Immigration and Visa Regulations

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a web-based system for maintaining information on international students and exchange visitors in the United States. This site has information related to the SEVIS fee, visa application and arrival in the U.S., maintaining student status and other resources.

Obtaining a Student Visa

St. Olaf College will only issue an I-20 form for the F-1 student visa application after a student has been accepted, verified his or her financial support, and confirmed his or her attendance with a $600 deposit.

Students should apply for their F-1 student visa as soon as they are able to, but no more than 120 days before the start of their program of study at St. Olaf and at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Here are tips on applying for a student visa.  Students will need to pay a SEVIS I-901 fee (currently $200) and visa processing fee.

Maintaining Student Status

International students and exchange visitors should understand the importance of maintaining their status while in the U.S. Failing to maintain status could result in serious consequences and may affect the ability to remain in or return to the United States. (Adapted from SEVIS fact sheet.)  Consult the Visa Coordinator, Megan Carmes, on the latest regulations and procedures. St. Olaf College expects its students to pursue their studies full-time, attend their registered courses, and make satisfactory academic progress. Although not exhaustive, students are responsible for the following in order to maintain status:

  • See the Visa Coordinator at the beginning of each semester to register in SEVIS.
  • Maintain a full class load (minimum 3.0 St. Olaf course credits) and make progress toward completing the courses, including attending all courses.
  • Consult with the Visa Coordinator before travel outside the U.S. or change in enrollment status.
  • Contact the Visa Coordinator before (but no later than 10 days after) change in major(s), address, withdraw from St. Olaf, transfer to another school, extend or shorten the program of study, or experience changes in financial status.
  • Abstain from any unauthorized on or off-campus employment.

Leaving and Re-entering the U.S.

Students must speak with the Visa Coordinator before leaving the United States (even to Canada or Mexico) if planning to return to continue studying at St. Olaf College.  Please prepare the following:

  • I-20 and ensure it has a travel signature less than six months old from the DSO.
  • A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of reentry.
  • A valid, current F-1 visa (certain exceptions apply for Canada and Mexico).
  • Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses.
  • Official transcript
  • Letter of Verification from the Registrar’s Office.
  • If a student is outside the U.S. for more than five months on a leave of absence, that student will need a new I-20 before returning to the U.S.

Bringing the most recent I-94 Departure Card will facilitate reentry, if reentering through a land Port of Entry. If flying, the airline will collect the I-94 prior to departure and will complete a new one upon reentry.  If a student does not have the above information, they might be refused re-entry into the U.S. at the Port of Entry. However, some international students who reenter the U.S. without a properly endorsed Form I-20 may be admitted . for a 30-day period and issued a Form I-515A by the border official that must be processed within this 30-day period. Please see the Visa Coordinator as soon as returning to campus to process this form.

General immigration information can be found at US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).

Driver’s License and State Identification Card

If a student intends to drive a motor vehicle while in the U.S., they should have a valid International Driver’s License or apply for a Minnesota Driver’s License. To apply for Minnesota driver’s license, identification, or permit, please view these requirements.