I-20 Awareness: How To Prepare For Student Visa Application Process

Recently, we highlighted Cambridge Network’s focus on global expansion of emerging markets for international students as well as our strategic responses to these market shifts. However, complications in the student visa process may result in difficulties in bringing these prospective students to your school. In this article, we will continue our conversation on the importance and sensitivity of I-20 applications for international students with a focus on these developing markets.

According to the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) annual “Open Doors” report, Vietnam is now the sixth leading country of origin for all international students in the United States. The number of Vietnamese students has increased consistently for 16 consecutive years in both higher and secondary education. While exact numbers are not readily available, a press release by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam reports that, “visas issued to Vietnamese tourists rose by 30 percent, compared to the previous year and that more than 50 percent of visa applications by Vietnamese people were processed successfully.” While the number of students coming from these emerging markets seems to be improving, many still face challenges in successfully obtains visas to study in the US.

Approximately half of all student applications from Vietnam result in visa denials, many resulting from incomplete applications and underprepared visa interviews. Cambridge Network provides resources to both students and schools to better prepare for the student visa process. Issues surrounding student documentation can result in student passports being withheld. Any changes made to the student I-20 form must be submitted through the US Department of Homeland Security which can be often troublesome. We recommend sending a copy of your student’s I-20 form to Cambridge Network for review and contacting your Student Support Associate to help with any questions you may have regarding visa applications.

Scholarships and financial aid information can often be an issue when it comes to student financial reporting. For example, Cambridge Network offers a $19,850 scholarship to support top international students admitted to our program which is credited as a part of the school tuition payment. In cases like this, we suggest schools to put an explanation of scholarship in the remark section instead of changing the tuition number as demonstrated. Schools should also refrain from canceling student I-20s unless necessary. Cancellation and changes in the student’s SEVIS number will result in the student having to pay an additional SEVIS fee and their visa interview terminated.

The visa interview can be intimidating for most students especially when English is not the primary language spoken. Cambridge Network offers each student an opportunity to meet with one of our Program Managers to better prepare them for visa interviews. We provide mock interviews, sample questions, and interview tips free of charge to students. Students who are ready to answer specifics about their study plans, immigrant intent, and other personal details are given a massive advantage in this process.

Here are some friendly reminders and tips on how to better prepare for your student’s visa application process!

  • Contact schools for transfer students early! It’s difficult to get in touch with students and other schools over the summer, so make sure to do this before summer break. Once the I-20 is transferred, remember to send the student’s new I-20.
  • Re-endorse I-20s! Student I-20s must be re-endorsed on yearly by your designated school official. Forgetting to endorse a student’s I-20 may result in a student not being able to return next year to your school.
  • Let your Student Development Manager know if you have any additional forms that re-enrolling students must sign each year.
  • Release your graduating student’s I-20 to the appropriate college or university for the fall. This is necessary for students to continue their studies in the U.S.
  • Promptness in submitting I-20s for new students. Delays in getting the I-20 form out may risk losing the student commitment to your school and negatively impact marketing.

If you have any immediate questions or issues surrounding student visa’s, please contact your Cambridge Network Student Support Associate and Program Manager right away.

Check out our blog section to learn about industry trends, international program best practices, ways to engage students, and more.

For schools looking for more information on Cambridge Network and our services, please submit an inquiry form.