please directly contact the international student office if you have questions regarding the application deadlines.

What documents must I send the school to receive the I-20 form?

The I-20 Application Form comes with complete instructions to follow (pages 2-3). Before you send us your application, be sure you and your sponsor include the following document

  • Original signed I-20 application for student
  • Original sponsor's Affidavit of Support form (signed and/or stamped by the bank or a notary public).
  • Original sponsor's bank statement and/or letter (signed and/or stamped by the bank).
  •  Tuition receipt (official check or online credit card payment accepted).
  • Copy of passport (must be valid for at least six months).
  • Payment for USPS express mail shipping of I-20 form ($47)
  • Click here to download our I-20 Abroad Student Application Form

 

Required documents for Transfer (F-1) students

  • Original signed I-20 application for student
  • Original sponsor's Affidavit of Support form (signed and/or stamped by the bank or a notary public).
  • Original sponsor's bank statement and/or letter (signed and/or stamped by the bank).
  • Tuition receipt (official check or online credit card payment accepted).
  • Copy of passport (must be valid for at least six months).
  • Copy of F-1 visa.
  • I-94 (Arrival Record)
  • Transfer Verification form (permission to transfer from current school).
  • Copy of all previous I-20 forms (all schools previously attended).
  • Click here to download our I-20 Transfer Student Application form.

 

How much money do I need to obtain my visa?

A minimum balance of $17,000 USD must be presented by the sponsor (or student if they are sponsoring themselves). A bank statement or letter from the financial sponsor must accompany the Affidavit of Support form (found on our application, page 6).

The bank statement or letter must include all of the following:

(1) a minimum balance of $17,000 USD,

(2) the name of sponsor and type of account presented

(3) letter/statement must be written in English (or with a notarized translation attached), and

(4) a stamp or signature from the bank.

Are there deadlines?

Yes, please directly contact the International Student Office (ieliss@hunter.cuny.edu) if you have questions regarding the application deadlines.

Can I send copies or fax my completed application documents?

All forms must be submitted as original documents by mail. Copies, emails, or faxed applications will not be accepted.

My I-20 says I must report to school three weeks before the semester begins, why?

Testing and registration at the IELI take place approximately 3 weeks before a semester begins. Students are strongly recommended to report to school 3 weeks before classes begin. When you arrive, you must come to the IELI International Student Office with your new I-20 and passport/visa so we can report your arrival to Immigration. You are also required to attend an orientation seminar for new students a week before classes begin.


When can I enter the U.S. after obtaining my F-1 visa?

You may enter the U.S. no sooner than 30 days prior to the start date on your I-20.

What must I do if I cannot travel to the U.S. before my reporting date?

If you cannot travel to the U.S. before the reporting date on your I-20, you must contact the school immediately. If there is still space available for testing and registration, the school will approve an extension of your reporting date. In general, reporting dates cannot be extended by more than one week.

Can I change my semester starting date if I cannot travel to the U.S. before classes begin?

You are permitted to change your school starting date a maximum of two (2) times if you cannot begin classes during the semester you have chosen. You must return the original I-20 form you received from the school and request a new semester starting date. We will issue you a new I-20 with the new starting date.

My visa was denied, what do I do? Can I request a refund?

If your student visa is denied, you have up to 1 year to apply for a refund of your tuition. During this time, you may also request a new I-20 to apply again for the student visa. To request a refund, you must return the I-20 form with a copy of your receipt of payment. All refund requests must be made in person or with written permission from the student. 

How long must I wait for my tuition refund?

Refund requests may take between 6 to 8 weeks to be processed. Payments made by check will be refunded via check and mailed to the payer, or at the written request of payer or student, a new address. All checks are sent by regular airmail (3 to 4 weeks). If you paid your registration online with a credit card, your tuition refund will go directly to your credit card approximately two to four (2-4) weeks after it has been processed.

Can I bring my spouse and/or dependent children with me?

Yes, but an additional $6,300 for spouse and $4,600 per child must be included in your financial statement and the dependent application must be submitted. Please contact the International Student Office for the F-2 Dependent application form.

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B-1/B-2 Visa- (FAQ) Frequently Asked Questions

Can I change my immigration status to F-1 in the U.S. if I currently have B-1/B-2 status?

Students wishing to study English full-time at the IELI at Hunter College must obtain F-1 status. To apply for F-1 status in the U.S., you must request a Change of Status from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). However, there is no guarantee that it will be approved by USCIS/Immigration. Please visit the International Student Office with your valid passport and I-94 Arrival record to request more information about your eligibility to change your status within the United States.

Is it necessary to use a lawyer when you apply for a change of status in the U.S.?

It is not necessary to use an immigration lawyer to change your status in the U.S. However, if you decide to use the services of a lawyer, he/she must write a letter to the school that says you will be represented.

Can your school help me prepare my request for a change of status?

The IELI International Student Advisor can review your documents and immigration forms and help you present your request to Immigration (USCIS).

How long must I wait to receive a decision from Immigration (USCIS) about my change of status?

Generally, Immigration takes approximately 2-3 months to review and make a decision on all change of status applications.

Can I begin classes at the IELI while I wait for Immigration to approve my request for the F-1?

B-1/B-2 status holders cannot begin a course of study until they receive approval of their change of status.

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Other Visas

Can I change my status to an F-1 in the U.S. if I have J-1, H-1, etc. status?

As a J-1, H-1, etc., you can request permission from Immigration (USCIS) to change your status to an F-1 (student). To apply for F-1 status in the U.S., you must request a Change of Status from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). However, there is no guarantee that it will be approved by USCIS/Immigration. Please visit the International Student Office with your valid passport and I-94 Arrival record to request more information about your eligibility to change your status within the United States.

Can your school help me prepare my request for a change of status?

The IELI International Student Advisor can review your documents and immigration forms and help you present your request to Immigration (USCIS).

How long must I wait to receive a decision from Immigration (USCIS) about my change of status?

Generally, Immigration takes approximately 2-3 months to review and make a decision on all change of status applications.

Can I begin classes at the IELI while I wait for Immigration to approve my request for the F-1?

J-1, H-1, etc. status holders may begin a course of study while they wait for a decision on their change of status application from USCIS (Immigration).

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Transfer Student Information

How can I apply for a transfer to the IELI? Do I need a new I-20?

In order to transfer to the IELI, you must first get permission from the school you last attended. Next, you must request an I-20 from the IELI in order to transfer officially. Click here to download our I-20 Transfer Student Application form.

What documents do I need to prepare to receive the I-20 form?

Please refer to the What documents must I send the school to receive the I-20 form? question in the general information. 

Can I send copies or fax my completed application documents?

All forms must be submitted as original documents by mail or in person. Copies, emails, or faxed applications will not be accepted.

Can I still transfer to the IELI if I did not attend my last school?

If you did not report to your previous school or attend classes regularly, please visit the International Student Office to discuss your transfer eligibility.

Can I travel out of the U.S. before I begin classes at the IELI?

You may be able to travel out of the U.S. before you begin classes at the IELI. However, you must first request the I-20 for your transfer and register for classes.

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Other Information

Will I have Internet access?

Yes, all of our students have free access to the Internet. Once you have registered, please visit the Registration Office for Wi-Fi login and password.

 

Can I travel while I'm studying?

Yes, students are able to travel and are encouraged to do so while they are studying! However if you are traveling outside of the United States, all students must receive previous approval from the ISO International Student Advisor (DSO).


Does Hunter IELI offer health insurance?

No, Hunter College IELI does not offer International Student Insurance. Health insurance is not mandatory for IELI students. Most students purchase insurance before arriving in the United States.


Does Hunter College-IELI have dorms/housing?

No, the IELI does not offer student housing. Students must find their own accommodations before arriving in the United States. 


When can I take the placement test and register for classes?

You can contact the Registration Office one month before the new semester begins to make an appointment for your placement exam. You will take your placement exam after you arrive in the United States.


What is Orientation? Do I need to attend?

Yes! Orientation is a required part of your registration at the IELI.  At Orientation you will receive very important information about your classes and your responsibilities as an F-1 student. You will also learn about the services that are available to all IELI students.

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