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Marianas Variety: NMC has 69 international students (September 14, 2016)

NORTHERN Marianas College has 69 international students for the current fall semester, according to NMC International Student Services Counselor Christine Inos.

One of her many responsibilities is to help prospective International Students obtain their F-1 Visas, which are student visas.

Inos manages these students’ records through the Student Exchange Visitor Information System or SEVIS of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. SEVIS is a web-based system that DHS uses to store and manage information regarding Students and Exchange Visitors Program-certified schools. Only the designated school officials certified by SEVIS have access to records stored on this system.

F-1 visas are issued to qualified individuals who have been admitted to a SEVIS-certified college or university and plan to enroll in an English language program or earn a degree in a program of study.

“The process takes a lot of time,” Inos said. “A student must first apply for admission to Northern Marianas College. Upon admission, the college issues a Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) to the student who then schedules an interview with the U.S. Embassy in their home country. The I-20 and other documents requested by the Embassy must be brought to the interview. The decision to grant a student an F-1 visa is solely up to the interviewing official at the embassy.”

Inos said “one of the requirements for an F-1 Visa applicant is evidence that they are able to cover the cost of education at NMC for one full academic year. For an international student interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree, this cost is approximately $24,000. This includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, insurance, and personal expenses. Prior to issuing an I-20, students must show that they are able to afford their enrollment at the college and their stay in the CNMI.”

She added, “A majority of the international students at NMC study at its English Language Institute. However, there are also a good number of students who have earned two-year and four-year degrees in nursing, business, natural resource management, criminal justice and liberal Arts.”

When an F-1 student completes his/her program of study, he/she has the option to apply for Optional Practical Training or OPT with USCIS. OPT gives students the opportunity to gain work experience before returning to their home counties. The maximum length of an OPT is one year.

NMC said its enrollment for the current semester is 1,114 full-time equivalent students.

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