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International Student Arrival Information



Date of Arrival
The following information has been design specifically for our entering International Students. The Center for the Student Experience recommends you arrive three weeks before the beginning of the term to find housing, get a driver's license, and get accustomed to Pasadena. U.S. regulations state that students entering on an F-1 student visa will be permitted to enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the program start date indicated on your SEVIS I-20.

Departing your Country
Make sure you have all your proper immigration documentation before leaving. You will need to have a valid visa stamp in your passport, a passport valid for at least six months into the future, and Art Center's SEVIS I-20.

Traveling with Currency
We recommend that you arrive with traveler's checks and some U.S. currency - around $200 - in small denominations ($5, $10, $20) to carry you through the first few days before you can cash your traveler's checks and/or set up your bank account.

Arrival in the U.S.
When you arrive in the U.S., you will pass through customs. The customs official will ask to see your passport and SEVIS I-20. Make sure the customs official stamps your SEVIS I-20 and I-94 card. The I-94 card is an arrival/departure document that establishes the date and place of your arrival in the U.S., your visa status, and the duration of your status. The I-94 is an important document that is the official record of admission into and permission to remain in the U.S. If you are entering with an F-1 student visa, the customs official will stamp your SEVIS I-20 and I-94 with “F-1, D/S.”

Students from the following countries are also subject to special Registration (NSEERS) at the port of entry: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria, as designated by the DHA Secretary in the Federal Register. The following link provides more information regarding special registration procedures: http://www.ice.gov/pi/specialregistration/

Orientation, Academic Policies, and Maintaining Status

New students are required to attend four days of orientation before beginning classes. At these meetings you will receive important information regarding Art Center policies and procedures and meet members of the Art Center community who are here to assist you during your studies.

It is critical that all new international students attend the international student orientation sessions. There you will meet your International Advisor and representatives from the Center for the Student Experience who will be available to assist you with nonacademic concerns, including visa status and immigration.

Immigration Documentation
The Center for the Student Experience will process your immigration documentation to verify your immigration status and to confirm that you are in status and eligible to enroll in school as a full-time student. During international student orientation, you will be required to present your valid passport, visa, I-94, and SEVIS I-20. If it is determined that you are not in status, you will not be permitted to register for the term. If you have any concerns regarding your immigration status, contact the International Advisor at international@artcenter.edu or by phone at 626.396.2370 well in advance of orientation to resolve any issues. Failure to do so may result in registration delays or denial of attendance.

Academic Policies
The Art Center Student Handbook is presented to all students at Orientation and registration. It serves as your guide to Art Center's policies, services, and facilities. Take time to read the handbook and keep it handy as a reference. If something seems confusing, ask for clarification from the Center for the Student Experience. If you are not sure about how something will affect you as an international student, discuss it with your International Advisor.

Full-Time Studies
You must be enrolled as a full-time student at least two terms of each year, making progress toward degree requirements. To be considered full-time, you must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 units, regardless of whether you are taking only studio or only liberal arts courses. The only exceptions to the 12-unit minimum requirement are medical issues or during your final term at Art Center. However, you must discuss this with the International Adviser before enrolling in fewer than 12 units. Failure to do so will cause you to fall out of status.

Academic Year & Term Off
International students are permitted to take a term off for an annual vacation or for an internship only after having completed one full academic year. At Art Center, two consecutive terms of study constitute one full academic year. You must obtain approval from International Advisor in the Center for the Student Experience on your Leave of Absence form before you can take a term off.

After taking a term off, you must enroll as a full-time student the following term and will need to complete two more consecutive terms before being eligible to take another term off. International students may not take more than one term off consecutively. Doing so will cause you to fall out of status.

Students may not withdraw from school during the term without prior authorization from the International Advisor. Doing so is a failure to maintain your status, and you will be considered out of status and advised to depart the country.

Students who withdraw from school during the term with prior authorization and approval are given a 15-day grace period to prepare for departure from the U.S.

Scholarships and Internships

International students are eligible to apply for Art Center scholarships at the time of admission, and after enrollment. To be eligible you must have a 3.0 grade point average. You should attend the scholarship information meeting held at the beginning of each term to learn about the procedures for applying.

Fifth, sixth, and seventh-term students with a minimum GPA of 2.5 may be eligible to apply for internships. International students should attend the internship eligibility meeting held at the beginning of each term to learn about the requirements. Important information regarding employment authorization through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is presented at the meeting. You may not begin your internship until you have applied and been approved for CPT.

Staying Informed

It is especially important for all F-1 visa students to meet with the Associate Director for Intercultural Programs/International Advisor in the Center for the Student Experience upon their arrival to review immigration issues. The International Advisor will provide regular updates concerning maintaining your status, and it is imperative that all international students stay up to date with the latest immigration regulations. Failure to do so can cause you to fall out of status. The Center for the Student Experience provides workshops and email communications throughout the year regarding visa status and immigration to facilitate these updates.

Be sure to check your Art Center e-mail account regularly, look for fliers, and read the Center for the Student Experience and International Student listserv e-mail announcements and Art Center bulletins to stay informed. The Center for the Student Experience staff is available to help you with your concerns and invites you to stop by the office regularly. However, staying informed is your responsibility. The Center for the Student Experience and Art Center will not assume responsibility for any changes to your student or visa status that may result from a failure on the student's part to stay apprised of important information.

Immigration Regulations and Documents

The following section provides a general summary of the basic terminology and regulations that all students should know while studying in the U.S. This material should not be used as a legal reference. Because immigration law is subject to change often, and because each student has a unique set of circumstances, you should always consult the International Advisor for the latest information. For additional information on these and other immigration-related topics, please stop by the Center for the Student Experience. You are required to bring all of the below documentation to the International Student Orientation sessions.

Immigration Documents

The government of your country issues this document. Your passport must be valid for at least six months into the future during your stay in the U.S. If your passport is nearing its expiration date, you may be able to renew it from within the U.S. Contact your nearest consulate in Los Angeles or your embassy in Washington, D.C., for renewal procedures and applications.

U.S. Visa Stamp
The visa stamp in your passport issued by a U.S. consulate allows you to enter the U.S. and must be valid any time you wish to enter the country. Some visas are issued for “multiple entry” and others for “single entry” to the U.S. If you have a “multiple entry” visa, you can use it to re-enter the US any number of times during the period of validity. Once you have entered the U.S., your visa stamp can expire. If you plan on traveling outside of the U.S. and your visa stamp has expired, you need to apply for a new visa stamp at one of the US consulates abroad.

Immigration/Visa Status
This refers to the type of visa you hold, such as F-1, J-1, E-2, H-4, etc.

SEVIS I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant (F-1) Student Status)
The SEVIS I-20 that is issued to you by Art Center is the primary record of your F-1 student status in the U.S. This document must be valid at all times. Therefore, if you change your degree program or your major, you must contact the Center for the Student Experience for a new SEVIS I-20. Page three of the SEVIS I-20 documents various student transactions, such as school transfer, curricular and optional practical training authorization, and travel validation, which is required for re-entry to the U.S. The “complete studies” date in item #5 on your SEVIS I-20 is the date which Immigration expects you to complete the requirements for your academic program. If you will be graduating before the date listed on your SEVIS I-20, the International Advisor will change the date to reflect the earlier expected date of graduation. Similarly, if you need to extend your graduation date, please contact the International Advisor to request an extension of the program end date on your SEVIS I-20.

I-94 Card & Duration of Status (D/S)
Each person entering the U.S. will receive a Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) on which your admission number, name, date of birth, country of citizenship, date and place of entry, visa status, and date until which you are permitted to stay are recorded. Instead of an actual date to which you are permitted to stay, most students should have the hand-written notation “D/S” on their I-94. This notation signifies that you have been admitted to the U.S. for “Duration of Status.” Therefore, as long as you maintain your student status, you can stay in the U.S. until the completion of your studies or the end of your post-completion Optional Practical Training. If you enter the U.S. and do not receive a “D/S” notation on your I-94 card, you need to contact the Center for the Student Experience immediately so that we can assist you with this concern.

Change of Status

Students who enroll at Art Center with a visa other than F-1 (e.g., E-2, H-4) are encouraged to change their status to F-1 to participate in the various F-1 benefits, such as on-campus employment and practical training. All students must change to F-1 status prior to their 21st birthday. If you will be turning 21 soon, stop by the Center for the Student Experience to initiate your change of status. Individuals in B-1/B-2 or F-2 status are not permitted to enroll as full-time students at Art Center. B-1/B-2 individuals must apply for F-1 status with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and be approved prior to starting school. F-2 individuals may start school after an application for change of status has been submitted to USCIS, but should do so with caution, as a change in status denial may also result in a violation of F-2 status.
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