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F-1 Visa Specifics

Cultural Orientation

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Visa Rules

You must:

  • 1. Take 18 hours during every 6-week term (1 General English class and two specialty classes.)
  • 2. Maintain current personal and financial information. Report any changes to the school within 10 days.  
  • 3. Maintain a minimum of 80 percent attendance and a 75 average grade each term. 
  • 4. Working with an F-1 visa is illegal.   
  • 5. Follow all school rules and all US laws.

Note from the PDSO: Print a copy of your I-20 and keep it in a safe place. Keep the original email it came in. The I-20 is an official government document like your passport.

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  • The PDSO will verify whether you are eligible to travel. 
  • For any travel, you need to tell the English Island where you will go and how long you will be there. 
  • International travel is only in emergencies. The PDSO will verify whether you are eligible to travel. You need to have your I-20 form signed by the PDSO before you can leave
  • You can take a 2-term vacation after you study at a SEVIS-approved school for 5 terms (7.5 months). The PDSO will verify whether you are eligible for vacation.

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Immigration Advising and Transferring

  • Immigration Advising
  • Transferring
    • Must be in-status with the school (see the PDSO for more information)
    • Must tell The English Island 2 terms before you want to transfer 
    • Must give The English Island the paperwork necessary to complete the request

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Rules and Laws in the US


  • You can not smoke marijuana or do any other drugs legally in Georgia. 
  • The legal age for drinking and smoking is 21. (This includes cigars and e-cigarettes.) 
  • The age to buy alcohol and cigarettes is 21. You can not give alcohol or cigarettes to people who are younger. It’s a crime. 
  • You can not own a gun.  
  • You need to have a physical copy of your visa and your passport at all times.

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  • You need to have an international license or a Georgia driver’s license. 
  • Obey all traffic laws. 
  • If you get stopped driving by the police, 
    1. Do NOT put your hands in your pockets or bag. Do NOT get out of the car unless the police officer tells you to do so. 
    2. Have your ID (copy of visa and driver’s license), car registration, and insurance ready.
    3. Put your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them.
    4. Give your documents to the officer when asked.

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  • We don’t go to the hospital for minor illnesses like colds or fevers. Go to an urgent care clinic or make an appointment with a doctor. If it is very minor, you can go to a minute clinic at a pharmacy.
  • Sometimes you can make an appointment on the phone or online. The clinic will let you know when you are next in line. 
  • Do not go to the emergency room unless you are very sick or hurt. It is very expensive, and it takes a very long time (sometimes 5-6 hours.) Do not call an ambulance unless it is a major injury or illness. The ambulance is very expensive,
  • If you are going to be here a long time, consider buying health insurance for international students. For information about insurance, see the PDSO, DSO, or Student Services Coordinator, or visit

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  • Pharmacists can only fill prescriptions written by doctors. They don’t give recommendations for medicines.
  • Most American medicine can be stronger than it is in other countries, so you might not need to take as much for it to be effective.
  • It is not necessary to go to the doctor for a cold or the flu. You can buy medicines without a prescription. These medicines are very effective for helping minor illnesses.

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Mental Health

If you have a mental health problem, talk to the Student Services Coordinator. They can help you find a counselor who speaks your language.

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  • Most places accept cash and cards. 
  • Many also accept Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • You can get cash at ATMs. Try to use ATMs that are inside a building in a secure place. Do not give your card or code to anyone else. 
  • You can also choose the “Cash Back” option when buying something at most major stores.
  • Information on local banks is in your handbook if you want to open an account. Ask the Student Services Coordinator if you need help.

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  • Marta is the Atlanta public transportation. You buy a Marta card at a train station or online. You can load money on the card at a train station, application, or website.
  • Bus- you can use exact change cash or a Marta card. The fare is $2.50 for each direction. The CCT 50 bus comes to the school.
  • Car rental-You must be 25 to rent a car. Local companies include Enterprise, Alamo, and Hertz. Check each company’s requirements about what documents and payment methods are needed.
  • Uber or Lyft are ride companies. You can schedule a ride using an app. It is simple and generally affordable.

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  • There are many gyms in the area. These include Planet Fitness, YouFit, LA Fitness, and 24hour Fitness.
  • Most offer a free 1-week trial and then you pay a registration fee and a monthly fee. See your handbook for information.

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Religion/ Worship

  • Your handbook has a list of local churches, mosques, and temples. There are many more in the area. You can find them by looking online.
  • If you need an area to pray during the day, please speak to the Student Services Coordinator.

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