International students entering from outside the United States need to apply for a U.S. visa at the nearest U.S. embassy/consulate. Degree-seeking students need to apply for an F-1 (Student) visa; exchange students need to apply for the J-1 (Exchange) Visa. After acceptance to GC, you should make an appointment for the visa interview as soon as possible.
Before your visa appointment, you need to pay a SEVIS fee that supports the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (this is in addition to the visa application fee). This fee must be paid BEFORE a visa can be issued and can NOT be paid at the U.S. embassy/consulate. The fee can be paid online at SEVIS fee, or by mailing a check, international money order or bank draft drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. dollars to an address in the United States (see detailed information in your acceptance packet), or paid in local currency at a Western Union through the Quick Pay Service. Applicants must file the Form I-901 with their payment. The form will ask for an address where a receipt of payment can be mailed, your School Code for F visa applicants [ATL214F00313000 for the Milledgeville campus or ATL214F00313001 for the Macon campus] or Program Number for J visa applicants [P105349] and your SEVIS Identification Number that is located at the top right-hand corner above the bar code on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. Please note that you will not be refunded the SEVIS fee if your visa is denied, but you do not need to repay the SEVIS fee if you reapply for a student visa within 12 months of the denial.
More information about U.S. visas can be obtained at the following Web sites:
U.S. Embassies and Consulates Abroad: http://www.usembassy.gov/
U.S. Visas: http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html
U.S. Visa Processing Times:http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html
SEVIS Fee: http://www.fmjfee.com
Inspection at the U.S. Port of Entry
Please note that you cannot enter the U.S. prior to 30 days from the start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. On route to the U.S., you will be asked to complete a Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) on the airplane to be given to the immigration inspection officer at the airport. It is very important to complete this form accurately. Your name should be listed exactly as it is on your passport (spelling, spacing must be consistent). Your date of birth should be listed in the day/month/year format, which is different than is listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. If known, you should list the address where you will actually reside in the U.S. (residence hall room or apartment) on the form. If you do not know your physical address yet, you can provide the general university address: Georgia College, 231 W Hancock St, Milledgeville GA 31061.
At the U.S. Port of Entry, all international visitors to the U.S. have fingerprints scanned by an inkless device and a digital photograph taken when going through immigration. You will be requested to show your I-20 or DS-2019 form, financial documentation, and the I-94 card that you completed on the plane. Be sure to show the I-20 (or DS-2019) issued by GC. The inspection officer will stamp the appropriate forms, including the I-94 card, which may get stapled into your passport. Be sure you have the I-20 (or the DS-2019), as well as the I-94. Keep them with your passport. Do not lose them! The International Center will need to review and make copies of your documents after you arrive on campus.
If the inspector has questions that you cannot provide answers to, the officer may wish to contact a school officer for verification. In that case, you should provide the names of the appropriate School Officials (Eric Spears or Libby Davis) and the International Center phone number (478-445-4789). During weekend or evenings if no one is available at the office number, inspectors should phone Public Safety at 478-445-4400.
Students Currently in the U.S.
If you have attended (or are attending) another institution in the U.S. or are currently pursuing practical training, you must notify your current institution of your intent to transfer to GC. Your current school must release your SEVIS immigration records to Georgia College, and you will be issued a new I-20 to attend GC. Your documents must meet Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations regarding student status, and you must report to the International Center to complete the immigration transfer process by the start of your first semester of enrollment. If you are currently in an immigration status other than F-1, please submit proof of your current immigration status as soon as possible. In most cases, you will probably need to change to F-1 status, and we can assist you with the paperwork to apply for a change of status.
If you are bringing a spouse or a child to the U.S. while you are studying at GC, you should have notified the International Center with your family's information. We will issue your spouse and/or child a separate I-20 (or DS-2019) for them to use to apply for an F-2 or J-2 dependent visa. F-2 and J-2 dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS fee, but are required to pay visa application fees. We do not require the spouse or child of an F-1 student to enroll in the GC group health insurance plan, but we strongly suggest they obtain adequate coverage. They may elect to enroll in the GC group health insurance plan, but must enroll within 31 days of arriving in the U.S. J-2 spouse/children are required by the U.S. Department of State to be insured during their entire stay in the U.S.
Dependents must follow immigration regulations that are different from those in F-1/J-1 status. F-2 spouses may NOT pursue full-time study in the U.S., but can only engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature. F-2 children may only engage in full-time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school. F-2s can NOT work in the U.S.; J-2s must apply for special permission from U.S. Immigration to receive work authorization.