Visas & Immigration
As an international student wanting to enter the United States, you will need to apply for a visa at the American embassy or consulate nearest you.
A visa is an entry document, which allows you to enter the U.S. and should not be confused with an I-20 or DS-2019.
The I-20, issued to F-1 degree seeking students, and the DS-2019, issued to exchange visitor students, are documents that allow the student to stay in the U.S. for the length of their academic program and are needed to obtain a visa. F-1 Student Visas are issued to degree seeking students, and J-1 Student Visas are issued to exchange students.
The U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the student's home country issues the visa for a period of time that can last several months or several years. The U.S. Consulate or Embassy makes the final decision of visa approval.
To obtain a visa, you will need to bring the following to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country or located nearest to you:
- Proof of payment for SEVIS I-901 fee. This payment can be made online at the following website: https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee. The American embassy or consulate may accept a printed receipt of your payment.
- Immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019). At the time you are accepted into Coastal Carolina University, you will be issued an I-20 or a DS-2019 immigration document. The immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) is the document that allows students to stay in the U.S. for the length of their academic program.
- Proof of financial support. Your immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) is issued based upon your guarantee that there are adequate funds to pursue your education at Coastal. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate or the immigration official at your U.S. port of entry may wish to see proof of these funds and evidence of financial resources (such as Coastal Award Letter, personal and family bank statements). Be prepared to provide this information.
- Completed DS-160 form. You will apply for your visa using form DS-160. The order and steps you need to take to apply for your visa will vary so please visit the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa
Please note, the U.S. Consulate or Embassy makes the final decision on visa approval. For more information on student and exchange visas, choose the embassy or consulate nearest you and read about non-immigrant visa requirements: http://www.usembassy.gov/
We recommend that you always review the visa process requirements on the website of your U.S. Consulate or Embassy for the most up-to-date information.
To help you prepare for your visa interview, read 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa.
Make sure that the below documents are with you and not in your luggage. You will be asked to show your documents before you claim your baggage.
When you arrive at Immigration at your U.S. port of entry, you will be asked to show your
- Passport (must be valid for at least six (6) months);
- SEVIS fee receipt;
- Immigration Document (F-1 or J-1 visa);
- Signed I-20 or Signed DS-2019; and
- Evidence of financial support.
At Immigration, the immigration officer will issue you an electronic I-94 and will provide you with an admission stamp in your passport that is annotated with date of admission, class of admission and admitted until date. Once an electronic I-94 has been issued, you can access the electronic arrival/departure record at www.cbp.gov/I94.
Your immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) and your electronic I-94 or admission stamp are, in combination, the documents that validate your F-1 or J-1 student status.
As an international student, it is your responsibility to maintain lawful status while in the U.S. Below are the basic requirements that you must adhere to when entering the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 student status.
- You will check-in with the Coastal Carolina University Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) within ten (10) days of your arrival and complete a Department of Homeland Security Address Verification Form (AR-11) at the beginning of each semester. If you change your mailing address, phone number, email address you must notify the OIPS within ten (10) days of the change.
- You will maintain full-time status (12 credit hours) for each semester of the duration of your stay.
- You will not accept employment without first checking with OIPS and receiving approval from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
- You have only until the “expected date of graduation” as indicated on your immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) to complete your degree program.
- You will maintain medical insurance coverage. At Coastal Carolina University, medical insurance with medical evacuation & repatriation coverage is mandatory for all international students. If you do not have insurance from your home country, you must choose an appropriate alternative insurance carrier. You must provide proof of coverage when you check-in at the beginning of each semester. OIPS must have a copy of your insurance coverage, with phone numbers and an explanation, in English, of your level of coverage. You can find more information about Coastal’s medical insurance requirements and alternative providers at https://www.coastal.edu/health/international.html.
The expiration of the visa only becomes an issue if you travel outside the U.S. and plan to reenter after the expiration date of the visa has been met. Upon leaving the United States on an expired visa, a renewed visa must be obtained to reenter the country, so long as your I-20 or DS-2019 is current, valid, and has not yet expired. With an expired visa, you will be denied reentry. You should not travel to any other country but your home country to renew your visa. This could result in your being denied a visa and as a consequence being denied reentry. Remember, a student may remain in the U.S. on an expired visa, as long as they are properly and legally maintaining their status and have an unexpired immigration document, (I-20 or DS-2019), since students on F-1 and J-1 visas are admitted to the U.S. for the Duration of their Status.