Student Visa

General information

Most students at the English Language Institute are here on an F-1 visa. If you have an F-1 visa, you need to be aware of specific rules and guidelines from the U.S. government. 

For more information about the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS), please click here. 

Basic Requirements of the Student Visa

To stay in the United States, you must remain “in status” with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services. To stay in status, you must follow these basic requirements:

  • You must make normal academic progress. 
  • You must attend classes. For an F-1 visa, this is 85% attendance. F-1 students must keep full-time enrollment. A full-time course load is 20 hours of class per week. You may not be absent more than 5 times. If you are absent more than 5 times in each class, you will be out of status and the English Language Institute is obligated to report you to the U.S. Federal Government. 
  • You must follow the rules of California State University, Sacramento to avoid going out of status. All of these rules will be explained at orientation.

Documents: F-1 Visa and I-20

The U.S. embassy stamps the student visa in your passport.

The I-20 is the three-page document that you receive from the English Language Institute if you require an F-1 visa.This is a very important document. Please keep all I-20’s that you receive.

Applying for a Student F-1 Visa

If you wish to study English full-time at our school, you will need an F-1 Student Visa, which is required by the U.S. Government. To apply for an F-1 Student Visa at the U.S. Embassy or consulate in your home country, you will need an I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility) from the English Language Institute. The I-20 is issued and express mailed to you once your application is complete and processed. Further instructions on how to obtain your visa will be outlined when you receive your I-20 form. 

I-20 Extensions

Who needs to extend an I-20?

U.S. Immigration regulations require that your I-20 remain valid during your course of study.  If you plan to continue studying at ELI and your I-20 will expire before the next session’s end date, you need to request your I-20 be extended.                                    

To extend your I-20, you need to:

  • Submit an online document request through our website:
  • Submit a copy of an updated bank statement or financial guarantee
  • Submit your current I-20 document

Session Breaks

F-1 students may be eligible for a session break:

Who can take a session break?

  • Students who have attended four (4) continuous sessions at ELI or
  • Have studied for one (1) full year in the United States (you must be able to provide proof)

For more information about session breaks, please contact us.

Travel Outside of the U.S.A.

You may wish to travel outside the country on your session break.  In order to return to the United States after a temporary absence, F-1 students must present specific documents to the immigration inspector at the port of entry. 

Before you travel outside the U.S., you will need to: 

  • Complete a travel request form
  • Submit your current I-20  to obtain the required travel signature
  • Ensure that the country you are visiting does not require a special visa

(If you leave the country without the signature you risk not being allowed back into the United States)

Working in the U.S.

F-1 students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week on-campus only, pending approval from the English Language Institute.