Schedule your VISA interview
Your local embassy or consulate has specific instructions for scheduling an appointment. Wait times can be several weeks or longer, especially during summer months. Schedule your appointment as soon as possible after receiving your I-20. Approximate VISA wait times at consular locations can be found at: http://travel.state.gov/
Check out Education USA website at https://educationusa.state.gov//your-5-steps-us-study, for tips on successfully completing the visa process. While this is an optional step, international students who use this service are more prepared and successful in obtaining a student VISA than those who attempt this alone. There is a $200 fee for a membership, and Education USA is run from the United States Department of State, so it is like the United States is assisting you in preparing for the visa interview. This fee does not guarantee admission into the US, but it will help you in advising on how to prepare for your visa interview and what the document requirements will be. There is a high reject rate for students without using this service, it is highly encouraged to use this service to give the Department of State an opportunity to meet and get to know you better. There is a less than 10% success rate, particularly with students from Africa, without using this service. The visa requirements and interview process are frequently changing and Education USA can help you to keep up-to-date as changes happen.
You will receive your SEVIS ID Number on your I-20 Form in your acceptance packet. You cannot pay the SEVIS fee without this number.
New students must pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee before applying for a student Visa or entering the U.S. This fee is assessed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is not administered by Lake Superior College. This is a separate fee from the Education USA fee. For details, visit the I-901 SEVIS Fee website.
SEVIS ID Number: Locate on your I-20 Form
School Code: SPM214F00962000
- Embassy/Consulate information is available at US Ebassies website.
- You must find an Embassy/Consulate in your home country
Prepare for your VISA interview
Your local embassy or consulate has specific instructions for scheduling an appointment. Wait times can be several weeks or longer, especially during summer months. Schedule your appointment as soon as possible after receiving your I-20 Form. Approximate VISA wait times at consular locations can be found at the Student Visa website.
All VISA applicants must provide the following documents to the U.S. embassy or consulate at the time of the interview:
- Valid passport
- I-20 document
- Documented proof of financial support for at least one year
- Proof of SEVIS Fee payment (receipt)
- Visa application forms (available from U.S. embassy/consulate)
- Any other documents requested by your embassy/consulate (check with your local embassy)
- Academic Records
Importance of Name Consistency
To avoid problems or delays in obtaining your Visa and entering the U.S., ensure that all immigration documents reflect the same name, exactly as it appears in your passport. Do not use “nicknames” or shortened names on any of your documents, including your passport, I-20, entry visa stamp, I-94 card (completed in the airplane before your arrival) and any additional documents that you acquire after your arrival in the U.S.
For your VISA interview, you must be prepare to answer confidently and clearly in English the following questions:
- Your area of study (be familiar with your chosen program of study
- Your reason for wanting to study in the U.S.
- Proof of sufficient funds and how your funds are able to cover all of your expenses for a minimum of one year.
- Your good reasons for returning home after you complete your studies. You must provide evidence where possible of the strong ties you have to your country. It could include having all of your family in your country, having a job offer awaiting you when you return or proof of property ownership. Emphasize specific future educational, employment or career goals that will be carried out in your home country. When applying for a non-immigrant VISA, the U.S. Consular Officer interviewing you will assume that you plan to immigrate to the U.S. permanently unless you prove otherwise. During the interview, you will need to prove that you will only study temporarily in the U.S. and plan to return home after your studies are completed.
- The address where you are planning to live, if you do not yet have an address, please give the school’s address as where you will first report and email the PDSO at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you are aware of where you will be living. While Lake Superior College does not have housing on campus, you will have to be prepared to answer this question.
Be familiar with the requirements of the Student Exchange Visitor Program.
If you are granted a student visa, remember this does NOT guarantee entry into the US. Your student visa gives you permission to knock on the door of the US and ask for permission to enter the country. It is the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) Officers at the border that grant permission to enter the country.
We recommend practicing your Visa interview with family and friends. Answer all questions truthfully but only provided information related to the question asked.
Check out Education USA website, for tips on successfully completing the visa process. While this is an optional step, international students who use this service are more prepared and successful in obtaining a student VISA than those who attempt this alone. There is a $200 fee for a membership, and Education USA is run from the United States Department of State, so it is like the United States is assisting you in preparing for the visa interview. This fee does not guarantee admission into the US, but it will help you in advising on how to prepare for your visa interview and what the document requirements will be. There is a high reject rate for students without using this service, it is highly encouraged to use this service to give the Department of State an opportunity to meet and get to know you better. There is a less than 10% success rate, particularly with students from Africa, without using this service.
If your Visa is denied, ask the consular affairs officials to provide you with a written explanation of the denial, then contact Lake Superior College through email. Address the email to Victoria Shaw Carlson at email@example.com and write “Visa Denial” in the subject line. Include your Lake Superior College student ID number and your full name in the email message.
Steps after you have secured your VISA
Once admitted, you will need to provide proof of health insurance before you can register for classes. There are a few companies to choose from and what you must measure out is risk, lower cost plans, may not cover all of your healthcare costs and may require more cash upfront to use health services. Also, the older you are the more expensive the International Student Insurance, the United Healthcare insurance is one flat rate for all international students regardless of age.
Here are three options if you need to purchase health insurance.
- ISO Insurance at https://www.isoa.org/overview.
- United Healthcare at http://www.uhcsr.com/. Click on Find My School’s Plan, search for Lake Superior College and click on the flyer for International Students You may need to contact United Healthcare directly at 1-888-251-6243 to enroll in the health insurance plan.
- International Student Insurance at http://www.internatinalstudentinsurance.com/student-health-insurance/. You can choose from only the budget, select, or elite plans.
Do this only after you know the status of your visa interview and before entering the US.
You will need to have a health care plan in place before you travel, and you must show proof of health insurance before you register for classes.
You can download the study app to your phone from links on our website: http://www.lsc.edu/accuplacer/. It is a good idea not to take this placement testing with little sleep, and being travel-weary. Study and take your placement test after you have been in Duluth for at least two days. Your score will determine which classes you can initially register for.
Student Orientation Accuplacer and Registration (SOAR)
Or you can go to this link to sign up http://www.lsc.edu/student-orientation-accuplacer-registration/. We recommend to schedule your testing after you have had a couple of days to rest. You can arrive up to 1 month before the start of the semester.
Registration for Classes
Be prepared to show proof of health insurance and updated address and contact information. Stop by and see Victoria Shaw Carlson in Student Services to drop off a copy of your current class schedule, update your local contact information (address and phone) and to pick up an updated copy of your I-20 Form that shows you have registered for classes. You will need to do this for every term that you are enrolled at Lake Superior College to remain in good standing for your student visa
There are several options listed on the LSC Housing site. Review the housing options in your acceptance packet. The University of Wisconsin-Superior is just over the bridge (but an hour on public transit – which is free for LSC students) and they have a block of rooms reserved for our students and this includes a meal plan. While Campus Park Apartments has reserved a block of apartments for our students, and they provide a free shuttle to LSC, but this does not include meals, and there isn’t bus service in the evenings or on the weekends. Other local housing options exist, check out the links on our website.
You can either fly directly to the Duluth airport or to the Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) airport and then take the Skyline Shuttle to Duluth: http://www.skylineshuttle.com/scheduleandrates/
Note: If you will be dependent on public transit, make sure that the Duluth Transit Authority (DTA) stops by your chosen housing option, this will be very important in the winter months.
US Customs Information
Once you have passed the immigration inspection at your U.S. Port of Entry, you will be asked to declare to a U.S. Customs inspector what you have brought into the country. Usually, you will fill out a declaration from on the plane and make a verbal statement to the official, who may or may not inspect your baggage.
You may bring in anything for your personal use without paying duty. Quantity limitations are placed on alcoholic beverages (1 liter, if you are over 21 years old); cigarettes (1 carton); cigars (100); smoking tobacco (2 kilograms). A total of $400 worth of gifts may be brought in duty free every six months. Any value over $400 will be assessed duty. Any amount of money may be brought into the U.S. without paying duty; however, you must declare any amount over $10,000. Certain articles may not be brought into the U.S. including meats, vegetables, fruits, plants, drugs without a prescription, articles made from endangered species, pornographic materials, lottery tickets, and switchblade knives. Food items that are canned or otherwise hermetically sealed are acceptable. For more information, contact a U.S. Consulate.
All financial arrangements are to be made before you arrive in Duluth. Lake Superior College cannot and does not assume financial responsibility for international students and their families. To be admitted to and attend LSC, you are responsible for supplying the amount of money you indicated on the financial affidavit you submitted to LSC and you are to have access to the total amount typed on Item #7 of your I-20 Form. On-campus employment is limited. In addition, students should not expect to be able to finance their studies by working in the U.S. Evidence of financial support was a required part of your application and also required for your visa in verifying that you would not have to work to support yourself.
It is unwise to carry large amounts of cash with you. It is recommended that you have immediate access to least $5,000 in cashier’s or traveler’s checks (in USD) or credit card to cover the majority of your first year’s immediate tuition expenses. If you wish to deposit your money in the LSC Business Office, the checks are to be made payable to “Lake Superior College.” Money on deposit is refunded when the student terminates enrollment at the college. It is also recommended that you bring $200 to $500 cash in U.S. currency for taxi, phone, and other charges that may occur upon your arrival.
While in the U.S., you are responsible for all financial obligations: rent, telephone bill, credit card expenses, food, shelter, etc., and for all bills owed to Lake Superior College. This is a serious matter because a student will not be allowed to continue their studies at our institution and register for future semesters until all tuition fees are paid in full. You will not be permitted to work off campus until you have completed 2 full semesters in your program of study (other restrictions apply) and on campus jobs are very limited.
It may take few days for you to open a bank account. You can do this at any local bank or credit union and you will need to bring your passport and show your visa to set up your account. US Bank 218-723-2800, Wells Fargo 218-723-2694 or Members Cooperative Credit Union 218-625-8500 are some local options. You will need to confirm that they are able to accept international wire transfers.
Important: You may want to have Traveler’s Checks to cover immediate expenses like, health insurance (approximately $1300) and registration deposit, first month’s rent and other expenses if you are planning to live off-campus. US currency should be in small denominations. Approximately $200-$500. Purchase a money belt, neck pouch to carry your valuables such like passport, I-20, money order, checks and cash.