The first step in getting student visa support is to complete your admission to Madison College. After admission is finalized, Center for International Education (CIE) staff will assist with either getting your current student visa transferred to Madison College or issuing you an I-20 to apply for the student visa abroad or change visa status while remaining in the U.S.
Please review the four visa support scenarios below to find the one that best suits you.
Transferring F-1 Visa To Madison College (Transfer In)
- The first step to transfer your F-1 visa status to Madison College is to be admitted to Madison College. The visa transfer process cannot start until after admission has been finalized, so it is important to allow sufficient time to transfer your visa status (we recommend 3-4 months).
- Once you have been admitted and submitted all documents required for I-20 issuance, you will be emailed a SEVIS Transfer-In Form.
- Complete the top section of the form and then submit it to an international student advisor at your current institution with a copy of your Madison College admission letter.
- The completed form must be returned to CIE. Detailed directions are included on the form.
Please note the following requirements to legally transfer your F-1 visa status to Madison College:
- If you will be traveling abroad after you have finished studying at your current institution, and before the semester begins at Madison College, you must notify CIE about your travel plans. You are strongly encouraged to get your new Madison College I-20 before leaving the U.S., since you will need to use this new I-20 when re-entering the U.S. Plan appropriately so you are back in time to attend International Orientation.
- If you will remain in the U.S. while transferring between institutions, you will receive your new Madison College I-20 after attending International Orientation.
- You must attend International Orientation to complete your visa transfer.
- There can be no more than a 5 month gap between your programs of study. This means that you must continue to be enrolled full-time at your current institution (or on an approved period of Optional Practical Training “OPT”) until at least 5 months before our semester begins.
- Your current institution must transfer your SEVIS I-20 record within 60 days from the date you finish studying there (or end OPT), so be certain to request the transfer in a timely manner.
- It is strongly recommended that you keep your current health insurance plan active until the first day of the semester at Madison College, which is the date our insurance coverage begins.
If you have any questions on the F-1 visa status transfer process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org?.
Applying Abroad for a Student Visa
NOTE: Use this as a general guide only. It is important to get visa application information directly from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you will apply for a visa since additional or different documents may be required and the application submission method may differ. Contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate nearest you for more information.
- Schedule a visa interview appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This can be done only after being admitted and receiving your I-20 from Madison College. Visa interview appointments must be scheduled using the U.S. Visa Service online system.
- Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee using the online payment form. You will then be able to print a receipt, which should be shown at the visa interview and when entering the U.S. on the student visa.
- Prepare and gather supporting documentation to present at the visa interview. Supporting documentation generally includes:
- Student visa application Form DS-160, completed and signed.
- Passport valid at least six months after the date you plan to enter the U.S.
- One passport-style photo.
- Receipt showing payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee.
- Receipt or payment for the visa processing fee (in addition to I-901 fee).
- All three pages of the Madison College I-20. The I-20 must be signed and dated in blue ink.
- Proof of financial support to cover tuition and living expenses for one full year and each additional year of study. The financial documentation should match what was provided to Madison College during the admission process.
- Transcripts or diplomas from previous educational institutions attended.
- Proof of English proficiency as shown during the admission process.
- Proof of your intention to return to your home country.
- For applicants with dependents only: Proof of your relationship to your spouse and/or children (i.e. marriage or birth certificates). It is preferred that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately, they should bring a copy of your student visa, I-20, and passport, along with all other required documents.
Suggestions for preparing for your visa interview (PDF).
Changing Visa Status in the U.S.
How This Process Differs From Applying Abroad
- There is no in-person interview and no direct contact with the visa officer. The application is submitted through mail to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).
- If approved, no visa stamp/sticker is placed in your passport. Instead you will get an approval letter, which cannot be used to return to the U.S. from abroad. If you leave the U.S. after approval, you will still need to apply for the F-1 visa stamp to re-enter the U.S.
- The decision takes 6-12 months or longer. You may not be permitted to start studying prior to approval, depending on your current visa status.
- To apply for a visa while remaining in the United States, an applicant must:
- Be in a legal U.S. visa status
- Remain in the U.S. while the change of status application is pending
- Maintain valid visa status until the requested change to student visa status is approved - a gap between statuses is very likely to result in visa denial
- Not be on a J visa with the "Two Year Home Residency" requirement. If you have this 212(e) requirement, you may apply for the F-1 visa status at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad with a letter of no objection.
Gather Required Documentation
The list of the application materials and steps below is also available in a printer-friendly format: Changing Visa Status in the U.S. (PDF)
1. The first step is to be admitted to Madison College. It is important to apply for admission several months before the desired semester of study to allow sufficient time to change visa status.
2. After you have been admitted, you will receive an I-20 form, which must be mailed to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with the following items:
- Application fee payable to the Department of Homeland Security. Review USCIS webpage carefully for correct fee amount.
- I-539 form (available from USCIS under “forms”)
- A letter (signed and dated) explaining your reasons for changing status
- A photocopy of the I-20 issued by Madison Area Technical College. Keep the original I-20 for your own records.
- Original I-94 card, if you were issued a paper I-94 card upon arrival to the U.S. or during a change of visa status.
- Photocopies of your identity, expiry, and U.S. visa stamp pages from your passport
- Photocopies of your current visa status documents, such as an approval notice and previously issued visa documents, including I-20s or DS-2019s
- Evidence of financial support for your continued stay
- A copy of receipt showing SEVIS I-901 fee payment
- If you have studied in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 visa status previously, you must include transcripts from the U.S. educational institutions attended.
If changing to or from a dependent visa status, such as H-4 or F-2, you must also include:
- Photocopies of the primary visa holder's identity, expiry, and U.S. visa stamp pages from their passport
- Photocopies of the primary visa holder's current visa status documents, such as an approval notice and previously issued visa documents, including I-20s or DS-2019s
- Proof of your familial relationship, such as:
- A certified copy of your marriage license (for a spouse)
- Birth certificate (for a child)
Mail all items, with return receipt requested, to one of the following addresses:
Recommended: U.S. Postal Services:
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266
Express Mail or Courier Service:
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Save your “return receipt” as proof of when you mailed your application to USCIS. Within 2-3 weeks USCIS will send you an official receipt notice with a case status number. Please share this with International Student Services.
- If your current visa status does not allow study, you should not begin studying until your F-1 status is approved.
- You are not eligible to receive any benefits of the F-1 status (such as on-campus work permission) until the F-1 status is approved.
- If your F-1 status is not approved by the I-20 start date, please discuss deferring your admission with International Student Services.
- If you leave the U.S. while your application is pending, the USCIS will deny your application. If you depart the U.S. after the “date certain” expiration date given to some visa types (such as B-2, B-1, H-1B, H-4, etc.), this departure could seriously affect your eligibility for future visa approval, due to overstaying your previously granted period of stay.
- USCIS will mail you an I-797 Notice of Approval with a revised I-94 card on the bottom. Share this approval notice with International Student Services, so we can update our records.
- If you were previously on a dependent visa, have your spouse/parent update their visa record to remove you as their dependent.
Canadian Student Abroad
Canadian citizens do not need an F-1 visa stamp to enter the U.S. Instead, F-1 status is reviewed and granted by an immigration officer at the U.S.-Canadian border. You will need to have your Madison College I-20, a receipt for the I-901 fee payment and a Canadian passport valid at least six months after your date of entry.
All new international students are required to attend the International Orientation, so plan to be on campus at that time.