Frequently Asked Questions


When should I apply for the student visa?

We encourage you to apply for your visa as soon as you are prepared to do so (after receiving the form I-20 from Chemeketa and after paying the SEVIS fee)

What is an I-20 form?

When Chemeketa admits you to our school, we send you a non-immigration form called the I-20. This form indicates your field of study (major), the length of your program, and the date when you must report to Chemeketa. The I-20 form allows you to apply for a F-1 student visa.

What happens if I cannot arrive by the reporting date?

You must contact Chemeketa to make arrangements for late arrival. We can also admit you for the following session.

What will happen when I enter the United States?

An airline flight attendant will ask you to complete the I-94 form (Arrival/Departure Record) in the airplane before you land at the U.S. port of entry. You will present the I-94 form and your passport to the immigration inspector when you land. The immigration inspector will stamp the I-94 form with "D/S (duration of status) and attach it to your passport. "D/S" means that you may stay in the United States until you complete your studies. Be sure to keep this document. We will ask to see it when you arrive at Chemeketa.

What are my obligations as a student on an F-1 visa?

Students on an F-1 visa must follow the regulations of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS). According to these regulations, you must:

  • Register for classes at the school which issued the I-20.
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student while you are in the U.S.
  • Follow the required procedures before requesting permission to work off-campus.
  • Request assistance from one of our international student advisors if you wish to transfer to another school.

How long can I stay in the United States?

The I-20 indicates the length of time you can stay to finish your course of studies. You are permitted to stay until your studies are finished, as long as you maintain full-time student status

If I cannot complete my studies in the required time, may I stay longer?

If you need a longer time to complete your studies, our international admissions officer can help you apply for an extension. If you completed your studies and the I-20 does not expire, you are not allowed to continue staying in the U.S. with that I-20.

If my visa expires, how do I renew it?

The visa is an entry document only. The visa needs to be valid only at the time you enter the U.S. It does not need to be renewed if you stay in the U.S. However, you may wish to visit your home country during vacation periods. If your visa has expired, we will provide you with complete information about how to renew your visa.

Once a person has been denied a student visa, will they always be denied a student visa?

Fortunately, it is possible for an unsuccessful student visa applicant to be granted a visa upon another attempt. Keep in mind that U.S. officials make decisions about student visas on a case-by-case basis. There are many reasons why you may be denied a student visa. For instance, you may not have proven that you have adequate financial means to study in the U.S., or you may not have prepared the required documentation correctly. When you can supply evidence that you meet all of the criteria for obtaining a student visa, you may re-apply. If you are denied a student visa, please contact Chemeketa and we will try to assist you.

Is it possible to receive a student visa if I want to attend a community college?

Absolutely. You can receive a student visa so long as the community college is accredited (such as Chemeketa). Still, it's a good idea to bring background information about Chemeketa and our academic programs to your visa interview.

Can my parents visit me while I am studying in the United States?

Yes. Your parents can enter the U.S. on a tourist (B-2) visa. Although it probably won't be necessary, you can write a letter of invitation to your parents, with details on the purpose of the visit. You should address the letter to your parents and write about activities they would engage in during their visit, such as seeing your college campus, meeting your friends, or attending scheduled events. When applying for a tourist visa, it's important for your parents to show convincing reasons why they will return to their native country (such as jobs, property and young dependents).


What is SEVIS?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a web-based system that maintains information on international students, visitors, and their dependents. It is administered by the U.S. Customs and Immigration office. SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit electronic information and notifications via the internet to the U.S. Department of State, throughout your stay in the U.S. All international students (F and M visas) wishing to study in the U.S. must pay a non-refundable $100 fee that is used to support the program and the automated tracking system.

Who pays the SEVIS fee?

  • Prospective students with "initial attendance" I-20s dated on or after 9/1/2004 who are applying for an "initial" F-1 visa from outside the U.S.
  • Prospective students with "initial attendance" I-20s dated on or after 9/1/2004 who are applying for a change to F-1 status from another visa category.
  • Current F-1 students in the U.S. filing for reinstatement after being out of status more than 5 months, and who are issued an I-20 for reinstatement that is dated on or after 9/1/2004.

Will other F-1 students in the U.S. have to pay?

No, unless the student's circumstances change so that he or she fits one of the categories mentioned above.

What about my F-2 dependents?

F-2 dependents do not have to pay the fee, even if the I-20 that the F-2 dependents use is issued on or after 9/1/2004.

Do I have to pay if I transfer to another school, travel outside the U.S. or renew my visa?

The SEVIS fee is not required when transferring schools, changing to another degree program or level, requesting a program extension, renewing an F-1 visa or using F-1 program benefits such as optional practical training (OPT). If you are in status when you travel internationally and are not physically outside of the U.S. for more than five months, you will not be required to pay the fee.

When do I pay the SEVIS fee?

The fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to applying for your visa, or applying for admission at a U.S. port-of-entry for those exempt from the visa requirement. The fee must be paid prior to submission of a change of status petition or reinstatement application.

Can I pay the SEVIS fee at a university, consulate or port of entry?

No. At this time the SEVIS fee can only be processed by DHS via mail or the Internet.

How do I pay the fee?

The fee can be paid to the DHS by mail or online and must be accompanied by Form I-901. It can be paid by you or by a third party, inside or outside the U.S.

Will the DHS keep a record of my payment on file?

Fee payments should be entered into your permanent immigration (SEVIS) record but it is strongly recommended that you retain a copy of your fee receipt (form I-797) to use as needed.

I applied to more than one school, and have more than one I-20 form. What happens if I pay the SEVIS fee for one school, and then I change my mind and decide that I want to attend the other school? Is my paid SEVIS fee transferable?

Yes. But you must submit the I-20 form with the SEVIS ID number that you listed on the I-901 form with you to the U.S. consulate/embassy. For change of status or reinstatement applications, please see next question.

If my F-1 visa application is denied, will I have to pay another SEVIS fee if I re-apply for the F-1 visa?

The SEVIS fee will not be refunded. However, if you reapply for a new F-1 visa within 12 months of the denial, you will not have to pay the fee again.

More Information

If you would like more information about attending Chemeketa, contact our Office of International Programs, by telephone 503.399.5141, or by FAX 503.365.4768.