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International Students and Scholars

US Student Visa Information

Important Note

Individuals applying for F (student) visas must now pay a US$200 (as of October 27, 2008) non-refundable Student/Exchange Visitor processing fee to the US government. This fee is required of students from all countries. The fee must be paid to the US government before the student visits the US Consulate to apply for a visa.

The easiest and fastest method to pay the fee is to go online and pay with an American Express, MasterCard, or Visa credit card.

For detailed information on the fee and how to pay it, go to: http://www.lclark.edu/offices/international/admitted/immigration/vfee/

 

Meeting Consulate Officials

When you apply for an F-1 student visa for the first time, you will have a brief personal interview at the US embassy or consulate nearest you. The interview will probably be conducted in English. The consulate official often interviews 200 people in one day. The official must make a quick decision about your application and your “interview’” will last no more than one or two minutes. If you are completely prepared and organized, your chance of obtaining a visa is good. If you are not prepared, lack the necessary documents, or cannot answer questions clearly, your application may be denied.

Unfortunately, the US Consular official may have some incorrect and pre-conceived notions about your application and your plans. This is especially true if you are from a country where many students go to the US and never return back home.

The US Consulate official may incorrectly believe that you are not a legitimate student. He may incorrectly assume that you do not have financial resources to study in the US. He may also incorrectly assume that you plan to stay and live in the US after your studies and not return back to your home. To get a student visa, you must convince the official: (1) that you are an excellent student with an educational plan, (2) that you have the financial resources to study for at least one year in the US, (3) that you have strong family, social and career ties to your home country, and (4) that you will return home after your studies.

Consulate officials will want to see:

  • evidence that you have paid the US$200 Student/Exchange Visitor processing fee.
  • evidence that you are a qualified, legitimate student.
  • evidence that you have the financial resources to pay for your education in the US.
  • evidence of strong economic, family, social, or career ties to your home country.
  • evidence that you will return home after you finish your studies.

Checklist of Materials You Will Need—Steps A - F:

A: Materials/Documents You Must Supply

  • your passport valid for at least one year into the future.
  • a small (passport-size) full-face photograph of you (without head covering).
  • if you are married or have children, you will need proof of relationship to your spouse and children (marriage certificate, birth certificates, identification cards, etc.).
  • the visa application fee (in a form required by the US Embassy nearest you).
  • a one-page cover letter to be placed on top of your materials. (See information below under “Organizing Your Materials”).
  • a receipt proving that you have paid the US$200 Student/Exchange Visitor processing fee.

B: Materials from Lewis & Clark

  • your Form I-20 issued by Lewis & Clark.
  • your letter of admission.
  • your financial aid award letter or scholarship letter, if applicable.

C: Materials Proving Your Are An Excellent Student

  • copies of your secondary (high) school certificates showing that you are a good student.
  • copies of your secondary school diploma and/or national tests.
  • copies of your TOEFL or English test results.
  • letters/certificates showing that you won any academic awards in secondary school.

D: Financial Documents Proving Your Support

You must prove to the US Consular official that you have enough money to support at least one year of study at Lewis & Clark College. For academic year 2012-13, those costs will be approximately $55,516.

Your support must add up to that amount, but it can include financial aid/scholarship awards from Lewis & Clark, loans your family has secured, promises of support from relatives, scholarships from your country, and so forth.

Remember that the US Consulate official may also want to know how long your bank account has been open, or how large the daily balance has been, on average, so it is important to include six months of statements. The officer will also want evidence that you can take money out of your home country without difficulty.

A sample of items that can help you prove your finances are:

  • your financial aid/scholarship award from Lewis & Clark (if you receive financial aid).
  • your bank statements (for the past six months) and/or letter from your bank stating that you have “XXX” amount of money in the bank.
  • statements (for the past six months) showing savings or stock accounts.
  • tax documents from your family home or business.
  • letters from your parents’ employers stating their salaries and job histories (if your parents are your financial sponsors).
  • official letters detailing any approved loans or scholarships you will receive.
  • letters from any sponsors (if applicable) who have promised to provide specific costs such as room and board, or books, etc.
  • documents which prove that a sponsor can afford the promises made.
  • Form I-134 (Affadavit of Support) completed by your sponsor, indicating that he/she has the funds to support his/her promised contribution. This form can be downloaded from: http://www.visapro. com/US-INS-Forms/ Form-I-134-INS.asp
  • any other letters indicating financial support.

E: Proof of Ties or Connections to Your Home Country & Plans to Return

It is important for your to prove to the US Consular official that you have family, social, and career “ties” or “connections” to your home country. These “ties” will help assure the official that you plan to return home after completing your studies. Below are sample items that may help you prove your ties.

  • a letter or proof that you have been offered a job when you return home.
  • (If your family owns a business) evidence that you plan to return to work in the business upon completion of your US education.
  • proof of your interest in attending a graduate program in your native country upon your return home.
  • information about family members who have traveled or studied overseas and returned.
  • a deed proving that you own property in your home country (which can indicate a plan to return).
  • information about your own previous travel to the US (if any), perhaps as a tourist.
  • letters from prominent government officials (mayor, principal, congressman, etc.) offering assurance that you plan to return to your home country.

F. US Government Forms to Complete

  • A DS-160 (NEW). The DS-160 Online, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, replaces the current nonimmigrant application form DS-156, and certain other related forms in certain countries. The implementation of the DS-160 was phased-in during 2010. Not all U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad will be required to use the form at the same time. Review the DS-160 webpage to access the online DS-160 form, Frequently Asked Questions, and to learn which Embassies or Consulates are requiring the form.
  • If the US Embassy or Consulates in your country are not yet accepting the DS-160 online application, you will need to use the application forms listed below:
  • a completed DS-156 form, with photo of each applicant. (This form is available online). For #22 (date of arrival), please use “Monday, August 27, 2012” for the date. For #24, please use the following address: “Lewis & Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219.” For #25, you may provide the following contact information: “Brian Douglas White, Associate Dean of Students. Home phone: 503-296-6756; Business Phone: 503-768-7307.” For #26, please use “Four years.” For #27, please use: “to earn a bachelor’s degree.” For #32, if you plan to work, use: “Yes,” but in the remarks write “I plan to work on campus only.” “Lewis & Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219.” For #33, please use: “Yes. Lewis & Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219.”
  • for males a completed DS-157 form. (This form is available online). For #8, use the following contact information: “Brian Douglas White, Associate Dean of Students at Lewis & Clark College. MSC 192, Lewis & Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219. Home phone: 503-296-6756; Business Phone: 503-768-7307.”
  • a completed DS-158 form. (This form is available online). This form lists your past work history.
  • a receipt proving that you have paid the US$200 Student/Exchange Visitor processing fee.

Here are some tips to help you with the application process.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute! Apply for your F-1 student visa as early as possible—up to four months before you plan to begin your studies, if possible.
  • Allow several weeks for getting an appointment and a visa. Call the US embassy or consulate nearest to you, or go to the embassy website for information and instructions. You must complete several forms before your interview, and the embassy may want to verify the information you give.
  • Use the I-20 from Lewis & Clark College if you plan to attend Lewis & Clark. If you apply to several schools, you may get an I-20 from each school. But to attend Lewis & Clark, you must use the Lewis & Clark I-20.
  • Be well-organized and well-prepared. (See “How to Prepare for Your Visa Interview” section below).

How to Prepare for your Visa Interview

  • Dress neatly. If you plan to enter the Lewis & Clark Law School or graduate program, dress professionally.
  • Be prepared to state clearly your educational goals; your major; why you chose that major; why that major is important to your future career in your home country; your graduate school plans, if any; how your Lewis & Clark degree will help you when you return home.
  • Be prepared to explain where and how you learned English, or why you wish to study more English in the US. (See Academic English Studies below).

How to Organize Your Materials

Make sure that you have your papers together and in order. You should group appropriate papers together. For example: (1) Your cover letter; (2) all Lewis & Clark issued documents, (3) all documents that prove your are a legitimate and excellent student; (4) all financial documents, (5) all documents showing that you have ties to your country.

Below is a suggested order for your documents:

  • a one-page cover letter outlining your qualifications for a visa. (See sample letter)
  • your form I-20 from Lewis & Clark.
  • your acceptance letter from Lewis & Clark.
  • copies of your secondary (high) school certificates showing that you are a good student.
  • copies of your secondary school diploma and/or national tests.
  • copies of your TOEFL or English test results.
  • letters showing that you won any academic awards in secondary school.
  • your financial aid award from Lewis & Clark (if you receive financial aid).
  • your bank statements (for the past six months) and/or letter from your bank stating that you have “XXX” amount of money in the bank.
  • letters from your parents’ employers stating their salaries and job histories (if your parents are your financial sponsors).
  • official letters detailing any approved loans or scholarships you will receive.
  • letters from any sponsors (if applicable).
  • any other letters indicating financial support.
  • evidence of any property that you own in your home country (deeds, etc).
  • a letter from your employer saying that you have a job to return to (if possible).
  • evidence that you have family remaining in your country and that you plan to return.
  • any evidence that you have left your home country and returned.
  • letters from prominent government officials (mayor of the city, principal of your school, congressman, etc.) that they believe you will return.
  • your passport.

Academic English Studies

If you plan to take Academic English Studies classes at Lewis & Clark because you still need to improve your English proficiency, be prepared to talk about your English studies. For example:

  • Talk about your professional future: How will you use English after you return home? Why is it useful or important for you to know English? If learning English will help you in your career plans, explain this to the official. In some fields English is almost a necessity; tell the official your career plans and how English can help.
  • Talk about your plan of study after completing an English program: What will you study? Why do you need English for that field? Are research papers usually published in English, or conferences given in English, even in your home country? Tell the official!
  • Talk about how it is faster and more efficient to learn English while living in an English-speaking culture. Explain that language learning includes cultural education. Interacting with native speakers outside the classroom is very helpful in language-learning. Immersion in a language is the fastest way to learn it!
  • Talk about Lewis & Clark’s Academic English Studies (AES) program; show what you know about the AES program and Lewis & Clark. Be ready to explain why you chose the AES program and Lewis & Clark. Show some of the AES materials to the official. Mention that the US has the most modern teaching methods and technical help in language learning.

DO NOT SAY that you want to study in the US because your friends are there, or because you like American movies, or some other reason that the official might see as unimportant. You need to have strong reasons to go, and equally strong (or even stronger!) reasons to return.

Remember: by the rules of the job, the embassy official is required to assume that each visa applicant is secretly planning to remain in the US forever. If the official thinks you may stay in the US permanently, he/she will reject your application. If you can show convincing reasons for your return home after studying, your application will be accepted. The F-1 visa is only for people who will study in the US, then return home to live in their own country.

VERY IMPORTANT! Always be truthful in your statements to US Consular/Embassy officials. If they find that you have misrepresented yourself or your documents, you will be barred from entering the US in the future.

Website, US embassies and consulates world-wide:
http://usembassy. state.gov/

Website, student visa applications & information:
http://www.travel. state.gov/visa/temp/ types/types_1268. html

What If Your Visa Is Denied?

Most visa requests are granted, so your chances of receiving a student visa are good. But when a request is denied, the main reason (90% of denials) is that the official believes the student actually wants to go to the US to live and work.

If you are denied a visa, ask politely for a reason. Ask if additional documentation could result in an approval, and (if so), what documents would be most useful. Notify Lewis & Clark College immediately about the denial. Fax your financial documents and other items you showed at the embassy. (Our fax number is:  503-768-7301). Perhaps Lewis & Clark College can suggest something to help.

If your visa is denied, you can re-apply, but you need more evidence to show you will return home after study and that you have sufficient funds to pay for your educational expenses. You may need to explain in a different way how your situation has changed since your earlier request. Always be polite, but try to make it clear that you plan to return home. Use additional documents and information to show the official that what you say is true. It is not possible to say exactly what evidence will be convincing; every situation is different.

Think again about your ties to your home country. Think about family relationships, jobs, family ownership of home, business, or land. Do you have other evidence to present? For example:

  • Will your parents or family at home pay for your study? Bring letters from employers to explain the job, how long they have worked, how much money they earn; or bring copies of savings documents or bank letters.
  • Will family members in the US support you? Will you live with them while you study? You must prove that the family can pay for you without difficulty. They may need to send an affidavit (a legal statement) or send copies of pay slips or tax documents to show they can easily pay for your classes and/or living expenses.
  • Did Lewis & Clark offer you financial aid or a scholarship? If so, bring copies of those letters.
  • Did you explain your situation clearly the first time? Do not prepare a speech, but think about how you can state your situation clearly and persuasively to the official.
  • Did you answer any questions clearly and correctly? Think about the first visit; perhaps you can give additional information that will help the official look favorably on your new request.

If you are refused a second time, you will have to wait for a period before you return. However, the probability of success on a third try is not very high. Each time you apply, you need to provide more documentation, so that you can say truthfully that there are new facts to review and more reason for approval.