Now that you have received your Acceptance Letter and I-20 from Chemeketa International Programs, you will want to prepare for the next steps.
1. Obtaining an F-1 Student Visa - International students planning to study in the United States (even if studying for a short time) are required to obtain a student visa. Most Chemeketa International students attend our school with an F-1 or F-2 visa. Based on immigration regulations other types of visas may allow you to study and you will need to contact us to determine your eligibility. To obtain a student visa you will need to submit some important documentation to a U.S. Consulate or Embassy (preferably in your home country):
- a) A valid I-20 and Acceptance letter from Chemeketa, which we will issue to you once you have been officially accepted to Chemeketa
- b) A receipt for your I-901 SEVIS fee, which you will need to pay before attending a Visa interview
- c) A visa application form (DS-156 and DS-158), male applicants will also have to complete form DS-157
- d) A passport valid for travel to the U.S.
- e) Documentation showing you have sufficient financial resources for your studies. Chemeketa and the U.S. immigration office require proof of sufficient funds (such as a bank statement or a confirmation of financial support for at least 1 year of your education).
2. Tips for a Successful Visa Interview – Under the U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, such as student visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can demonstrate to the consular officer that they are not. In other words, you need to convince the consular official that you are only coming to the U.S. to study and not to immigrate. You must be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the U.S.
- a) Bring documentation. Bring all important school correspondence to the interview, including e-mail messages; bring SEVIS fee payment receipt and make sure that all information on the I-20 form is correct.
- b) Show "ties" to your home country. You must be able to show strong reasons (such as job, family, financial prospects that you own, etc.) why you want to return to your home country after you complete your course of study. The interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family, educational objectives, and career prospects in your home country.
- c) Prepare for interview in English. Prepare for the interview to be conducted in English and not in your native language. Practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview, but do not prepare speeches.
- d) Speak for yourself. Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The interviewing officer wants to interview you, not your family.
- e) Know the program and how it fits your career plans. You should be able to explain the reasons for why you will study in a Chemeketa program and how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career when you return home.
- f) Be brief and concise. You may only have 2-3 minutes of interview time.
- g) Address dependents living 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. You will not be allowed to support them financially while you are in the U.S.
- h) Maintain a positive attitude. Do not argue with the consular officer. 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 reasons for denial in writing.
3. Arranging Housing and Homestay in Salem - Many of our international students live in apartment complexes close to the campus or live with a host family. As an incoming student you can choose the housing style that best fits your needs. See here a link for our Housing and Arrival information Keep in mind that you need to submit your Housing and Arrival forms to Chemeketa, even if you do not need our housing or arrival assistance.
4. Scholarships and Employment Opportunities - Our scholarships are open to all prospective and current students, though none exclusively for international students. In addition, a limited number of part-time jobs are available to international students.
- a. Scholarships. All students at our college are eligible to apply for scholarships. All of our scholarships are very competitive though, so we cannot guarantee that you will be awarded one if you apply. In addition, the award amounts of each scholarship range from USD $200-2,000 per year. This amount is not sufficient to cover a full year of expenses for international study at Chemeketa. For more information about our scholarships, you can visit the Chemeketa Foundation.
- b. At Chemeketa there are limited employment opportunities available each year to students. Each year several international students are hired to work on campus, particularly in the Student Life Office. Still, due to the high volume of applicants and limited number of positions available, we cannot guarantee that everyone who wishes to work will be able to gain employment. You should not include the prospect of student employment as part of your overall budget for your first year of study. Students are allowed to work on campus for up to 20 hours a week while enrolled and attending classes. Between terms they may work up to 40 hours a week. Continued employment is based on student status of 12 credit hours and a 2.0 GPA. Academic status is reviewed by the Designated School Official (DSO) each term.