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International Student & Scholar Services

Obtaining your immigration status

Information regarding immigration documents, visas, arrival records, and change of status.

Form I-20 and DS 2019

Form I-20

In order for Rollins College to issue the immigration form I-20 that you will need to obtain an F-1 student visa or F-1 student status, you must review and complete the International Student Checklist in FoxLink. If you have any problems logging in to FoxLink, please let us know.


If you have a sponsor, you will need to indicate the sponsor's name in the Financial Certification form.  Your sponsor will then receive an email notifying the sponsor to complete the Sponsor Affidavit.  This form is available here for use.
Sponsor Affidavit of Support


If you have dependents who qualify for F-2 status (legal spouse or children under the age of 21), please complete the Dependent Form I-20 Request Form and upload it in FoxLink, along with sufficient bank documentation to cover the estimated expenses.  The form is available here for your use:
Dependent Form I-20 Request Form

Form DS-2019

This is the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor status or J-1 status.  The J-1 visa may be issued for a number of categories, including students, scholars, professors, specialists, etc.  Rollins College is authorized by the Department of State to issue the Form DS-2019 for the following categories of J-1 - Professor, Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar, Specialist, Student (college/university).


Students who are attending Rollins pursuant to an agreement between their home university and Rollins College will be issued the Form DS-2019 in the appropriate Student category.  For a listing of partner universities and procedures and forms to be completed by exchange students, please go to the Dual Degree & Exchange tab.

Professor, Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar, Specialist

International visitors to Rollins College who may qualify for J-1 status in the above categories should contact the academic department with which they will teach, lecture, or perform research. If an academic department wishes to sponsor an international visitor in this status, the academic department should follow the Guidelines available under the Scholar's page.

If you have questions about the qualifications for the J-1 visa, please contact the Office of International Student & Scholar Services.

Applying for a visa

Applying for a Student/Scholar Visa at a U.S. Embassy

After being accepted to Rollins College and submitting statements of financial support, students will receive a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to apply for a student visa. Scholars will be issued the form DS-2019 to apply for a J-1 scholar visa. In order to properly prepare for your visa interview, please follow these steps:

1. Check your I-20 or DS 2019

Make sure all information printed about you and your program is correct. If you discover an error on the form, contact the Office of International Student & Scholar Services. Read the printed instructions on the back of your form and sign it as required. Note the program start date on your form. This is the date by which you should enter the U.S. with your I-20 or DS-2019. You are allowed to enter up to 30 days prior to this date.

2. Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee

For your initial I-20/DS-2019, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program webpage provides instructions on how to do so. Once paid, print two copies of the payment confirmation, one for the visa appointment and one for your own records.

3. Schedule your visa interview

Although not required, it is best to apply for your student or scholar visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country whenever possible. In addition to your I-20 or DS-2019, you will need the following:

  • Passport
  • Rollins College acceptance or appointment letter
  • Financial documentation

Prior to your appointment, you should complete Form DS-160 (Online Application for Nonimmigrant Visa) and be charged a processing fee. Taiwanese citizens should apply through the American Institute in Taiwan; Canadian and Bermudian students are not required to obtain an F-1 visa but should have a Form I-20. The amount of time needed to obtain a visa varies by consular post. All questions related to processing a visa should be directed to the embassy or consulate.

Remember, if you have a Form I-20, you will apply for an F-1 visa. If you have a Form DS-2019, you will apply for a J-1 visa. Also, even though you may be entering the U.S. before your spouse and/or children, they may apply for the F-2 or J-2 dependent visa at the same time.

4. Prepare for your interview

Once you have scheduled your visa interview, make sure you take time to prepare yourself and get all the necessary documents in order.

The consular officer may ask you:
Why do you want to study in the U.S.? 
Why do you want to study ______________(academic subject)? 
Why did you choose Rollins?
How will your degree be used in your home country?
What are your employment prospects after graduation?

For helpful tips, please read the document 10 points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa.

5. Attend your interview

Attend your scheduled visa interview with all necessary documentation.

If you are denied a visa, you have probably not sufficiently proven to the consular officer that you are entitled to student or scholar status. In most cases the denial will be based on failure to prove permanent residence in or strong ties to your home country. A visa denial is not permanent and may be reconsidered if you can show further convincing evidence. We strongly suggest that you contact the Office of International Student & Scholar Services if you are denied a visa so that we can assist you in your second application.

If you have been accepted to Rollins College but have not yet received your Form I-20 or DS-2019 and there is little time left before school starts, do not enter the U.S. with a regular B-1/B-2 visitor visa, as there is no guarantee that tourist status can be changed to student or scholar status once in the U.S. However, if you are already in the U.S. with a visitor's visa, the Office of International Student & Scholar Services can assist you in trying to change your status. 

Keep in mind the following:

  • Do NOT enter the U.S. on a visitor visa or under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • Only use the I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Rollins College!
  • The I-20 or DS-2019 is very important - DO NOT lose it!

Retrieving the I-94 Form

Obtaining your Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94) 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent at the port of entry will scan your passport to capture the following information to create your arrival record:

Family Name
First Name
Date of Birth
Country of Citizenship
Sex (Male or Female)
Passport Number
Airline and Flight Number (if applicable)
Country Where You Live – Lawful Permanent Residence
City Where You Boarded (if applicable)
City Where Visa was Issued (if applicable)
Date Issued (Day/Mo/Yr) (if applicable)

Upon departure, your passport will be scanned to create your departure record.

After the successful completion of processing the applicant, a CBP officer will stamp the applicant’s passport. The CBP Declaration, used at air and sea ports of entry, may also be stamped by the CBP officer.

It is recommended that you verify and print for your records your Arrival Record (Form I-94) each time that you reenter the U.S.  Your Form I-94 can be obtained at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.  You will need to have a valid Form I-94 for evidence of your lawful status when you apply for a driver's license, a Social Security Number, and employment.  Therefore, catching any errors early can prove beneficial.

Changing your immigration status to F-1

Changing to F-1 Student Status

Q: What is F-1 student status?
A: F-1 student status is the nonimmigrant classification granted to individuals whose primary purpose for residing temporarily in the U.S. is to pursue FULL-TIME academic study. One of the most important obligations of maintaining F-1 status is enrolling in and completing a full-time course load (12 credits for undergraduates, 9 credits for graduate students; 6 credits for doctorate students) each semester. F-1 students are also eligible for certain employment opportunities.

Q: Do I have to change my status to F-1 student?
A: The answer will depend on your current non-immigrant status and your plans. Many non-immigrant visa statuses allow you to study part-time or full-time in a degree program. However, some people choose to change to F-1 status to take advantage of the employment benefits for F-1 students. For example, someone in H-4 status can study full-time for a degree but is not eligible to work. If the student changes to F-1 status, the student will be eligible to work on-campus immediately!

Some individuals are required to change their status. If you are currently holding B-1/B-2 status, you are required by immigration law to obtain F-1 status to study at a U.S. institution. F-2 status individuals may study part-time.  For both F-2 and B-1/B-2 visa holders, a change of status to F-1 must be approved prior to the first day of full-time classes.

Q: How can I obtain F-1 student status?
A: There are two ways you can become an F-1 student. One way is to obtain a Form I-20 from Rollins College, exit the U.S., obtain an F-1 visa in your passport and re-enter the U.S. The second way is to apply for a change of status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This involves sending an application for a change of status to the USCIS Service Center. The application generally takes 7-9 months to be processed.

Q: Is a change to F-1 status the same as the F-1 visa?
A: No. F-1 status only permits you to remain in the U.S. in order to study full-time and get the benefits of F-1 status. If you change to F-1 status and then travel outside the U.S., you will be required to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate before you travel back to the U.S. to resume studies. Approval for a change of status within the U.S. does not guarantee that the embassy will issue an F-1 visa. The USCIS and the Department of State function autonomously and both agencies make decisions independent of one another.

Q: Is it better to apply directly for the F-1 student visa at home or apply for a change to F-1 status from within the U.S.?
A: Every case is different. If you are planning on traveling frequently, you may want to apply for a visa when you are outside the U.S. If you do not plan on leaving the U.S. soon or if you are subject to deadlines for requesting the change of status (F-2, B-1/B-2) and will not be traveling, you should apply for a change of status as soon as possible. In some countries, the visa issuance process is extremely difficult. In those countries, the U.S. Embassy may view a change to F-1 status in the U.S. as an attempt to avoid that process and will want to know why you did not apply for the F-1 visa initially in your home country. This does not mean the visa will automatically be denied, but you should prepare to show documentation or answer questions as to why you did not originally apply for the visa at the U.S. embassy.
If you are not sure which is best for you, make an appointment to see the Director of International Student & Scholar Services.

Q: Am I eligible for a change to F-1 student status?
A: You are eligible to change to F-1 status if you have been accepted to Rollins College and are eligible to receive a Form I-20. You must also be currently maintaining your present non-immigrant status and present an unexpired Form I-94.

Q: What if my authorized stay in the U.S. has expired?
A: If your authorized stay in the U.S. has expired, it is difficult to obtain a change of status. You must prove to the USCIS that circumstances beyond your control prevented you from filing the change of status before your stay expired. Make an appointment with the Director of International Student & Scholar Services for further guidance.

Q: Should I hire a lawyer to help me?
A: While we can provide you with a list of required documents for a change of status and it is not required to use the assistance of an immigration attorney for a change of status, we recommend that you consult with an attorney.

Q: Can I start school before I change my status?
A: The answer is yes with only two exceptions. Applicants who are applying for a change of status from F-2 or B-1/B-2 to F-1 must receive the approval notice granting F-1 status before beginning to study full-time. These individuals should apply for a change of status no later than 7-9 months prior to the beginning of the semester to allow enough time for the application to be approved.

Q: If I decide to file an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to change my status, when should I apply?
A: If you are in B-1/B-2 status, you should not apply too soon after your arrival and not too close to the expiration date on your Form I-94. About half way through your authorized stay is ideal.
For other visa statuses, please meet with the Director of International Student & Scholar Services to discuss the timing of your application.

Q: What happens to my status while I am waiting to receive an answer from the USCIS?
A: This will depend on your current non-immgrant status.

Q: What documents are required for the change of status application?
A: Please review the following documents:
1)  Application Checklist 
2)  Form I-539 (USCIS Change of Status Application Form) 
3)  Form I-566 (If you are currently in A, G, or NATO status) 

Q: How do I file my application?
A: Bring your application, completed to the best of your ability to the Office of International Student & Scholar Services. We will answer any outstanding questions you have and help you to file your application to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service. You will send the application to the Service Center and all correspondence will occur directly between you and the USCIS. When USCIS approves your application, an approval notice will be mailed to you.