FAQs

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 I-20 and DS-2019

How long does it take to receive I-20 or DS-2019?

Once a complete application is submitted it will be given a final review. After confirming admission to UAFS, your I-20 or DS-2019 and acceptance letter will be sent to you via FedEx with a tracking number. It usually takes 10 days to receive your acceptance documents from the time they are sent. Therefore, expect a total time of two weeks to receive your I-20 or DS-2019 after submission of a complete application. 

After receiving your I-20 or DS-2019 you then will make a visa appointment with the US Embassy. If you pass your interview it usually takes a week to two weeks to receive your visa. Time required to receive your visa depends on the country and time of the year.

Visa

How do I know if I am an international student?
You are an international student if you are not a citizen or permanent resident (green-card holder) of the U.S.
What are Forms I-20 and DS-2019, and how can I obtain the one I need?
The Certificate of Eligibility is issued by Office of International Relations after you have been accepted as a UAFS student, to enable you to apply for a visa stamp at the U.S. Consulate. The type of certificate depends on the type of visa for which you are applying. The I-20 is valid for the F-1 visa. The DS-2019 is valid for the J-1 visa. Find more information about applying on our Application Information page.
What if my academic program or employment status changes while I'm attending UAFS?
While you are attending UAFS, you must notify the university's Office of International Relations of any changes in your academic program or your enrollment, visa, or employment status. You can contact us here.
I want to bring my wife or children to stay with me in the U.S.  What should I do?
Please contact the Office of International Relations -- you will receive some initial information about your rights and responsibilities when bringing dependents to the U.S. You will complete a request form for dependents, which will be endorsed by a DSO. You will have to submit this form, along with proof that you will be able to support your dependents financially. The University requires proof of an additional $4,000 for a spouse and $1,500 for each dependent child.
Can my parents be included in my I-20 or DS-2019 form?
No. Only spouses and dependent children can be added to your form.
When should I arrive at UAFS?
New regulations by the United States Department of Homeland Security specify that the earliest date students with an
F-1 or J-1 visa may enter the U.S. is 30 days prior to the beginning of the university semester, as noted on your I-20 or DS-2019. 
What is the difference between the F-1 and J-1 visa?
The F-1 (non-immigrant) visa enables you to enroll in academic and language study programs in the U.S.  You are permitted to remain in the U.S. up to 60 days after graduation, and you may request permission to stay in the U.S. for up to one additional year of Optional Practical Training (OPT) in your field of study. 
The J-1 (exchange visitor) visa enables you to enroll in a U.S. academic institution if your initial funding is substantially derived from sources other than personal or family resources, or if you are participating in an exchange program formally established by a written agreement between governments, or between the university and a foreign government or institution. You are permitted to remain in the U.S. up to 30 days after graduation.
What kind of Visa must I have?
You can study on a B1/B2 Visa. You will have to apply for an F-1 Visa. You will apply with the acceptanc letter and I-20 that we send once you are accepted.
Can I renew my visa without leaving the United States?
No. Visas can be obtained and renewed only outside the U.S.

What to do if my visa is in an expired passport

If your visa* is in a passport that has expired or will expire within 6 months of the end of your U.S. visit, you will need to get a new passport. However, you do not need to apply for a new visa. Just bring both your new passport and your old passport with the valid visa to present to the CBP Officer when you arrive in the U.S.
*Note:  Your ESTA is not a U.S. Visa.  If you obtain a new passport, you are requried to apply for a brand new ESTA.  To re-apply visit esta.cbp.dhs.gov.
The U.S. has an agreement with certain countries exempting their citizens from the requirement that their passports be valid for up to six months past the end of their U.S. visit. (See page 19 of the Carrier Information Guide on cbp.gov). Citizens of the countries which are exempt the six-month rule need to have a passport valid for their intended period of stay.  Please contact the U.S. Embassy in your country of citizenship to determine if you are exempt from this requirement.
For more details, visit USCBP website.

Financial Aid

Am I eligible for financial assistance?
International students coming to the United States on non-immigrant student visas are not eligible for need-based financial aid.

Social Security Card

Do I need a Social Security card to open a bank account or apply for a job?
The only reason you need a Social Security card is to work. You do not need a SSN before you apply to a job. If you have a job offer, the Office of International Relations can help you obtain a Social Security number. To open a bank account, you will be asked to fill out a form attesting that you are exempt, as an international student, from the Social Security number requirement.
Do you have any scholarships or offer financial aid to international students?
As an international student, you may apply for merit-based scholarships, but you are not eligible for need-based financial aid. 

Admission Requirements

Do I have to take the TOEFL or SAT?
First-year students who have not completed four years of secondary study in an institution that uses English as its language of instruction or transfer students who have not completed at least two years of post-secondary study in an institution that uses English as its language of instruction are required to submit scores from one of the tests listed here:
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
    • UAFS minimum requirements:
      • Internet Based Test (iBT) 61
      • Computer Based Test (CBT)  173
      • Paper Based Test 500
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
    • Minimum score of 5.5
My transcript or recommendations are not in English. What should I do? I only have one copy of my transcript.
You must submit all original documents in their original language and then have them translated into English by an official translation agency.  If you only have one copy then you may have your school submit a certified copy with the school's stamp and signature.
Are there deadlines for applying to UAFS?
Application deadlines vary from year to year, and some colleges and departments have different deadlines, too. You can check this year's deadlines below.

Employment/OPT

Can I work on campus?
Yes, if you are a F-1 student. On campus employment is a benefit of your status, but you cannot work more than 20 hours when school is in session. You may work up to 40 hours during the summer and winter breaks.
Can my wife/husband work?
Spouses in F-2 status cannot work under any circumstances. Spouses in J-2 status may work with USCIS permission.
Can I work off campus?
Yes. However, you must obtain prior authorization from USCIS. All off-campus work has to be directly related to your field of study. 
How long does it take to process the Optional Practical Training?
Generally it takes 6-8 weeks. However, in the peak periods in December and May it may take as long as 12 weeks to receive authorization. We advise students to apply for the OPT 2-3 months in advance.
When can I apply for Optional Practical Training?
You must apply for OPT before your academic program ends or your I-20 expires, whichever comes first. However, your practical training may begin any time within the 60-day grace period following your program completion.

PRE-ARRIVAL

I bought my airplane ticket, what’s next?
Email your arrival date, time, location, and flight number to Linda.Thao@uafs.edu
I will be arriving at Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM), what are my pick-up options?
We have a staff that will be available to pick you up from the airport and drop you off on campus. Please make arrangements with the Office of International Relations (OIR). You mus
I will be arriving at Fayetteville Regional Airport (XNA), what are my pick-up options?
You may reserve a shuttle (Jim’s Express Shuttle) pick-up that will take you from XNA to Fort Smith. The cost is $120 and you may pay it in cash, debit, check, or any major credit card. Transportation duration from XNA to Fort Smith is 1hour and 20mins. 
Here is how:
Email Jimsexpressshuttle@hotmail.com or call 479-205-0011 to make your pick-up arrangement.

LIFE & HOUSING  

Where and how can I apply for on campus housing?
Go to the UAFS Housing home page to apply for campus housing.  
F-1 Degree Seeking Students at UAFS: Lion’s Den Residence Hall (suite-style living), Double Room (2 students sleeps in one room) with a share bathroom with 3-4 other students, $2184 for 9 months (2 semesters) + Meal plan (please go to the above below to choose your meal plan)
J-1 Exchange Students from UAFS Partner University: Sebastian Commons Apartments, 4 Bedroom/ 2 Bathroom (4 students live in one apartment with share bathrooms), $2327 for 9 months (2 semesters) + Meal plan (please go to the below link to choose your meal plan)
Download, fill, and email application back to Linda.Thao@uafs.edu

Where can I choose my meal plan?
Does my assigned room come with beddings?
You will have to purchase your own bed sheets. We will have a staff take you to a nearby Wal-Mart to purchase them.
Click here for a list of what to bring to the Lion’s Den
. Click here for a list of what to bring to the Sebastian Commons
Who will be my assigned roommate?
Your assigned roommate will not be determined until one week prior to the first day of class.
Does my room have a lounge/kitchen for me cook something to eat?
Lion’s Den:

24/7 Unlimited Use Laundry Facility
Main Lounge on first floor with large screen TV and full kitchen
Wing lounges with large screen TV and kitchenette. 
All utilities included Expanded Cable Wired and Wireless Internet. 
Click here for a list of what to bring to Lion’s Den
Sebastian Commons:

Leather couch, chair, side table, and coffee table in the living room
Table and chairs for the dining area
Fully-equipped kitchen with an oven, dishwasher, refrigerator with ice-maker, and garbage disposal underneath the sink
. Click here for a list of what to bring to Sebastian Commons

ACADEMICS/ORIENTATION

When do I register for my classes?
F-1: After you take the compass test you will meet with an advisor and you will then pick your classes.
J-1: You will be registered for classes before you arrive. OIR staff will be sending you some suggested classes.
Does UAFS have an orientation program for international students?
Yes. Click here for the current program date.
What happens at International Student Orientation?
You will learn about the programs and services available to you at UAFS, receive academic advisement to guide your class registration, and (if required) be tested for English proficiency. Orientation also includes information about student life by a current international student and sessions dealing with U.S. immigration requirements and UAFS policies and procedures. You will also have the chance to meet other international students who may become lifelong friends. 
Is International Student Orientation mandatory for all international students?
Yes.
When and where can I buy text books?
You may purchase text books after you arrive. There is an on campus bookstore in the Campus Center where you can rent or buy your books, new or used. If you chose to use the on-campus bookstore, you have two options of finding your books and supplies needed. If you bring the bookstore employees your schedule, they will find your books for you. Also, you can enter your schedule online at http://uafortsmith.bncollege.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/TBWizardView?catalogId=10001&langId=-1&storeId=59051 and that will tell you what books you need. Ebooks are also an option you could use if you have a tablet, but we would suggest checking with your professors on their policies about electronics in class before purchasing one. If none of these options sound appealing, you may always go through another vendor.

Miscellaneous

I lost my passport and I-94 card. Can you replace it?
We cannot replace your passport or I-94. You will need to contact the embassy of your country in Washington, D.C. to report the loss and request a new passport. To replace your I-94 card, you will have to file form I-102 and send it to USCIS along with the appropriate filing fee.
If I change majors, do I need a new I-20 or DS-2019?
Yes.  Your form always has to reflect the program in which you are currently enrolled. This means that you have to get a new form if you change your major or academic level.
If I move to a new address, do I need to tell anyone?
Yes. You must report your change of address to the Office of International Relations within 10 days of moving. 
I lived in Arkansas for over two years. Can I pay in-state tuition?
No.  As long as you are in a "non-resident alien" status (F-1, J-1, F-2, J-2, etc.), by definition you cannot be a resident of Arkansas, thus you don't qualify for in-state tuition.
My visa expired. Do I have to renew it?
You have to renew it only if and when you travel outside the United States. See visa and travel information for further details.
I have a valid visa in my old passport, but I have a new passport. Can I still use my visa?
Yes, you can use your valid visa in your old passport. When you travel, you will have to carry both your new passport and the old one with the visa in it.  If you have to return your old passport when you get a new one, you will lose your visa, and have to apply for a new one before you return to the U.S.
When do I get my login/user name and password? 
You will get your login user name and password when you arrive. 
When is the last day of the fall semester? 
The last day of class will be December3rd, final exams start December 4th to the 10th, and commencement is December 11th.
When and how can I pay for my tuition, housing, and fees?
All fees will be paid after you arrive on campus. You or your parents can make payments through (http://www.uafs.edu/about/tuition-fees-payments). Payment may be made by debit card, credit card, or personal check. Debit / credit cards accepted include Visa, MasterCard, & Discover.
Due date is August 27, 2013, any payment made after this date will subject to a late fee. (According to immigration regulation you must take a minimum of 12 hours credit or more to maintain your student status in the United States.)
Tuition for International students (FALL 2013 & SPRING 2014):
 $400 a credit hour X 12 hours credit = $4800 a semester + $820 fees = $5620 a semester
 $5620 X 2 semester = $11240 a year (This total is only an approximation and subject to total class hours)
Is there anyway to study for the COMPASS Test?
There are practice tests available through the links below. We recomend you try taking these tests without looking at the answers. Your score will help you to better understand which areas you need to review before taking the actual COMPASS Test.

COMPASS Practice Tests

Reading Practice Test

Writing Practice Test

Mathmatical Practice Test

Geometry Practice Test

Should I buy insurance from my home country or should I buy the one preferred by UAFS?
We highly suggest getting the insurance here. The insurance here will work at local clinics and hospitals, plus it has great coverage. If you get insurance from your home country, it has to be of equal or better value than what we offer. Therefore, we think it would be better and easier for you to just get insurance here.
Does my insurance cover dental and eye appointments?
Our insurance does not cover dental and eye maintenance, referring to prescriptions, contacts, braces, etc. But, if your teeth were to be damaged or your eye to be injured, our insurance will cover that.
Is there a particular bank associated with UAFS that I should use when I arrive?
We will cover bank accounts during our orientation. But, most of our students use First National Bank of Fort Smith. There is not a bank associated with UA -Fort Smith.
What forms will I need to open a bank account?
Most of the local banks require two forms of ID, which can be your Visa, Passport, I-20, or ID from your country of residence.  Some of the banks also require a minimum deposit into the account, which varies upon each bank.