International Student Pre-Arrival Guide

The Form I-20

The Form I-20 is issued by the Admissions Office of Eckerd College after you have met all the requirements for admission. It is usually mailed to you with a notice of acceptance. It is a very important legal document that allows you to apply for a student visa, travel in and out of the United States, obtain a driver’s license, and proves your status as a student.

F-1 Visa

The F-1 visa is a stamp placed on a page of your passport by a U. S. consular officer. It is required for all non U.S. citizens (except Canadian citizens) to enter the United States as a student. Unless you already have a valid F-1 visa, be sure to make an appointment to the closest U.S. Consulate in your country to obtain this visa. (If you already have a F-1 visa, make sure it is valid before re-entering the United States).

Applying for a F-1 Visa

Once you have received your I-20 from the Admissions Office, contact immediately the closest U.S. Consulate/Embassy to make an appointment and to inquire about specific application procedures and SEVIS fees payment to obtain your student visa.

Required documents to apply for F-1 visa:

  • Your form I-20
  • Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses at Eckerd College
  • Your passport – valid for at least six months
  • Form DS-160 “Nonimmigrant Visa Application”
  • Photographs
  • A visa application fee and a SEVIS fee

Note: The earliest an F-1 visa can be applied for is 90 days before the start date listed on Form I-20.

Entering the United States

You can enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the start date indicated on your form I-20. When you arrive at the U.S. port of entry you must present to the immigration official the following documents:

  • Your passport – valid for at least six months
  • The F-1 visa stamped in your passport by the consulate (if required)
  • Your form I-20 signed
  • Receipt of payment of your I-901 SEVIS fee

Arrival on Campus

The Office of International Student Services will contact you to stop by the office with the following documents: Your passport, the F-1 visa stamped in your passport, and your form I-20. We will copy or scan these documents to keep in our records. During the office visit, I will inform you of regulations pertaining to your visa such as procedures for internships, on campus job opportunities, work in the U.S. after graduation.

If you have any question about procedures, driver’s license, health insurance, etc. feel free to contact me at 727.864.7678 or preferably by email at debureoc@eckerd.edu.

Olivier Debure
Director of International Student Services