Obtaining an F-1 Student Visa
The F-1 student visa classification is for full-time study in the U.S. In order to apply for the F-1 visa, the prospective student must receive a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status — for Academic and Language Students, SEVIS I-20 AB. This form must be issued by a school or school system which has been authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to sponsor international students. The majority of colleges, universities, some public school systems and private institutions have this authorization.
Once a prospective student has satisfied the admission requirements for the college or university of their choice, they must also prove that they will have adequate financial resources to cover their school and living expenses in the U.S. Employment opportunities are limited for international students. Proof of sufficient financial support may be submitted on Form I-134 Affidavit of Financial Support by a close family relative or other person who is willing to provide it. In some cases, graduate students may be offered research or teaching assistantships or fellowships, but these may only cover part of the school expenses.
It is very important for international students to do everything they can to maintain their F-1 status throughout their stay in the U.S. This includes maintaining a full course of study, which is at least 12 credit hours per semester for undergraduate students at a college or university. Graduate students must also be enrolled full time, which may vary among different institutions, but is generally at least 9 credit hours per semester.
Failure to be enrolled for a full course of study is considered a violation of the F-1 student status and places the student in a deportable situation.
F-1 students are only allowed to work under specific circumstances. On-campus employment is permitted up to 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters and 40 hours per week during the breaks and Summer semester; however, off-campus employment is limited to internship or other work study programs that may be required for a specific degree.
F-1 students who want to seek additional employment in the U.S. after graduation may consider the H-1B status, which is for temporary, professional employment in a “specialty occupation.” This visa requires a job offer with a minimum qualification of at least a bachelor’s degree, and the student must have the appropriate evidence of at least such a degree.
Under recent changes to federal regulations, F-1 student status is no longer available to attend a public elementary school or a public adult education program. Students with F-1 status are only able to attend a public secondary school for a period of no more than 1 year.
F-1 students are not permitted to transfer from a private school to a public school, and any F-1 students who violate their status under this regulation will be inadmissible to the U.S. for a period of 5 years.
Planning Your Trip
The Lafayette Regional Airport is located only a short ride away from the University. If you arrive on a weekend, you will have to take a taxi and plan your own accommodation. If you are arriving from Monday to Friday, the Office of International Affairs may be able to pick you up at the airport. Please contact the office to make reservations.
The easiest way to carry money to the United States is by traveler’s checks. Traveler’s checks in U.S. dollars can be easily cashed at any bank. There are several banks near the University. It is recommended that students planning to stay in the U.S. for several months open a checking account. Credit cards are also widely accepted. You may even pay for your tuition by credit card. DO NOT carry large amounts of cash!
Lafayette is a casual place and students rarely dress up. Many students regularly wear shorts or jeans to class. In the summer, you will need comfortable, warm-weather clothes. In spring and fall, long pants or jeans with a short or long-sleeve shirt are fine. As the winters are mild, heavy coats are rarely needed. A sweater and a light coat are usually sufficient.
If you plan to live in the university residential halls, you will need to provide your own sheets, blankets, and towels. Beds are twin (single) size. You may want to bring one set of sheets and towels to start you off and then buy anything else you may need here.
Apartments and houses off-campus are rarely furnished, but there are some apartment complexes which cater to college students which are furnished. Please remember that renting an apartment or house often requires a deposit, usually equal to one month’s rent. This deposit will be returned at the end of the lease if the apartment is in good condition.
- Passport with F-1 student visa
- SEVIS I-20AB, usually inside an envelope attached to the passport
- Immunization record (in English).
- Syllabus of previous school
- Textbooks: You can buy or rent them in the University Bookstore located on the University grounds.
- Money (US dollars) for arrival expenses (taxi, meals, etc.)
- Money (US dollar traveler’s checks) for tuition and living expenses.
If you want to transfer from another university to UL Lafayette, you need to get permission from the transferring university's International Office. You must have your SEVIS I-20AB from UL Lafayette before relocating to Lafayette.