USA visa information
What is a non-immigrant visa?
A non-immigrant visa is an immigration document that permits a citizen of a foreign country to enter into the U.S. for a temporary period of time. It also determines what a non-immigrant is allowed to do while in the U.S. There are many different types of visas, depending on the reason for coming to the U.S. For instance, if your primary purpose for entering the U.S. is to study, it is in your best interest to get an F-1 (student) visa. For more information about obtaining a visa, please visit the US Department of State website.
Am I responsible for obtaining a US visa in order to study with Kaplan International Centers?
Yes. While Kaplan International are happy to advise on and support your application process, you must make the application and provide all required documentation yourself.
Part 1: Obtaining an I-20
What is an I-20?
The I-20 is the document Kaplan International issues to students who are going to study with us full-time. It enables students to apply for a student visa at their local American Embassy.
What documents do I need in order to obtain an I-20?
Please see Kaplan International’s document called Instructions for F-1 Student Applications for a complete list of documents required to get an I-20 from Kaplan International Colleges.
How much time does it take to get the I-20?
From the moment Kaplan International Centers receives the application and deposit, it takes 2 weeks for students to receive their I-20 via courier or express mail. Please keep this in mind if you want to apply for your visa as soon as possible, or you have already made your visa appointment.
What is Kaplan International's application deadline?
Kaplan International has rolling admissions, which means there are no specific deadlines. However, you should allow at least 2 weeks for Kaplan International to process your application and to issue your I-20. The process may take longer if you originally submit an incomplete application. Once you receive your I-20 you should allow 2 months to receive your F-1 visa.
Why is an I-20 important?
The I-20, also called a “Certificate of Eligibility”, confirms that a non-immigrant has been admitted to a U.S. school that is approved by the U.S. government to enrol non-immigrants. The I-20 is issued by the Designated School Official (DSO) at the school the student intends to study at and is required by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to obtain F-1 visa status. In addition, F-1 students must maintain a valid I-20 by studying full-time to remain legally in the U.S. after their start date (please see “What are the study requirements of Kaplan International Centers?” for further information), and communicate regularly with their DSO to ensure they maintain legal status while in the U.S.
For how long will my I-20 be valid?
The length of time printed on your I-20 is pre-determined by the course you are taking and not by the number of weeks you will be studying with us. The length of the I-20 varies as follows:
English language and/or TOEFL ® - 13 months
Academic Semester/Academic Year - 13 months
GMAT ® for International Students - 6 months
GRE ® for International Students - 6 months
If you end your course before your I-20 expiration date and do not re-enrol (as in most cases), your DSO will shorten your I-20 to reflect your early end date. If you want to stay for the full length of your I-20, you will have to pay for an extension/repeat of your course and continue to maintain full-time studies during the extension. After your last day of study you will be permitted a grace period of 60 calendar days to transfer to another school or depart the U.S.
Can my I-20 be extended if I need more time to study?
If you believe you need to continue studies after your I-20 end date, you can speak to your DSO to see if you qualify for an extension. However, I-20 extensions are not common and require you to meet very specific criteria. Given this, it is important that you pace yourself during your studies to ensure you meet your academic goals in a timely manner and hence complete your studies with Kaplan International by the end date listed on your I-20. Please note, all requests for I-20 extensions must be made to your DSO before your last day of study. I-20 extensions will not be granted if requested after your last day of study. There are no exceptions to this policy.
How will I receive my I-20?
You have a choice as to how you would like to receive your I-20: by regular mail or by courier. We strongly recommend using an express courier service for international shipments because this way the package can be traced. In general, Kaplan International Colleges will mail your I-20 by regular mail, in which case you will not be charged a mailing fee. If you elect to have your I-20 mailed by an express mail service, you will be charged a USD 50 mailing fee. Please note, if you apply to Kaplan International Colleges four (4) weeks or fewer before your start date, your I-20 will be mailed by express mail service regardless of whether or not you request the service, and you will be charged USD 50.
Can I change my start date after receiving my I-20?
You can change your start date anytime before entering the U.S. Simply contact Kaplan International Colleges to confirm your new start date as soon as you know about the change. At that time, Kaplan International Colleges will mail you a revised I-20 to show your new study dates. Failure to notify Kaplan International Colleges about these changes may cause problems for you at the Port of Entry and/or U.S Embassy. Once you enter the U.S., you cannot postpone your start date. There are no exceptions to this policy. However, if you want to begin before your start date, this is acceptable. Simply contact your Kaplan International Colleges centre and let them know you want to start early.
Can I change centre locations after receiving my I-20?
If you have not received your F-1 visa, you can change Kaplan International Colleges centre locations at any time. Simply contact Kaplan International Colleges to confirm the new location and a new I-20 will be mailed to you from the new location. Your original I-20 will be cancelled, so you should not use it at the U.S. Embassy or Port of Entry. If your visa has been issued, you can change locations, but you may need to get a new visa before entering the U.S. American law requires the name of the school on your I-20 to match the name of the school on your visa for successful entry to the U.S. If the names do not match because you changed centre locations after getting your visa, you may be denied entry to the U.S. Check with your local U.S. Embassy/Consulate to see if a new visa is required before travelling to the U.S.
Part 2: Obtaining an F-1 (student) visa
What is an F-1 visa?
An F-1 visa is an immigration document that permits a foreign citizen to come to the US to study full-time for a temporary period of time.
Does Kaplan International Colleges issue F-1 visas?
No. All visas are issued by the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad.
How do I get an F-1 visa?
You must first apply to Kaplan International Colleges. If eligible for admission, Kaplan International Colleges will issue an “Initial Attendance” Form I-20. Upon receipt of Form I-20, you will need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee online at www.fmjfee.com. The SEVIS I-901 fee supports the system that tracks students and ensures they maintain their visa status while in the U.S. After paying the fee, you will then need to visit the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country to get an F-1 visa. For more specific information, please see Instructions for F-1 Student Applications.
Which Embassy do I visit?
In general, you are expected to visit the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the country for which you hold citizenship (i.e. the country that issued your passport). If your country does not have a U.S. Embassy/Consulate or if you are currently located in a different country to the one that issues your passport, you should contact the closest U.S. Embassy to see if they can accept your application for an F-1 visa. To learn more about your local U.S. Embassy, visit US Department of State website.
What documents must I present to get an F-1 visa?
For a list of items required by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate for an F-1 visa, visit the website for your local U.S. Embassy at US Department of State website.
How long does it take to get a visa?
The average wait time varies from country to country. See website to confirm how long it takes at your local U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
For how long will my visa be valid?
Kaplan International Colleges does not issue your visa and therefore cannot confirm for how long it will be valid. Instead, you should confirm this information with your local U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
Can Kaplan International Colleges help me complete the government’s application for a visa?
No. Students are solely responsible for completing all government documents.
What is the likelihood that I will be approved an F-1 visa?
Kaplan International Colleges does not issue visas and therefore cannot confirm the likelihood of approval. However, you should note that visa issuance is not guaranteed.
What happens if I am denied a visa?
If denied your visa, you should ask the Consular Officer the reason for denial before you leave the Embassy. You have the right to request the denial in writing as well. If the reason for denial was caused by a mistake on your I-20, Kaplan International Colleges can revise your I-20 and write a support letter to help you get your visa during a second interview. If no reason or a different reason is stated, Kaplan International Colleges will likely be unable to assist you further. In most cases, the government’s decision is final and there is little Kaplan International Colleges can do to change their decision. Another alternative if you're having visa problems, is to try learning English with online courses from Kaplan International instead.
Will I get a refund if my visa is denied?
You will be refunded in full minus the courier fee and application fee. Please provide the letter of visa denial from the Embassy.
Other requirements: Evidence of financial circumstances
Does Kaplan International Colleges require details of my financial circumstances to support my application?
Yes. Kaplan International Colleges requires a bank statement/letter showing that you and/or your sponsor have enough funds to cover the cost of study. In addition, it must show that all funds are readily available without penalty for withdrawal. For this reason, statements from current and/or savings accounts are best. Income statements, property deeds and other similar forms of investments are typically not acceptable.
Can I submit multiple bank statements if I do not have enough funds in one account?
Yes. You can show funds through multiple accounts and/or multiple sponsors, if necessary.
Do I have to show a bank statement even if I have paid?
If the amount paid to Kaplan International Colleges is equal to or greater than the cost of study as indicated on your I-20, you will not be required to submit a bank statement/letter. If the amount paid is less than the cost of study, you will be required to submit a bank statement.
How much money do I need to show on my bank statement?
If you are not paying in full, we require your bank statement with the signed "Proof of Funds" document stating the amount you need to show. If you want to calculate this amount ahead of time, it is the cost of study (tuition, fees, accommodation) plus at least USD 125 a week to cover living expenses. We require all of our Students to pay in full before the start date.
I have already sent my bank statement, why do I need a Proof of Funds form?
The Proof of Funds form is essentially a contract telling us that you are able and willing to pay the amount. We feel that we are responsible for this in order to issue an I-20.
Entry into the USA
When can I enter the U.S.?
You have up to 30 days before the start date listed on your I-20 to enter the U.S.
Can I enter the U.S. after my I-20 start date?
If you travel to the U.S. after your I-20 start date, you will probably face problems at the Port of Entry, since it appears you failed to meet the requirement of reporting to the Kaplan International Colleges centre by your start date. To prevent problems at the Port of Entry, you should contact Kaplan International Colleges and ask that we postpone your start date if you are unable to arrive before this date. At that time, Kaplan International Colleges will mail you a revised I-20 with a postponed start date.
What documents will I need to show at the Port of Entry?
In general, you must show the Port of Entry Officer the following documents. If these documents are missing or incomplete, you may be detained, questioned or denied entry altogether.
- A valid (non-expired) passport
- A valid (non-expired) F-1 visa with the name of the Kaplan International Colleges centre you will be attending printed at the bottom
- All three pages of your I-20 issued by the Kaplan International Colleges centre you will be attending (centre name should match the name of the school listed on your visa.)
What happens at the Port of Entry?
Please visit http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/index.htm and review the document called “What a Student Can Expect.” This document discusses what you will need to do at the Port of Entry. It is available in English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.
What is an I-94 and why is it important?
The I-94, also called the “Arrival/Departure Document”, is a small white piece of paper that you will receive when you enter the U.S. It will be attached to your passport/visa at the Port of Entry and it confirms successful entry into the U.S. The Port of Entry Officer will hand-write an expiration date on the I-94, which confirms how long you can legally stay in the U.S. Before leaving the Port of Entry, make sure your I-94 says “Duration of Status” or “D/S.” All F-1 visa holders should get “D/S on their I-94.” This means you are able to stay in the U.S. as long as you are maintaining valid F-1 status by studying full-time at a Department of Homeland Security approved school. (Please note, you can only study with Kaplan International Colleges as long as permitted by the expiration of your I-20.) If your I-94 shows a different expiration date, you should question the Officer, since you may face problems after entry if you do not get “D/S.”
What is Form I-515A and what do I need to do with it if I am given one at the Port of Entry?
Form I-515A is a government form given to some travellers who are missing documentation required for entry to the U.S. If you are given this form by a Port of Entry Officer, you must ask what documentation you are missing. Once confirmed, you will be required to submit that documentation to the government within 30 days after entry. If you do not meet this deadline, you will fall out of legal status and will have to leave the U.S. immediately. If you are given this form, please speak to the DSO at your Kaplan International Colleges centre immediately after entry. Kaplan International Colleges can assist you in completing the documentation.
When do I need to start my studies?
You are required to arrive at the Kaplan International Colleges centre and begin full-time studies on or before the start date listed on your I-20. If you do not meet this requirement, your I-20 will be terminated, you will fall out of legal status and will have to leave the U.S. immediately. If you are outside the U.S. and unable to travel to the U.S before your start date contact Kaplan International Colleges and we will update your I-20 by postponing the start date. If you have already entered the U.S. you will not be allowed to postpone your start date. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Visa terms questions
How soon can I start my course?
If you are applying for a visa you need to allow 2 months before your desired start date of your course in the USA to ensure that your visa is in place and your accommodation can be arranged.
I didn't write a start date on my application because I want to start as soon as I get approved for a student visa. Is that acceptable?
We need to have a start date in order to process an application. Give yourself enough time for your visa to be processed and to secure accommodation.
I want to travel with my family. Can I do that?
Yes, but we will need to indicate on your I-20 that you are travelling with dependents. Please provide us with their full names (as written on passport), date of birth and relationship to you.
What are the study requirements at Kaplan International Colleges?
As an F-1 student, you will be required to study at the Kaplan International Colleges centre that issued your I-20 for at least 18 hours per week if enrolled in General English, Intensive English, TOEFL ® and Academic English, English for Business, Internship Program, Academic Semester and Academic Year. If enrolled in GMAT ® for International Students, GRE ® for International Students, SAT for International Students or TOEFL ® Prep, you will be required to study at the Kaplan International Colleges centre that issued your I-20 for at least 22 hours per week. You will learn more about Kaplan International Colleges’s attendance requirements on your first day of class.
What happens if I do not meet Kaplan International Colleges’s full-time study requirements?
If you do not meet Kaplan International Colleges’s full-time study requirements, you risk falling out of legal status with the following consequences:
- Your I-20 will be terminated.
- You will no longer be eligible to study with Kaplan International Colleges.
- You will not be eligible for a refund.
- You will be required to leave the U.S. immediately after termination of your I-20.
Can I work during my studies at Kaplan International Colleges?
As an F-1 student, your primary purpose for staying in the U.S. must be full-time study, so that you can achieve your academic and/or career goals. Therefore, the government restricts your ability to work to the following situations only:
On-Campus, Part-Time Employment: You may work at the Kaplan International Colleges centre that issued your I-20 for up to 20 hours per week. This is an option only if there is a position available and you are the most qualified candidate for that position. Please note, there are a limited number of these positions at most Kaplan International Colleges centres.
Off-Campus Employment Due to Financial Hardship: If you have studied for at least nine (9) months and can demonstrate in writing that you are experiencing a financial hardship that arose after admission to Kaplan International Colleges, you may qualify for this type of employment. This type of employment requires DSO and government approval before you can begin work. Please note, if you are found to be working without government approval and/or in a position not listed here, your employment will be considered unauthorized. This will result in immediate termination of your I-20 in the SEVIS student tracking system. If this occurs, you will no longer be eligible to study with Kaplan International Colleges; you will not receive a refund and you must leave the U.S. immediately.
Can I participate in practical training or OPT/CPT while at Kaplan International Colleges?
No. As a Kaplan International Colleges student, you are not eligible for practical training (OPT/CPT) under any circumstance. There are no exceptions to this rule.