After Acceptance - International Students

Important Enrollment Steps

Congratulations on your acceptance to University of South Carolina Beaufort. Now that you have been accepted, you will be issued an I-20 form, an immigration document, stating that you have been accepted into a degree program at USCB. Once you receive this I-20 and pay your SEVIS fee, you must apply for a student visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. This visa stamp in your passport shows the visa status you will hold while here in the U.S. You are permitted to enter the country within 30 days of the start of your program stated on your I-20.

Please allow four to six weeks for your I-20 to be issued. For information regarding the status of your I-20, please contact the Registrars Office at (843) 208-8050 or by email at

Obtaining Your Student Visa
International students entering from outside the U.S. need to apply for a U.S. visa at the nearest U.S. embassy/consulate.

  • You will need to take your I-20 form, your passport, SEVIS payment receipt, letter of Admission and a certified copy of your financial support, (some countries require documentation of financial support, while other countries do not), to your country to apply for your visa.

Most embassies require an appointment, so please call in advance for your appointment.

  • 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 or consulate. The fee can be paid online at

Some countries require that the student return to their home country to obtain the visa, while other countries do not have this requirement.  It is up to you to discover and implement the rules of your embassy and your home country.  The earliest that an F-1 visa can be granted is 90 days before the program start date listed on the I-20.  For more details on obtaining a visa see

F-1 Student Visa 
Most international students, who come to study in the U.S. and at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, obtain F-1 visas.  This type of visa allows you to remain in the U.S. as long as you are pursuing specific programs of study and are otherwise complying with the regulations pertaining to the F-1 visa status. However you must make sure that your passport is valid the entire time that you are in the U.S. Also, be aware that students with an F-1 visa are not allowed to work here in the U.S. except under certain conditions set by U.S. Immigration.
As an international student, you are required by U.S. immigration regulations to enter the country on a student visa. You will be denied entry into the U.S. if you attempt to enter with any other type of visa, (example: tourist or business visa).

Current Students in the United States
If you are already in the U.S. on a student visa and are maintaining lawful, student status, it is possible to transfer your F-1 student status to USCB. Please submit a request including your SEVIS record and USCB can issue a new I-20 and assist in transferring your immigration status. If you are currently in the U.S. on another visa category, you should contact us for guidance about whether your current visa status allows enrollment in a U.S. college. Some non-student visa categories allow enrollment, while others have restrictions. Individuals on B visas are not eligible for enrollment. Individuals on F-2 dependent visas can only be enrolled as part-time students.

For information regarding the status of your I-20, please contact the Registrars Office at (843) 208-8050 or by email at

Accompanying Dependents 
Your spouse or unmarried children may accompany you to the U.S. Their names must be listed on your immigration document for family members to obtain the entry visas. Please be sure to indicate on the application for admissions that you will bring family members. Students who will be accompanied by family must also show sufficient funding to support their dependents while in the U.S.

  • A minimum of an additional $7,000 for the spouse and $1000 for each child should be calculated into the total costs for attending the University for one year. (This figure is based on current tuition rates, housing, meals, transportation, etc. This figure could change and is based on the student’s individual lifestyle and current tuition rates.)

Dependents must follow immigration regulations that are different from those in F-1/J-1 status. F-2 and J-2 spouses may not pursue full-time study in the U.S., but can only engage in study that is a vocational or recreational in nature. F-2 and J-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 United States Immigration to receive work authorization.

Information on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) Fee Payment for F-1 Visa Applicants Using Form I-901

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Form I-901 Online Completion site is  This site is used to pay the fee required for F, M, and J non-immigrants authorized by Public Law 104-208, Subtitle D, Section 641. 

  • If you are subject to this fee and do not pay it, you will not be issued an F, M, or J nonimmigrant visa for admission to the U.S.  This fee should be paid after you receive your I-20 form.
  • The information on the I-20 form is required to process your fee payment.  Make your payment in advance of your visa request appointment because you should, if at all possible, take your receipt for payment, which will be mailed to you, to your visa interview. 
  • For more detailed information on the fee payment process, go to the SEVIS website at

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to maintain full-time status? What if I have a good reason for not enrolling full-time?
To maintain F-1 or J-1 student status, international students must be enrolled in a full course of study each fall and spring semester (summer enrollment is optional). Undergraduates minimums= 12 hours. There are valid academic and medical reasons for enrolling less than full-time. For any semester you are enrolled less than full-time, please contact the Registrar's Office immediately.

What do I do if my I-20 is about to expire?  I'm not finished with my degree, so does it matter if the I-20 expires?
YES! It does matter. You must apply for a program extension. You can do this as early as 90 days before the current end date on your I-20 (See #5 on page 1 of your I-20 to find this date).

Your first step is to contact the contact the Registrar's Office. Please be advised that program extensions must be requested before the I-20 end date. Because your academic advisor's recommendation is also needed as part of this process, students must allow sufficient time for processing and for dealing with any problems that may arise. An extension is granted up to one year at a time; you must reapply for another extension if needed.

My passport will be expiring soon, what should I do? 
Each passport has an expiration date listed. As a student it is your responsibility to keep your passport valid at all times. If your passport expiration date is approaching you must contact your embassy or consulate in order to have your passport renewed.

My visa is about to expire, will I be out of status? 
No. It is legal for you to be in the U.S. and possess an expired visa. You only need your visa to re-enter the U.S. If you will be traveling outside of the U.S. and have an expired visa, we recommend that you travel during the summer and Christmas breaks which are longer so that you will have a better opportunity to renew your visa in time to return to your studies.

What if I decide to transfer to a different university? 
As part of your admissions process at the other university, you may be asked to bring us a form to verify that you have maintained your status while at USCB. We can fill out as many of these forms as needed.
However, once you are admitted to one or more universities, you will need to decide on one. You will need to let us know within 60 days of your last day of study at USCB.

I have changed my name. What should I do to update my documents?
Begin by updating your passport in your home country or at your country's embassy or consulate here in the U.S. Once you receive the new or amended passport, visit the Registrar's Office as soon as possible.
You should then update your name with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and any other agencies which have records for you.

I am a special registrant.  What do I need to do when traveling?

  • Carry all required immigration documents, as well as other supporting documents of your activities as an F-1 student
  • Have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel
  • Make sure the airport you exit through is a Designated Point of Departure approved for special registrants
  • Locate an immigration official at the Point of Departure who can assist you with registration
  • Be sure your address information is correct in VIP

If you do not register when leaving the country, you will have a problem re-entering and may be forced to return to your home country to apply for a new visa.

I am taking a semester break from studies.  Who do I need to notify?
Under the F and J visas, you are required to be enrolled full-time during the fall and spring semesters. If you decide to take a semester break and return to your home country, missing one of the major terms of enrollment, you will break your F-1 or J-1 status. If this happens, you will need to re-establish 9 months of F-1 or J-1 status after you return before you will be able to apply for work benefits, such as CPT, OPT, or Economic Hardship. If you are an undergraduate, you may need to re-apply for admission if you did not enroll at all during the semester you are absent. If you are a graduate student, your admission to the university is valid for three years. We will need to re-issue you a new I-20 so that you may re-enter to continue studies. Contact the Registrar's Office as soon as possible.

I've heard that I can go to Mexico or Canada to renew or change my visa. Is this true? 
While it is possible to apply in a Third Country such as Mexico or Canada, it is very risky. If the consular office finds cause to deny your request, you would need to be prepared to continue your travels to your own home country as you will not be allowed to return to the U.S. On the other hand, some students have been successful in their visa renewal or visa status change quests.

What documents do I need to renew my visa? 
You will need to contact the U.S. Consulate in your home country for a complete list of requirements, but you will definitely need the following: your current I-20, a current financial statement, and a passport valid for at least 6 months.

What will happen if I am absent from the U.S. for 5 months or more?
The five month rule says that if an F-1 student leaves the U.S. for 5 consecutive months or more the U.S. Customs Immigration Services considers the student to have abandoned their F-1 visa status and may lose their eligibility for any benefits.  In this case you will have to apply for a new student visa and will have to be issued an initial I-20 document to return.

I have just completed my program of study, what is the length of my grace period? 
After you have completed your studies at each degree level you will have a grace period of 60 days after your program end date (listed on your I-20 document) to either change your status, transfer to a new degree program or leave the country. 

How do I find a local immigration attorney?
Go to the South Carolina Bar website. Search under Beaufort County for a listing of Beaufort lawyers and their specialties. There is also a phone number listed on that site which serves as a referral service. You can also request a referral through the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Useful Websites

International Student Organization 
Joseph Silny & Associates, Inc., International Education Consultants 
National Association of Credential Evaluation Services 
Obtaining a Visa
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Form I-901 Online Completion
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) 
University of South Carolina Beaufort  
USCB International Student Application for Undergraduate Admissions
USCB International Student Certification of Support
USCB International Student Immunization Requirements
USCB International Student Transfer Information 
USCB Tuition and Fees (Bursar Link) 
World Education Services, Inc.

Contact the Office of Admissions 
Mailing Address:
One University Boulevard 
Bluffton, SC 29909
Phone (843) 208-8055
Fax (843) 208-8290