International Student Guide

Pre-Arrival

Visa and immigration rules change frequently, so please make sure you contact your nearest U.S. embassy to get up-to-date information on the visa application process, requirements, fees and supporting documents.

The Student Visa (F-1)

There are several types of visas in the U.S; however, ANU (American National University) students must apply for the F-1 student visa. The F-1 visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport at the U.S. embassy or consulate, and it permits you to enter the U.S. The expiration date on the visa is the last day you can use it to enter the U.S. Once you enter the U.S., the date does not matter. The visa is allowed to expire while you are in the U.S. if your Form I-20 is valid, and you are maintaining your F-1 status. If the original visa expires, a new visa is required for subsequent reentries to the U.S. following travel abroad.

Students under the F-1 student visa category must be pursuing a full course of study towards a specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution in the U.S. that is approved by the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

Visa Application Process

There are two U.S. agencies that are involved in the visa application process for international students. The U.S. Department of State oversees the visa application process and issuing the visa. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security takes over once you arrive in the U.S., and they are responsible for enforcing the rules of your visa.

To begin the student visa application process, the student must be accepted into an SEVP-approved school in the U.S. and receive an Acceptance Letter. Once the student receives this letter, the Designated School Official (DSO) will create the student’s Form I-20 within the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The Form I-20 details are provided to the student for making an appointment for a visa interview. Procedures for booking an interview vary from country to country, and the most accurate information can be found at www.embassy.state.gov. Wait times for visa interview appointments vary by location.

Once the visa interview is booked, the student should send the appointment confirmation to their Admissions Representative at ANU. Once received, the student will be emailed their Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20). This form will allow the student to make the I-901 SEVIS fee and DS-160 Visa Application Fee payments. Both fees should be paid prior to the visa interview.

Your Admissions Representative will schedule a visa interview preparation session to help you prepare effectively for your interview.

You will also be asked to bring numerous documents to your interview. Make sure you have the following documents ready:

  • An unexpired passport
  • Passport-sized photograph (this will be uploaded while completing the DS-160 Visa Application Form; however, please bring this photo to your interview in case the upload failed)
  • Completed DS-160 Visa Application Form and confirmation page
  • DS-160 Visa Application Fee payment receipt
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee payment receipt
  • Form I-20 (emailed copy is OK, but be sure you sign it)
  • Acceptance letter from ANU
  • Academic transcripts (with translations, if not in English)
  • Financial evidence used for the Form I-20

The consular officer may request additional documentation including standardized test scores or evidence of English language proficiency, your intent to depart the U.S. upon completion of the course of study, and/or how you will pay all educational, living, and travel costs.

Visas can be issued up to 365 days (1 year) before the start date of a course of study. However, you will not be able to enter the U.S. on your F-1 visa more than 30 days before the program start date.

Understanding the Form I-20

The Form I-20 is the primary document to show that you have been admitted to school in the United States and that you are authorized to apply for admission to the United States in F-1 class of admission. You must always have your Form I-20 with you. If you lose or damage your Form I-20, you must request a replacement from your Designated School Official (DSO).

The Form I-20 contains the following information:

  • SEVIS ID Number
  • Biographical Information (Name, Date of Birth, and Citizenship information).
  • School Information
  • Program of Study
  • Financial Information
  • School Attestation
  • Employment Authorization (only if you have requested authorization to work off-campus)

Double check that all information is correct and matches what appears on your passport.

The Visa Interview

As part of the visa application process, you must take part in a personal interview. If you don’t attend the interview, your visa application will automatically be rejected. If you cannot make the appointment for any reason, you must contact the Visa Office to reschedule.

Below are some sample questions you may be asked during your interview, but you may also be asked about anything in your application. Therefore, it is important to be prepared by reading our guide about the visa interview – and practice!

Being knowledgeable about the school you will be attending is vital. Browse the school website, get to know details such as the location, degree courses, careers, and so on. Also, one of the objectives of the interview is to test your English language, so make sure you answer in English and do not use a translator.

Sample interview questions:

  • What is the name of the school you wish to attend?
  • Where is the school? What city is it in and what part of the U.S. does it belong to?
  • Did you use an education agent at any stage? Who is/was your agent and why did you choose them?
  • Why do you wish to study in the U.S.? Did you consider any other countries?
  • What is the course name and the academic level you will study at?
  • When does the course start and finish?
  • Who is going to pay your tuition fees and living costs?
  • Where have you arranged housing?

Being able to make ‘small talk’ during the interview is important as well. This means being able to talk informally about things like the weather, news, your home country, and sports.

Throughout the visa application process, you must show you are a genuine student looking to further your education by studying in the US.

Five essentials for success

The interview is an important part of the visa application process. There are five essential aspects that you need to keep in mind to succeed:

  • Attend – you must attend the interview, if you do not your application will be rejected.
  • Answer – you should answer all questions fully and truthfully.
  • Think – think about the course you are attending and know details about the school and degree program you have chosen.
  • Speak in English – being able to speak English is important, so always answer in English.
  • Ask – if you are unsure about any question, make sure you ask for clarification.

Visa Approval or Denial

After your interview, you will be informed if you were denied or approved for your F-1 Visa. If you are denied, do not worry as you may attempt a second interview if you choose to. Please communicate with your Admissions Representative right way, so they can guide you with next steps. If you are approved for your visa, congratulations! The embassy will keep your passport for approximately a week and issue it back to you with your visa stamp. Once you receive the visa, please email a copy of it to your Admissions Representative. Your Admissions Representative will then guide you through completing your remaining enrollment steps – scheduling your financial meeting, Canvas orientation, registering and paying for classes, and the New Student International Orientation.

Once you book your flight to the United States, please provide your travel itinerary to your Admissions Representative. It is important that we know when you are travelling to monitor that you safely arrive in the U.S. and to ensure that we are available to receive calls from the Port of Entry in case you have any issues, and they need to contact the University.

It is recommended that you have arranged plans prior to arriving in the United States that include transportation from the airport and housing arrangements for your first week in the United States. We recommend that you have a smart phone with Wi-Fi/Data capability to access information online that may be relevant to your arrangements. Many apps on smart phones, such as WhatsApp, are for voice calling and text messaging without a mobile carrier provider upon first arrival.

If you are planning to use a bank card while in the United States for the first several weeks, please inform your home country bank of your travel plans to avoid disruption of funds while in the United States. Having funds available is essential when you first arrive in the United States. You have the option to convert your physical home currency into USD when you arrive in the United States. Please be advised that a fee will occur for the conversion at most banks, and not all banks in the United States are able to convert your currency into USD.

Safety Tips

  • Give information about your flight itinerary to your ANU Contacts, family, and friends.
  • Try to rest before your trip because you will experience fatigue and other physical symptoms due to long-distance travel and time changes.
  • Prepare for changes in temperature – check the weather forecast for when you arrive. Temperatures can drastically change. Bring a winter coat, socks, shoes.
  • Label your baggage with your name, address, email, and telephone number.
  • Do not carry significant amounts of cash with you. You can bring a credit card, bank draft, or your family can transfer your money after you arrive when you set up a bank account. Bring enough small bills ($1, $5, and $10) so that you can buy snacks or anything else that you might need.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance before starting your travels. Travel Guard is an excellent way to protect yourself and your belongings. Travel Guard offers insurance plans designed to cover travelers worldwide. Plans can include valuable medical expense coverage, trip interruption, emergency travel services and more. Please go to https://www.visitorguard.com/international-student-insurance/ for more information. (You can also use this website to inquire about health insurance.)

Make sure you have all the following documents in your carry-on luggage – you will need to present these documents to the Customs and Border Protection Officer upon arrival:

  • Visa and stamped Passport
  • Form I-20
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • ANU Acceptance letter
  • Any important document that relates to your academic, medical, or legal history.
  • The specific address of where you will be staying when you arrive in the U.S.
  • Name and contact info of DSO at ANU
  • Documented proof of financial support
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable – F2 visa)
  • Birth certificates (if applicable – F2 visa)

You may enter the United States up to 30 days before your official program start date listed on your Form I-20.

Once you arrive, you will need to pass through Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Customs Officer has the authority to admit or deny your entrance into the U.S. The Officer will ask you about the purpose of your visit to the U.S., what you plan to study, and how you will be paying for your education. It is important that you answer these questions in detail, politely, and to stay calm. This 5–10-minute interview is a quick check to make sure that your documents (that you have stored in your carry-on luggage) are in order and that the Customs and Border Protection Officer is convinced that it is safe for you to enter the country.

If the CBP officer is convinced with what you had to say and your documents all pass his or her inspection, you may proceed to get your baggage.

The CBP officer may direct you to secondary inspection and interview to determine if you may enter the United States. If you do not have all your documents or if the officer cannot verify your information, they may deny you entry into the U.S. or issue you a Form I-515A. If you receive a Form I-515A, you must work with your DSO to respond to it within 30 days.

Once you are admitted entrance into the U.S., you may proceed to BAGGAGE CLAIM to collect your luggage. All signs in the airport will be in English. You may need to enter another line with U.S. Customs officials where they may ask about the contents of your luggage or ask you to open them. Students should follow the instructions and answer the questions honestly.

Obtain Form I-94

The Form I-94 is an electronic record of your admission to the U.S. that is generated when you are admitted by a U.S. immigration official at the U.S. port of entry. The Form I-94 includes information about when you were admitted, what status you must maintain (F-1) and how long you can stay in the U.S. You should verify that the “Admit Until” date on your Form I-94 and admissions stamp on your passport lists “D/S” (that means, Duration of Status) and not a specific date. You should retrieve your Form I-94 after each arrival and contact your DSO if you notice any mistakes.

Make sure you obtain a printed copy of the I-94 form from U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the airport when you first arrive in the United States. You may also retrieve your electronic I-94 from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. You will need this document to complete your SEVIS check-in.

Post-Arrival

Once you arrive in the U.S., please contact your Admissions Representative. You will need to email them your U.S. Address and a copy of your Form I-94. Your Admissions Representative will work with you to complete any outstanding enrollment steps. When all your enrollment steps are complete, you have made your tuition payment, and you have been scheduled full time in your classes, the DSO will complete your SEVIS check-in by registering you as an active student in SEVIS. The DSO will email you the active (continued attendance) Form I-20. You will need this active Form I-20 if you plan to apply for a driver’s license, apply for work authorization, apply for a social security number, or travel in the future.

For students who are in the U.S. on a different immigration status and wish to apply for a change to F-1 student status, they must work with their ANU Admissions Representative to determine when their program start date should be at ANU. It is important that the ANU program start date is before the current immigration status expires. Once the program start date is determined, students must complete the ANU admissions process and receive their ANU acceptance letter. When the ANU acceptance letter is issued, the DSO will create the Form I-20 that the student will need to file their change of status application with USCIS. It is recommended that students work with an attorney to guide them through the USCIS application process. The USCIS application should be filed prior to the program start date on the Form I-20. Once the USCIS application is filed and the I-797C Receipt Notice is received, please email a copy of the letter to your Admissions Representative.

It could take time for the USCIS Change of Status Application to be reviewed and to receive an approval or denial, so please keep your Form I-20 current. You must reapply for a future start date and have your Form I-20 program start date deferred if you have not received your F-1 status approval prior to your proposed program start date.

If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS, please email the entire letter to your Admissions Representative, so we can coordinate providing the documents you need from the University for your response. There may be items that will be your responsibility to provide as well.

Once you receive a decision from USCIS, please contact your Admissions Representative right away. If denied, your Form I-20 will need to be cancelled, but you may discuss your options with your Admissions Representative. If your change to F-1 status is approved, congratulations! You must start your program in the next available session. Please send a copy of your I-797A Approval Notice to your Admissions Representative, so they may guide you through the remaining enrollment steps.

When all your enrollment steps are complete, you have made your tuition payment, and you have been scheduled full time in your classes, the DSO will complete your SEVIS check-in by registering you as an active student in SEVIS. The DSO will email you the active (continued attendance) Form I-20. You will need this active Form I-20 if you plan to apply for a driver’s license, apply for work authorization, apply for a social security number, or travel in the future.

For an F-1 student who is in the U.S. attending at another SEVP-approved school and would like to transfer to ANU, the student must be accepted at ANU and receive an acceptance letter. Once the student receives the acceptance letter, welcome packet, and transfer eligibility form from ANU, the student should fill out the top portion of the transfer eligibility form. The student should then provide their acceptance letter and transfer eligibility form to their current school to request a SEVIS transfer of their Form I-20 to ANU (Note – the ANU SEVIS School Code is at the top of the transfer form). The student must coordinate their SEVIS transfer release date with their current school and ANU. Please note that on the SEVIS transfer release date, any OPT or CPT authorizations at their current school will end immediately. The student may not begin classes at ANU until the SEVIS record has been transferred. Some schools require transfer out forms or have transfer out procedures that must be completed before transferring the Form I-20, so communication is key.

Students must communicate with their ANU Admissions Representative about any violations of F-1 status requirements at their current school, and they will guide them on any border crossing or F-1 reinstatement options if applicable. ANU does not accept any terminated or completed SEVIS Records/Forms I-20 without prior approval from ANU’s PDSO (Principal Designated School Official). Also, if your SEVIS Record must be transferred urgently, please tell your Admissions Representative and provide the reason for the expedite.

When all your enrollment steps are complete, you have made your tuition payment, your SEVIS Record has been scheduled to release to ANU, and you have been scheduled full time in your classes, the DSO will complete your SEVIS check-in by registering you as an active student in SEVIS. The DSO will email you the active (continued attendance) Form I-20. You will need this active Form I-20 if you plan to apply for a driver’s license, apply for work authorization, apply for a social security number, or travel in the future.

Once you have finished your enrollment steps, you have made your tuition payment, and you have been scheduled full time in your classes, you are ready to begin your program. It is very important that you follow all academic policies and procedures and adhere to immigration regulations and F-1 status requirements. Failure to do so may result in your withdrawal from your program of study or termination of your F-1 status.

As an F-1 student, you are in the U.S. for the purposes of studying. You should not take any action that would detract from this purpose. Therefore, attendance in class should be your priority. The Department of Homeland Security expects you to progress in your studies.

To maintain your F-1 status, you must be enrolled in a full course of study, attend all your classes (full-time), and make normal academic progress every semester. Failure to meet program requirements and make academic progress may result in the termination of your F-1 status.

  • You must attend the school whose name appears on your Form I-20.
  • You must be registered as a full-time student every 10-week term which is 2 classes for graduate students and 3 classes for undergraduate students.
  • You must make good grades and keep your grade point average (GPA) high.
  • You must maintain a valid passport (for you and your dependents in the U.S.).
  • You must report any changes in address, email address, and phone number to your DSO within 10 days.

It is mandatory to attend in-person residency classes scheduled every term at your assigned campus.

  • F-1 students may not be fully online and may not attend their residency hours via zoom for any reason.
  • Failure to attend the entire residency in-person may impact your F-1 status.
  • In-person attendance will be tracked – arriving late or leaving early may also jeopardize your F-1 status.

You are responsible for keeping your immigration status in order, which includes notifying the DSO of any updates to contact information, employment, immigration status, and travel. In the case of an emergency that may impact your studying and attendance, please contact your DSO to discuss the F-1 status implications and possible options. If you have a medical emergency that may impact your studies, please contact your DSO immediately. Medical-related issues do not allow you to attend your classes online. If you have questions regarding your immigration status or maintaining your F-1 status, please reach out to your DSO.

Useful Resources

The International Student Advisors/DSO’s are available to guide non-immigrant students through the process of studying in the United States. They communicate with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), update student records, and help students maintain their student status by providing advice on F-1 status or immigration-related topics. It is important that you know who your DSO is and how to contact them. Additionally, your Academic Advisor is here to assist you throughout your academic journey at the University. Please find their contact information below:

  • Brittany Morgan, Academic Advisor (Salem, VA), +1-888-355-0090 x.2015, bmorgan@an.edu
  • Noelia Guzman Cebrian, International Student Advisor/DSO (Salem, VA), +1-888-355-0090 x. 3401, nguzmancebrian@an.edu
  • Laurel Jones, International Student Advisor/DSO (Louisville, KY), +1-888-355-0090 x.2020, lajones@an.edu
  • Rebekah Custer, Director of International Student Affairs/PDSO, +1-888-355-0090 x.3400, rcuster@an.edu

Financial Aid & Scholarships

UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIP SCHOLARSHIP
The University Partnership Scholarship is offered to students from Universities and Colleges outside of the United States with whom American National University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding and certain Program Agreements.

UNIVERSITY TRANSFER SCHOLARSHIP
The University Transfer Scholarship is offered to students from Universities and Colleges or English as a Second Language programs within the United States who transfer their I‐20 to American National University. The scholarship is a one‐time award of $1,000, credited to the student’s account their first term of enrollment, and is non‐renewable.

INTERNATIONAL TUITION DEPOSIT GRANT
The International Tuition Deposit Grant is designed to help international students continue working towards their goal of obtaining a career education. International students who are enrolled in a program of study at American National University, have completed the first term and enrolled for the second term, qualify for this one–time grant, subject to availability of funding as described below. Grant payments are applied directly to students’ tuition and fee charges on their student accounts.

Making Payments

Tuition and fees for each term of study are due seven (7) days before the start of each term. We want to make paying your fees as easy as possible, so you can pay your fees in several ways.

PayPal allows you to pay using a linked bank account or any major credit card:

https://an.edu/payonline/

Or you can use Flywire for automatic currency exchange from your local bank account:

https://payment.flywire.com/pay/payment

An additional payment option would be using the student portal.

Banking

Below is a listing of the largest banks in the U.S. that cater to international students:

  • Bank of America
  • Chase
  • Wells Fargo
  • HSBC USA
  • US Bank
  • TD Bank
  • KeyBank
  • Capital One
  • Truist
  • PNC Bank

Most U.S. Banks require you to have your Visa/Passport and your Form I-94 to open an account. Some will also require a W-8BEN form due to no Social Security Number. Download the form here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw8ben.pdf. Also, as always, please bring your Form I-20 with you.

Credit Cards

Some international students may be looking to obtain a credit card for use in handling their transactions while studying in the U.S. The following provider, Deserve, issues Master Cards for F-1 visa students at www.deserve.com. With this service, you are not required to have a social security number to apply. You do need the following valid documents to be eligible:

  • Proof of a U.S. bank account balance
  • Your Passport
  • Your Student Visa
  • Your Form I-20

Mobile Calling

Plan ahead to make your mobile device compatible with the U.S. It is a good idea to call your existing mobile phone service provider and find out what they require for your phone to work when you leave your country.

If your phone is not compatible with US calling, you can purchase pay-as-you-go mobile phones from many different stores in the U.S.

Wi-Fi

In today’s technology-driven world, there are quite a few businesses and public areas that now offer free Wi-Fi to their customers ranging from McDonalds to Airports to Gyms. Please visit http://www.thesimpledollar.com/ten-places-to-find-free-wi-fi-in-any-neighborhood/ for a list of businesses and public areas that offer free Wi-Fi.

Social Media

The following is a list of applications you can download to help stay connected with friends and family back home:

  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Skype
  • GroupMe

Stay in touch with ANU through our social accounts:

Facebook (@AmericanNationalUniversity)

Instagram (@AmNationalU)

X/Twitter (@AmNationalU)

LinkedIn (@American-National-University)

TikTok (@AmNationalU)

Threads (@AmNationalU)

Students with an F-1 visa are strongly encouraged to maintain adequate health insurance coverage while studying in the U.S. There are no insurance requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of State; however, it is highly recommended that you have active international student health insurance throughout your studies in the U.S. Due to the high cost of health care in the United States, going without health insurance can be unfavorable to a student if he or she falls ill or is injured in an accident. ANU does not provide health insurance for its students. For more information, check www.InternationalStudentInsurance.com.

Once you have arrived at your local address, seek out the nearest pharmacy, urgent care, and hospital in case of an emergency.

Social security numbers (SSN’s) are needed when an F-1 student has an employment offer. The Social Security Administration uses the social security number to report wages to the government, track benefits, and for identification purposes.

To apply for SSN, please visit or contact your local Social Security Office to make an appointment. Be prepared to provide original, unexpired documentation at the appointment to prove your age, identity, and work-authorized immigration status. For students who have been authorized for CPT and have received their CPT I-20, the DSO will provide a letter to take to the Social Security Office for the appointment.

To get your U.S. Driver’s License, you will need to take a written and driving exam at the local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) testing center, and you will need to be fully registered as an active student in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS). To ensure you are fully registered, please contact your International Student Advisor/DSO.

If you decide to purchase a vehicle once in the US, it is required that you also purchase auto insurance. Being in another country and not being familiar with local roads and drivers, accidents are common. Here are some popular insurance options:

www.geico.com

www.statefarm.com

www.progressive.com

Traffic in the United States drives on the right side of the road. Please keep this in mind when crossing intersections within city areas. If you are choosing to rent a car and drive from the airport to your housing arrangements, remember that traffic drives on the right side of the road. Please be advised of all traffic signs and traffic light meanings prior to driving in the United States. Speed Limit signs and speedometers on vehicles are posted in MPH, not KPH. Please be always aware of this when you are driving in the United States.

There are two types of employment opportunities available at ANU:

CPT (Curricular Practical Training) – Practicum/Experiential Learning

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is training for F-1 students that is an integral (i.e., required) part of the student’s curriculum. The training must be directly related to the student’s major area of study and is authorized by the DSO on page 2 of the Form I-20.

  • CPT authorization is only available for students whose programs have a practicum or experiential learning requirement.
  • CPT may be authorized for FULL-TIME (more than 20 hours per week) or PART-TIME (20 hours or less per week).
  • For Graduate students who are participating in the practicum program version of their program, it is mandatory to complete a minimum of 50 hours of practicum every term that aligns with their field of study. Please speak with your Academic Advisor if you are unsure if your program has a practicum requirement.
  • For Undergraduate students who would like to participate in a practical experience, an experiential learning track is available after completion of 36 credit hours, and the employment must align with their field of study. Please speak with your Academic Advisor for more information on whether you qualify for this type of employment.
  • A Practicum Proposal Form & Employment Offer Letter must be submitted for CPT approval.
  • Students may not work (paid or unpaid) unless the employment has been authorized on page 2 the Form I-20.
  • Students may only work for the employer authorized on their I-20. Any change of employment will require a new CPT authorization on the I-20 before being able to work for the new employer.

Students who use 12 months or more full-time (20 hours or more per week) CPT will not be eligible for Post-Completion OPT (Optional Practical Training) after graduation. Initial CPT authorization will be for 11 months (or less if the employment will end sooner), so students have the opportunity to decide if they want to move forward with full-time CPT authorization and forgo their OPT eligibility or to switch to part-time (less than 20 hours per week) CPT to keep their OPT eligibility.

Post-Completion OPT (Optional Practical Training)

Post-Completion OPT is an employment opportunity after graduation (program end date) that allows students to get real-world work experience related to their field of study. Graduates from bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree programs are eligible to apply for this benefit (12 months per degree level). This training is authorized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through the issuance of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

To be eligible to apply for OPT, you must: (1) have been in full-time student status for at least one academic year by the requested start date of your OPT, (2) be maintaining valid F-1 status at the time of the application, (3) have not used OPT at the same degree level previously, and (4) have not been authorized for 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Students may file OPT applications with USCIS up to 90 days prior to their program end date and up to 60 days after their program end date. If you are interested in applying for OPT, please contact your DSO when you have begun your last term. The DSO will guide you through the application process to ensure the application is completed accurately and contains the required supporting documentation. The DSO will issue the Form I-20 reflecting OPT recommendation that must be included with the application to USCIS. This USCIS application must be filed within the 30-day period after the DSO issues your OPT recommendation.

STEM OPT Extension

The 24-Month STEM OPT Extension is an additional benefit from USCIS that allows international students in F-1 status who receive a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in an approved STEM field to apply for a 24-month extension of their standard 12-month Post-Completion OPT period, twice in a lifetime. This allows international students the opportunity to gain additional real-world work experience related to their field of study after completion of Post-Completion OPT. If you are interested in applying for the STEM OPT Extension, please contact your DSO for guidance on the USCIS application process and requirements.

You are eligible to take an annual vacation after completing an academic year (3 terms at ANU) at an SEVP-certified school, and once every year after that if you maintain your status and register for classes in the academic term following your annual vacation. Talk to your DSO and/or Academic Advisor to learn when you are eligible for your annual vacation.

We recommend that you limit your travel outside of the U.S. to your periods of annual vacation. Travel outside the U.S. requires a DSO travel endorsement signature on the 2nd page of your Form I-20. Please request the travel signature from your DSO two weeks in advance of travel.

If your visa has expired or you do not have an F-1 Visa due to change of immigration status while in the U.S., you will need to re-apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy in your home country.

  • Please note that all dates in the United States are written Month, Day, Year.
  • If you are stopped by a police officer while driving, remain in the car. If you have any belongings stolen from your vehicle, residence, or any public area of significant value, i.e., passport or wallet, you should file a police report immediately with your local police department. Please be advised that belongings in public places may be subject to theft.
  • It is recommended to get a state ID and always keep this with you. You should always have some type of identification with you in the United States, i.e., passport or state ID.
  • When traveling late at night, it is recommended to travel in groups and not by yourself. Being aware of your surroundings and traveling in a group of friends at night is a safer approach to navigating some cities in the United States.
  • If you are planning to order items from global stores, i.e., Amazon, please keep in mind that the website will be in English and a .com website. You would be required to use an acceptable form of payment compatible with ordering in the United States.
  • For Health or Safety Emergencies in the U.S. – Dial 911 for a life-threatening injury, illness, or safety concern.

As you embark on your journey to study at our university, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the vibrant and diverse culture of this country. The United States is a melting pot of cultures, beliefs, and traditions, shaped by centuries of immigration and a rich tapestry of history. As you adjust to life in the U.S., you will encounter several customs and norms that may differ from those in your country.

First and foremost, Americans value individualism and personal freedom. This cultural emphasis often manifests in the form of open expression of opinions, regardless of hierarchy or social status. You will find that Americans are generally direct communicators and appreciate honesty and straightforwardness in interactions. Additionally, punctuality is highly valued in American culture, whether it is for classes, meetings, or social gatherings. Arriving on time demonstrates respect for others’ time and commitments.

Another hallmark of American culture is its celebration of diversity and inclusivity. The U.S. is home to people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and beliefs. Embracing diversity is not only encouraged but also celebrated through various cultural festivals, events, and initiatives. You will have the opportunity to engage with individuals from different ethnicities, religions, and cultures, enriching your own understanding and perspective.

In terms of social etiquette, it is essential to be mindful of personal space and boundaries. While Americans are generally friendly and outgoing, they also value their personal space. It is customary to maintain an arm’s length distance during conversations and to respect others’ privacy. Additionally, tipping is a customary practice in the United States, especially in restaurants and service industries. It is customary to tip around 15-20% of the total bill as a token of appreciation for good service.

Lastly, American holidays and traditions may differ from those in your country. From Thanksgiving, a day dedicated to expressing gratitude and sharing a meal with loved ones, to the Fourth of July, a celebration of independence marked by fireworks and festivities, you will have the opportunity to partake in unique cultural experiences throughout the year.

As you navigate life in the United States, keep an open mind, embrace new experiences, and do not hesitate to ask questions or seek support from the university community. By immersing yourself in American culture, you will not only excel academically but also gain invaluable insights and memories that will last a lifetime.

Location-specific Information

The Roanoke Valley in southwest Virginia is an area adjacent to and includes the Roanoke River between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Appalachian Plateau to the west. The valley includes much of Roanoke County, and two independent cities; Roanoke City and Salem. The Roanoke Valley is the largest metropolitan area in western Virginia with a population of over 300,000 and a regional airport with over 40 daily flights. The region has natural beauty and outdoor amenities that have always made it an attractive place to live, work, and play.

Living in Roanoke is very safe. There is little crime, but you should always be careful. Do not walk alone at night and do not carry large amounts of cash with you at any time. The Roanoke Valley has a temperate climate. The summers are warm, and the winters are mild with occasional snow. The area has the highest number of restaurants per capita ratio than any other city in Virginia.

There are hundreds of unique festivals, celebrations, performances, and events throughout the year, along with an abundance of historical museums and attractions. Surrounded by scenic beauty, the Roanoke region is a perfect destination for visitors wanting a little of everything in a Blue Ridge Mountain getaway. Experience our railroad heritage, take in the arts and culture, shop, eat, and enjoy the wealth of outdoor recreation in the heart of our breathtaking mountains. The Valley includes attractions such as the Taubman Museum of Art, Virginia Museum of Transportation, Mill Mountain Zoo, and Center in the Square. In the center of it all is the Historic Market District including a farmers’ market, unique shopping, and several restaurants. Throughout the year, we offer events such as the Strawberry Festival, Kite Festival, Salem Fair, and Dickens of a Christmas. We are also home to the Salem Red Sox baseball team. Outdoor opportunities include hiking, biking, and visiting nearby Smith Mountain Lake, the largest lake in Virginia.

Sites to visit to learn more about Roanoke, Virginia:

Campus Physical Address: American National University, 1813 E. Main Street, Salem, VA 24153

Getting There

It is best to book your flight directly into the Roanoke/Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) located just 4.8 miles (7.7 km) from ANU campus.

Taxi and Ride-sharing services are available to get you from the airport to campus or around the area:

It is also possible to fly into the international airports in Washington, DC (Dulles) or Raleigh-Durham, NC. These airports will require you to make additional travel arrangements to ANU campus, such as bus, train, or car.

Please note that if you fly into Dulles, you will need to arrange a connection to Roanoke by bus or train. You can purchase your train ticket directly to Roanoke from www.Amtrak.com.

Another option from Dulles is Megabus, which offers a route to nearby Christiansburg. You can find more information on them at  www.Megabus.com.

Transportation

Amtrak Train station is located in Roanoke, providing easy access to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge is the public bus system making it easy to get around the area. Car rentals are available throughout the region.

Closest international airport: Raleigh-Durham International Airport

Nearby Cities

  • Raleigh, North Carolina: 3 hours by car, 3 hours by plane
  • Washington, D.C.: 4 hours by car, 1 hour by plane, 5 hours by train
  • Knoxville, Tennessee: 4 hours by car, 3 hours by plane
  • Norfolk, Virginia: 4.5 hours by car, 3 hours by plane

Where to Eat

In the Roanoke Valley, there are many different types of ethnic foods. The following is a sample of what Roanoke has to offer:

Afghan:

Chinese:

Cuban:

Greek/Mediterranean:

Indian:

Italian:

Korean:

Lebanese:

Mexican:

Organic/Vegan:

Thai:

Vietnamese:

Be sure to also try out these local American favorites:

Coffee & Breakfast:

Dessert:

Housing

Hotels

  • Comfort Inn Airport, 5070 Valley View Blvd NW, Roanoke, VA 24012, +1-540-527-2020 – ANU has a partnership with this Hotel to offer you affordable prices – you would need to tell the hotel that you are a student at American National University to get the special rate, Free shuttle from Roanoke Airport!
  • Mainstay Suites Airport, 5080 Valley View Blvd NW, Roanoke, VA 24012, +1-540-527-3030, Free shuttle from Roanoke Airport!
  • Days Inn Hotel – Salem, 1535 E Main St, Salem, VA 24153, +1-540-986-1000, within walking distance of the University
  • Holiday Inn Roanoke – Tanglewood, 4468 Starkey Rd, Roanoke, VA 24018, +1-540-774-4400, Free Shuttle from Roanoke Airport!
  • Quality Inn Tanglewood, 3816 Franklin Rd, SW, Roanoke VA 24014, +1-540-989-4000

Apartment Listings

ANU encourages international students to get immersed into the cultural and living environment of the United States through their living arrangements.

To help in finding the ideal immersive and comfortable living arrangement for studying in the U.S., we advise you to contact the apartments you are interested in to discuss leasing options and payments. For more apartment options please check out apartmentfinder.com.

To assist in finding the ideal living arrangement, we have listed apartments in the Roanoke area below that are on the bus routes with their distance listed from the campus and a link to look at floor plans and amenities.

Utilities

Some utilities are included in the apartments, for example water, sewer, and trash. The utilities you would most likely be responsible for are gas and electricity. You can find more information on American Electric Power’s website, www.aep.com. Also, gas is run by the Roanoke Gas Company, and you can visit their website at www.roanokegas.com. Both require a deposit when initially turning on power.

If you should decide to have cable and internet connected, Cox Communications is Roanoke’s cable company. Their website is www.cox.com. In Salem, Comcast is available at www.xfinity.com. There are also options of Satellite TV like DISH and DIRECTV. Their websites are www.dish.com and www.directv.com. Many students forego traditional cable in favor of Netflix or Hulu, which you can also find online.

Religious Accommodations

At American National University, we understand that our students have different religious beliefs and that many have daily prayer responsibilities. To accommodate these students, the Salem, VA facility has two designated prayer rooms for students – one for female (Room 230) and one for male (Room 240). In addition, the campus has a foot washing station on the main floor.

Mosques

  • Masjid An-Nur Islamic Center – approx. 2 miles from ANU, 3718 Salem Turnpike NW, Roanoke, VA 24017. Wudu facilities available.
  • As-Salam Islamic Center – approx. 5 miles from ANU, 1409 Burks St SW, Roanoke, VA 24015
  • Jaffery Center of Roanoke – approx. 6 miles from ANU, 3031 Preston Ave NW, Roanoke, VA 24012. Wudu facilities available.

Hindu Temple

  • BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – approx. 2 miles from ANU, 115 Sheraton Dr, Salem, VA 24153

Catholic Churches

  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church – approx. 4 miles from ANU, 314 Turner Rd, Salem, VA 24153
  • Saint Elias Maronite Catholic Church – approx. 3 miles from ANU, 4730 Cove Rd NW Roanoke, VA 24017
  • Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church – approx. 5 miles from ANU, 2505 Electric Rd, Roanoke, VA 24018

Christian Churches

  • Living Water Christian Church – approx. 4 miles from ANU, 1520 Swimmer Ln, Salem, VA 24153
  • First Baptist Church – approx. 3 miles from ANU, 226 S Broad St, Salem, VA 24153
  • Salem Baptist Church – approx. 2 miles from ANU, 103 N Broad St, Salem, VA 24153
  • Green Hill Church of the Brethren – approx. 4 miles from ANU, 2699 Harborwood Rd, Salem, VA 24153

Mormon

  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – approx. 1.5 miles from ANU, 6311 Wayburn Dr, Salem, VA 24153

Jewish Temple

  • Beth Israel Synagogue – approx. 6 miles from ANU, 920 Franklin Rd SW, Roanoke, VA 24016
  • Virginia Lutherans – approx. 2 miles from ANU, 221 College Ln, Salem, VA 24153
  • Temple Emanuel – approx. 7 miles from ANU, 1163 Persinger Rd SW, Roanoke, VA 24015

Louisville, Kentucky, is a vibrant city nestled along the Ohio River, renowned for its rich history, southern charm, and cultural offerings. Known as the “Gateway to the South,” Louisville exudes a unique blend of hospitality, tradition, and modernity. At the heart of the city lies its deep-rooted association with bourbon whiskey, being home to several iconic distilleries and the world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Visitors and residents alike can indulge in bourbon tastings, tours, and festivals, immersing themselves in the art of whiskey-making.

Moreover, Louisville is celebrated for hosting the Kentucky Derby, the most famous horse race in the United States and a pinnacle of Southern culture. Each spring, the city comes alive with excitement as spectators don their finest attire for a day of horse racing, extravagant hats, and lively festivities at Churchill Downs.

Beyond its bourbon and equestrian traditions, Louisville boasts vibrant arts and culinary scene. The city is dotted with galleries, theaters, and museums showcasing local and international talent. Food enthusiasts can savor a diverse array of cuisines, from classic southern comfort food to innovative farm-to-table dining experiences.

Louisville’s scenic parks, green spaces, and picturesque waterfront offer ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Whether strolling along the Big Four Bridge, exploring the sprawling Cherokee Park, or enjoying a leisurely boat ride on the Ohio River, there is no shortage of natural beauty to admire.

Overall, Louisville encapsulates the essence of Southern hospitality, offering a warm welcome to visitors while embracing its rich heritage and dynamic cultural landscape. With its blend of tradition and innovation, the city provides an inviting backdrop for exploration, discovery, and unforgettable experiences.

Sites to visit to learn more about Louisville, Kentucky:
https://louisvilleky.gov/
https://www.gotolouisville.com/

Campus Physical Address: American National University, 10509 Timberwood Circle, Suite 200, Louisville, KY 40223

Getting There

It is best to book your flight directly into the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) located just 12 miles (19.3 km) from ANU campus.

Taxi and Ride-sharing services are available to get you from the airport to campus or around the area:

Bus/Train

TARC is Louisville’s Public Bus Transportation https://www.ridetarc.org/
Amtrak Train station located in Louisville https://www.amtrak.com/stations/lvl

Nearby Cities

  • Indianapolis, Indiana: 2 hours by car
  • Nashville, Tennessee: 3 hours by car
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: 1.5 hours by car
  • St. Louis, Missouri: 4 hours by car

Hotels

  • Hyatt Place Louisville-East, 701 South Hurstbourne Parkway, Louisville, KY 40222, +15024260119 – ANU has a partnership with this Hotel to offer you affordable prices – the booking link is
    https://louisvilleeast.place.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html?corp_id=38916
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton Louisville-East, 9401 Hurstbourne Trace, Louisville, KY 40222, +15024299070
  • Louisville Marriott East, 1903 Embassy Square Blvd, Louisville, KY 40299, +15024911184
  • Drury Inn & Suites Louisville East, 9501 Blairwood Rd, Hurstbourne, KY 40222, +15023264170
  • Hyatt House Louisville–East, 9315 Leesgate Rd, Hurstbourne, KY 40222, +15029197855

Where to Eat

The following is a sample of what Louisville has to offer:

Chinese:

Indian:

Italian:

Korean:

Japanese:

Mexican:

Middle Eastern:

Thai:

Vietnamese:

Be sure to also try out these local American favorites:

Coffee & Breakfast:

Dessert:

Housing

To help in finding the ideal immersive and comfortable living arrangement for studying in the U.S., we advise you to contact the apartments you are interested in to discuss leasing options and payments. For more apartment options please check out apartmentfinder.com. To assist in finding the ideal living arrangement, we have listed apartments in the Louisville area below:

  • Maple Brook Apartments,11507 Maple Brook Dr, Louisville, KY 40241, +1-502-335-4702
  • Champion Farms Apartments, 3700 Springhurst Blvd, Louisville, KY 40241, +1-502-804-5601
  • Shadow Ridge. 10400 Shadow Ridge Ln, Louisville, KY 40241, +1-502-694-1787
  • Rolling Hills Apartment Homes, 9100 Rainbow Springs Ct, Louisville, KY 40241, +1-502-426-5440
  • SpringHouse Apartments, 8400 Tapestry Circle, Louisville, KY 40222, +1-502-425-3808

Utilities

Some utilities are included in the apartments, for example water, sewer, and trash. The utilities you would most likely be responsible for are gas and electricity. You can find more information on Louisville Gas
an Electric service by visiting their website at www.lgeenergy.com

If you should decide to have cable and internet connected, visit this site to see many cable and internet providers available in Louisville www.cabletv.com/ky/louisville Many students forego traditional cable in favor of Netflix or Hulu, which you can also find online.

Religious Accommodations

Mosques

  • The Muslim Community Center of Louisville – approx. 6 miles from ANU, 8215 Old Westport Rd, Louisville, KY 40222
  • Guiding Light Islamic Center – approx. 7 miles from ANU, 6500 Six Mile Ln, Louisville, KY 40218
  • Bosniak American Islamic Center of Louisville – approx. 7 miles from ANU, 5927 Six Mile Ln, Louisville, KY 40218
  • Diyanet Mosque of Kentucky Ahiskan Turks – approx. 7 miles from ANU, 4604 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40218

Buddhist Temples

  • Tu An Temple – approx. 3 miles from ANU, 4600 S 6th St, Louisville, KY 40214

Hindu Temple

  • Swaminarayan Temple Mandir – approx. 11 miles from ANU, 4032 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40218

Catholic Churches

  • Saint Thomas More Catholic Church – approx. 4 miles from ANU, 6105 S 3rd St, Louisville, KY 40214
  • St John Vianney Catholic Church – approx. 4 miles from ANU, 4839 Southside Dr, Louisville, KY 40214

Christian Churches

  • Shively Christian Church – approx. 1.5 miles from ANU, 1822 Kendall Ln, Shively, KY 40216
  • Christian Life Center – approx. 1.5 miles from ANU, 1599 Sadie Ln, Louisville, KY 40216
  • The New Christian Church of Jesus Christ – approx. 2 miles from ANU, 4423 La Salle Ave, Louisville, KY 40215

Mormon

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – approx. 4 miles from ANU, 1542 S 32nd St, Louisville, KY 40211

Jewish Temples

  • Congregation Adat HaiTikvah – approx. 1 miles from ANU, 1649 Cowling Ave, Louisville, KY 40205

Nashville, Tennessee, often dubbed “Music City,” is a dynamic metropolis renowned for its rich musical heritage, vibrant entertainment scene, and Southern charm. At the heart of Nashville’s allure lies its status as the epicenter of country music, with iconic institutions such as the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame paying homage to the genre’s legends and history. Visitors flock to Nashville to immerse themselves in live performances at legendary venues like the Ryman Auditorium and honky-tonks along Broadway, where aspiring musicians and seasoned professionals alike showcase their talents every night.

Beyond its musical roots, Nashville boasts a diverse array of cultural attractions, from art galleries and museums to historic landmarks and culinary delights. The city’s burgeoning food scene offers a tantalizing mix of southern comfort food, barbecue joints, and innovative eateries, earning it a reputation as a gastronomic destination.

Nashville’s charming neighborhoods each have their own distinct character, from the trendy boutiques and cafes of 12 South to the historic charm of Germantown and the bustling energy of East Nashville. Visitors can also explore the city’s lush parks and green spaces, including Centennial Park with its iconic Parthenon replica and the scenic Shelby Bottoms Nature Center along the Cumberland River. As the capital of Tennessee, Nashville also serves as a hub for education, healthcare, and business, attracting a diverse population of residents and visitors alike. Whether exploring its musical heritage, indulging in its culinary delights, or simply soaking up its warm Southern hospitality, Nashville offers a captivating blend of tradition, innovation, and vibrant culture that leaves a lasting impression on all who visit.

Sites to visit to learn more about Nashville:
https://www.visitmusiccity.com/
https://www.nashville.gov/

Campus Physical Address: American National University, 2451 Atrium Way, Nashville, TN 37214

Getting There

It is best to book your flight directly into the Nashville International Airport (BNA) located just 3.2 miles (5.15 km) from ANU campus.

Taxi and Ride-sharing services are available to get you from the airport to campus or around the area:

Bus/Train

WeGo Public Transport https://www.wegotransit.com/ride/maps-schedules/bus/
WeGo Public Transport https://www.wegotransit.com/ride/transit-services/train/
Amtrak Train station located in Nashville https://www.amtrak.com/stations/nvl

Nearby Cities

  • Louisville, Kentucky: 3 hours by car
  • Memphis, Tennessee: 3 hours by car
  • Atlanta, Georgia: 4 hours by car
  • St. Louis, Missouri: 4.5 hours by car

Hotels

  • DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel, 2424 Atrium Way, Nashville, TN 37214, +16158898889
  • Club-Hotel Nashville, 2435 Atrium Way, Nashville, TN 37214, +16158830500
  • Residence Inn by Marriott Nashville Airport, 2300 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, TN 37214, +16158898600
  • Alexis Inn and Suites Nashville, 600 Ermac Dr, Nashville, TN 37214, +16158894466

Where to Eat

The following is a sample of what Nashville has to offer:

Chinese:

Indian:

Italian:

Korean:

Japanese:

Mexican:

Middle Eastern:

Thai:

Vietnamese:

Be sure to also try out these local American favorites:

Coffee & Breakfast:

Dessert:

Housing

To help in finding the ideal immersive and comfortable living arrangement for studying in the U.S., we advise you to contact the apartments you are interested in to discuss leasing options and payments. For more apartment options please check out apartmentfinder.com. To assist in finding the ideal living arrangement, we have listed apartments in the Nashville area below:

  • Atrium Flats,2425 Atrium Way Nashville, TN, 37214 +1-629-206-0145
  • Highland on Briley Apartments, 2131 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, TN 37210, +1-629-240-8083
  • Sheffield Heights, 700 Airways Circle, Nashville, TN 37214, +1-629-213-2361
  • Nashville Condo, 221 Cottage Place, Nashville, TN 37214, +1-615-712-7985
  • Radius at Donelson, 2301 Lebanon Pike, Nashville, TN 37214, +1-615-701-3863

Utilities

Some utilities are included in the apartments, for example water, sewer, and trash. The utilities you would most likely be responsible for are gas and electricity. You can find more information on Nashville Electric Service by visiting their website at www.nespower.com and Piedmont Natural Gas website at www.piedmontng.com

If you should decide to have cable and internet connected, visit this site to see many cable and internet providers available in Nashville www.cabletv.com/tn/nashville. Many students forego traditional cable in favor of
Netflix or Hulu, which you can also find online.

Religious Accommodations

Mosques

  • Masjid As-Salaam – approx. 4 miles from ANU, 1038 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37217
  • Al-Huda Islamic Center – approx. 4 miles from ANU, 1100 Kermit Dr, Nashville, TN 37217
  • Al-Farooq Islamic Center – approx. 6 miles from ANU, 67 Thompson Ln, Nashville, TN 37211

Buddhist Temples

  • Wat Lao Buddhapathip – approx. 5 miles from ANU, 104 Glenmont Dr, Nashville, TN 37210
  • Padmasambhava Buddhist Center of TN – approx. 8 miles from ANU, 419 E Iris Dr, Nashville, TN 37204

Hindu Temple

  • Shree Swaminarayan Hindu Temple – approx. 10 miles from ANU, 355 Haywood Ln, Nashville, TN 37211

Catholic Churches

  • Church of the Holy Rosary – approx. 2 miles from ANU, 192 Graylynn Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
  • Assumption Church – approx. 9 miles from ANU, 1227 7th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208

Christian Churches

  • Scenic View Baptist Church – approx. 1.5 miles from ANU, 2111 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, TN 37210
  • Gateway Missionary Baptist Church – approx. 1.5 miles from ANU, 2514 Lakeland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214

Mormon

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – approx. 12 miles from ANU, 1240 McGavock Pk, Nashville, TN 37216

Jewish Temples

  • Messiah Songs – approx. 3 miles from ANU, 1240 McGavock Pk, Nashville, TN 37216

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