Admissions Counselor Frequently Asked Questions


What is an I-20?

The Certificate of Eligibility (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services I-20 form) is a document issued by Pacific that certifies that we have admitted an international student after doing a thorough review of their credentials.

The I-20 is required for an international student to obtain an F-1 student visa and/or enter the United States in order to be a full-time student.

What is SEVIS?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a national database used to maintain information on international students and exchange visitors in the United States. Each international student or exchange visitor is assigned an ID number that is supposed to move with them if they transfer schools or graduate and start a new degree program. Only one institution has access to an individual's SEVIS record at any given time.

How do I know if a prospective student is an international student?

An international student is any person who currently resides or plans to reside in the United States on a non-immigrant F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor visa while studying at Pacific. U.S. citizens, permanent residents (green card holders), and persons with asylum or refugee status are not considered international students.

My prospective student is NOT F-1 or J-1. What rules apply to them about studying at Pacific?

Applicants with dual U.S./other country citizenship, permanent residents and persons with asylum or refugee status are allowed to study at any school or educational level in the U.S., and in many cases they are eligible for federal financial aid. They can be treated just like domestic applicants for admissions purposes.

Prospective students with a non-immigrant visa type other than F-1 or J-1 may be totally restricted from studying in the US, or they may be eligible to study full-time, part-time or recreationally. Please check with the Office of International Programs for more information if you have a case you are unsure about.

The prospective international student I am advising is enrolled at another U.S. institution. What needs to happen for him/her to attend Pacific?

The student must arrange to have his/her Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record released to Pacific. Pacific will then issue that student an I-20 showing that the student will attend Pacific in the future.

It’s getting close to the beginning of the semester; is there still time to get an I-20 to an applicant living overseas?

Each situation is different, but these are some things to keep in mind:

  • Once the applicant receives Pacific’s I-20, they must apply for and receive a visa, which can be another lengthy process (8 to 12 weeks in many countries). Only Canadian students are exempt from having to apply for visas.
  • International mail service is unreliable: to guarantee rapid delivery of documents, express shippers like FedEx must be used. In some countries, even express shipments take weeks to arrive.

I have an applicant who is required to submit proof of English proficiency to be admitted. I asked them to submit a TOEFL score, and they asked if we would accept an institutional TOEFL. Is that OK?

Scores from the International Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are valid worldwide. Scores from the Institutional TOEFL are valid only at the institution administering the exam. Thus, Pacific can only accept institutional TOEFL scores that were given by Pacific’s ELI.

Students can request that their International TOEFL score be sent to Pacific by logging onto and accessing their account.

The Institutional TOEFL is offered at Pacific to admitted students on a frequent basis for a small fee. Contact Monique Grindell, ELI Academic Coordinator, for test dates and registration details.

How long are TOEFL or IELTS scores valid?

Scores from both the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam are valid for two years from the date of the exam.

My prospective international student is asking if he/she can study part-time. Is that allowed?

No. U.S. immigration law requires that all international students on F1 student visas maintain full-time enrollment. To be considered full time, undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits each regular semester. Graduate students must meet the university’s definition of full-time for their program and term.

What should a prospective international student know about health insurance?

The university requires that all international students purchase Pacific’s Student Health Insurance Plan UNLESS they qualify for a waiver.

This policy is strictly enforced. Students who want to apply for a waiver should contact International Programs.

Is there an orientation for international students?

International Programs offers a program of both optional and mandatory activities for new students. At a minimum, all international students are required to attend a four-hour workshop on immigration rules.

When should my deposited international student plan to arrive on campus?

Federal regulations restrict new students from entering the United States more than 30 days before the start date printed on their I-20. After that 30-day window opens, the student may arrive at any time.

International programs offer students coming in by plane, train, or bus assistance getting to Forest Grove or Hillsboro as part of International Student Orientation.

During orientation, we offer students help with tasks like opening bank accounts and shopping. Since there are many students arriving at the same time, we request that students in need of this kind of assistance sign up for the scheduled sessions; we are unable to offer customized assistance to students who arrive weeks in advance of orientation.