F-1 Visa Overview

Most international students in the United States come in F-1 status; others come in J-1 status. The F-1 Visa is considered the Full-Time Student visa. There are some major differences between F-1 and J-1 visas. The following are some of the highlights.

  F-1 J-1
Source of Funding Substantial financial support from personal or private sources Substantial financial support from sources other than personal or private funding
212(e) – Two-year Home Residence Requirement Can not be subjected to the 212(e), two-year home residency requirement Some students may be subject to 212(e), two-year home residency requirement
On-Campus Employment May be employed part-time (20 hours per week) while school is in session. Regular academic breaks allow for full-time employment. May be employed part-time (20 hours per week) while school is in session. Regular academic breaks allow for full-time employment. Both must have ISSS written approval.
Off-Campus Employment

May be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (part-time during school/full-time during breaks) if approved by Academic Advisor and ISSS.

May be eligible for 12 months Optional Practical Training  in field related to major after completion of program of study.

Degree-seeking students: May be eligible for 18 to 36 months Academic Training.

Non-degree-seeking students: May be eligible for the equivalent amount of Academic Training to the amount of time studied.

 

Dependent Cannot engage in employment or study May apply for employment authorization or study part-time or full-time as a student

 

F-1 Visa & I-20 Acceptable Sources of Funding

Personal funds:

  • bank statements in your name showing balance of account (see below for criteria**)

Private sponsors: including parents (must include both of the following):

  • letter(s) indicating the relationship between you and the sponsor(s), the amount of support, the length of support and co-signed by the sponsor
  • the sponsor’s bank or other financial statements (see below for criteria**) issued within the last 6 months

Mines Awards (scholarships, fellowship, grants, on-campus employment, etc):

  • The letter must be:
    • printed on formal Colorado School of Mines letterhead 
    • signed by the sponsoring department
    • issued in the last 6 months
    • state the amount, duration and type/source of funding

Other institutional support/award letters:

  • letter from an employer or another institution on formal business letterhead including a signature showing amount and length of support
  • salary statements are not accepted

Loan certificates/letters:

  • must indicate your name and the amount of approved loan
  • conditional loan approvals may be accepted only if the condition is the receipt of your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • pending or un-approved loan applications are not accepted as proof of funding

**Bank/Financial Statement Criteria:

  • should be a single page document showing the criteria below. Please DO NOT submit several months worth of statements.
  • is a single document showing bank/financial statements from multiple accounts is acceptable
  • indicates the financial institution’s name
  • indicates the account holder’s name
  • clearly shows the current or more recent account balance
  • be dated within the past 6 months (older statements will not be accepted),
  • be translated into English (especially names) *unofficial translations are accepted*
  • clearly show the type of currency
  • be from statements that show liquid assets that can be converted to cash
  • be co-signed by a banking official

IMPORTANT: The following types of funding are NOT accepted:

  • Documents older than 6 months
  • Income or salary statements
  • Funds that are not immediately accessible
  • Assets that are not in liquidated form (house, car, retirement, etc)
  • Life insurance policy statements
  • Pension funds
  • Tax return forms or documents
I-20, Certificate of Eligibility

The I-20, Certificate of Eligibility is used to apply for an F-1 student visa.

REVIEW YOUR I-20 FOR ACCURACY, THEN SIGN AND DATE AT THE BOTTOM.

  • Your Name, Date of Birth, and Country of Citizenship should match the passport you will use to apply for the F-1 visa.
  • The Program State Date coincides with International Student Orientation on the Mines campus. You must enter the United States by the program start date. If your arrival is delayed, please email the International Office at isss@mines.edu for instructions.
  • The Program End Date is an estimate and may not reflect the actual completion date of your degree program.
  • The Estimated Average Costs are based on non-resident tuition and fees, and estimated living and school expenses for your first year of study. Actual costs may be higher or lower depending on specific program costs and individual needs. For Cost of Attendance details, go to Financial Aid.

If corrections are necessary, email a copy of your passport biographic page to isss@mines.edu along with details about what specifically needs to be amended on your document.

If your study plans change and you do not intend to attend the Colorado School of Mines, email the Admissions Office at admissions@mines.edu if you are an Undergraduate, or grad-admissions@mines.edu for Graduate students.

I-901 SEVIS Fee

The I-901 SEVIS fee is paid to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to cover the costs of maintenance and administration of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS monitors the status of all F-1, J-1 and M-1 students in the United States. The SEVIS fee is tied to your specific SEVIS Number (N-number on your I-20 document). 

Effective June 24, 2019 the current fee for F-1 visitors is $350. 

How do I pay the SEVIS fee?

The I-901 SEVIS fee is paid to the Department of Homeland Security online at https://www.fmjfee.com. The fee must be paid at least 3 business days before your U.S. embassy/consulate interview. The fee will not be payable at the consulate and you must have the I-901 fee receipt printed as part of your visa application.

 

Who must pay the SEVIS fee?

  • All international students applying for an Initial F-1 visa from an embassy or consulate abroad. 
  • An international student exempt from the visa requirement (e.g. citizens of Canada or Bermuda), who will be applying for admission at a United States port-of-entry to begin Initial Attendance in F-1 status
  • An international student in the United States seeking a Change of Status to F-1 status. The fee must be paid before mailing in the I-539, Change of Status application to the USCIS.
  • An F-1 student who has been outside of the United States for 5 months or more, and who is returning to the Colorado School of Mines to resume studies on a new SEVIS record with a new SEVIS number.
  • An F-1 student who is applying for reinstatement and who has been out of student status for more than 5 months. The fee must be paid before sending the I-539, Reinstatement Application to the USCIS.

Who does NOT have to pay the SEVIS fee?

  • Continuing F-1 students who have been maintaining status who remain in the United States over regular academic breaks
  • Continuing F-1 students who have maintained status, traveled outside of the U.S. and return to resume studies to complete a degree program. (Travel must have been less than five months unless on an authorized study abroad program)
  • F-1 students who are
    • changing academic degree level
    • transferring from a U.S. institution to Mines
    • who have been approved for a program extension
    • applying for Reinstatement and who has not been out of status for longer than five months
    • applying for a change of status to F-2 status
    • who were denied a visa initially at the U.S. embassy abroad and who are re-applying for the visa or applying for a motion to re-open the application within 12 months of the denial
  • F-2 dependents
Applying for an F-1 Visa

Now that you have your F-1 I-20 and have paid the SEVIS I-901 fee, you can complete the Form DS-160 and make an appointment with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for an F-1. You are encouraged to wait to buy your travel arrangements until after you have been granted a U.S. visa. 

An international student applying for an F-1 student visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad will need to present the following during the visa interview:

  • I-20, Certificate of Eligibility Form provided by ISSS at Colorado School of Mines
  • Letter of admission provided by Colorado School of Mines
  • Financial support documents (Current proof of support that would meet expenses for the first year of the program as indicated on Form I-20 (i.e. bank statements, award letters or loan approval letters)
  • Passport valid for a minimum of six months into the future at the time of entry
  • Two photos (see requirements here)
  • Receipt for payment of $350 SEVIS I-901 Fee

Visa reciprocity fee may be required by home country. For more information,  please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

IN ADDITION, you should review the website for the U.S. embassy/consulate in your home country where you are planning to apply for the visa for specific information on appointment wait times and additional F-1 visa application requirements and procedures.

For Citizens of Canada: You are not required to apply for an F-1 visa. You can enter the US with a valid passport, your I-20, financial documentation, and I-901 Fee payment confirmation.

Students from Canada and Bermuda

You will need a printed receipt indicating that you have paid the appropriate SEVIS I-901 fee at least three business days prior to arriving at a U.S. port-of-entry. This fee must be paid and fully processed before you apply for entry. 

You do not need a visa to enter the United States, but you must present an I-20 form, an I-901 receipt, proof of finances to cover your program of study, and a valid passport to enter the United States as a student or exchange visitor. If you fail to show these documents and are admitted as a visitor, you cannot enroll in classes until you are formally entered in F-1 full-time student status.

How early can I enter the U.S.?

You may enter the US up to 30 days before the program start date on your I-20. If you arrive earlier than 30 days and are admitted in a status other than F-1, you will be required to travel outside of the United States and re-enter on F-1 status before you can begin your academic program.

Arrival to the US should be a smooth experience if you have everything prepared in advance. Information on what to expect when entering the US can be found at Study in the States.

Although it is rare, you might be sent to a secondary inspection area for additional questions. This does not mean that you are in any kind of trouble, but rather something in your immigration record or about your particular situation needs to be reviewed more thoroughly. If this should happen, remain calm. If the immigration officer needs to contact the University, he or she may call 303-273-3210 between 8 am and 5 pm on workdays or email Mark Cramer (mcramer@mines.edu) or Ashley Koerner (akoerner@mines.edu).

You should also be aware of customs rules that may restrict what you wish to bring into the U.S. In particular, there are restrictions on many types of foods, spices and medications. Look at the U.S. Customs website for more details.

After you are admitted to the U.S., U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will stamp your passport with the date of entry and notate “F-1, D/S.” They will also issue an electronic I-94 which you can retrieve online at any time. Double-check your electronic I-94 record to ensure it matches the physical stamp you received in your passport. If it does not match, please speak with an ISSS advisor.

Pre-Arrival Checklist

Review the Pre-Arrival Immigration Checklist.

Don’t forget to also review the information in the Undergraduate Oredigger Checklist or Graduate Student Admissions materials you have received. 

For additional reference, the Mines Academic Calendar can be found here

Transfer to Mines
You must transfer your SEVIS record to Mines if any of the following apply:
  • you are currently enrolled in a college, university, or high school in the U.S.
  • you have recently graduated from a college, university, or high school in the U.S.
  • you have completed or are completing a period of Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • you are currently in valid F-1 status, even if you are outside the U.S.

You do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again if your record is transferred to Mines. The SEVIS fee is linked to your SEVIS-number, not the number of I-20s you receive.

You must transfer your record within 60 days of the program end date on your I-20, or within 60 days of your OPT/STEM OPT end date.

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR TRANSFERRING SEVIS RECORD

  1. Ask your current (or previous) institution’s International Student Adviser to complete the Authorization Email you sent them via the “Mines Welcomes You! – Pre-Arrival/Orientation Module.”
    • If you have not completed this step, log in to the ISSS Portal and submit the request for authorization to your current international student advisor. 
  2. Complete any form your current school requires for transfer. Coordinate with your current international student advisor to determine the best date to transfer your record from your current school to Mines. Mines must receive your record before the next academic term begins.
    • The ISSS cannot create your new I-20 until after your SEVIS transfer date. This means your I-20 may take more than 10 business days if you are transferring your SEVIS record to Mines.
Fall and Spring Orientation

New International Student Orientation is a mandatory component of your F-1 visa status. The orientation will provide more information about your visa status, resources at Mines, and help your transition into life in the United States. More information is available here.

The information contained in this web site is provided as a service to the international students, faculty, staff, employees and administrators of the Colorado School of Mines, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax or any other matter. We aim to provide substantial and useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or sufficiency of the information contained in or linked from this web site or any external/associated site. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither the Colorado School of Mines nor the Office of Global Education is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

CONTACT US

International Student & Scholar Services
924 16th Street
Green Center, Suite 219
Colorado School of Mines
Golden, CO 80401

Office Hours
Monday through Friday, 9:00a – 12:00p and 1:30p – 4:00p

Main Office Phone and Email
(303) 273-3210 / isss@mines.edu