Visa Information

What type of visa do I need?

Most students who study at TIEP have an F-1 visa. The F-1 visa is for full-time academic study. To receive a student (F-1) visa, you must first obtain a Form I-20 from an educational institution approved by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

How can I get an I-20? What is a letter of financial guarantee?

To apply for a student (F-1) visa, the United States government requires international students to obtain a Form I-20 from the prospective school. In order to receive an I-20 from TIEP, prospective students must complete a TIEP application form, sign it, and return it to our office with the non-refundable application fee. Also required is a letter of financial guarantee from the financial institution of the person who will pay for the prospective student’s study in the United States. This letter needs to state that the prospective student or the person paying for the student has sufficient funds to pay all expenses while the student is in the United States. After we receive the completed application form, the application fee, a financial statement, and a copy of the information page of the passport, we will mail the I-20 to the student.

For more information on how to apply for a student visa, visit the following web sites:

Information for Transferring Students

If you are attending another english language school or program in the USA and would like to transfer to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar, the following information will help you with your transfer.

You will need to submit the following:

  • A complete application form
  • Nonrefundable application fee
  • A current bank statement (and support letter if needed)

You will also need to provide us with photocopies of the following documents:

Passport identification page F-1 visa I-94 arrival/departure card I-20s issued to you by previous schools After we receive these items, we will give you a letter confirming your intention to transfer to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar and an F-1 Student Transfer Information Form that will include contact information for our Designated School Official (DSO) and SEVIS School Code. The transfer form will ask your current school to verify your F-1 status and to indicate a SEVIS transfer release date. You must notify the DSO at your current school of your intent to transfer. In consultation with the DSO at your current school, you will decide on a release date for the transfer of your SEVIS record to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar. Your current school’s DSO will enter the release date into the SEVIS database. After we receive the F-1 Student Transfer Information Form from your current school, we will be able to make a final determination of your admission. If you are in valid F-1 status, we will confirm the transfer of your SEVIS record. After your SEVIS record has been released to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar, we can create a new Form I-20 for you showing that a transfer is pending from the transfer-out school. You will be able to enroll after your SEVIS record has been transferred. You must report to TIEP or TIEP at Lamar within 15 days of the program start date. After you enroll, your SEVIS record will be activated, and we will issue a new Form I-20 that completes the transfer process and shows your status as a continuing student with an approved transfer. If you have any questions about the transfer process, please contact us.

10 Points to Remember

When Applying for a Non-immigrant Visa

1. TIES TO HOME COUNTRY

Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. “Ties” to your home country are the things that bind you to your hometown, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country. Each person’s situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter, which can guarantee visa issuance.

2. ENGLISH

Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview. If you are coming to the United States solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.

3. SPEAK FOR YOURSELF

Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there in case there are questions, for example, about funding, they should wait in the waiting room.

4. KNOW THE PROGRAM AND HOW IT FITS YOUR CAREER PLANS

If you are not able to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the United States relates to your future professional career when you return home. 

5. BE CONCISE

Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer short and to the point.

6. SUPPLEMENTAL DOCUMENTATION

It should be clear at a glance to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time, if you’re lucky.

7. NOT ALL COUNTRIES ARE EQUAL

Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United States.

8. EMPLOYMENT

Your main purpose of coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.

9. DEPENDENTS REMAINING AT HOME

If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family members will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.

10. MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.

TIEP and NAFSA would like to credit Gerald A. Wunsch, Esq., 1997, then a member of the Consular Issues Working Group, and a former U.S. Consular Officer in Mexico, Suriname, and the Netherlands and Martha Wailes of Indiana University for their contributions to this document.  TIEP and NAFSA also appreciate the input of the U.S. Department of State.