F-1 Visa Student Guidance regarding COVID-19

F-1 students should monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for the most up to date information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and possible travel requirements.

Whether you’re a new international student at ϲʿ’s, or you have already spent time on the hilltop, the International Student Services Office (ISS) is committed to helping you succeed.

International Student Services (ISS) advises students with F-1 and J-1 student visa categories about immigration, acculturation and other topics.

Information for New International Students

Follow the steps below to get your student visa to study in the U.S. Please note: We’re trained and authorized to advise on F-1 and J-1 visa matters. For questions about other visa types and categories, seek a qualified immigration attorney.


The Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student (F-1) Status, allows you to apply for the F-1 student visa or continue your F-1 status if you are transferring from another school in the U.S. ϲʿ's will not issue an I-20 after the program start date. After you’ve been admitted and made your deposit, complete the following so that ISS can issue your I-20:

I-20 Request Period

Initial I-20 Fall March 1- August 1; Spring October 1- December 1

Transfer I-20 Fall March 1- August 15; Spring October 1- December 15

  1. Complete the requestto provide required information for your I-20.
  2. Submit all documents before the end of the I-20 request period in order to receive an I-20.
  3. Documents to be uploaded in the "Apply I-20" Form:
    • Valid Passport
    • with include Bank Certification Letter and/or scholarship award letter
  4. If you’re currently studying in the U.S. with an F-1 student visa, transfer your I-20 record to ϲʿ's University. Complete Section I of the, then ask your advisor or school official at your current school to complete Section II. When both sections are completed,submit the form.
  5. If you're a student visa holderin a flexible in-person graduate program,submit the prior to I-20 issuance. To document in-person attendance, the universityprovides the .
  6. If admitted, a newly accepted student will be required to depart the U.S., apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy for the F-1 student visa (outside the U.S.), and re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. ISS currently does not issue the Change of Status Form I-20 to new students who wish to remain in the U.S. and petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of non-immigrant status to the F-1 visa; unless that student is already enrolled at ϲʿ's University and is eligible for a change of status to F-1 within the US.

Dual Degree International Students:

Note: APU Dual Degree students use the transfer application and omit the essay portion. The Deposit fee will be waived.SEU will need the following documents to issue the I-20 after nomination by the partner university. Upload all documents into the

  • Passport identification page
  • and Banking certification letter
  • English proficiency scores (TOEFL ITP: 550 or higher, TOEFL IBT: 79 or higher, IELTS: 6.0 or higher)
  • Transcripts (in English) Students may submit unofficial transcripts from Campusmate.

Follow all new students policies and complete required tasks on . APU students will be assigned theSt. Andre Apartments

Digitally Signed Form I-20 Guidance

ISS will no longer issue paper I-20 forms to students and will insteadissue digitally-signed electronic I-20 forms. ISSwill digitally sign the electronic I-20 form and provide the protected PDF file directly to students by email.Please note, the digitally-signed I-20 form is not a copy of your paper I-20 form. The digitally-signedI-20 form is considered your original and most up-to-date I-20 form.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)announced that schools arepermitted to digitally signI-20 forms. SEVP coordinated with all government agencies including the U.S.Department of State (DOS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to raise awareness of the approved digitally-signed I-20 format. The digitally-signed I-20 form isaccepted by DOS at the time of attending a visa interview as well as by CBP when an individual attempts to enter the U.S. The digitally-signed form is also acceptable for USCIS filing purposes. Learn more about the online.

How to Use Your Digitally Signed I-20 Form

After receiving your digitally-signedI-20 form, you will need to do the following:

1. Print a hard copy of the digitally-signed I-20 form on standard 8.5 inchesX 11 inches white paper.

2. Sign with your signature at the bottom of the 1st page of the digitally-signed I-20.

3. Travel with the hard-copy printed versionof the digitally-signed I-20 in hand when you enter the U.S. or attend your visa interview.

4. Bookmark the SEVP guidance on to reference, if needed.

Presenting your digitally-signedI-20 form on your phone, tablet or laptop will not be acceptable for any official government purposes.


Follow the process below to get your visa. We encourage you to visit thefor detailed instructions.

  • and print your receipt. Here’s ato walk you through the process.
  • and pay the fees. Then, print the form confirmation page and your receipt, and bring them both to your interview.
  • for your visa interview at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Attend your scheduled visa interview. Bring all required documents and receipts and be prepared to answer personal questions. Here areto help you succeed in your interview. Required documents include: original I-20, SEVIS I-901 receipt, DS-160 visa application confirmation, admission letter and financial support information.

You may enter the U.S. 30 days before the program start date shown on your I-20.

Check-in and immigration reporting takes place on International Landing Day and is mandatory. During International Landing Day, we’ll collect the information we need from you to register your immigration record and give you an overview of F-1 student visa rules and benefits. In addition to International Landing Day, you’ll attendInternational Student Orientation.

First time freshman F-1 international students are required to enroll in a one credit hour International First Year Seminar Course during their first or second semester. The course will provide important immigration information needed to maintain your F-1 status.


Here are some helpful transportation tips and tricks on how to get around Austin.

Ground Transportation To and From Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

You can find options, including: taxis, rideshare, shuttles, pedicabs and electric low speed vehicles, and charter services.

Bus (Public Transportation)

Catch a ride with , the public transportation provider in Austin. Capital Metro provides a network of bus routes, MetroRapid Route 801 and 803 and MetroRail service to keep people moving into and out of downtown and throughout the city.

Download the to buy passes and plan trips on the go. In partnership with Capital Metro, all residential students can receive ano-cost mobile bus passupon. Students who live off-campus can receive a discounted pass by visiting the Card Office in the 1st floor Operations Building. You will need to present your student ID. See for more details.

Check out where you can go on . Check out for tips and videos on how to ride. Call (512) 474-1200 for more information.


Riding a bike is a fun, healthy and environmentally friendly way to get around Austin. You can find more information including route maps, and safety tips on thepage. The app offers bikes for rent 24 hour/day and has on demand bicycle stations in the urban core.

Over the last few years, ϲʿ’s has increased the number of bike racks and opportunities for bike use on campus (). The bike repair station – which includes tools for bike repair, an air pump, and a lifted rack to put the bike on while repairs are being made – provides an excellent complement to these increased bike ridership opportunities.

If you are a bike commuter, lockers are available in the Recreation and Convocation Center. A $10 deposit fee will be charged for the lock and reimbursed at the end of the semester when the lock is returned.

And if you have a bike, remember to register it with University Police! Bike registration is required for everyone who bikes on campus. You can register yours at the Police Department on the second floor of the Operations Building, between 8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.


Ridesharing is when you book a driver, vehicle, or another transportation service quickly and conveniently through a mobile app. and are popular services in Austin.

Renting a Car

You must be at least 21 years old to rent a car.To drive a car in Texas, you must have liability insurance. If you do not have this type of insurance, you will have to pay for it on a day-to-day basis.

Rental Car Companies

The following companies are located at the Austin airport and are open 7 days a week.

Alamo Rent-A-Car:Open 6:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.(844) 366-2656

Budget:Open Sun - Fri 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.; Sat 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.(512) 356-3519

Enterprise Rent-A-Car:Open 6:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.(737) 484-3896

Hertz:Open 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.(512) 247-7250

Hourly Rental Car and Car-sharing Companies

View for short-term car rental options around Austin. It is app and web-based, allowing you to sign up from your phone or computer.

Buying a Car

If you decide to buy from a private party, it is recommended that you have an experienced driver test drive the car for you. Also, it is highly recommended that you take the car to an auto mechanic for a “buyer’s check.” Ask for the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) when you speak with the owner. You can use the VIN number to check the vehicle’s history at or ask the dealership to provide a vehicle history report.

Car Titles and Registration

To avoid a financial penalty, you must transfer the car’s title within 30 days from the date of purchase. More information about registering your car can be found at the . If you live in Austin, you will register your car at the .

Auto Insurance

State law requires people who drive in Texas to pay for accidents they may cause. Most people do this with liability insurance. A liability policy pays to repair or replace the other driver's car and pays other people's medical expenses if you’re at fault in an accident.

The provides an online guide to help you choose an insurance policy. Before purchasing insurance, get price quotes from several insurance companies. Use service to get sample prices and compare policies. You will need your car’s VIN number and your driver's license number to buy insurance.

Road Rules

Buy a quality lock for your bicycle. A coated U-lock is recommended for highest security. Make sure both your frame and wheel are securely locked to the bicycle rack.

Obey traffic signs. You must follow all road rules while riding your bike, including stopping at red lights and stop signs.

As a vehicle, you must yield to pedestrians and other vehicles. Don't ride on sidewalks and walkways – walk your bike instead.

Lights at night. State law requires a white headlight and red rear reflector. Drivers must turn on their headlights within 30 minutes after sunset and leave them on until at least 30 minutes before sunrise.

Bus etiquette. Buses pull to the right-hand side of the road to load and unload passengers.

Information for Current and Returning International Students

We encourage you to stay in touch with ISS during your time on the Hilltop. Remember, you need our assistance to update your I-20 if you:

  • Extend or change your program or degree
  • Intend to transfer to a new school
  • Drop below full-time enrollment
  • Need your I-20 signed for travel
  • Move to a new address
  • Want employment authorization

Review the following about maintaining your visa status, work authorization and guidance on travel.

Disclaimer:ISS provides regulatory and practice information related to F- and J-status, as it stands at the time of the consult. Government agencies may change their interpretation of established immigration laws/regulations and eligibility requirements for benefits at any time. Regulatory content is designed for students; it’s not intended to constitute legal advice or substitute for legal counsel. It is the student’s responsibility to maintain legal status in the U.S. at all times and to comply fully with university policies and procedures.