Obtain a Form I-20 “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status”
If you do not hold a U.S. citizenship, permanent residency, green card or other non-immigrant status with authorization to study in the U.S., you will need to apply for an F-1 student visa. To apply for an F-1 student visa, you will need a Form I-20, which is issued by the Assistant Dean of International Student Services/Designated School Official (DSO).
Once you have responded to your offer of admission by logging into your My Williams Account and enrolled, you will receive the following forms from the Office of Financial Aid by email:
- Personalized Certification of Finance Form
- Form I-20 Information Sheet
You must complete and return both of the forms by May 20th to obtain the Form I-20. Please Note that you must return original forms with original signatures. However, to initiate the process you can submit high quality scans of the forms via email attachment to Ninah T. Pretto – firstname.lastname@example.org – the Assistant Dean of International Student Services.
Obtain a U.S. Visa
You will receive your Form I-20 and I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee receipt in the mail to the address provided on the Form I-20 Information Sheet. Please note, Williams College will pay the SEVIS I-901 fee initially and charge it to your student tuition account unless you are receiving financial aid then it will be covered.
As soon as you receive your I-20 and I-901 receipt in the mail, schedule your visa appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for an F-1 student visa. Review the student visas page, as well as the instructions at the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply for a visa. After you receive your visa, check to see that you received the right type of visa and that your name and date of birth are correct and match the information in your passport.
Canadian Citizens are not required to apply for an F-1 student visa, but will be asked to present their Canadian passport, Form I-20 and I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the Port of Entry. The CBP Officer will confirm your documents with SEVIS.
Planning your Arrival
You may not enter the U.S. earlier than 30 days before the program start date on your I-20. There is no early move in, so plan to arrive on Friday, August 25th to participate in the required International Student Orientation. If you are planning to arrive before you will be responsible for your accommodations. Your I-20 does not require a travel signature for your initial entry into the U.S., however you will need a travel signature for subsequent trips. Once you arrive on-campus and officially check-in with the Assistant Dean of International Students you will receive your travel signature.
International students (not from Canada or the Caribbean) receiving financial aid will be reimbursed for 1 round trip ticket per year for 4 years. Students can either buy their own ticket and bring the receipt to the Financial Aid Office for reimbursement or use Global Link Travel to book airfare. International students on financial aid will also receive a vacation allowance of $225 per semester, for Winter & Spring Break respectively, which will be credited to the student’s term bill. Students can request a refund from the Bursar’s Office to withdraw the vacation allowance funds.
For international students from Canada or the Caribbean receiving financial aid the cost of 2 round trip tickets per year is added into the financial aid award.
When booking airfare it is extremely important to be mindful of the move-in and move-out date provided by Student Housing and to make sure to book the return ticket after the final exam period is over. Final exam dates can be found on the Academic Calendar.
If you are transferring to Williams College from another U.S. institution and you already hold an I-20 make sure to complete the Transfer Form (included with the forms from the Office of Financial Aid).