Prospective F1 International Students
Western Seminary is authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien Students at all of its campuses and in all degree programs.
International student applicants are expected to meet the same admission standards as other applicants along with additional requirements:
A four-year, postsecondary, baccalaureate degree or its full educational equivalent, with above-average marks, is required.
International student applicants must state why they believe it is necessary to enroll at Western instead of completing theological and ministerial studies in their own country.
The chosen degree program at Western should be compatible with their vocational and ministry objectives.
International students are required to continue working toward a degree as a full-time student at all times.
They are not permitted to enroll as non-degree students.
The admissions process begins with completing the Pre-Application Form. Your answers on this form will help us determine if you currently possess the qualifications necessary to enter Western. If so, we will then guide you through the regular application process.
International Student Admission Process Overview
- Upon being encouraged to submit a formal application, follow the process described, including sending a $50 application fee, admission essays, and personal references (forms provided). Official transcripts are required from all institutions attended following secondary school. To be official by U.S. standards, the transcript must be sent directly from the college or university to the Admissions Office of Western Seminary.
- Present proof of English language proficiency.
- Present proof of financial support.
- Official admission is not granted until a complete review of all required documents is conducted by the Admissions Office.
- All international applications must be postmarked no later than April 1 for the upcoming fall semester. Completed materials must be received no later than June 1 in order to allow time for visa processing. Those applying for scholarship assistance should submit all application materials early, so that they arrive no later than April 1. International students are highly encouraged to submit applications for entry in the fall semester. Some programs, such as the Doctor of Intercultural Studies, require fall admission.
I-20 and F1 Visa Issuance
I-20 and SEVIS
The last step in the process is the issuing of the Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status (Form I-20), which is essential when requesting a visa. This cannot be done until all materials are received, including proof of mastery of English and proof of financial support.
Once a student has demonstrated that they have the required funds to pursue their educational goals, the next step is that we create their I-20 and SEVIS record. SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is administered by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US ICE) under the Department of Homeland Security. Your I-20 serves as the paper record of your information in the SEVIS database. We will mail the signed copy of the I-20 along with a packet of important information that will help you obtain your visa. The I-20 is a very important document that you should keep in a safe place.
You will also be required to pay a SEVIS fee before you can get your visa. If you would like more information on SEVIS and the I-20 as well paying the SEVIS fee, please visit: International Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
Obtaining your F1 Visa
Once you have received your I-20, signed it, and paid your SEVIS fee, you are now ready to schedule your visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in your country. Each embassy may have different ways in which these appointments are scheduled ao you will need to check the website of the embassy in your country. General information about student visas, including required documentation needed and the current visa costs, can be found on the US State Department website.
In addition to the required documents outlined at the above site, it is highly recommended that you also have with you:
- Official letter of admission from Western Seminary
- Financial Guarantee Form with original copies of supporting financial documentation
- Transcripts from previous study
- TOEFL scores or Proof of English Proficiency
Proof of returning to your home country: Before granting a visa, the official may ask for proof that you will not remain in the U.S. after your studies. You need clear proof of this, since you will need to convince him that you will return home following the completion of your studies at Western Seminary. Several things may be helpful for you to prove this:
- If you own property, then provide written proof.
- If you have family members remaining in your country, tell them so.
- If you have NO relatives in the U.S., then tell them. It may help your case.
- If you can present a letter from an employer, indicating that you have study leave, that will help.
- If you can supply a letter from a church, saying they expect you to join them in their church work upon completion of your program, get a letter from them.
NOTE: A visa might not be granted if it is suspected that you will remain in the US. Documents, letters, contracts, etc. proving all of the above will be helpful. The more proof you give, the easier it will be to have a visa granted.
Arrival in the US
Once you have your visa in hand, you can make your flight arrangements. US regulation allows students to arrive no earlier than 30 days before the start of their program.
Upon arrival, you will fill out the Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) and present this along with your passport/visa and I-20 form to the Border Patrol Officer. You should also have all the documents that you took with you to the visa interview should the Border Patrol Officer wish to see them.
Please note that having a visa does not guarantee admission into the US. It guarantees that you can arrive at the border and seek permission to enter. The Border Patrol official has the authority to approve or deny entry. Therefore it is very important that you have all of your documents on hand and that you are prepared to answer questions should they ask. If you are admitted, the Border Patrol official will determine the length of your visit on the I-94. The I-94 is now an e-document so you will no longer be required to keep a copy in your passport.
A special consideration is made for citizens of Canada. The process for Canadian citizens is the same as all other international students except that they are not required to obtain an F1 visa from the US Embassy or Consulate or pay the visa fee. The Canadian student will bring to the border crossing their Form I-20, receipt of SEVIS payment, and supporting documents. If granted admission, the Border Patrol Office will stamp an F1 entry in their passport.
If you want to be considered for an international student scholarship, you must submit the Pre-Application, regular Application for Admission, the $50.00 Application Fee, and other necessary application materials by April 1, prior to your first semester of enrollment. The decision for scholarships will be made by June 1.