Immigration and Visa Information
- Before applying for your visa, you will need to be issued Form I-20 from the Admissions Office at Holy Names University. HNU only issues these forms once a student is fully admitted. Learn more about how to be admitted to HNU as an international student: undergraduate students and graduate students.
- Once you have received your I-20, you can begin your visa application process. Generally, you must apply for an F-1 visa at the US embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any US consular office abroad, it can be difficult to obtain a visa outside your country of permanent residence. Please be sure to check the website of your specific Embassy/Consulate, as each has its own requirements. You should apply for your F-1 visa at least 2 months before you will need it to travel.
- As mentioned above, the Certificate of Eligibility “Form I-20” is required when applying for the appropriate visa for entry to the US. If item 3 on your I-20 states “initial attendance,” you are required to pay the new SEVIS fee of $350 and have a printed receipt proving payment. This fee should be paid prior to your visa interview. You can log on to www.fmjfee.com to pay the SEVIS fee. You will be required to write in the “school code,” which is found on your I-20.
- Remember: You must apply for your student visa in advance of the date you would like to depart for HNU. Note that holiday periods are very busy times at US embassies/consulates worldwide, and it is important for you to have your visa in time to arrive at HNU to begin orientation and registration activities. Appointments are now mandatory for all student visas, and some US embassies/consulates require that you attend your appointments at least 4 to 8 weeks in advance. You should reserve that appointment time as soon as possible.
- Your I-20 indicates the latest date by which you should report to HNU, usually the first day of classes. If you want off-campus housing, we recommend arriving earlier to allow enough time for you to locate suitable accommodations before Orientation begins.
- Students on an F-1 visa are not permitted to enter the US earlier than 30 days before the start date of their program.
- Important Note: If your plans change, and you decide not to attend HNU, please return the I-20 to the Admissions Office and let your Admissions Counselor know of your decision. If you wish to defer your admission to a later semester, you will need to let your Admissions Counselor know.
- Passports: You must have a passport valid for travel to the US and with a validity date for at least 6 months after your proposed date of entry to the US.
Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a US F-1 visa to enter the US. However, a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will inspect your papers, either at a pre-inspection site in Canada or upon entry to the US. You must have with you:
- proof of Canadian citizenship (passport)
- your HNU admissions letter
- proof of Federal I-901 fee payment
- your HNU-issued I-20
- proof of financial support that corresponds with the information on your I-20
Before your departure, be sure that you have the following documents. You will need these for entry into the US:
- F-1 Visa stamp (inside passport)
- Proof of SEVIS (I-901) Fee payment
- I-20 issued from HNU
- Once you have obtained your US student visa, you are ready to finalize your travel plans. Be sure to have your I-20 form, proof of I-901 fee payment, and passport with you when you go through your immigration inspection at the US port of entry.
- Expect to go through both immigration and customs inspection at the US port of entry. At the immigration booth, present your passport, I-20, your proof of Federal I-901 fee payment, and your completed I-94 arrival/departure card (which will have been distributed on the airplane).
- Remember that immigration officers have the discretion to admit or deny entry of any visitor into the US. Never lie or mislead an immigration officer and always have all of your immigration information with you when passing through a port of entry.
- Anyone who is denied admission at a US port of entry should be very cautious about arguing with the immigration official. You may risk being issued “expedited removal,” which now entails a 5-year ban on admission to the US. If you are denied admission, first try to contact the Office of International Education for assistance at (510) 436-1333, but also make it known to the immigration official that you are willing to withdraw your application for admission to the US rather than be subject to expedited removal.