Center for International Education

TRUAX E1874 
1701 Wright Street
Madison WI 53704 

Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

International Admissions
Email / (608) 243-4108

International Student Services
Email / (608) 243-4108

Study Abroad
Email / (608) 243-4108

CIE Main Office
Call: (608) 246-6201 
Fax: (608) 243-4445

Downtown D115
211 North Carroll Street
Madison WI 53703

Call: (608) 243-4108

Hours: Limited staffing on Wednesday and Friday, please call first.

Student Visa Support

The first step in getting a student visa is to complete your admission to Madison College through the Center for International Education. After admission is finalized 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.

Visa Options

There are four Visa options outlined below. Please review all four to find the one that best suits you. The Center for International Education at Madison College offers support for each Visa option.

  • Transferring F-1 Visa To Madison College (Transfer In)

    Transferring F-1 Visa to Madison College

    • The first step with transferring your F-1 visa status to Madison College is to be admitted to Madison College.
    • The visa transfer process cannot be started until after admission has been finalized, so it is important to apply 3 - 4 months before the start of the semester that you wish to attend to allow sufficient time to transfer the visa.
    • 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 the Center for International Education about your travel plans. You are strongly encouraged to request and obtain your new Madison College I-20 before leaving the U.S., since you will need to use the new Madison College I-20 when re-entering the U.S. You are required to attend International Orientation, so please plan your travels accordingly.
    • 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 in order to legally 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 International Student Services.

    Transferring Visa From Madison College  (should be current students)

    If you are a current Madison College student on the F-1 visa who wishes to transfer-out to another college, please read the Information About Transferring Out (PDF 39KB) directions.

  • Applying Abroad for a Student Visa

    NOTE: Please use this page as a general guide only. It is important to also get F-visa application information directly from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you will apply for a nonimmigrant 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 an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a visa interview. This may only be done after being admitted and receiving the form I-20 from Madison College. Visa interview appointments must be scheduled using the online system provided by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

    Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. You will complete an online form and, in many cases, be able to pay the fee online as well. 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 to the visa officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate when applying for a student visa. Supporting documentation generally includes, but may not be limited to:

    • Student visa application Form DS-160, completed and signed. Blank forms are available with charge at all U.S. consular offices and may be available online.
    • A passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry in the U.S.
    • One photograph 1.5 inches square (37x37mm) showing full face, without head covering, against a light background.
    • A receipt or payment for the visa processing fee.
    • All three pages of the form I-20, provided by Madison College after being admitted. The I-20 must be signed and dated (preferably in blue ink) by the applicant at the bottom of page one in section 11.
    • Financial evidence demonstrating that either the applicant or the financial sponsors have sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses for one full year with renewable funding available each subsequent year of study. The financial documentation should match what was provided to Madison College, as listed on the form I-20 in section 8. Financial documentation may include bank statements (with affidavit of support letters as needed), scholarship letters, sponsor employment letters, or other documents showing liquid assets available for educational support.
    • Transcripts of diplomas from previous education institutions attended.
    • Scores from standardized English tests required by the educational institution, such as the TOEFL, IELTS, ACT Compass, etc.
    • Proof of your binding ties to a residence in your home country which you have no intention of abandoning.
    • Receipt indicating payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee.
    • For applicants with dependents only: Proof of the student's relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (i.e. marriage and 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 at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder's passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

    Learn more about preparing for your Visa interview (PDF, 33 KB).

  • Changing Visa Status in the United States

    Applying for a visa in the U.S. is commonly referred to as “changing visa status,” since an applicant must be in a legal U.S. visa status in order to be eligible to apply for another visa status while remaining in the United States.

    To apply for a visa while remaining in the United States, an applicant must:

    • Currently be present in the U.S. in a legal U.S. visa status,
    • Remain in the U.S. while the change of status application is pending.
    • In many cases, the current visa status must remain valid until the student visa status is approved. That is, a gap between statuses may result in visa denial.

    Please review the differences in this process as compared to applying from abroad:

    • When changing visa status in the U.S., the application is submitted through mail to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security.
    • There is no in-person interview at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate and no direct contact with the visa officer,
    • The decision on the change of status application typically takes 3-4 months,
    • If approved, the student visa status is granted on paper, but a visa stamp/sticker is not physically placed into the passport,
    • An applicant may—and must!—remain in the U.S. while the application is pending, so the cost of traveling abroad and re-entering the U.S. is avoided.

    Below is a detailed list of the application materials and steps necessary to apply for a change of visa status within the U.S. This information is available in a printer-friendly format: Changing Visa Status in the U.S. (PDF, 48 KB)

    Required Documentation and Procedure:

    The first step with applying for a change of visa status:

    • Must be admitted to Madison College. The visa application process cannot be started until after admission has been finalized, so it is important to apply for admission several months before the desired semester of study to allow sufficient time to apply for the visa. PLEASE CHECK APPLICATION DEADLINES.
    • All new international students are required to attend International Orientation, so plan to be on campus at that time.
    • 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:
    • A cashier’s check or money order for $290.00 payable to the Department of Homeland Security
    • 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. This document has 3 pages, and must be signed and dated on page 1 at item # 11. Photocopy all 3 pages of the I-20 to send with the application, but keep the original I-20 for your own records. The I-20 is referred to as the “Certificate of Eligibility” in the application instructions.
    • 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. If you do not have a paper I-94 card, follow the directions for printing one
    • Photocopies of your identity, expiry, and U.S. visa stamp pages from your passport
    • Photocopies of your current visa status documents, such as the visa stamp and/or adjudication approval notices and/or previously issued student visa documents, including I-20s or DS-2019s
    • Evidence of financial support for your continued stay
    • Proof of paying the SEVIS I-901 fee, which is done by completing an online form. You will then be able to print a receipt, which should be included in your change of status application packet.
    • 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 (spouse or parent) current visa documentation, including I-94 card, visa stamp, and/or adjudication approval notice, etc.
      • Photocopies of the primary visa holder’s (spouse or parent) current visa documentation, including I-94 card, visa stamp, and/or adjudication approval notice, etc.
      • A photocopy of the primary visa holder’s (spouse or parent) passport identity/expiry pages(s)
      • Proof of your familial relationship, such as:
        • A certified copy of your marriage license (for a spouse)
        • Birth certificate (for a child)
    • 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.

    Special Considerations:

    • An F-2 visa holder changing to F-1 status should not begin a program of study prior to obtaining the approval for the change of status from USCIS.
    • A J-1 or J-2 visa holder with the "Two Year Home Residency" requirement [212(e)] is not eligible to change status within the U.S. However, you may apply to obtain the new visa status by applying at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country with a letter of no objection. Please note: If you have been approved for a waiver of the "Two Year Home Residency" requirement, you may apply for a Change of Status in the U.S., but you must include proof of the waiver approval with your application.

    After making copies for your records, mail all items with return receipt requested to one of the following addresses:

    If using the U.S. Postal Services:
    P.O. Box 660166
    Dallas, TX 75266

    If using an express mail or courier service:
    ATTN: I-539
    2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
    Suite 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067

    While Your Application Is Pending

    Save your “return receipt” as proof of when you mailed your application to USCIS. The USCIS will later send you an official Receipt Notice acknowledging your application and fee. Keep all these documents for your records.

    If your current visa status does not permit study, you should not begin studying until your status to F-1 has been 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 has been granted. If your change of status has not been approved by the term in which you had hoped to begin studying, please discuss deferring your admission with International Student Services:

    If you leave the U.S. while your application is pending, the USCIS will consider your application abandoned and will no longer review your application. If you depart the U.S. after the “date certain” expiration date given to certain visa types (such as B-2, B-1, H-1B, H-4, etc.), this abandonment could seriously affect your eligibility in future visa applications, as you can be seen as overstaying your previously granted period of stay.

    After Receiving Your Approval Notice*

    USCIS will mail you notification of the change. The approval (and its effective date) will be stamped on the I-20 in the upper right corner and on the I-797 Notice of Approval; your revised I-94 card will also note the approved status.

    After receiving the I-797 Notice of Approval, please bring your approval notice (which includes the new I-94 card in the bottom right corner) and stamped I-20 to the Center for International Education, as we must update your record in the college database. Failure to do this may jeopardize your new visa status.

    If you were previously in a dependent visa status, the principal visa holder will need to update his/her records. For example, if your spouse is an F-1 or J-1 student at Madison College or another institution, your spouse must request your F-2 or J-2 record be canceled and removed from his/her I-20.


    If you have questions on this process or if the change of status is denied, please contact us to discuss available options.

    For information on how to apply for a non-immigrant student visa abroad, rather than changing visa status in the U.S., please refer to Applying for Student Visa Abroad above.

  • Canadian Student Abroad

    Canadian citizens do not need an F-1 visa stamp to enter the U.S. as an F-1 student. Instead, F-1 status is reviewed and granted by an immigration officer at the U.S.-Canadian border. You will need to have the original I-20, a receipt for the I-901 fee payment and a valid Canadian passport to enter the United States.

    The first step to obtain an I-20 is to be admitted to Madison College in a program or certificate program. Plan 3-4 months before the start of the semester for  processing. All new international students are required to attend the International Orientation, so plan to be on campus at that time. After you have been admitted, you will receive an I-20 form, which must be presented when entering the U.S.

Important Next Steps

In addition to following the process to apply for your student visa or transferring-in your student visa to MATC, please also complete these important steps to prepare for your first semester at Madison College.