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International Center

Pre-arrival Information

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  • I-901 SEVIS Fee

    Each student applying for a new F-1 visa outside the United States or changing status to F-1 in the United States is responsible for paying the I-901 fee in the amount of $200 USD to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). F-2 dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.

    The I-901 SEVIS fee is mandated by Congress to support the program office and the automated system that keeps track of Students and Exchange Visitors that ensures they maintain their status while in the United States.

    U.S. Consulates are responsible for verifying that the SEVIS fee has been paid but will not be responsible for collecting it. You may pay the I-901 fee using a credit card or debit card or using the SEVP alternative methods of payment.

    Applicants may schedule visa interview appointments before paying the fee; however, to ensure that it can be verified electronically during the interview, the fee payment must be processed at least three business days prior to the visa interview. Persons who pay online may print out their fee receipt at the time of filing and present it as proof of payment.

    Non-immigrants who are exempt from the visa requirement will have to provide payment verification with their Form I-20 at the port of entry when applying for entry.

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has provided a comprehensive list of answers to frequently asked I-901 fee questions.

  • Setting up the F-1 visa appointment

    Once you have received your Form I-20 and paid the I-901 fee, you should go to your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain the F-1 visa. You should initially contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy/Consulate to schedule an appointment and verify the current application procedures and the appropriate method to submit the materials and obtain the visa.

    Bring the following items to the interview:

    • Signed Form I-20
    • Acceptance letter from your college/university
    • Financial documentation
    • Valid passport and another form of picture identification

    Please keep in mind that it is always better to bring more than less to the interview, so if you have any other documents that might be useful, bring them. Also, be sure to check the website of the US Embassy/Consulate that you will visit to make sure of any specific requirements.

    The U.S. Department of State has also provided information regarding required documentation for your visa interview.

  • Tips when applying for a non-immigrant visa
    1. Ties to your home country. Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, such as student 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 home town, 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 about 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. If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was available but not with a specific intent to immigrate. If you overstayed your authorized stay in the United States previously, be prepared to explain what happened clearly and concisely, with documentation, if available.
    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, but do NOT prepare speeches! 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 brief. 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 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's questions short and to the point.
    6. Additional documentation. It should be immediately clear 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 are 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 in 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 will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support them, 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.
  • Entering the United States

    Once you have received your F-1 visa from the embassy, you should confirm all of your travel arrangements. Students on these types of visas are eligible to enter the United Stated up to 30 days before the 'program start date" on the Form I-20. You can find the program dates on the first page of your Form I-20.

    When traveling to the US, it is very important to have the following documents with you at all times (NOT in checked luggage):

    • Form I-20
    • Passport with F-1 visa
    • Other forms of identification
    • Financial documents
    • Acceptance letter from your school. The immigration officer may not ask for it, but it is a good idea to carry it anyway.
    • Proof of enrollment which you can obtain via your student account

    Please be aware you must go through U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the first port of entry, so make sure to give yourself ample time during the layover to JAX.

  • Mandatory Orientation

    All new F-1 international students are required to attend the International Student Orientation. During this orientation your International Student Advisor will go over important information regarding your benefits and responsibilities as an F-1 visa holder. Your attendance also confirms your presence in the United States.

    Make sure to consider the date of International Student Orientation when making travel arrangements to ensure you are in attendance.

    Bring the following documents/information to the Orientation:

    • Form I-20
    • Passport
    • F-1 Visa
    • Current physical address in the United States
    • U.S. phone number
  • Setting up your UNF email and student portal account

    If you have not done so already, make sure to set up your UNF email and student portal account to check your registration status, emails, and other important student services.

    • Go to myWings and click on 'Login Help" just below the Login tab
    • A new window will pop up asking for your UNF ID
    • Enter your UNF ID (N number), click submit and then follow the instructions
    • If you haveany technical problems setting up your myWings account, contact the UNF ITS Help Desk at (904) 620-HELP or email helpdesk@unf.edu
  • Registration Holds

    Registration holds are placed on student records by different departments to prevent registration until the matter regarding the hold has been resolved. All holds must be cleared prior to registration. You may view and clear any holds on your student portal. Some of the holds are informational holds you are required to read a statement about and acknowledge that you have read and agreed to. Other holds, indicated below, require additional steps to clear. If you have questions or need help clearing the holds, you will need to contact the department that placed the hold on your account.

    • Campus Clarity: Complete the Campus Clarity Training prior to course registration.
    • Immunization Requirement: As all students born after 1956 are required to show proof of immunity to MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), you will need to complete and submit the Immunization form prior to registration. Once the form has been completed, please submit it to the Office of Medical Compliance.
  • Health Insurance Requirement

    All international students are required to have medical insurance while studying at UNF. Students will either (A) be contacted by the UNF Medical Compliance Office via email or (B) have a hold placed on their student accounts. Either way students identified with F-1 status will have an automatic health insurance hold placed on their account. All students will have to fill out the UNF International Student Insurance Agreement form and email it to the Office Medical Compliance.

    There are two different options on the UNF International Student Insurance Agreement form. Students can either (1) enroll in the UNF Health Insurance plan or (2) purchase an alternative (personal) health insurance plan. Please note we will not be able to register you for courses until you have satisfied the health insurance requirement.

    Option 1 - Enroll in the UNF Health Insurance plan: After you submit the completed UNF International Student Insurance Agreement, UNF Medical Compliance will automatically enroll you in the UNF health insurance plan. Note that once you have chosen the UNF health insurance plan, a charge for UNF health insurance is automatically added to your account and you will be required to pay the fee. Once the semester begins, you will be able to download and print your insurance card. For specific information regarding the UNF insurance plan, Gallagher Student has provided a list of frequently asked questions.

    Option 2 - Purchase an alternative (personal) health insurance plan: If you decide to have alternative health insurance (personal insurance that is NOT from UNF), you will need to have your insurance company complete a second form, the International Student Health Insurance Compliance form and submit via email to the Office of Medical Compliance. It is important to note that the alternative insurance company agrees to all 16 of the Florida State required benefits and the forms are filled out completely, including signed and stamped by the insurance company.

     

    To download the International Student Insurance Agreement or the International Student Health Insurance Compliance forms visit the International Students section of the Student Health Services . To submit these forms, email Office of Medical Compliance.

  • Academic Advising

    As you begin your career you may be faced with many challenges, doubts, and questions. The Academic Advising units are here to help you succeed in your academics. To find out what courses you should be taking, please contact your academic advisor. You can find your academic advisor in your student portal or online.

    If you are an incoming freshman (first time in college student), contact your First Year Advisor to register for classes.

  • Course Registration

    Students may register for a class only during the registration period for the term in which they are enrolled and no later than the last day of late registration for that term. Students who register for classes during late registration will be assessed a late registration fee in addition to the applicable tuition and fees.

    You can look up courses in the Catalog and click on the 'Search by Subject" link on the right side of the page, then in the drop down box, select the specific term and click on submit. Then begin searching by subject.

    Please remember that students must be registered as full-time students, which is 12.0 credit hours for undergraduate and 9 credit hours for graduate students. Keep in mind that you are only allowed to take one 3 credit hour online class that counts towards your full course load requirement.

    View the registration deadlines on the Academic Calendar.

  • Housing

    Students who live on-campus at UNF have many advantages over students who commute and those who choose larger, more traditional universities. UNF's campus is uniquely beautiful and conveniently designed. Its own surrounding forest keeps the urban sprawl out and the natural beauty in.

    There are also many opportunities for formal and informal recreation through intramural sports, nature walks, jogging, and picnics. The campus offers numerous fitness and wellness programs. In addition to the pleasure of living on our beautiful campus, resident students also enjoy many everyday conveniences and social benefits. So take time and explore the different residence halls UNF has to offer!

    The Housing Contract is online and can be submitted through the UNF student portal. Here are the steps:

    1. Go to the Housing and Residence Life website
    2. Select the myHousing Tab
    3. Under Housing Information, select myHousing - Start Here
    4. This will bring you to your UNF myHousing Portal- At the top in a blue box it will say 'please visit the university login page" - click the hyperlink
    5. Login using your N# and password
    6. Select 'Housing Contract" in the gray box
    7. Select Contract Term and Submit

    Please Note: You will be required to pay the non-refundable $100.00 processing fee, as well as a $200.00 prepayment of rent. Once you have processed payment, choose your expected classification, and then complete the Housing Contract.

    The earliest date students can move in to UNF Housing will be announced to students via email. The recommended arrival date (to avoid early move in fees) is usually the Friday before classes begin. Check the Housing and Residence website for important housing dates.

    If students are planning to live off-campus, they should sort this out immediately and not at the time of arrival to Jacksonville. Students are responsible to make contact and arrange off-campus accommodation.

    There are several hotels near the UNF campus.

  • Dining Membership

    Students may purchase a campus meal membership. There are several memberships to choose from depending on your individual needs.

    Meals memberships are available to purchase through your student portal.

  • Payment of University Charges

    You will become liable for tuition upon registration. Student Financial Services provides you with all the information you need to know about when, what, and how to pay. They also offer a payment plan option to students who qualify.

    Please remember that failure to pay university charges by the close of business on the due date will result in the assessment of a $100 USD late fee or the cancellation of your course schedule. Partial payments are not acceptable without prior approval.

    If you are being sponsored by your home government (i.e., the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission), you will need to speak with both the Student Financial Services office in Hicks Hall (Building 53, Suite 1100) and the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission every semester prior to the University payment deadline to ensure that your tuition balance is paid in a timely manner.