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Are there financial aid and scholarships for international applicants?

International students do not qualify for U.S. federal and state Financial Aid.  Scholarship opportunities can be searched at IEFA or EducationUSA.

SVA awards partial tuition scholarships to new undergraduate students entering the fall semester through the Silas H. Rhodes Scholarship program. All applicants, including international students, citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for scholarship.  Scholarships are primarily available to full-time students seeking admission to the fall semester who possess a minimum 3.0 GPA. Scholarships are based on academic and creative merit. To be considered for a scholarship, first-time freshmen must submit all admissions and scholarship materials postmarked by February 1. Transfer applicants must submit all admissions and scholarship materials postmarked by March 1. Please contact the Office of Admissions for further information.

Can I submit a photocopy of my bank letter?

Yes, photocopies and scanned PDF documents can be uploaded to the Terra Dotta portal, I-20 request program.  Original documents are required for the visa interview whenever possible.

When is the deadline for submitting my financial documents?

The verification of finances document is required to issue your I-20 or DS-2019 but does not affect your eligibility for admission.  Due to the time required to apply for the visa, there is a recommended application deadline of March 31 for the summer semester; May 1 for the fall semester and October 1 for the spring semester.

When can I receive my I-20?

The Certificate of Eligibility, Form I-20 will be issued to students who have paid the enrollment fee and have completed the required I-20 request program in the Terra Dotta portal, as soon as possible.  You will receive an email with the FedEx tracking number when the I-20 is issued.

What type of visa do I need to study at SVA?

Most international students apply for the F-1 student visa or J-1 exchange visitor visa.

How do I get a visa?

Once you have received an offer of admission, paid your enrollment fee, and submitted your request via the Terra Dotta portal, the Certificate of Eligibility, Form I-20 or DS-2019 will be sent via FedEx as soon as possible. You must take this form with other required documents to your local U.S. embassy. Required documents include a valid passport, the letter of acceptance from SVA, evidence of financial support, proof of permanent residency outside of the U.S., the visa application form, two photographs in a specified format, and the SEVIS fee payment receipt.

How long does it take to apply for a visa?

An interview appointment to appear in person is mandatory for student visas, and appointments must be made in advance. The visa appointment wait times can be searched here.  Please also access the website for the U.S. embassy or consulate in your area.

When can I come to the U.S.?

New students who are entering the U.S. for the first time on a F-1 or J-1 visa can only enter the country 30 days prior to the start of classes. This 30-day rule does not apply to returning students who already have a F-1 or J-1 visa.

How long can I stay in the U.S. on the F or J visa?

F visa holders may remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days after the program end date listed on their I-20. J visa holders may remain in the U.S. until the date indicated on the DS-2019 plus 30 days to prepare for departure.  There is a 15-day grace period if you are approved to take a leave of absence.  There is no grace period if you are found to have been in violation of status.

What should I do if I am currently attending another school in the U.S. and I am accepted to SVA for the following semester?

Please submit the I-20 Transfer Form through the I-20 request program.


What program do I have to be accepted to if I need a visa to study at SVA?

SVA is authorized to enroll non-immigrant aliens for the following programs, and visa types: undergraduate and graduate degree programs, English and the Visual Arts Program, one-year special student study program, Pre-College Program, and the International Exchange Program.  Continuing Education students are not eligible to apply for the F-1 student visa.

I have a valid visa that allows me to study at SVA, but want to change my status to F-1. What should I do?

It is recommended that you consult an immigration attorney to apply for a change of visa status within the U.S.  SVA/ISO will issue the Form I-20 for a change of status but does not assist with the USCIS filing process. Only those who are currently on a visa that allows them to study will be considered a favorable candidate for a change of status.  

I am here as a tourist but want to study at SVA. Can I start the program?

It is recommended that you return to your country and apply for a F-1 visa.  Studying at SVA on a full-time basis as a B1/B2 visitor visa or the Visa Waiver Program is a prohibited by immigration regulations. Tourists should not enroll in or attend a full-time program before switching their status to F-1 student.  If you choose to apply for a change of status from tourist to F-1 while staying in the U.S., the petition must be approved before beginning your studies. This process will take 6 months or more and an approval is not guaranteed.  SVA/ISO strongly recommends students to return to their home country to apply for the F-1 student visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate rather than apply for a change of status.

Please note: Continuing Education students are not eligible to apply for the F-1 student visa.

I am only interested in taking a few courses at SVA through the Continuing Education program, as a tourist. Am I allowed to do so?

Tourists can take a vocational or recreational course as long as it is incidental to their main purpose of visiting the U.S.  Please note that SVA is not authorized to issue the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for the Division of Continuing Education.  Continuing Education students are not eligible to apply for the F-1 student visa.

Can I work in the U.S. while I am attending school?

F-1 students may work on-campus at SVA for a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session.  Federal regulations prohibit any off-campus employment (including credit-bearing internships off-campus) without prior authorization from the ISO and the U.S. government. Engaging in unauthorized employment is a violation of your visa status.

I'm interested in the low-residency MFA program but want to stay in the U.S. longer than the summer semester. Is that possible?

SVA’s I-20 will be issued only for the summer semester when full-time study is required.  Because the low-residency MFA programs do not require 12 credits of full-time study in the fall and spring semesters, and classes are offered online, SVA’s I-20 cannot be extended to cover the entire academic year.  By immigration regulations, no more than the equivalent of one on-line/distance education class or 3 credits per session may count towards the "full course of study" requirement.  Students are not permitted to register for SVA classes other than their program for the purpose of fulfilling the full-time study requirement.  Students will not be eligible to apply for the 12-month Optional Practical Training benefit upon completion of studies of the following low-residency programs: MFA Art Practice and MFA Visual Narrative.

International Student Profile

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