International Students | Master of Fine Arts in Writing

Residency students of MFA in writing program

We are pleased to welcome international students to the Master of Fine Arts in Writing program where we value diverse ideas, cultures and aesthetics. The MFA low-residency format requires students to be present for a 10-day residency at the beginning of each semester. After the residency, students return home to complete the guided study portion of the semester with their faculty advisor.

The Low-Residency Format and International Students 

  • Pacific University is certified as a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) school, meaning that a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status,” can be issued to international students enrolled in Pacific's low-residency MFA program.
  • Admitted international students will be issued an I-20 that is valid for the length of the residency, plus travel time. The I-20 Form requires a $200 SEVIS I-901 fee that must be paid prior to each residency, as each different residency will require a new I-20 Form (i.e. 6 residencies = 6 I-20 Forms).

    • Once an I-20 has been issued, students must apply for an F-1 student visa at their home country’s U.S. embassy or consulate. Visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the residency.

    • When entering the U.S., students will need to have a passport, F-1 student visa, I-20, and receipt of SEVIS I-901 fee payment.

  • The I-20 Form will expire at the end of each residency. Therefore, international students cannot remain in the United States between residencies under the I-20 or F-1 visa.

  • Pacific University does not issue I-20 certificates to F-2 dependents of I-20 / F-1 visa holders for this program.

  • How to Get an I-20 (pdf)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I am an international student?

Most people who are not U.S. citizens will fall into this category, but there are a few exceptions:

  • Dual citizens (U.S. & other country)
  • U.S. Permanent Residents
  • Some First Nations members born in Canada with Jay Treaty border crossing rights 

If any of these situations apply to you, please contact the International Programs office at 503-352-1600 or intlprograms@pacificu.edu

What is an I-20 and why do I need one to join the MFA program as an international student?

Although you may have visited the U.S. in the past as a tourist, immigration procedures are different when you are a student. To be permitted to enter the U.S. for study, you will need a certificate that shows you are authorized to enter the country to take part in a degree program. This certificate is called an I-20.

MFA students will be issued an I-20 that is valid for the length of the residency. Because the I-20 will expire after each residency, international MFA students are not able to remain in the U.S. between residencies and must be issued a new I-20 for each residency.

How to Get an I-20 (pdf)

Note: Pacific does not issue I-20 certificates for F-2 dependents (spouses or children) of I-20 / F-1 visa holders.

Is there a fee for an I-20?

The U.S. government requires students to pay a $200 fee for each I-20. This fee, also known as the SERVIS I 901- fee, helps pay for a database used by the U.S. government to track the activity and location of all international students in the U.S. This fee is paid online at fmjfee.com.

How to Get an I-20 (pdf)

Do I need anything in addition to the I-20 to enter the U.S. for my residencies?

Students who are Canadian citizens only need their Canadian passport and I-20.

Citizens of countries other than Canada will need to visit a U.S. embassy or consulate and get an F-1 student visa. This includes landed immigrants living in Canada. A new visa will be needed before each residency.

You must receive each new I-20 certificate before you can apply for a visa, and there will be a visa application fee each time you apply. This fee varies, so please look for specific fee information on the Web site of the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.

It is important to note that prior successful F-1 visa applications are not a guarantee of future approvals. Each application is taken on its own merits, and it is possible for a student who has been issued an F-1 visa in the past to have a subsequent one denied.

How to Get an I-20 (pdf)

Am I able to be employed in the U.S. as an international student?

MFA students do not accrue enough time in F-1 status to be eligible for either the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) work programs.

I understand that my I-20 will be valid for the length of each residency. Does that mean I must leave the U.S. immediately after each residency ends?

U.S. immigration regulations allow international students with I-20s to enter the U.S. as early as 30 days before the program start date listed on their I-20. There will also be a 60-day grace period when you can remain in the U.S. after the program end date listed on the I-20. These periods of extra time are there for students to prepare to depart and to travel to and from their program site. Students may not work or study during their grace period.

At the conclusion of the 60-day grace period, a student must depart the U.S. Staying past the end date and associated grace period on the I-20 is a direct violation of F-1 status and could jeopardize future visa applications.

What is the timeline for getting my documents (I-20 and F-1 student visa) ready prior to each residency?

Fall Semester –– June Residency

March 25: Contact the Pacific University Office of International Programs and inform them of your intention to attend Pacific. They will request a copy of your passport as well as send you a financial affidavit.

April 1: Send copy of your passport and the completed financial affidavit to the Pacific International Programs Office.

May 15: Pay the SEVIS 1-901 fee to the U.S. government.

May 15: (For non-Canadian students and landed immigrants of Canada) Apply for an F-1 student visa.

Spring Semester –– January Residency

October 25: Contact the Pacific University Office of International Programs and inform them of your intention to attend Pacific. They will request a copy of your passport as well as send you a financial affidavit.

November 1: Send copy of your passport and the completed financial affidavit to the Pacific International Programs Office.

December 15: Pay the SEVIS 1-901 fee to the U.S. government.

December 15: (For non-Canadian students and landed immigrants of Canada) Apply for an F-1 student visa.

How to Get an I-20 (pdf)

Will I need health insurance?

Pacific University requires all students to purchase Pacific’s Student Health Insurance Plan unless they qualify for a waiver. International students may purchase temporary travelers' health insurance and waive the Pacific student health policy.

As an international student, are tuition and residency fees the same?

Yes, program fees are the same for all students.  For more information, see Cost, Scholarships and Financial Aid.

Do I qualify for your scholarships as an international student?

Yes, Pacific offers MFA scholarships based on the quality of creative manuscripts. No additional application is required.

Additional questions?

Contact the MFA Office at 503-352-1531 or mfa@pacificu.edu.

Contact Pacific University’s Office of International Programs: 503-352-1600 or keisenhooth@pacificu.edu.