Are you an International Student?
We are honored that you are considering moving to the United States to study at RTS Orlando. Here you can find more information concerning application as an international student. Our admissions team looks forward to helping you on this journey.
There are FIVE steps to complete as an international student.
- Complete the RTS Online Application and its requirements
- Complete and return the International Student Supplement (ISS) and supporting documents (English language test results, letter from home church, and financial resources)
- Admittance and Financial Aid
- Visa application
- Moving and Transition
The process of application for an international student can take longer than a traditional U.S. student. To ensure you can arrive before the semester you hope to start studying we recommend beginning your application process 6-12 months before your desired start-date.
All international students must establish English language proficiency. All applicants whose first language (“mother tongue”) is not English must demonstrate English proficiency by taking the “Test of English as a Foreign Language” (TOEFL). Though there are three different forms of the TOEFL exam, the Internet-based (iBT) TOEFL exam is the only form accepted by Reformed Theological Seminary. To be considered for admission to the MDiv or MA degree programs, applicants must have a total score of 84 or higher, with score no lower than 21 on the four components of the exam (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing). To be considered for admission to the DMin or MAC degree program, applicants must have a minimum total score of 100, with scores no lower than 25 on each of the subtests (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing).
For more information or to register for TOEFL, please visit: http://www.ets.org/toefl
The institutional code for Reformed Theological Seminary is 9771. If you put this number in the appropriate place on the test registration form, your score report will be mailed to us.
Students must submit official transcripts from all previous academic work (a baccalaureate degree or its foreign equivalent with a 2.6 cumulative GPA is ordinarily required). Undergraduate transcripts (baccalaureate degree or equivalent) from international colleges and universities should be submitted through the World Education Services for evaluation. Make sure to request the Course-by-Course Report and specifically request that they include the language of instruction on the report. Please see the WES Frequently Asked Questions page for further information about fees and processing times. Official transcripts for post-baccalaureate studies (master’s, doctorate, etc) should be submitted directly to RTS Orlando.
International Students are legally required to be full-time students (12 credit hours per fall and spring semesters)
The US Government requires proof of finances and financial support in the amount covering both your tuition and living expenses for the duration of your degree.
Tuition and Living Expenses
Student & Spouse: $44,160
Student, Spouse and 1 child: $48,160
For each additional child, add $4,000
In addition to the online application, International Students are required to complete the International Student Supplement (ISS).
This International Student Supplement is required by RTS Orlando and the United States Government in order to be issued the legal documents you need to study in the USA (I-20 and F1). This document explains the International Student requirements including English language skills, financial support, and education background. Please read the instructions and requirements carefully.
Please download the ISS form, complete it, and email it to your enrollment counselor along with mailing all of the original/hard copy supporting documents needed.
New students planning to enroll in the summer or fall must apply for financial aid by May 1 (December 1 for winter/spring entrants). Please consider this in your application timeline.
The financing of a RTS degree is, above all, a trusting in and a reliance on God’s provision. Students finance their studies through their personal resources, the support of their home church, family and friends, and through RTS financial aid.
Please follow the link to the Financial Aid page to learn more on the types of scholarships and grants RTS Orlando offers, the financial aid brochure, as well as the financial aid application.
Upon admittance to RTS Orlando you will be issued an I-20 (having completed steps 1 and 2 in their entirety). This I-20 document allows you to apply for your F1 visa.
Please note: Once you have received your I-20, the visa application process, interview wait times, and return of passport with visa, vary from country to country. Please allow at least 6-8 weeks from your visa application date to be granted an interview and receive your visa.
Before applying for your visa, confirm that your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your expected stay in the USA.
Visa Application Steps
- Register on the SEVIS Website by submitting I-901 Form (includes USD $200 fee) .
WHAT IS SEVIS: The Department of Homeland Security and Department of State are responsible for monitoring schools, F-1 status students and others. Student information is maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate information on non-immigrant students (F-1 visa) and their dependents (F-2). SEVIS enables schools to transmit mandatory information and event notifications, via the Internet, to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student’s stay in the United States.) Unless otherwise exempt, participants must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee to the Department of Homeland Security for each individual program.Submit your online SEVIS form.
- Complete the online visa application forms . Please follow all instructions carefully. These are legal documents. (Includes approx. USD $200 fee)
- Schedule Visa Interview
- Attend visa interview with all necessary supporting documents.
For complete student visa information please visit this the US Visa website.
PLEASE BE INFORMED OF THE FOLLOWING REGARDING VISA APPLICATION:
As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. It is important to remember that applying early and providing the requested documents does not guarantee that the student will receive a visa. Wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information is available on most embassy websites. Because each student’s personal and academic situation may differ, two students applying for the same visa may be asked different questions and be required to submit different documents. For that reason, the guidelines that follow are general and can be abridged or expanded by consular officers overseas, depending on each student’s situation.
Students should note that Embassies and Consulates are able to issue a student visa 120 days or less, in advance of the course of study registration date. If you apply for your visa more than 120 days prior to your start date as listed on the Form I-20, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your application until it is able to issue the visa. Consular officials will use that extra time to accomplish any of the necessary special clearances or other processes that may be required.
New Students may not enter the United States more than 30 days before course of study
Start/report date as shown on the Form I-20. Please consider this date carefully when making
Travel plans to the U.S
NOTE: IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU DO NOT BOOK AND PAY FOR TRAVEL UNTIL YOU HAVE BEEN ISSUED A VISA.
Please provide your enrollment counselor with a copy of your passport and copy of your F1 Visa
- If you plan on driving in the USA please bring your current driver’s license from your home country. Please note: it is very hard to get around Orlando without a car, and it is highly recommended that you plan financially to buy a car. Public transport to the school is not an option.
- Housing: Please prepare and have a place arranged and ready to move into. RTS Orlando does not have the resources to provide temporary housing for students. You can apply to the limited RTS housing that is available to rent to students by submitting a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. There may be a wait list for this housing. You are responsible for organizing your own housing.
- Travel Insurance is a good option to use for at least the first 3 months of your time at RTS Orlando. This gives you time to organize your own US health insurance, a requirement the school has for every student.
Documents you should carry on your person when traveling to the USA
When you travel, you should carry some specific documents on your person. Do NOT check them in your baggage! If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will not be able to show the documents to the Customs and Border Protection Officer and, as a result, may not be able to enter the U.S.
- Passport (including attached envelope of immigration documents) with
- Nonimmigrant F-1 student visa (in passport);
- SEVIS Form
- I-20 Documents
- Evidence of financial resources
- Evidence of student status (your admittance letter into RTS Orlando)
- Name and contact information for Designated School Official (DSO) at your intended school
You have made it. You are officially in the United States of America. Welcome to Orlando, FL! We are excited to have you here! Below you will find very important information on steps you need to take once you have arrived.
Check in with DSO
Please report to RTS Orlando on the next business day after your arrival. Check in with your DSO who will note your presence and enter your address into SEVIS.
RTS Orlando requires every student have health insurance. It is also a requirement of the US Government. There are many insurance companies available for International Students. It is your responsibility to obtain health insurance. Students in the past have used:
- The Student Insurance Program – http://www.collegiateinsuranceresources.com/
- Humana – https://www.humana.com/
- Samaritan Ministries – http://samaritanministries.org/
- International Student Insurance – http://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/
If you are offered on campus employment you will need to have a social security card. You must apply for a social security card in person at the Social Security Card office located at 5520 Gatlin Avenue, Suite 102, Orlando, FL 32812. You must bring with you your passport, I-94, I-20, 2 x proof of address, and a letter from the Work Study Coordinator stating that you are approved to work on campus. You can down download the application form at www.socialsecurity.gov or you can apply at the Social Security Office.
NOTE: If you have not been given employment you will need a letter from social security stating you are not legally able to obtain a social security number in order to obtain your driver’s license.
You will need a Florida driver’s license to drive in Florida. You will be required to pass both a written and practical driving test. To obtain a driver’s license you need to go to the DMV located at 104 Wilshire Blvd, Casselberry, FL 32707. Please take the following documents with you:
- I-20 Forms
- Current Driver’s License from home country
- Social Security Number (or the form you have obtained from social security indicating you are not legally allowed a social security number. The social security office is located at SUITE 101, 5520 GATLIN AVE , ORLANDO, FL 32812)
- Printed I-94 form
- 2 forms of proof of address
If you don’t have a license from your home country please don’t worry. You can still obtain a license. You will have to take a four hour course on drug and alcohol use before you can take the tests for a license. Everyone must take two tests: A written exam on Florida driving laws and road signs and a practical driving exam. You may request a study guide at www.hsmv.state.fl.us, where there is a practice exam online so that you will know what to expect. During the practical driving exam, you will drive a car (road worthy and all lights working) with an evaluator who will accompany you in the vehicle. You may take these exams more than once. There is no cost the first time you take them. If you do not pass the exam on the first try, you may take it again but there will be a fee of $10.
Buying a Car (Plus Registration and Insurance )
Florida is a driving state. Florida is not a pedestrian-friendly state. Where the school is located public transport does not exist. You will need to purchase a vehicle. By law you are required to register this vehicle and have insurance. A number of students purchase their vehicles off www.craiglist.org or visit a dealership in the area.
- If you purchase off of Craigslist you can register and pay the sales tax on your new vehicle at The County Tax Collector’s office: 1490 Swanson Dr #100, Oviedo, FL 32765
- The only insurance company who will insure you for the first six months is State Farm. This will be at a cost of approximately $240 per month. After six months you can choose to change to other insurance companies that may have less expensive policies.
- If you purchase from a dealer then the dealer completes the registration application, provides you with a number plate, and applies the sales tax for you. The dealer can also provide more affordable insurance options. Anecdotally, the dealership option is the much more simple and hassle free option than Craigslist, but it will likely cost you more money. You will need an already established USA checking account to purchase from a dealer.
Open a Checking Account with a local bank. Students commonly use Bank of America, Sun Trust, and Wells Fargo as they are close to the school. Opening a bank account requires:
- 2 forms of Identification (passport recommended)
- Money to establish your account (at least $100)
- Proof of address and contact information
There are very specific requirements concerning the ability to work in the USA.
- If you are on an F1 visa you may only work at RTS Orlando
- You have to remain in a full time status (minimum 12 credits per semester) and may only work a maximum of 20 hours per week
- If you are on an F2 visa you are ineligible to work
- After your first year you are able to apply for OPT. However, it is recommended that if you wish to utilize the OPT option that you wait until after the completion of your degree. Learn more info here.
- After your first year, you may make application for off campus employment due to economic hardship. This hardship has to be proven and approved by both RTS Orlando and Homeland Security.
Further Visa Status Information
Length of Stay
As you will note on your Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record and on the Forms I-20, you were not admitted for a specified length of time but for duration of status (D/S).
This is the period of time it will take you as a full-time student to complete the degree program to which you were admitted. Usually, this will be the amount of time indicated on your Form I-20. To remain “in status” during that duration of status period, a student must register and complete the number of hours of credit each semester required by the seminary catalog for your degree program (12 credits).
Extension of Status
If your program is not completed within the designated duration of status (noted on I-20), application may be made for “extension of status.” You make this application with the Admissions Coordinator and DSO. If application is made and approved before the expiration date on your I-20 the extension can be granted by Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando and you will be issued a new I-20 with the new extended date.
If application is made after the expiration date, reinstatement by the Department of Homeland Security – Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services is required. A fee of $300 for F students is charged, several weeks or months of waiting are required, and much inconvenience is experienced.
Banking Change of Degree Program
You must apply for a new Form I-20 if you continue at our school in a different academic program or add another degree program. For example, if you have been accepted to pursue graduate studies in M.A.C. after completing (or during) your already approved M.Div. program.
Please note that the above applies to you even if the F-1 visa in your passport placed there by a U.S. consular officer has a limit of stay. This visa need not be renewed because it covers entry into the U.S., not the legality of your present status.
When Departing the USA
You are given a 60 day grace period after the completion of your degree to make preparations and exit the United States.