Visa Information

What type of visa do I need?

Most students who study at TIEP have a student (F-1) visa. The F-1 visa is for full-time academic study. To receive an F-1 visa, you must first obtain a Form I-20 from an educational institution like TIEP which is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program to enroll international students.

How can I get an I-20? What is a letter of financial guarantee?

To apply for a student (F-1) visa, the United States government requires international students to obtain a Form I-20 from the prospective school. In order to receive an I-20 from TIEP, prospective students must complete a TIEP application form, sign it, and return it to our office with a non-refundable application fee of U.S. $100.00. Also required is an original bank statement or a letter from the financial institution of the person who will pay for the prospective student’s study in the United States. This letter needs to state that the prospective student or the person paying for the student has sufficient funds to pay all expenses while the student is in the United States. After we receive the completed application form, the $100 application fee, a financial statement, and a copy of the information page of the passport, we will mail the I-20 to the student.

For more information on how to apply for a student visa, visit the following web sites:

Information for Transferring Students

If you are attending another english language school or program in the USA and would like to transfer to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar, the following information will help you with your transfer.

You will need to submit the following:

  • A complete application form
  • $100 nonrefundable application fee
  • A current bank statement (and support letter if needed)

You will also need to provide us with photocopies of the following documents:

  • Passport identification page
  • F-1 visa
  • I-94 arrival/departure card
  • I-20s issued to you by previous schools

After we receive these items, we will give you a letter confirming your intention to transfer to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar and an F-1 Student Transfer Information Form that will include contact information for our Designated School Official (DSO) and SEVIS School Code. The transfer form will ask your current school to verify your F-1 status and to indicate a SEVIS transfer release date. You must notify the DSO at your current school of your intent to transfer. In consultation with the DSO at your current school, you will decide on a release date for the transfer of your SEVIS record to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar. Your current school’s DSO will enter the release date into the SEVIS database.

After we receive the F-1 Student Transfer Information Form from your current school, we will be able to make a final determination of your admission. If you are in valid F-1 status, we will confirm the transfer of your SEVIS record. After your SEVIS record has been released to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar, we can create a new Form I-20 for you showing that a transfer is pending from the transfer-out school. You will be able to enroll after your SEVIS record has been transferred. You must report to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar within 15 days of the program start date. After you enroll, your SEVIS record will be activated, and we will issue a new Form I-20 that completes the transfer process and shows your status as a continuing student with an approved transfer. If you have any questions about the transfer process, please contact us.

Points to Remember

When Interviewing with a Consular Officer for a Non-immigrant Visa

1. WHAT IS A CONSULAR OFFICER LOOKING FOR?

In brief, a consular officer is looking for the following:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you want to do
  3. How you are going to pay for it
  4. What you plan to do after you have completed your study in the United States.

2. TIES TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY

Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. “Ties” to your home country are the things that bind you to your hometown, homeland, or current place of residence: a job, family, financial resources that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country. Each person’s situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter, which can guarantee visa issuance.

3. ENGLISH

Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice in English with a native speaker before the interview. If you are coming to the United States to study intensive English only, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.

4. SPEAK FOR YOURSELF

Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. The officer may have a negative impression if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there in case there are questions, for example, about funding, they should wait in the waiting room.

5. KNOW HOW THE PROGRAM OF STUDY FITS YOUR CAREER PLANS

If you are not able to explain the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should be able to explain how studying in the United States relates to your future professional career when you return home. 

6. KEEP ANSWERS SHORT AND TO THE POINT

Because of the large number of applications consular officers receive, they are under time pressure to conduct quick and efficient interviews. They must make a decision on the impressions they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer short and to the point.

7. SUPPLEMENTAL DOCUMENTATION

It should be readily clear to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. The officer cannot quickly read or evaluate lengthy documents. Remember that you will probably have 2-3 minutes of interview time.

8. NOT ALL COUNTRIES ARE EQUAL

Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United States.

9. EMPLOYMENT

Your main purpose of coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly explain your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.

10. DEPENDENTS REMAINING AT HOME

If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer has the impression that your family members will need you to send them money from the United States in order to support themselves, your student visa application will likely be denied. If your family does decide to join you in the United States at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.

11. MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.  Do not argue with the consular officer.

TIEP would like to credit Gerald A. Wunsch, Esq., Martha Wailes, and NAFSA:  Association of International Educators for their contributions to this document.  TIEP also appreciates information provided by the U.S. Department of State.
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