Comprehensive visa information can be found in the Visas and Immigration section of our website.
F-1 visa and I-20: F-1 is the visa type for which we typically sponsor international students beginning the joint degree program at W&M. To obtain this visa, international students are issued a SEVIS Form I-20 after they have been admitted to the program and confirmed their enrollment with the payment of their deposit to the W&M Admissions Office. The student's file transferred directly from the W&M Admissions Office to ISSP. Issuance of the I-20 typically takes place in the May prior to enrollment.
After the student has received his/her I-20, he/she will use it to apply for an F-1 visa at the US embassy in his/her country. Please see the Visas and Immigration section of our website for details on the F-1 visa application procedures.
The I-20 is valid for the full 4 years of the program. A reciprocity agreement between the US government and student's country of citizenship will determine for how long the visa in the passport is issued. It should be noted that the visa does not determine how long one may stay in the US. Thus, having a F-1 visa valid only for 12 months does not mean one must leave the US when the visa expires.
Arrival and entry to the US: For the first entry to the US, students may enter anytime during the 30 day period prior to the start date on the Form I-20. With the I-20, students receive a checklist of documents to ring with them: passport with valid F-1 visa, I-20, SEVIS Fee receipt, admission letter, financial documentation to cover expenses for the first year of study.
For subsequent entries to the US, the students may enter at any time, even if that entry is taking place during the year of study at St Andrews. For subsequent entries, students need only show their passport with a valid F-1 visa and I-20 with travel signature.
On campus employment at W&M: Students in F-1 status may work on campus at W&M for up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full time during official university breaks. For details see On Campus Employment.
Internships in the US during your program: Immigration regulations do allow students in F-1 status to perform paid or unpaid internships in the US during their academic program. The conditions are that it must be in the student’s field of study, be considered integral to the program curriculum (i.e. tied to a credit bearing course), and the student must have been enrolled for at least one academic year prior to the start of the internship. For internships, students apply to ISSP for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
Maintenance of the F-1 SEVIS record while at St Andrews: During the Joint Degree program, students will spend two years at St Andrews and two years at W&M. The periods of study at St Andrews are treated like study abroad and thus, the SEVIS record is maintained by W&M through the entire 4 years of the program (unless a student leaves the program early).
Post-graduation employment in the US: Students in F-1 status who are completing a program of study are eligible for 12 months of post-graduation work authorization in the US. This work authorization is called Optional Practical Training (OPT) and is designed to allow students to gain experience in their field of study. Students must be in the US to apply for OPT.
Therefore, students who will spend year 4 of their program at St Andrews University, will need to return to the US during Spring Break to apply. See our website for comprehensive information on Optional Practical Training.