Immigration Information


Visas, Filing Fees Information:

Once you have been accepted, we will send you the proper immigration form. For non-immigrant degree-seeking students (F-1 visa) you will be issued a SEVIS Form I-20.  For exchange program students (J-1 visa) you will be issued a Form DS-2020. These are the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) forms indicating that you have been accepted to or enrolled at Plymouth State University as an international matriculated student or as a student exchange visitor.   You must present your passport, immigration form, acceptance/enrollment letter, and documentation of financial support to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to aid in applying for a visa to enter the United States as a student. Students applying for either type of visa must pay the designated SEVIS fee.  Please visit the US Department of Homeland Security website for more information.

F-1:  F-1 visas are student visas, used for degree-seeking individuals studying full-time in the U.S. You will need the following in order to apply for your visa:

  • Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses for at least 1 year
  • Evidence of English ability
  • Evidence on intent to depart the US after completion of studies. Evidence submitted can include documents such as bank accounts, a job to return to, and clearly expressed statements about your family ties and plans for the future
  • Passport — valid for at least 6 months
  • Form DS-160
  • Passport style photograph
  • Pay the visa filing fee
  • Evidence of the SEVIS Fee Payment (Form 1-901)

J-1:  J-1 visas are for individuals studying in the U.S. on an exchange program.  They are in the U.S. for either one semester or one full year.  See Maintaining Legal Status as a J-1 Student for detailed information. Contact Barbara Lopez-Mayhew, Director of the Global Engagement Office at (603) 535-3372 for more information.

Detailed information regarding student visas can be found on the US Department of State website.

Arrival to the U.S. at Ports of Entry: 

Upon arrival at a US port of entry, you must present immigration officials with:

  • Passport valid for at least 6 months
  • F-1 or J-1 visa*
  • Evidence of Financial Support
  • Evidence of SEVIS fee payment
  • Form I-20 or DS-2020, properly signed

*Note: you should always enter the U.S. on your F-1 or J-1 visa until you have completed your academic program. Do not enter as a visitor.  All documents should be kept with your valid passport and the INS Arrival/Departure Card (I-94) at all times in a secure location.

**IMPORTANT UPDATE TO I-94 Arrival/Departure Form:  Foreign citizens arriving in the U.S.—only via air or sea—who need to prove their legal-visitor status—to employers, schools/universities or government agencies—will be able to access their U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrival/departure record information online. See the Customs and Border Protection Web site and the  I-94 Fact Sheet for more information.

Maintaining Your Visa Status:

There are very specific requirements to maintain your visa status. To maintain legal F-1 student status while attending PSU, students must enroll in full-time classes (only 1 online course per term allowed),  cannot work without proper authorization by GEO, and remit any address change or program change to the Primary Designated School Official (the GEO Director) within 10 days of any changes. Remember to have your I-20 signed by the GEO Director before traveling outside the United States.  See Maintaining Legal Status F-1 for detailed information.  Contact the Director of the Global Engagement Office at (603) 535-3372 for more information.

Note Regarding Paying Your Bill:  Non-payment of your University bill may jeopardize your status as a student visa holder and your ability to attend Plymouth State University. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that his or her bill is paid in full or to submit the necessary documents from government sponsors or scholarships by the payment due date.  All billing information is available online at Student Account Services.

Additional Information for International Students and Scholars: 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented an interim procedure for foreign citizens entering the U.S.  These procedures include that any student entering the U.S. should be prepared to proceed to ‘secondary inspection’.  ‘Secondary inspection’ allows a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer to more carefully inspect your documents and search databases that are not immediately available at the initial inspection line.  Please plan for additional time in between flights to accommodate a delay in secondary inspection  (3-4 hrs recommended).  In addition to your passport and I-20 or DS 2020 form, also carry your acceptance and/or enrollment letter, and documentation of financial support. Be prepared to answer any questions about your background, your academic program, and your professional and personal plans.  We remain hopeful that DHS will update this process soon, to help you enter the U.S. more quickly.

Additional Resources:  VISA vs STATUS,

F-1 Student Responsibilities

F-1 Visa Students’ Responsibilities to Maintain Visa Status

(as required by U.S. Dept. of State regulations)

  • Enroll in a full course of study at the beginning of every session (at least 12 credits) (excluding authorized break periods/vacations)
    • Only 1 online course allowed per term; NO online courses allowed during final term
    • A Reduced Course Load (RCL) below 12 credits is only permissible during the final term of the program of study, and with permission from the Primary Designated School Official (PDSO), the GEO Director
  • Consult with the PDSO (GEO Director) before dropping below a full course of study for any reason
  • Report address changes to the PDSO within 10 days of the change
  • Report any change in sources of financial support to the PDSO
  • Seek the approval of the PDSO/USCIS before engaging in employment or practical training/ internship
  • Report any changes in program of study to the PDSO
  • Report any change in academic status to the PDSO
  • Notify the DSO or PDSO prior to traveling outside the United States for a travel signature on the I-20 or DS-2019
  • Notify the PDSO upon applying for change of non-immigration status
  • Notify the PDSO upon approval of an adjustment of status to “immigrant status”
  • Consult with the PDSO to extend their program
  • Notify the PDSO if they intend to transfer
  • Notify the PDSO about changes in dependent status