ECU’s Office of International Student Programs and Services (ISPS) is responsible for assisting international students with obtaining the necessary documents for admission, US visa applications, and maintaining an active immigration status while in the US. The following section of our website will help answer your most common questions related to F-1 Student Visa requirements. 

Immigration Documents and Visa Process

Are you eligible for a nonimmigrant F-1 visa student status at East Central University? You are eligible if you have been accepted as a full-time student and are not currently in the US in a permanent status (example: green card holder). To apply for admission complete steps 1 & 2 below:

Step 1) Complete the Online Admission Application

Step 2) Review and Complete applicable items in the International Student Application Packet

Note: Graduate student applicants must also apply to the Graduate Studies program. Admission to the Graduate Studies program is a separate process, unrelated to the I-20 issuance, and is mandatory in order to enroll in graduate level courses. Graduate students can be admitted and take up to 12 credit hours before taking the GRE/MAT. For more information visit the School of Graduate Studies webpage.

After you are accepted, you will be issued a Form I-20. Please read the detailed instructions below. Note: Admission applications are processed and reviewed in the order they are received.

F-1 Non-immigrant Visa

Every full-time degree-seeking nonimmigrant international student to ECU is eligible for the F-1 visa and the vast majority of ECU’s international students hold the F-1 visa status.

F-1 Student: is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a "full course of study" to achieve a specific educational or professional objective, at an academic institution in the US that has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to offer courses of study to such students, and has been enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). 

For more information, view the detailed description of the F-1 visa requirements, located on the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs website Also, for a complete step-by-step process on how to obtain a US student visa, we strongly encourage students and family to visit the following United States website: Study in the States.

ECU Application Process

Please click on the "Apply Now" button on the ECU homepage ( to begin the process of admission to East Central University and receipt of a Form I-20. Note: Nonimmigrant international students will require a student visa to enter the US. Working closely with the Office of Admissions and Records, ISPS facilitates the following steps to complete the Form I-20 issuance process:

  • Student completes the online application on ECU homepage
  • ISPS contacts the student and assists with the entire admission application process until the application is complete for a final review of acceptance by the Admissions Director
  • Student is admitted to ECU
  • ISPS issues and sends student their admission letter and I-20
  • The new international student must gain F-1 student status:
  • Students who are abroad must apply for a US visa at the nearest US Consulate or Embassy and enter the US in valid student status. For information on US visa wait times, please check
  • US Transfer Students - Students who are currently in the US may need to do one of the following:
  • Complete SEVIS transfer to ECU after acceptance
  • Change nonimmigrant status
  • Each international student must register their immigration documents with ISPS within 30 days of their program start date.
  • Transfer students, currently in the US, must register immigration documents within 15 days of their program start date.

Note: If you are required to complete ECU's Residual ACT exam upon arrival, view the registration instructions and then go to the ACT Registration webpage.

US Transfer Students

I am a current student in the US, how can I transfer my F-1 SEVIS record to ECU?

You must first be admitted to ECU using the application process outlined above. Upon acceptance to ECU you must request to transfer your active, good standing SEVIS record electronically using the following procedure:

Provide your current school’s Designated School Official (DSO) with your ECU acceptance letter. Note: Advise your DSO that ECU’s school SEVIS code is on the acceptance letter. They will need this to release your SEVIS record.
ISPS will create an I-20 for you once we receive your SEVIS record and once the transfer release date has been reached
F-1 students will receive a Form I-20 from ECU that reads “Transfer Pending” and must report to ISPS within 15 days of the program start date indicated on Form I-20. ISPS will then register the student’s SEVIS record as maintaining active status and issue a Form I-20 stating “Continued Attendance.”
Failure to complete the transfer process as described will jeopardize your immigration status in the U.S.

Student Visa Application Process

International students coming to the US for the first time will need to be sure they have the proper visa status and documentation before beginning their academic program at ECU. Please follow the instructions below.

Apply for an F-1 visa stamp at a US Embassy or Consulate

Upon acceptance and receipt of the Form I-20 the student should pay the SEVIS fee and schedule an appointment for a visa interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in his or her home country. Each visa applicant will need to complete the visa application, pay the necessary fees, and bring the Form I-20, financial documentation, and any additional documentation as required to the interview. Students should consult the documentary requirements of the individual embassy or consulate at which they will be applying - visit for more information. Once the visa application is approved, the consular officer will place a visa stamp in the individual's passport.

Note: Citizens of Canada are exempt from the visa stamp requirement, but must pay the SEVIS fee and present evidence of fee payment and Form I-20 at a US Port of Entry where they will be admitted in the appropriate immigration status.

Change of Immigration Status

Not all newly admitted students will obtain their immigration documents and status precisely in the way described above. Newly admitted students who are already in the United States and are changing from their current immigration status to another status such as B-2 to F-1 should contact ISPS for more information. Students must inform ISPS if the change of status has not been approved by the program start date indicated on Form I-20. Students must immediately report the results of their change of status application to ISPS when notified by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).