F-1 visa status is granted to nonimmigrant students temporarily in the United States to study full-time at an academic or language institute. Students in F-1 status must be enrolled full-time at an academic institution certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), US Department of Homeland Security. F-1 students are admitted to the US for the duration of their status. This means that as long as an F-1 student is in possession of a valid form I-20 and valid I-94 record (with admit until date of D/S), is enrolled full-time at a SEVP-certified school, is making academic progress towards his/her degree, and is not violating any of the terms of his/her status, the student can legally remain in the US.
Initial F-1 Sponsorship Process
International students must be accepted into an MUSC program of study before beginning the F-1 sponsorship process. Contact the specific program of study or visit the Admissions page for more information on the University application process.
If you are an international student requiring F-1 sponsorship, the Center for Global Health (CGH) will receive notification once you are admitted into a degree program. We will then contact you to provide further instructions on the documents and information required for F-1 sponsorship. In general, international students are required to provide copies of the biographic page of their passport, a current CV or resume, and original documents showing proof of funding for the first year’s expenses, which includes tuition and living expenses. All financial documents must be certified, be in English, and contain amounts in US dollars.
Once CGH has received all of the necessary information and documents and we have determined that you are eligible for F-1 student visa sponsorship, we will issue a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status. Form I-20 contains information about you and your academic program of study and indicates that your information has been added to the SEVIS system. Form I-20 also contains your SEVIS number, which will begin with the letter “N” and is typically followed by 10 digits (example: N0000000001). This number can be found in the upper left-hand portion of page 1 of the I-20.
The original Form I-20 will be sent directly to you along with a packet of instructions about F-1 status and the next steps in the process. SEVP currently prohibits the electronic transmission of I-20 forms, so we cannot scan the form and send you a copy in advance.
Obtaining F-1 Status
F-1 status can be obtained by:
- Applying for an F-1 visa at a US embassy or consulate abroad and requesting to enter the US in F-1 status at a port-of-entry (students not in the US)
- Applying for a change of nonimmigrant status to F-1 (students already in the US in another visa status)
In either case, you must have a valid Form I-20 and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee in order to proceed with the F-1 visa application at the consulate or the F-1 change of status application.
If you are already in the US in F-1 status, you may be eligible to transfer your F-1 status to MUSC.