This section of the website includes information that details how to obtain a Visa, instructions on entering the U.S., and a checklist of pre-arrival reminders.
The Schaumburg Christian School Registrar is responsible for the general welfare of global students at SCS. Our staff assists with problems concerning your immigration and social or personal adjustment to academic life in the United States.
It is very important that all students and their sponsors attend their scheduled orientation as part of immigration "registration." Information regarding the orientation meeting can be found on this website or by contacting:
Schaumburg Christian School
Phone: 847-885-3230, x3139
Remember to bring your passport and other immigration documents with you to the orientation meeting: visa stamp, I-20 and I-94 card. If you miss the official orientation meeting, it is your responsibility to report to Karen Bustamante to register your immigration documents.
Obtaining A Visa
Students and Exchange Visitors must obtain a F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the United States. International students should apply for the visa in their home country, unless circumstances or travel plans make this impossible. If the student applies in a third country, the application may take more time and be reviewed more critically than if it was applied for at home. Visa procedures may differ from one consulate or embassy to another. Before applying, check with the office where you plan to apply to determine exactly what additional supporting documentation is required. The U.S. Department of State maintains an authoritative website on the visa application process that should be studied carefully. A personal interview with the consular official is now required in most every case. The information below provides a brief summary.
Overview of Requirements for Visa Application
- Complete visa application form and pay visa fees.
- Receipt for payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee (if applicable)
- Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the U.S.
- You will need a 2" x 2" photograph.
- Form I-20 for school or program you wish to attend. A current travel endorsement is required on the document for continuing students.
- Status Verification Letter from the School Registrar.
- Financial evidence detailing source and amount of funding. Consular and immigration officers exercise considerable discretion in determining whether financial support exists and is sufficient to cover your entire period of stay. Prepare documentation that is thorough, consistent, credible and varied. Examples of financial documentation: bank statements, letters from governmental sponsor, etc.
- Academic transcripts, confirmation of enrollment, and proof of English language proficiency may also be requested.
- Evidence of continuing ties to your home country (i.e. family, career, or property) Visa applicants are presumed to be "intended immigrants." Your visa will be denied unless you satisfy the consular officer that you will return home. Unfortunately, there is no single explanation, document, or letter than can guarantee visa issuance.
Your passport must be valid at least six months into the future. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police, as your home country government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country’s consulate in the U.S. at: www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/fco
F-1 Visa Stamp
An F-1 visa stamp that the U.S. consular officials place in your passport indicates that you are eligible to enter or re-enter the U.S. as an F-1 student. It does not determine your length of stay in the U.S. If your F-1 visa expires while you are in the U.S., it is not necessary to renew it as long as you remain in the country. A visa can only be secured at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.
I-94 Departure Record
The I-94 is a small white card, usually stapled into your passport, by an immigration official at the port of entry. This card and a valid I-20 permit you to stay temporarily in the U.S. as an F-1 student. The immigration official should indicate “F-1D/S” on your I-94. D/S stands for “duration of status” and refers to the length of time an F-1 student is permitted to remain temporarily in the U.S. to pursue a full course of study. Except for brief visits (30 days or less) to Canada , Mexico and Adjacent, you are issued a new I-94 card with a new admission number each time you enter the U.S. Keep all your important documents in a safe place (i.e. a secure location in your home, bank safe-deposit box). The School Registrar is required by DHS to keep a copy of these documents in your student file. Provide the office with a copy when you renew these documents.
FORM I-20: Certificate of Eligibility
An I-20 is issued by the U.S. school you attend and allows you to: 1) apply for an F-1 visa; 2) enter or re-enter the U.S. to pursue your studies; and 3) receive other immigration benefits. The I-20 lists some recent events such as employment authorization. The I-20 must remain valid at all times throughout your study. You must request a new I-20 prior to the expiration date listed in item #5. You are required to safe keep every I-20 issued to you for your permanent record. Do not discard old ones. Why do I need a Form I-20?
A Form I-20 is a government form that tells the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 Student Status. It certifies that (1) you are or expect to be a "bona fide" student; 2) you meet our admissions requirements; (3) you will pursue a full course of study; (4) you proved to us that you have enough money to study and live in the U.S. without working illegally or suffering from poverty. You need a Form I-20 to obtain an F-1 student visa or status, or to keep lawful F-l status when transferring or changing schools within the U.S. Students must notify their current institution to transfer their SEVIS record to Schaumburg Christian School prior to the I-20 issuance.
Rules for Getting Your Form I-20:
- YOU MUST BE ACCEPTED TO A FULL-TIME PROGRAM OF STUDY
- YOU MUST PROVE TO US THAT YOU CAN SUPPORT THE COSTS OF LIVING AND STUDYING IN THE U.S. FOR EVERY YEAR OF YOUR PROGRAM OF STUDY. U.S. LAW REQUIRES THIS.
- CAREFULLY REVIEW the Estimated ANNUAL FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS". THIS IS THE AMOUNT THAT YOU MUST PROVE THAT YOU CAN SUPPORT FOR EVERY YEAR IN YOUR PROGRAM OF STUDY.
- THESE REQUIREMENTS ARE NOT NEGOTIABLE. They represent a modest average budget that does not include luxuries of any kind. We strongly recommend that you budget at least 10% more if possible. Too little money causes pain and distress. We insist that students and their families look closely at the costs of living and studying in the U.S. and make careful plans to be sure your needs will be met.
- EXPECT ANNUAL INCREASES in tuition and living costs of approximately 10%. READ AND FOLLOW THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS VERY CAREFULLY. YOU CANNOT COMPLETE THIS PROCESS WITHOUT FOLLOWING THEM STEP-BY-STEP. Sometimes, we may have to ask you to give us more evidence of your financial ability - perhaps more than once. The U.S. government requires that we be absolutely sure, to the best of our ability, that you will have enough financial support to cover the full costs of your stay in the U.S.
WARNING! (IMPORTANT IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENT REMINDER)
You are required to see the School Registrar prior to beginning classes. All new international students are required by US immigration law to visit and register with this office within 15 days of their program start date. During this visit, students must bring their passport with student visa stamp, I-20 document, and the I-94 card issued by US. Customs upon entrance into the United States. Failure to properly meet this requirement could jeopardize your immigration status in the United States.
Pre-Departure Checklist Study in the United States, as you know, requires a great deal of advanced planning. Here are some practical considerations you need to think about as you prepare to leave for the US:
- Have you received your SEVIS I-20 and obtained your F-1 student entry visa?
- Have you made arrangements for housing?
- Have you arranged your travel plans so that you will arrive on the announced date for International Students and attend the orientation program for new international students?
- Do you have a small amount of US currency to cover the initial expenses of your arrival (i.e., bus and taxi fares, meals, etc.)?
- If you are bringing over $10,000 in cash to the United States, make sure you declare it on your customs form; otherwise the Customs officials have the right to confiscate your money and charge a fee.
- Do you have traveler's insurance to cover medical emergencies?
- Have you budgeted for the expense of health insurance?
- If necessary, have you made arrangements for transferring money to the US? Do you know what documents are required? What are the restrictions on the transfer of funds to the US? How much lead time is necessary?
- Have you packed a variety of clothes to keep you warm and cool during the changing seasons?
- Have you packed all sharp objects (pocket knives, scissors, etc) in your luggage and not in your carry-on? If not, it will be confiscated during the security clearance.
- Are you planning to drive in the United States? If so, consider obtaining an International Driver's License from your home country. (If your immigration documents are not valid for at least 1-year at time of applying for an Illinois Driver's License, you will not be eligible to obtain one).
Traveling to the United States
Read the information from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website on arriving at a U.S. port of entry: What an F-1 Student can expect Also, please read the information about Rules and Regulations you must follow when entering the United States.
Rules and Regulations When Entering the United States
Please follow these simple rules to ensure an uneventful entry and stay in the United States:
- Students should enter the United States for full-time study in the F-1 visa category, NOT a B-2 Tourist Visa. You should not enter the US on a B-2 tourist visa, as it is likely that you will have to leave the US shortly after your arrival to obtain a F-1 visa and return. In special cases, US consular offices will sometimes issue a B-2 visa marked "prospective student" which will allow you to change to F-1 status without leaving the US. It is not recommended that students enter the US as a "prospective student" because you will NOT be able to commence your studies until your change of status to F-1 is approved by the USCIS. Generally, it takes the USCIS approximately 2 months to process a change of status application to F-1 and approval of the change of status is not guaranteed.
- At the port of entry in the US, an immigration officer will examine your I-20, passport, and entry visa (if applicable). He or she will stamp both your I-94 card ("arrival and departure record") and your I-20 form. Please keep these extremely important immigration documents in a secure place.
- Students must attend the school whose I-20 form was used to obtain a student visa and to enter the US. If, for example, you enter the US on a Form I-20 issued by another school, but then attend Schaumburg Christian School, you will almost certainly have to leave the US shortly after your arrival and re-enter using SCS's I-20 Form.
Students may not enter the US more than 30 days prior to the start date listed on their I-20 Form. The program start date is governed by the student's school and may not be changed. Students wishing to enter the US in F-1 status prior to the 30-day start date are not advised to do so. Please plan your travel to the US accordingly.