Information for International Students
The International Studies Office is the seminary’s primary administrative unit for supporting international students and their families. It helps with obtaining and maintaining immigration status, information about English lessons and directs the student to employment options.
We are here to answer your questions and help you with any concerns you may have. The International Studies Office serves as a resource on immigration matters for CTS students and a liaison to those federal agencies concerned with matters related to international students studying and working here. Our staff can also assist you with issues concerning your social and personal adjustment to life in the U.S., as well as other personal matters and concerns.
Click here for a list of the documents that are referenced throughout this page.
HOW TO OBTAIN AN I-20 FROM CTS
First, you will need your Letter of Acceptance that you received from your Program Supervisor or Dean. The departments and supervisors are:
- Ph.D. and D. Min. Supervisor – Dr. Detlev Schulz
- S.T.M. Supervisor – Dr. Naomichi Masaki
- M.A. Supervisor – Dr. Peter Scaer
- M. Div. Supervisor – See your academic advisor
Then, the letter with their signature will be given to Leah Flahaut in the International Studies Department to collect the other documents that will be needed to complete the I-20. The International Studies Department will need a payment (wire, check, money order) of $30 to send your I-20 by mail, otherwise they will be signed, scanned in color and e-mailed. You will need to let Leah Flahaut know which way the I-20 should be sent.
Please note according to U.S. regulations, the supporting documents must show that the student has immediate funds available to cover the first year’s expenses (see Calculating Estimated Cost Of Attendance below) and access to funds to cover the cost of the remainder of their studies. International students are not eligible to receive U.S. Government loans and work opportunities are limited by the terms of their visa.
Statement of Understanding
CALCULATING ESTIMATED COST OF ATTENDANCE
- Determine the program of study (cost of tuition varies from program to program; please check the cost of your program at www.ctsfw.edu/financialaid/CostOfAttendance ).
- Calculate the cost of living expenses by using the U.S. Health and Human Services chart of current year’s POVERTY LEVEL (can be found by typing “Poverty Level” into your internet browser).
-Determine family size (single student, married, married with number of children).
- Select appropriate single student or family size and ADD 25% for cost of living.
- Add CTS fees, estimate for books and supplies, and tuition.
(These amounts are issued annually by the Financial Aid Office – www.ctsfw.edu/financialaid/CostOfAttendance )
- Add cost of health care insurance premiums.
(Amount is reported annually by the Dean of Students’ Office – www.ctsfw.edu/studenthealthplan )
NOTE: The students are required to purchase their health insurance through CTS (see Insurance under Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) below). The wife/dependents may purchase through the CTS health care insurance carrier or have travel insurance from your home country. They are NOT allowed any government assistance, so they do not quality for Hoosier Healthwise or other Medicaid programs.
- Airfare amounts will vary depending upon the country from which the student is traveling. Also, if the student is single, he/she may want to go home over the Christmas break and/or Holy Week break. A general estimate of the cost of airfare can be obtained by going to one of the online travel vendors such as Travelocity, Expedia, etc.
- Add visa costs. Again, this will be student specific. The cost of a visa to the U.S. is $140 universally. The SEVIS I-901 fee must be paid BEFORE the student applies for the visa. The cost is $200. If the I-20 must be sent to the student in his/her home country, the expedited cost for delivery by DHL, FED EX, or UPS runs about $100. Usually this is the safest and most reliable way to send the documents.
- See International Students Forms file for general requirements in issuing I-20’s when advising students about specific requirements for issuing an I-20. CTS does not require more than the federal regulations. Hence the document was developed using federal regulations. http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html
Immigration Status Is Your Responsibility!
It is your responsibility to know and follow the laws and regulations under which you may study or stay in the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis. If you do not follow these requirements, you could find yourself in serious difficulty with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), even to the point of having to abandon your studies and leave the U.S. If you have any questions about visa matters, call or come personally to the International Office, Leah Flahaut, telephone number: 260-452-2155, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Process Steps: How to Navigate the U.S. Immigration System
Upon your arrival in the United States you should have received the following materials:
- Your stamped copy of the I-20 form
- Effective July 2012 the I-94 card will not be stapled into your passport. This form will need to be printed. To do so, please go to www.cbp.gov/I94.
To introduce you to the services and programs of the ISO and to make sure you entered the U.S. in proper status, we ask that you bring your passport and immigration documents and check in with us within one week of your arrival. The International Studies Office is located in the Admission building (Athanasius), Room 7.
EACH STUDENT IS PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR KNOWING THE IMMIGRATON REGULATIONS AND FOR MAINTAINING HIS/HER STATUS.
Passports must be kept valid at all times. Be sure to renew six months in advance of the expiration date. Do not allow your passport to expire fees will be billed to you personally. If you are sponsored by an organization or even a congregation, you are still billed personally.
If You Are Denied a Student Visa
Please visit the U.S. Department of State Website to learn more about visa denial.
How to Maintain Your Legal Status in the U.S.
The consequences of failing to maintain legal status in the U.S. are becoming increasingly severe. It is relatively easy to stay in status if you observe the following rules:
- Keep your passport valid at all times.
- Attend the school you are authorized to attend, as indicated on your SEVIS I-20.
- Pursue a full course of study (full-time course load) each quarter.
- Maintain registration each quarter until graduation or transfer to a new school.
- Do not work off-campus without required authorization.
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week when classes are in session.
- Go to your Student Portal to change your address within 10 days of arrival or changing addresses.
If you have any questions about maintaining your status, please come to talk with Leah Flahaut.
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
Brief History of SEVIS
SEVIS came online in the summer of 2002. It converted what was a complicated manual procedure into a centralized, web-based, automated process. SEVIS improves data collection and reporting, enhances customer service, facilitates compliance with regulations and helps Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) better monitor school and exchange programs. SEVIS grew from a pilot program known as the Coordinated Interagency Partnership Regulating International Students (CIPRIS). The former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) developed CIPRIS in partnership with the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (formerly the United States Information Agency), the Department of Education and members of the educational and exchange program community. This multiagency effort then incorporated information obtained from the CIPRIS pilot program into what we know today as SEVIS. – Copied from http://www.ice.gov/sevis/
F-1 Student Status
F-1 student status will allow you to remain in the U.S. as long as you are properly registered as a full-time student and comply with other reporting requirements. To maintain full-time status you must take at least 12 credits for M.A. or M. Div., 9 credits S.T.M. or Ph. D., and 6 credits for D. Min.
F-1 status will allow you to work part-time in on-campus jobs and work in a “practical training” job directly related to your field of study for 12 months during or after the completion of your studies.
Dependents of F-1 students are permitted to join you in the U.S. provided you demonstrate that there are sufficient financial resources for their support. A spouse and dependent children of F-1 student hold F-2 status and may not work in the U.S. Student Visas.
Helpful Link: Student Visas (F1) - Travel.State.Gov
SEVIS FEE INSTRUCTIONS (F-1)
Effective September 1, 2004, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department requires that a SEVIS I-901 Fee Form be completed and a $200 fee be paid by nonimmigrants seeking an F-1 student visa. The form should be completed and the fee paid online prior to your request for a visa interview from the U.S. Consulate.
SEVIS Fee Instructions:
- Go to www.fmjfee.com
- Click “Proceed to 901 Form and Payment”.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page, click “I-20” button and “OK.”
- Fill out next page on personal information, click “Enter.”
- The form requires the “School Code” (CHI214F10039000) which is also on your I-20.
- The form requires the SEVIS Identification Number on the I-20. This # is in the upper right hand corner of the I-20 and begins with an N and has 10 digits.
- Check that the information is correct on the next page.
- The Credit Card Form has a place for Cardholder address. You MUST fill this in. It is a required field.
- PRINT AT LEAST 2 COPIES OF THE RECEIPT!!!
Student Exchange Program
Exchange Students will still carry the F-1 status when studying at CTS. Exchange students are asked to follow all the same guidelines as a standard full time student. To take at least 12 (twelve) credit hours, to carry insurance and follow all the rules and guidelines of CTS.
Special Student Application
Students in F-1 status may be eligible for several types of employment:
On-campus (school premises) employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session; full-time employment is allowed when classes are not in session.
In order to be employed, you must complete an I-9 form. For information, and to download the I-9 form, click here.
Off-campus - Please contact your DSO.
International Students must sign and date the Compliance Policy Form must accompany the I9 from when applying for a job on campus. This form also applies when applying for CPT and OPT.
There are two types of practical training:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/cpt.htm and Optional Practical Training (OPT) http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/opt.htm . CPT must be directly related to the student’s field of study and commensurate with the student’s educational level. The training must be a requirement of the program of study and receive course credit. OPT requires the full-time student to submit an application for work directly related to his/her field of study at least 90 days before the start date.
Concordia Theological Seminary requires that International Students (F1 Visa) purchase Health Insurance through Concordia Health Plan at Concordia Theological Seminary. International student’s health insurance plans cover medical, dental and vision. Contact the Dean of Students Office for more details. Spouses and Children (F2 Dependents) are required to show proof of U.S. based Insurance. Once insurance is purchased we ask that you send proof (copy of insurance card, bill or enrollment) to the International Studies Department to be kept in your file with your I-20.
CTS strongly recommend that spouses and dependent children be insured either by the seminary plan or another comparable plan. CTS is not responsible for any claims incurred by students or members of a student’s family. Contact the Dean of Students if you have any questions about student health insurance.
The United States Government does not pay for any part of the medical expenses for international students studying within the U.S. In fact, it is a violation of immigration law for F-1 and F-2, students and dependents to accept public assistance, even for medical care. To do so could jeopardize your ability to receive a visa or to reenter the U.S. You might also be forced to repay any public assistance which you received.
Helpful insurance sites include:
SEVIS Student Check list sample
Transfer verification form
International Transfer form
Requisites for Travel
You should make photocopies of your travel documents for Leah Flahaut.
- A valid passport (within 6 months of expiry).
- Valid visa.
- Valid F-1 (you should keep all copies with you).
- Current SEVIS I-20 with a valid signature (see I-20, page 3).
- I-94 Card (which is given to you at port of entry) stapled in your passport.
- Proof of financial support – letter from CTS or bank statements.
- Transcript showing full-time enrollment and good academic standing.