FAQs for F-1 Students
- I am beginning studies at Loyola soon. How long will it take to get my I-20?
After you receive academic admission from one of Loyola's admitting offices, our office can assist you in getting an I-20. If OIP has received your financial support documents and all other pertinent information, we can usually generate your I-20 in one or two weeks. Our normal procedure is to send the document using UPS express mail service.
If you have received notice of your admission and you have mailed your financial support documents to OIP, you may wish to contact us to find out if your I-20 has been mailed. For more details about this process, please refer to the newly admitted students page.
- I am coming to the U.S. soon to begin my program of study. When can I arrive?
The U.S. consulate or embassy abroad can process your visa up to 60 days before the start date of your academic program. You may enter the country as early as 30 days in advance of your program start date.
- What is my admission number?
Your admission number is also called your I-94 number. It is an 11-digit number that appears at the top of your white I-94 card. The number is generated for you when you are arriving in the U.S. and you are asked to fill out the I-94 form. Your admission number does not have to be on your I-20. Make sure to keep the I-94 with your passport, as it is your official record of being admitted to the United States.
- What should I do when I arrive at Loyola?
In accordance with immigration regulations, you must provide OIP with your immigration documents upon arrival at Loyola. These regulations apply to students from outside the U.S., as well as to students transferring to Loyola from another U.S. school.
You may also have questions about class registration, student I.D. cards, your computer I.D., password and e-mail address, and getting settled on campus. For undergraduate students, these questions can all be answered at a summer Discover Loyola orientation session. All new students are assigned to a Discover Loyola session. If you are unable to attend your assigned session, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org to reschedule.
Graduate students should contact their academic departments for information about class registration, housing and student life.
- I am transferring to Loyola from another U.S. school. What should I do?
Immigration transfer is different than academic transfer. Even if you are completing an academic program at another institution or you will return to your home country for under 5 months before returning to attend Loyola, your former school must still transfer your immigration record. You must obtain a new I-20 from Loyola as part of the transfer process. For more information about necessary forms, deadlines and procedures related to immigration transfer, see our pages on transfer to Loyola.
- Where can I get help?
OIP has trained advisors to answer your questions. We will attempt to answer any questions you ask. To make an appointment, please contact us. If we cannot answer your questions, we will refer you to the appropriate university office.
- My visa has expired or is expiring soon. What do I need to do?
Your visa is the stamp in your passport with your photograph that was issued to you by a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. It is only an entry document, so it only needs to be valid when you travel and plan to re-enter the United States. If it expires while you are still pursuing your studies in the U.S., and you have no plans to travel outside the U.S., you will still be in status. For more information, see visa renewal.
- My I-20 is expiring soon. What should I do?
If your I-20 will expire before you finish your studies, you should get it extended. You must extend your I-20 before its expiration date in order to avoid losing your F-1 status. To extend your I-20, you will need to show OIP new bank statements or proof of financial sponsorship, plus a letter from your advisor explaining why you need the extension. For more information about this process, see extension of program.
- I am traveling outside the U.S. soon. Do I need to get a signature on my I-20?
Check the bottom of page three of your I-20. If there is a signature that will be more than 3 months old at the time when you plan to return to the U.S., you should come to the Office for International Programs for a new signature. According to immigration law, the signatures are valid for one year (as it says on your I-20), but port of entry officials recommend a more recent signature. For more information about documents needed for travel, visit travel instructions.
- When should I apply for post-completion OPT?
If you wish to do Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completion of your studies, it is recommended that you apply three to four months in advance of the date you wish to start your OPT. You ma y start your OPT as early as the next day after your final term of study ends (not your graduation date) or as late as 60 days after that date. The processing center must receive your application before you complete your program of study. For more information, visit our page on optional practical training.
- Can I work in the U.S.?
F-1 students have several opportunities to work in the U.S., both on and off Loyola's campus. For more information, see employment options for F-1 students.
- If I came to the United States in visitor status (B-1/B-2 visa category), is it possible for me to study? Is it possible to change my status from within the U.S.?
The U.S. immigration service does not allow students in visitor status to enroll in a course of study without first applying for and obtaining approval for student status (mainly F-1 status). Casual, short-term classes that are not the primary purpose of the visitor's presence in the U.S. may be allowed. In a few cases, the immigration service will approve an application made by a B-1/B-2 visitor to change to F-1 status. For further consultation, please contact us.
- I am a current international student. Is it possible for my family to come to the U.S.?
It may be possible for your immediate family members (spouse or children) to come the U.S. to stay with you for the duration of your studies. These family members should apply for F-2 visas (dependent visas of the F-1) at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. You would first need to get new I-20s from OIP. For further information about this process, see dependents in F-2 status.
For short-term visits (one month or less) or for non-immediate family members, it is suggested that they apply for visitor (B-2) visas from the U.S. consulate or embassy abroad.
- I am out of status. What should I do?
Depending on how long you have been out of F-1 status, there may be a possibility for regaining that status. It is important to apply for reinstatement as soon as possible. OIP can provide one-on-one advising to you to discuss what your options are. For an appointment, please contact us.