Applying for a Student Visa

In order to study at Rhodes College as an international student, you need to have a valid non-immigrant visa. Most international students admitted to Rhodes obtain F-1 or J-1 visas. However, it is possible to enter on other visas such as J-2, H-4, A-1, etc. to study.

How do you apply for a student visa?

In most countries, first-time student visa applicants are required to appear for an in-person interview. However, each embassy and consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas. Please be sure to consult your local US embassy or consulate website for specific application instructions.

Keep in mind that June, July and August are the busiest months for most consular offices, and interview appointments should be scheduled many weeks in advance.

Required documents for visa application

All applicants for a student visa must provide the documents listed below:

  • SEVIS generated form I-20 issued by Rhodes College Office of Admissions:  Make sure you give the consular officer all three pages of the I-20 form to inspect.
  • Completed nonimmigrant visa application form (DS-156) with photo of applicant.
  • Passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the United States.
  • Receipt for visa processing fee: A MRV fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee, a visa issuance fee if applicable (Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Table) and a separate SEVIS I-901 fee receipt.

In addition, all applicants should be prepared to provide:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended.
  • Scores from standardized tests such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc. that are required by USC.
  • Financial evidence showing that you or your financial sponsor who is sponsoring you has sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring income tax documents and original bank   books and/or statements. If you or your sponsor own a business, please bring business registration, licenses, and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.
  • Any additional documents that might help establish your strong ties to your home country.

Additional tips on applying for a student visa

In addition to providing the right documents and having the right reasons, making a positive impression on the consular officer is equally critical in the application process. Here are some interviewing techniques suggested by NAFSA: Association of International Educators:

  1. Speak in English - Practice interviewing in English with a native English speaker. Being fluent and confident will help you present your case better. However, avoid preparing a speech.
  2. Speak for yourself - Make your case yourself. Having your parents or others speak on your behalf does not make a good impression on the consular officer.
  3. Be brief - Keep your answers and explanations short and to the point, as consular officers can only spend a limited amount of time with each applicant.
  4. Be positive - Do not argue with the consular officer or come across as rude and sarcastic; even if you are denied a visa. Instead courteously ask the officer to suggest additional documents you could bring in order to overcome the refusal.

Can your visa application be refused?

Occasionally students have been denied visas. Most students are denied visas on the basis of Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that states: "Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status..." This essentially means that the onus is on the student to prove beyond doubt "permanent residence" or "strong ties" to his home country. Fortunately, a visa denial is not permanent and can be reversed, if the student can show new, incontrovertible evidence.

Some tips to demonstrate your intentions to return to your native country:

  • Convince the consular officer that the sole (not just "primary") purpose of your visit to the US is to pursue a program of study.
  • Outline your plans for when you complete your education and return to your country.
  • Document family ties, business interests, and assets in your home country.
  • Discuss your job prospects, upon completion of your US education, in your native country.

Note: When you receive your visa, the consular officer will seal your immigration documents in an envelope and attach it to your passport. Do not open this envelope! The CBP offer at the U.S. port of entry will open it.

Preparation for Travel

In preparing for college in Memphis, you need to make arrangements for visas, finances, transportation and other issues. We’ve listed some specifics for your consideration:

Finances

  • Before coming to Rhodes, you must demonstrate that you have the financial resources to pay for your education (including any financial assistance we may offer you).
  • Discuss with your family and your bank how best to make funds available to you in the U.S.
  • Plan to bring enough money to cover costs while en-route (food, lodging and ground transportation) and for initial expenses at school (books and supplies, furniture, incidentals, food and entertainment).
  • Debit and credit cards are widely accepted in the U.S.
  • Traveler’s checks in U.S. dollars are a safe way to transport cash. They’re accepted nearly everywhere with photo identification such as a passport.

Transportation

  • Memphis has an international airport with direct flights from Amsterdam and multiple flights daily from major U.S. points of entry (New York, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Miami).
  • Travel to Memphis by bus is convenient from any of the major points of entry, but it takes many hours or even days.

Climate

  • Memphis has a relatively mild climate, averaging high and low temperatures of 84ºF/64ºF in September, 48ºF/30ºF in January and 81ºF/61ºF in May. It rains frequently and the humidity tends to be high.
  • Memphis is known for its blooming plants and many trees. Because of this, it also has a high level of allergens.

Attire

  • U.S. college students dress casually for most occasions. Jeans, sweaters and jackets are common in the winter, and most students wear shorts, t-shirts and sandals in the warmer months.
  • Bring more formal attire for meetings, religious services, social events and special occasions, such as a suit for men and dress or skirt for women. You may want to allow a budget for clothing purchases, especially during your first year in the U.S.

We have prepared more extensive information for you concerning these and other topics that we’ll make available to you once you’re admitted to Rhodes.