I-20: This is the document issued by International Support to degree-seeking students after their application and supporting documents have been approved. You must have the I-20 to apply for an F-1 visa or to maintain an F-1 visa. You will need it to travel to the U.S. and we will update it throughout your time as a student.
DS-2019: This is the document issued by International Support to exchange students after their application and supporting documents have been approved. You must have the DS-2019 to apply for a J-1 visa or to maintain a J-1 visa. You will need it to travel to the U.S. and we will maintain it during your exchange program.
SEVIS: The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the government database that holds your student record. This is where International Support at Bellarmine creates and maintains your I-20 or DS-2019 and your information.
DSO and RO: Designated School Official (DSO) for degree-seeking programs and Responsible Officer (RO) for exchange programs. These are individuals at Bellarmine who are authorized to speak about F-1 and J-1 visa issues and to use SEVIS. You will be in close contact with these individuals during the application process and throughout your time as a student.
Visa: This document is issued by the Department of State after an embassy official approves your application. It will be inserted into your passport. Your visa is what enables you to enter the U.S. along with your I-20 or DS-2019. Your visa remains valid through its expiration date as long as you maintain status as a student, which means complying with regulations that your DSO or RO will communicate with you about. You are ultimately responsible for complying with these regulations. Visas generally cannot be renewed while inside the U.S.
I-901 Fee: Also called the SEVIS fee, this must be paid 3 days before your visa appointment. Keep your receipt and bring it to your visa appointment and carry it with your travel documents.
DS-160: This is the application form for your visa appointment. Most embassies will also require you to pay a fee for the appointment (separate from the I-901 fee). Remember to check for your nearest embassy and what the wait times are at that location.
Customs: Customs officers are at every port of entry into the U.S. Customs officers ultimately make the decision of whether to allow you entrance into the U.S. It is important to have all your documentation (passport, visa, I-20 or DS-2019) and supporting material (financial documents, I-901 fee, and more) with you in your carry-on luggage so that you can show it to any Customs officer. Once they allow you in, they will stamp your passport and mark it D/S for "duration of stay."
Form I-515A: If you have forgotten important documentation but a Customs officer believes you should be admitted to the U.S., they may issue you a Form I-515A. This is not common. If you are issued one, alert International Support immediately and we will meet with you as soon as you arrive in Louisville.
I-94: This is a document that Customs generates. It is available to you online, and it will be updated with every time you enter or exit the U.S.
Semester Registration: Often called check-in. In your first semester we must register you in SEVIS as quickly as possible to avoid your record being cancelled. Every semester that you are a student we will have to register you in SEVIS within the first 30 days of classes.