Student visa and immigration

Below are the steps necessary for obtaining a student visa to study at Northwestern College. Contact our intercultural affairs office if you have any questions or difficulties. Information is also available at www.travel.state.gov/visa.

Preparing to study abroad

  1. Once you’ve been admitted to Northwestern College, we will issue you a SEVIS I-20.
  2. After you receive your SEVIS I-20, make an appointment with the U.S. embassy or consulate closest to you so you can obtain a visa to study in the U.S. at Northwestern College.
  3. You’ll need to bring the following to your embassy/consulate appointment: SEVIS I-20, passport, financial support information, Northwestern College admissions confirmation, TOEFL score or confirmation of English proficiency from your school/college administrator, and any other documents requested by the embassy/consulate.
  4. Be prepared to answer questions at your appointment. The embassy/consulate officer will want to know your educational and post-graduation plans. You will need to demonstrate that you plan to return to your home country after graduation.
  5. If your embassy/consulate appointment is successful, ask for an F-1 student visa. (If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need a visa.)

Arriving and studying in the U.S.

  1. Once you arrive in the U.S., you will need to present the following to an immigration officer: SEVIS I-20 and passport or other identification document
  2. The officer will stamp your SEVIS I-20 and return it to you. *Your SEVIS I-20 is very important. Keep it and any other immigration documents with you throughout your time in the U.S.
  3. You’ll be given an I-94 (white card) that indicates your student status. You need to keep this card with your passport and show it to an immigration officer any time you leave the country.
  4. Once you arrive on campus, bring your stamped SEVIS I-20 to our office so we can make a copy of it for our records.

Leaving the U.S.

  1. During your years at Northwestern College, if you are planning to leave the U.S. for any reason, you must come to the Northwestern intercultural affairs office at least 1 week before you leave to get your SEVIS I-20 signed.
  2. You’ll also need to show your I-94 card to an immigration officer when you leave. A new I-94 will be given to you when you reenter the U.S.


For the second consecutive year, Northwestern College is ranked in a tie for fourth among Midwestern baccalaureate colleges in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges guidebook. Learn more

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Shuen-En Ho Shuen-En has been studying abroad since age 13, when her family moved to Burkina Faso in West Africa and then Oman in the Middle East. More …