Rolling admissions phase is now in motion at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy which means that all application deadlines have passed. Learn how one student gained an opportunity for independence and an early start at the school by applying during this phase.
Welcome international students! HPA's diverse body of students and graduates form a worldwide 'ohana of global citizens and leaders who are leaving a positive impression on the world. We take pride in the variety of nationalities present in our multicultural student body and alumni. If you are considering studying abroad in the United States please consider HPA and reach out with any questions or concerns.
For international students, a critical part of preparing to attend HPA is obtaining the F-1 Student Visa. The following explains the process to successfully gain entrance to the United States as a full-time student. If you have any questions, please contact the Admission Office (1-808-881-4321 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). We strongly recommend that you print and carry this memo with you as you travel to and from the United States.
- From 1-20
- F-1 Student Visa
- For Canadien Citizens
- Denied Visa
- Traveling to the United States
- Ground Transportation
- Emergencies During Travel
- Other Traveling
- Staying "In Status"
Issued by your own government, a passport is valid from one to six or more years, depending on the country of origin, and is your permit to leave and re-enter your home country. U.S. immigration laws require that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond the date that you begin your studies.
You must ensure that your passport remains valid during your enrollment at HPA. If you need to renew your passport contact your Embassy or Consulate and allow plenty of time for processing. HPA WILL NOT renew passports for students.
Form I-20 is a multi-purpose government document that is used in connection with F-1 student procedures. An I-20 issued by the school proves your eligibility for F-1 status. An F-1 student is an international student approved by the U.S. government to study full-time in the U.S. An F-1 student visa gives you permission to enter the U.S.
HPA requires the following items before issuing an I-20:
1. The completed and signed Enrollment Agreement by a parent/legal guardian.
2. The tuition deposit of $2,500 USD.
3. A copy of the student’s valid passport.
4. Documentation of sufficient financing for at least one year of study. This could be an ORIGINAL BANK statement or letter from the bank (on official letterhead) certifying the family has sufficient funds to pay for the entire year of education (including tuition, cost for books and fees, travel to and from the school, and any other miscellaneous costs). We suggest that you ask for two original bank statements since HPA will need one original and you will need to show the second original to the U.S. consulate or embassy. If the bank statement is in a language other than English, please provide a certified English translation of the document, along with the original bank statement.
After HPA receives all of the above items, the school will send you a Form I-20. When you receive the Form I-20, please have both parents and the student sign the form.
Contact the local consulate or embassy and schedule an appointment for an F-1 Student Visa interview. Typically you can either schedule the appointment online or by phone. The consulate cannot issue the visa until 120 days before the start of school, however, to allow for visa processing and security clearance delays, a student may apply for an F-1 Student Visa earlier than 120 days before the start of school. For students attending HPA summer school, please coordinate with the admission office to receive your I-20 earlier and remember to plan early and apply for the visa so you can have it prior to arriving for the summer program in mid-June.
When you go to the consulate or embassy, you must bring the following items for the visa application:
1. Properly completed Form I-20 (with parent and student signatures).
2. I-901 Form. Families must pay a $200 SEVIS Application Fee. SEVIS is the computer system that generates the Form I-20. After submitting payment, you will receive an I-901 form, which is proof of payment. You must show the I-901 at the consulate during your visa application interview. For more information on how to pay the SEVIS fee, visit: https://www.fmjfee.com/index.html.
3. Evidence of financial ability to meet all educational expenses for the year. You should use the second original bank statement showing sufficient funds to cover all expenses for the year.
4. Evidence of intent to depart the U.S. after completion of studies. This typically is referred to as the “Strong Ties” clause. The F-1 Student Visa is a nonimmigrant visa and so the student must prove that he/she does not intend to immigrate or live in the U.S. permanently. Students must show strong ties to their own country that will cause them to return home after studying at HPA, university, graduate school, etc. Strong ties differ from country-to-country, city-to-city, individual-to-individual. “Ties” are the various aspects of a person’s life that binds them to their country or residence. With younger applicants who might not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers might look at the applicant’s specific intentions, family situations and long-range plans and prospects within his/her country of residence. Each case is examined individually.
5. Passport valid for at least six months.
6. Form DS-160 “Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application” – Check with your local embassy or consulate for specific requirements. NOTE: These forms are available at the consulate or online at:https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html.
7. Photograph(s). Please check with your local consulate for the specific requirements and guidelines and number of photographs required for the visa.
8. Payment of F-1 Student Visa fee. Fees charged for processing and issuing an F-1 Student Visa vary from consulate to consulate.
9. If asked, applicants also should be prepared to provide: their HPA acceptance letter, transcripts from previous institutions attended, and scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the SSAT, SLEP, TOEFL, etc.
F-1 Student Visa applicants should contact the consular office where they intend to apply to inquire about specific local procedures or requirements. During the interview, the U.S. consular officer will review the documents and evidence presented, and will ask a few questions. If approved, the visa will be issued within a few hours or days of the interview.
If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need an F-1 Visa to study in the United States. However, you do need to obtain an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility from Hawai'i Preparatory Academy, and pay the $200 SEVIS application fee (see #2 above) prior to entering the United States. As a Canadian citizen you must fulfill all standard eligibility requirements to receive the I-20, though you do not need to travel to the U.S. Embassy to apply for an F-1 Visa.
At the time you receive the I-20, you will be registered with SEVIS, the student tracking system. You will be assigned a SEVIS number and will be required to pay a registration fee. When entering the United States at the Port of Entry, please have your I-20, your I-901 SEVIS payment receipt, your letter of acceptance from HPA, and an original bank document showing sufficient funds to cover all educational expenses for the year. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the Port of Entry will use the material you supply to determine eligibility to enter the United States. After you enter the U.S. with your I-20, you will need to keep the I-20 with you when traveling as long as you are a student.
If, during your visa interview at the embassy or consulate, you are denied the F-1 Student Visa, please ask the interviewer why the visa was denied. Immediately notify HPA at email@example.com about the denial and the reason given. If possible, HPA will assist you in reapplying. If your visa is rejected more than two times, HPA will provide a full refund of your enrollment deposit.
After you receive your visa, you are ready to travel to the U.S.
You must travel with your passport, I-20, and other immigration paperwork. Do not pack these documents in your checked luggage. Keep it with you on your person while traveling.
When making airline reservations, be sure that your final destination is Kona (airport code: KOA), on the island of Hawai‘i. Direct flights to Kona are available from the U.S. mainland. Families flying through Honolulu (airport code: HNL), on the island of Oahu, MUST take a 40-minute interisland flight to Kona. Please e-mail your flight itinerary to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first U.S. airport you land at (this could be the mainland U.S., Honolulu, or Kona) will be your Port of Entry (POE) and you must disembark the plane and go through Immigration and Customs.
You will go through Immigration first. When you meet the immigration official you will be required to present the following documents for admission to the U.S. in F-1 status:
1. Passport valid for at least six months from date of entry to the U.S.
2. F-1 Student Visa in passport. For students entering the U.S. as an F-1 student for the first time, the name of the school (Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy) on the F-1 Student Visa must match the name of the school on the Form I-20. For a student who has F-1 student status at a school in the U.S., but has transferred from another U.S. school to HPA, the name of the new school (Hawai'i Preparatory Academy) does not need to be on the student’s visa, only on the Form I-20.
3. Evidence of financial support, including the same financial support information used when applying for the F-1 visa at the consulate or embassy.
4. Form I-20, properly signed by the school, parents, and student.
5. Proof of having paid the SEVIS fee. Please keep your I-901 receipt with your passport.
If you have entered the United States before, you might remember receiving the I-94 card from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. The I-94 process has been changed to an electronic version and you will no longer receive a physical I-94 card. Instead, upon being admitted to the U.S., the CBP officer will stamp your passport or travel document and mark the date of entry, your status as an F-1 student, and the “admitted until” date, or the period of admission known as “duration of status,” indicated by the notation “D/S.” You can access your electronic I-94 at www.cbp.gov/I94.
The immigration officer will no longer stamp the Form I-20 for prospective and returning F-1 students seeking admission to the United States. Once on campus, F-1 Visa students who encounter issues with their state or federal benefit applications (e.g. obtaining a drivers license) because the I-20 is no longer stamped, should contact the HPA Admission Office (email@example.com) for assistance.
Next, you will go to a special baggage claim room to retrieve your luggage and go through Customs by submitting the customs form you completed on the airplane. Next, proceed through one of two exits (Declare or Nothing to Declare). If you have a connecting flight to Kona, go to the luggage check-in and give back your checked luggage. Verify that your luggage is checked all the way to the Kona Airport (KOA).
When you arrive in Kona, an HPA representative will meet and transport you to campus (45 minute drive). Returning students who are familiar with the travel process typically take a taxi directly to HPA and do not require an escort. When you arrive on campus, be sure to give your passport and Form I-20 to the Business Office to be held in a fireproof safe until needed for your next flight departure. You may check out your passport anytime but are required to keep it in the Business Office for safekeeping.
If you need to contact HPA while you are traveling due to a flight change, delay, emergency, or immigration problem, please call 1-808-881-4363. If you do not have a mobile phone, please ask an operator for assistance to make a collect call.
Whenever you leave campus for a school break or after graduation, especially if you fly outside of the state of Hawai‘i, you will need to have all of your updated immigration paperwork with you. A few days before you leave campus, go to the Business Office and check out your passport, Form I-20, I-94 card, and any other included paperwork. Go to the Admission Office and ask to have your Form I-20 signed.
IMPORTANT: There only are a few individuals on campus (called Designated School Officials or DSOs) who are authorized by the U.S. government to sign the form. Anytime you plan to leave the country, a DSO must sign your Form I-20, which certifies that you still are a student at HPA.
Take your passport and all other immigration paperwork when traveling and keep them with you at all times. If you are traveling within the U.S., you might be asked to present the information as proof that you are in the U.S. legally. If you are traveling outside the U.S., you will need to surrender the I-94 card to the immigration official before boarding the plane.
When you return to the U.S., be sure to present all the documentation listed in the “Traveling to the United States.” Please return all documentation to the Business Office when you arrive on campus.
Remaining “in status” as an F-1 nonimmigrant visa holder is the responsibility of the student. Always check your passport, visa, or other documentation for expiration dates, etc. When traveling back to your home country you might need to schedule an appointment with the consulate to renew your visa. You also might need to apply for a new passport through your own government. You should never discard any immigration documentation, even when expired or you have a replacement. Keep all old Form I-20s or other forms you receive from immigration officials. These documents provide a record of your immigration history.