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F-1 Visa Specifics

Cultural Orientation

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Visa Rules

You must:

  • Take 18 hours during every 6-week term (1 General English class and two specialty classes.)
  • Maintain a current physical and mailing address, phone number, and email with the English Island and report any changes to the school within 10 days.
  • Maintain current information on my source of financial support and report any changes in sources of financial support within 10 days.
  • Maintain a minimum of 80 percent attendance and a 75 average at all times.
  • Refrain from obtaining any source of paid employment. Working while on an F-1 visa is illegal.
  • 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. Duplicate I-20 requests are discouraged. They are rarely approved by SEVIS.

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  • Tell the PDSO in person if you, your spouse, or your dependents want to travel during your program. The PDSO will verify whether you are eligible to travel.
  • For any travel, inform the English Island of where you are going and how long you plan to be there.
  • International travel is only in emergencies. If traveling outside the US, you must have your I-20 form signed by the PDSO before being allowed to leave. If you are traveling with your spouse or dependents, their I-20s need to be signed as well.
  • A 2-term vacation is allowed after studying at a SEVIS-approved school for 5 terms (7.5 months). Refer to your handbook or talk to the PDSO for more important details.

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  • Allowed after a minimum of 3 terms
  • Must be in good academic standing (75 average and 80 percent attendance)
  • Must inform the English Island 1 session in advance of my desire to transfer or my desire to change my status for any reason and provide the English Island with the paperwork necessary to complete my request.

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Rules and Laws in the US


  • You need to have an international license or a Georgia driver’s license.
  • Obey all traffic laws.
  • If you get stopped by the police,
    1. Put your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them.
    2. Get out your driver’s license, insurance, and ID when the officer asks for them.
    3. Do NOT put your hands in your pockets. Do NOT get out of the car unless the police officer tells you to do so.

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Rules and Laws in the US


  • You can’t smoke marijuana legally in Georgia or do any other drugs.
  • The age for smoking is 21. The age for drinking any alcohol 21. You can’t buy alcohol or cigarettes for people who are younger. It’s a crime.
  • You can’t carry a gun.
  • You should carry a hard copy of your visa at all times along with your passport.

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Medical Problems


  • We don’t go to the hospital for small illnesses like colds or fevers. Go to an urgent care clinic or make an appointment with a doctor. If it’s very minor, you can go to a minute clinic at a pharmacy.
  • Sometimes you can put your name in online for an urgent care clinic the way you do at a restaurant. The clinic will let you know when you are next in line.
  • Don’t go to the emergency room unless you are very sick or hurt. It’s very expensive, and it takes a very long time (sometimes 5-6 hours.)

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Medical Problems


  • 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 isn’t necessary to go to the doctor for a cold or the flu. There are lots of over the counter products that are very effective for helping minor illnesses.

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Medical Problems

Mental Health

  • Your handbook has the names of psychologists that speak different languages. You can call and make appointments with these people if you need help. You can also speak to the lead teacher or the PDSO.

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  • Most places accept cash and cards.
  • You can get cash at ATMs. Try to use ATMs that are inside a building in a secure place. Don’t give your card or code to anyone else.
  • Information on local banks is in your handbook if you want to open an account.

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  • Bus- you can use exact change cash or a Marta card. The fare is $2.50 for each direction.
  • Marta is the subway system which runs downtown. You purchase a Marta card and can put money on it to travel. You scan your card when you go into the subway and on your way out.
  • Car rental-You must be 25 to rent a car. Local companies include Enterprise, Alamo, and Hertz.
  • Uber or Lyft are ride sharing companies. You can schedule a pick up using an app. It is simple and relatively cheap.

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  • There are several gyms in the area. These include Planet Fitness, YouFit, LA Fitness, and 24hour fitness. Most of these places have a free one-week trial and then you pay a joining fee and a monthly fee. See your handbook for information on how to contact local gyms.

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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 director.

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Any Questions?