Skagit Valley College logo

Frequently Asked Questions

VISA

Q: How can I obtain a Nonimmigrant Student visa?
A:
The International Student application form must be filled out and returned to the International Student Programs Office with the required fees and documentation before an I-20 can be issued. The I-20 is a document necessary to apply for a foreign student visa at the U.S. Consulate in the student's home country. Upon admission, the I-20, along with orientation information, is mailed to the student. The student must check with the US consulate in their country to inquire about specifics in gaining a visa to the US.

Below are two web links that may be helpful when applying for a student visa.

US Embassy
This site will lead students to the US Embassy located near their home city/country. This site outlines how to schedule interviews and the appropriate documentation required for the interview.

Education USA
There are education centers all around the world that are designated to helping potential students prepare for study in the US. They may help with preparing applications for visa interviews, preparing for questions for visa interviews, how to make appointments at the embassies and more.

10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Student Visa*

1.Ties to Your Home Country.

Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, such as student visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. "Ties" to your home country are the things that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects, that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country. Each person's situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter which can guarantee visa issuance. If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was authorized stay in the U.S. previously, be prepared to explain what happened clearly and concisely, with documentation if available.

2.English.

Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview, but do NOT prepare speeches! If you are coming to the United States solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.

3.Speak For Yourself.

Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there is case there are questions, for example about funding, they should wait in the waiting room.

4. Know the Programm and How It Fits Your Career Plans

If you are not articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States , you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career when you return home.

5.Be Brief

Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point.

6.Additional Documentation.

It should be immediately clear to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time, if you're lucky.

7.Not All Countries are Equal.

Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the US as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the U.S.

8.Employment.

Your main purpose in coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the U.S. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the U.S. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.

9. Dependents Remaining at Home

If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.

10.Maintain a Positive Attitude.

Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.

*NAFSA would like to credit Gerald A. Wunsch, Esq., 1997, then a member of the Consular Issues Working Group, and a former U.S. Consular Officer in Mexico, Suriname, and the Netherlands, and Martha Wailes of Indiana University for their contributions to this document. NAFSA also appreciates the input of the U.S.Department of State.

 


Q: What is an I-20?
A: This is a document issued upon completion of the admissions application. It is an immigration document issued by Skagit Valley College, which you then present to the embassy in applying for your visa. The I-20 signifies that you have been accepted to an institution in the US.

Q: What kind of visa do I need to study at SVC?
A: If you are applying for an academic program, the visa is called F-1. If you are applying for a vocational program the visa is called M-1.

Q: How do I pay the SEVIS I-901 fee?
A:
For information regarding this fee, please click on the following link: SEVIS I-901 Information. This information is provided by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If you have other questions about this fee, contact your local US Consulate Office.

Q: Can you send my I-20 through express mail?
A:
If documents are requested to be mailed via express mail, there is a $30 charge for each package. This must be paid before the package is mailed.

Q: How soon should I arrive after receiving my visa?
A: We recommend that you arrive a few days (2-3 days) before your advising session to overcome jet lag and adjust to your new environment.

 

| return to top |

APPLICATION

Q: When are the application deadlines?
A: Skagit Valley College does not have application deadlines. We have what is called "rolling admission." You may apply at any time for admission. We do recommend, however, that you apply in time to make an appointment at the embassy to get your student visa. For example, in most countries it may take one month to schedule the appointment. In a very busy embassy post, it may even take two months to schedule an appointment. Best advice we can give you is to check your with your local embassy about visa appointment dates. Check the Quarter Start Dates by clicking here

Q: Can the $25 application fee be waived?
A:
No, the application fee cannot be waived. This is required in order for your application to be complete and reviewed for admission.

Q: Does Skagit Valley College require health insurance?
A:
Yes. Please note that due to the high cost of medical services in the United States, we require that students have medical insurance coverage while attending Skagit Valley College. Students will be required to purchase insurance or provide proof of home country insurance during orientation and advising. If you are purchasing insurance from Skagit Valley College, the cost of insurance coverage is $621.00 per year (nine months). At Skagit Valley College, we are interested in your well-being and, therefore, would not want the cost of medical expenses to disrupt your educational goals.

Students are required to purchase or show proof of insurance for a minimum of nine months (one academic year). If you have questions about your insurance or want to purchase your insurance before you arrive, you may contact Jammie Hoffstrom in the International Program Office.

Jammie Hoffstrom
Phone: (360) 416-7734
Fax: (360) 416-7868
E-mail: Jammie.Hoffstrom@skagit.edu  

Once accepted to Skagit Valley College, students cannot register for classes until they have purchased or provided proof of medical insurance coverage.

Q: When can I start school?
A:
You can start school at the beginning of any of the four quarters: September, January, April or June. Students taking courses at the Language Institute may enter mid-quarter. Click here to get the International Programs Quarter Start Dates.

Q: Does the college provide airport pick-up service?
A:
Yes! We provide airport pick-up service. A form asking for your arrival information will be sent to you. As soon as you have made flight arrangements you complete the form and fax it to us. Click here to get information about our Airport Pickup Service.
| return to top |

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT

Q: Can I apply to SVC if I start with the intensive English language classes?
A: You are considered a Skagit Valley College student although you may start your degree with your training in the Intensive English Language Program. Only one I-20 is issued for your degree at Skagit Valley College.

Q: Can I study at AESL (Academic English as a Second Language) for only a short period of time?
A: Yes! You can study AESL for minimum of 5 weeks.

Q: Do I need a TOEFL score?
A:
International students may be admitted without a TOEFL score. After their admission to the college and upon arrival to the college, they are required to take English Placement Test, which measures reading and writing skills. Depending on your score, you may enter the advance levels, which are a combination of ESL and college level classes, or you can enroll directly in college credit programs. Students with lower scores will be enrolled in the college's Academic English as a Second Language program.
Note there is no TOEFL requirement for admission to the English Language Institute.
Click here to get more information about TOEFL score.

Q: What do classes in the Advanced Level Program consist of?
A: The Advanced Level Program consists of two Academic ESL classes in grammar composition and reading, two Speech classes, and an Orientation to College Success class. This is a total of 18 credits. Of these 18 credits, 13 are considered college-level credits. These classes are pre-selected for you and your scheduled is fixed.

Q: What do classes in the Advanced Plus Level Program consist of?
A: The Advanced Plus Level Program consists of classes in English and Communication (fixed classes) and the flexibility to choose other classes that meet your graduation requirements. If you are a new SVC student, you will also be required to take an Orientation to College Success class. In order to determine which level of English you will enter, all students (including American students) are required to take a college placement test. The college placement test determines both English and Math levels including pre-requisite requirements for college-level classes.

Q: What do classes in the Regular Program consist of?
A:
The Regular Program gives you total flexibility to choose classes from all areas of your graduation requirements. Prior to taking classes, all students (including American students) are required to take a college placement test. The college placement test determines both English and Math levels including pre-requisite requirements for college-level classes. If you are a new SVC student, you will also be required to take an Orientation to College Success class.
| return to top |

TUITION

Q: When do I pay for my tuition?
A: For new students, tuition will be paid at your assigned registration session. This date is provided in your acceptance letter. For continuing students, tuition must be paid by the deadline provided each quarter.

Q: Can I wire money to the college for tuition and fees before I arrive to SVC?
A:
Yes! With the exception of Homestay fees.  Following are the procedures:

When sending funds electronically to Skagit Valley College, please use the information provided below, send funds in US dollars.  Please also inform us of the students name for whom the funds are being sent.


 
*Please make checks /wires payable to: Skagit Valley College*
Bank Name: US Bank
Bank Address: 419 S. Second St. Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Bank Routing Number: 125000105
Account Name: Skagit Valley College
Account Number: 153505364635
 
SWIFT CODE: USBKUS44IMT**
 
**please note that the "I" in the code is not a one, but the capitol letter I (i).
 
Once funds have been sent, please send a notification email to:
Jeanette St. Germain, Assistant Controller
Phone: (360) 416-7747
Fax: (360) 416-7854
E-mail:jeanette.stgermain@skagit.edu
| return to top |


Q: Does Skagit Valley College offer scholarships or financial aid?
A: Skagit Valley College does not have any scholarships or financial aid for international applicants at this time. However, you may want to investigate the following websites for possible funding resources:

College Board
URL: www.collegeboard.org
Phone: 1-212-713-8143

Institute of International Education
URL: www.iie.org
Phone: 1-800-445-0443

Edupass
URL: www.edupass.org
Phone: 1-800-695-3317 or 1-888-296-4332

Q: What is the cost of my tuition and fees between 12-18 credits?
A:



* Listed as 2008/09 fees.

| return to top |


HOUSING (Dormitory & Homestay)

Q: What are my housing options at SVC?
A: We have on campus housing and homestay options.

Click here for the Dormitory (Campus View Village) information.
Click here for the Homestay information.

Q: Can a homestay be arranged prior to a student's arrival in the U.S?
A: Yes! Homestay is arranged prior to arrival at the college. Check with our Housing Options web page for more details by clicking here.

Q: How far from the college can a student expect to live?
A:
The average time in transit to the college can be up to 45 minutes. This may be achieved through any combination of walking, riding a bicycle, driving a car, or taking a bus.

Q: How soon before the quarter begins may a student be placed in homestay?
A:
It is recommended that students arrive at least 2-3 days before the first testing day so that they may adjust to their homestay and overcome jet lag.  Be sure to check approved arrival dates.

Q: Of the different housing options (homestay and dormitory) which is the best choice?
A: Both have different purposes. Therefore, one is only better than the other based on your interest and goals. In the American home environment the student is immersed in the English/American language and culture, which assists in the student's academic and overall growth. Students are expected to be part of the family, help with light chores, and follow the house rules.

Click here for the Homestay information.
Click here for the Dormitory (Campus View Village) information.

Q: Do I have to cook and prepare meals?
A: In traditional homestay, five meals are prepared for you and all other food is provided for you.

Q: During holidays, if I am not staying in the homestay, do I have to pay?
A:
The hosts in SVC's Homestay Program have agreed to reduce the daily rate by 50% while on vacation 15 days or longer.  The discount must be calculated through the Homestay office before given.

Q: How do you match me with my family?
A:
Once the homestay coordinator receives a potential host's application, the host will be interviewed and a background check will be made. After everything is complete, a match is made by comparing information on both the host application and the information which you provide on your application. The homestay coordinator will take into consideration both living habits and personal interests of both host and student.  The more information that you provide, the better match can be made.

Q: What is the makeup of each family?
A: The family makeup may be anything from traditional (father, mother, and a child) to a single person, or even a grandparent(s).

Q: Will my family have other international students? If so, will they be from the same country?
A: Normally we place a student in a homestay without another student. In the case that a student is placed with another student, both students will be of the same sex, but from different countries.
| return to top |

WORKING ON CAMPUS

Q: Can I work as an international student?
A:
Yes! As an international student, you can work on campus 20 hours/week if you are in good academic standing but you cannot work off campus unless authorized by the US immigration. Please be advised that even though many international students work on campus it is not abundantly available.

Q: How can I get a social security card?
A:
The International Programs Office issues a letter for you to present at the SS office when, and only when, you have been offered a job on campus. Letters cannot be issued unless you have been offered a job on campus. A social security card will not be issued by the SS office unless you have been offered a job.
| return to top |

HEALTH

Q: Does SVC require proof of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations?
A: No, but we do highly suggest that you are current on your vaccinations before coming to the USA.

Q: Does SVC require Health Insurance for International Students?
A: Yes. Please click here for more information.