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International Student FAQ

Updated September 1, 2021

VISA ACQUISITION

Based on local conditions, some U.S. Consulates accept regularly scheduled visa appointments, while others only schedule emergency or expedited visa appointments. Review the information on your U.S. Consulate's website. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/list-of-posts.html

Canadians are exempt from the visa requirement but must comply with all other F-1 or J-1 regulations and restrictions.

SEVP currently allows electronic Form I-20 issuance and ISP can send Forms I-20 to students via email. We recommend that you print the electronic I-20 to present during a visa interview (if applicable) and for entry to the United States.

In the past, we advised that the SEVIS ID number or the School Name on the visa should match the information on the I-20 at the time of initial entry. However, we acknowledge that our colleagues at schools across the United States have advised that "a valid visa is a valid visa."  Students have been known to successfully use any valid F-1 visa to enter the United States.

TRAVEL AND ENTRY TO THE UNITED STATES

Review all travel restrictions and possible exemptions on https://international.caltech.edu/travel-new/current_travel_guidance.

Students with valid F-1 and J-1 visas may travel directly from Brazil, China, European Schengen countries, India, Iran, South Africa, United Kingdom, and Ireland to the United States.

Prior to your travel date, you can contact ISP to request the Associate Director's contact information.

SEVP currently allows electronic Form I-20 issuance and ISP can send Forms I-20 to students via email. We recommend that you print the electronic I-20 to present during a visa interview (if applicable) and for entry to the United States.

No. J-1 students must travel with a hard copy, original Form DS-2019.

We recommend that you register with your home country Embassy. If you need to leave the United States, your home country Embassy may be able to assist with repatriation flights.

STUDENTS WITH ACTIVE SEVIS RECORDS

Request a travel signature from ISP. ISP can send electronic Forms I-20 via email and hard copy Forms DS-2019 by mail.

Generally, any student who takes time off from studies is placed on a medical or non-medical leave of absence.

Continuing undergraduate students may be eligible for a medical leave without interrupting their SEVIS record. Contact ISP in advance for guidance. If an undergraduate student takes a non-medical leave, ISP would be required to terminate the current SEVIS record.

Continuing graduate students may be eligible for a medical leave without interrupting their SEVIS record. Contact ISP in advance for guidance. A graduate student may be eligible for a non-medical leave (vacation term) without terminating the current SEVIS record. Depending on the type and timing of the leave request, ISP may be required to terminate the current SEVIS record.

If you are in the United States at that time of the SEVIS termination, you would have 15 days to depart the United States. Whenever you are ready to return to the United States to resume full-time enrollment at Caltech, ISP will issue a new, initial I-20. This document would contain a new SEVIS number, and you may need to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. Refer to the I-901 SEVIS Fee Frequently Asked Questions at https://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/faq#_Toc81222150 for information.

An Active SEVIS student may take less than a full course of study if a reduced course load request is approved by the appropriate office and if the proper notification and documentation is provided to ISP prior to the underload. Consult with the Deans Office or Grad Office if a reduced course load may be needed.