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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 full-time 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 (or some other visa status which allows one to study).  Applicants must complete the following steps to obtain the I-20 document needed to apply for the F-1 visa:

  1. Apply to the Mount St. Mary's University full-time degree program of your choice and submit all required materials;
  2. Submit TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores or other evidence of English language proficiency with program application;
  3. 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.  Please note that some graduate degree programs offered at the Mount are offered as part-time cohorts and therefore are not available to F-1 visa non-immigrant students.


Upon acceptance to the full-time degree program, the international student seeking an I-20 from the Mount must submit the following documents to a DSO:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. completed "International Student Information Sheet"
       NOTE: If transferring a SEVIS I-20 contact the PDSO or DSO for your degree program.
  4. if you have immediate family members (spouse and/or children) who will be accompanying you, each must be included on your I-20 and must apply for their own F-2 visa. To request for immediate family member(s) to be included on your I-20 authorization, for each you must submit a photocopy of passport (see 1. above), documentation certifying the relationship (marriage certificate or child's birth certificate), AND you must submit further documentation that you will have adequate funds available to you to support your family, in addition to the funds available for your own living expenses and educational program.  

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/F1 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 (a valid F-1 visa is only needed to gain entry into the USA)


Upon receipt of an initial I-20, the international student seeking an F1 visa must complete the following steps:

  1. 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).
  2. 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 Visa website. 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/F1 Student Responsibilities – "Maintaining Status" with your F-1 Visa

International/F1 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" and may result in the need for your immediate departure from the USQA.  In order to maintain status, please review the Office of Homeland Security's Maintaining your Status webpage and complete the following requirements:

  1. 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.
  2. Inform the DSO of any changes to your address/contact information or financial sponsorship (within 10 days of the change).
  3. 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.
  4. F-1 students are NOT authorized to work except in very limited circumstances such as an on-campus job or CPT/OPT (speak with your DSO if seeking an on-campus job). F-2 visa holders are NOT authorized to work under any circumstances, although F-2 spouses may study part-time and F-2 children may attend school.
  5. 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/F1 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 I-20 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).  International Student must also apply for employment authorization (EAD) from USCIS (fee involved).  Authorization for OPT is not guaranteed.

Departure from the USA
There is a grace period of 60 days to leave the USA upon graduation or the completion of OPT. 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 the country immediately.

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