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Keep this post in mind when choosing a school in the United States.

Students: Keep This in Mind When Choosing a School

January 4, 2013

You have much to remember when you choose a school. The first is that the school you choose to attend must be Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified. The Study in the States school search page can help you make sure the school in which you are interested is SEVP-certified.

As a prospective F or M student, you must do your own research on the school to make sure the offerings and requirements meet both your interests and academic needs. For example, the recognition of program of study is important – both in the United States and/or the country where you live. Will the program of study be accepted by other authorities? These might include the following:

  • Other universities
  • Accreditors
  • Professional associations
  • Employers
  • Government ministries and departments

When choosing a school, it is important to feel confident about the education you will receive and about the reputation of those entrusted to guide you while you are student in the United States. To protect your nonimmigrant status, you will need someone at the school who can give you good advice on the laws and regulations you need to obey. Schools have guidance counselors and academic advisers that are helpful in their specialty, but they are not usually knowledgeable about helping you stay in F or M status. For those kinds of questions, students seek advice from designated school officials (DSOs). Ask questions of people you know who attend the school you are considering attending. Ask about those DSOs who have been most helpful to them. That way, you can choose who you turn to and have a better chance of receiving direction you can rely on when you have questions.

Here are some other things to remember:

  • The school you choose can only authorize you to do certain kinds of employment (i.e., work) and you may not do any unauthorized work. Be cautious of schools that seem to offer or promote unlimited options for you to work, especially if the work does not relate to your program of study.
  • You may count no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per academic semester of online or distance education toward the full course of study requirement if the school does not require your physical attendance for these classes, exams or other purposes necessary to complete the class. Any classes more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per academic semester of online or distance education that do not require your physical attendance do not count toward your full course of study requirements.
  • You may not enter the United States more than 30 days before the start of your program. (Your program start date is given on your Form I-20.)

The DSO at the school should be able to answer questions relating to your F or M student status and help you find answers to immigration-related questions. Also, the Study in the States blog is another valuable reference for keeping up with the newest developments in immigration rules.

What advice would you offer other F and M students looking to apply to study in the United States? Share your advice with fellow F and M students on our Facebook page.

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