USMLE International Student FAQs

Are you ready to study in the United States? Becker Professional Education is ready to help you throughout every step of your U.S. study plans. We’ve compiled the following questions and answers to share resourceful information about the things you need to know before coming to study in the U.S.

US Immigration Information

Additional information about immigration terminology, required forms, etc. may be found in the following U.S. government sites:

As a citizen of a foreign country, in order to enter the United States, you must first obtain a visa. The type of visa applicable for students intending to study in the U.S. as a full time student for temporary stay, is a nonimmigrant visa. You may only study at an educational institution that is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

Becker Professional Education is a SEVP– certified school. To study at Becker Professional Education you will need an F-1 student visa. For an overview of the visa process, including information on how to apply, please visit For additional questions and answers about visas, visit

A visa issued to nonimmigrant students who plan to study full-time temporarily in the U.S. at a SEVP – certified school.

To apply and obtain an F-1 Visa, you will need a Form I-20 or a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status which is required by the U.S. Government. Form I-20’s may only be issued by SEVP – certified schools and signed by the school’s Designated School Official (DSO).

A DSO, or Designated School Official, is a dedicated school employee assigned for assisting and overseeing enrolled F-1 students. DSO’s provide answers to questions students may have about I-20’d or visa statuses and provide important information about F-1 Visa policies and procedures. You may be assigned a DSO for enrollment and a different DSO during your course with whom you must communicate regularly to maintain your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records and status to date.

As defined in -The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a part of the National Security Investigations Division and acts as a bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on nonimmigrants whose primary reason for coming to the United States is to be students. On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), SEVP manages schools, nonimmigrant students in the F and M visa classifications and their dependents.

As defined in –SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, a Web-based system that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses to maintain information on Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools, F-1 and M-1 students who come to the United States to attend those schools, U.S. Department of State-designated Exchange Visitor Program sponsors and J-1 visa Exchange Visitor Program participants.

As defined in , Form I-94 is the DHS arrival/departure record issued to non-immigrants who are admitted to the U.S., who are adjusting status while in the U.S. or extending their stay, among other uses. The visitor must exit the U.S. on or before the departure date stamped on the I-94. This form will now be automated and the paper form will be created in an electronic format. The CBP will provide travelers with an admission stamp on their passports inclusive of date of admission, class of admission and admitted until date. To learn more about Form I-94 visit To get a print out of your I-94 Form visit .

Congress mandates the I-901 SEVIS fee to support the program office and the SEVP system that keeps track of students and exchange visitors. All F-1 students are responsible to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee once they are issued an Initial Form I-20. Without this fee, international students will not be able to apply for a visa to enter the U.S.

Visit to view the payment tutorial made available by the Department of Homeland Security. To pay this fee or obtain more information about the I-901 SEVIS fee, visit

IMPORTANT: Becker Professional Education does not administer this fee. It is your responsibility to pay this fee through the SEVP I-901 SEVIS fee processing website. The I-901 SEVIS fee is non-refundable even if the visa is denied. Print a receipt of the payment transaction as it will be needed when you request an F-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

The Department of Homeland Security manages and supports the I-901 SEVIS Fee payment system. If there any problems processing your payment you may E-mail: or call the I-901 SEVIS Fee customer service hotline at 703-603-3400.

To check the status of the I901 Fee payment, click the Check I901 Status / Print Payment Confirmation button on and enter the requested information.

A Form I-515A is issued by a U.S. official at the port of entry when an F-1 Student does not have all of the required documentation. This form must be replied to within 30 days of receipt and the student must notify Becker’s DSO of receiving this form immediately. If the deadline is not met, your legal status in the U.S. may be affected and you may be asked to leave the U.S. immediately.

Yes, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may come with you to the U.S. Dependents will require Becker Professional Education to issue the dependents Form I-20’s. Therefore, they must be listed in the Becker Professional Education application you complete. As an F-1 student, the class of admission for your dependents is F-2.

Information About Form I-20

You may get a Form I-20 from an SEVP certified school (Becker) and may only be issued by a Designated School Official who generates this form through SEVIS.

A fully completed, signed and emailed admissions application to study at Becker Professional Education in the United States . Email the following required documents to your Admissions Representative in a PDF format with your admissions application or shortly after:

  • Transcripts (in English) or college/university diploma
  • Proof of English
  • Copy of passport and current visas.
  • Bank Statement and Affidavit of Financial Support
  • Rules of Maintaining F-1 Visa Status: Please sign and date.
  • Dependent information (if bringing dependents to the U.S. with you)
  • Application fee and full or deposit payment of your course

After Becker receives and reviews the completed application and all of the required documents, the Form I-20 will be issued within 2 weeks.

There are no specific deadlines for Becker as we offer ongoing enrollment to our courses. We recommend that you select a start date approximately 2 months in the future to allow enough time for you to obtain your F-1 Visa

Without a Form I-20, you are not able to apply for an F-1 student visa.

It is recommended that you enroll in a course that will best provide you with the appropriate study schedule based on your learning needs. Extensions are not common and if requested, you must meet specific criteria established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Requests for extensions must be submitted to your DSO before the completion date listed on your Form I-20. Any requests made AFTER the completion date on the I-20 will not be processed.

The Form I-20 will be mailed via express mail to the address provided on Becker’s Enrollment Application. A tracking number of the shipment will be provided via email.

Change of start dates must be requested before meeting with your U.S. Embassy or Consulate and prior to entering the U.S. Send your change of start date to Becker by calling Toll Free: 800.683.8725; Outside the US: 630.245.4797 or via email. Your DSO will review the request and confirm if the new start date is approved in SEVIS.

If approved, a new Form I-20 will be issued and mailed via express mail. If you fail to inform Becker about changing your start date, you may encounter problems at your U.S. Embassy or Consulate or at the U.S. Port of Entry. Start dates may not be changed upon entering the U.S. and there are no exceptions to this policy.

Provided that you have not been issued your F-1 visa, you may change your Becker location by contacting us so that the DSO may cancel the Initial Form I-20 and re-issue a new one with the new requested location. The new Form I-20 should be used when meeting with the U.S. Embassy and at the U.S. Port of Entry.

If you have already obtained your F-1 visa, please check with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to confirm if you are required to get a new visa with the correct location to avoid any issues at the U.S. Port of Entry. To successfully enter the U.S., the school name and address on your Form I-20 must match the school name and address on your F-1 Visa.

If you currently have an F-1 student visa and are studying at another U.S. institution, you may transfer to Becker provided your visa status is active and you have a valid Form I-20. You do not have to leave the U.S. to transfer to Becker. The transfer procedure established by the Department of Homeland Security must be followed accordingly in order for Becker to change your information in SEVIS. Please contact a Becker DSO to confirm if you are eligible to transfer and upon confirmation, we will initiate your transfer.

F-1 Visa Information

Once you receive an acceptance letter from Becker, a Form I-20 will be mailed to you. You will then have to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee in order to apply for your F-1 visa. Schedule an interview with your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate who will determine if they may issue you an F-1 Visa.

You are encouraged to schedule the visa interview appointment as early as possible since you can apply for your visa 120 days before the date of enrollment mentioned in the I-20 form. The length of time depends on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate interview schedule and visa processing time. Visit for specific times in your city.

No, Becker does not issue visas. Only the U.S. Department of State at a country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate may issue an F-1 Student Visa. Becker is authorized to issue a Form I-20 for students entering the U.S. or transferring to study at Becker.

Visas are issued by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the county that you have citizenship from. If you currently reside in a different country, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to inquire if they may accept your application for an F-1 Visa. Visit to find or learn more about your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Each U.S. Embassy or Consulate may require different documents, so we encourage you to visit to find your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate and obtain this information. Most U.S. Embassy’s or Consulates will require the following:

  • Completed Visa application
  • Proof of permanent residence in your home country
  • A valid (unexpired) passport
  • Photographs (passport sized)
  • Completed and signed Form I-20
  • Payment confirmation for the I-901 SEVIS fee
  • Proof of financial support
  • Dependents – will require all of the above plus proof of relationship to you such as birth certificates for your children and marriage license for your spouse.

Your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate will provide you with this information upon granting your F-1 student visa. Review your documents carefully before leaving your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to ensure that your Visa has the right start date and end date covering you through your entire course enrollment period.

Unfortunately, Becker does not process or issue visas, therefore we are not able to help you complete the application. It is your sole responsibility to complete ALL government required documents and applications.

Visa approval is not guaranteed and only your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate can provide approval of your F-1 Student Visa. Becker recommends that you prepare accordingly and take all of the required paperwork including a valid Becker Form I-20 and ensuring payment of your I-901 SEVIS fee is confirmed in addition to any other applicable payments required by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will provide you with a denial reason which you may request in writing. If your denial is due to incorrect information found on your Form I-20, Becker may be able to assist you by making any acceptable corrections to re-issue you a new Form I-20. In most instances, the decisions made by the government are final and Becker is not able to override them.

Entering the U.S.

You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the start date listed on your Form I-20. Plan accordingly to get acclimated, find housing, review transportation options, open a bank account, etc. Upon entering the U.S., you may not change the start date on your Form I-20. Failure to report to Becker by the start date reflected on your Form I-20 will terminate your F-1 visa status.

Traveling to the U.S. after the start date indicated on your Form I-20 may present problems at the U.S. Port of Entry. Failing to start your course on time constitutes that you have failed to meet the requirement set by the Department of Homeland Security of reporting to your SEVP – certified school on the start date displayed on the Form I-20. Becker recommends that you postpone your start date before entering the U.S. and contact Becker so that a new Form I-20 may be issued.

Upon arrival to the U.S. you will be asked to present the following documents. Hand-carry all of these documents and DO NOT pack them in your checked luggage. Additionally, you are advised to make two copies of these documents (one copy to leave in your departing country and one to provide to your DSO upon arrival to the school location).

  • A valid (non-expired) passport
  • A valid (non-expired) F-1 visa with the name and address of the Becker location listed
  • All three pages of your Form I-20 issued by Becker including the name and address of the location you will be attending.
  • If traveling with dependents the above documents will also be required (F-2 Visa for dependents)

Failure to present these document may be grounds to be detained, denied entry or further investigation.

Visit for more information about getting to the U.S.

A Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) officer will verify all of your paperwork and will also provide you with a Form I-94 which is an admission stamp on your passport inclusive of date of admission, class of admission and admitted until date. If you are missing any documents, the CBP officer may give you a Form I-515A to which you must comply within 30 days after entry.

What is a Form I-94?

What is a Form I-515A and what do I need to do if I get one?

The start date listed on your Form I-20 is the date in which you are required to arrive at the Becker location listed on your F-1 Visa and your Form I-20. Failure to meet this requirement will constitute termination of your Form I-20, you will fall out of legal status and be required to leave the U.S. immediately. Students who arrive to the U.S. before their start dates, may contact their Becker DSO to begin their studies earlier if space is available.

  • Form I-20 (stamped by the Port of Entry) for you and your dependents who traveled with you
  • Passport for you and any dependents who traveled with you
  • F-1 Visa for you and any dependents who traveled with you
  • I-94 for you and any dependents who traveled with you
  • U.S. address where you will be residing, phone number and email address

Becker Enrollment Requirements

The following documents are required for admission to enroll at Becker Professional Education.

  • A fully completed, signed and emailed admissions application to study at Becker Professional Education in the United States
  • Medical School Transcripts (in English) or college/university diploma
  • Proof of English Proficiency
  • Application fee and full or deposit payment of your course

Depending on your non-immigrant status, Becker’s DSO will require additional documents to issue your Form I-20 and Letter of Acceptance. See Form I-20

In order for Becker to issue you a Form I-20, a start date must be entered into SEVIS and we cannot process your enrollment application or provide a letter of acceptance without a start date. Becker recommends that you allot 2 – 3 months for your visa to be processed and to find housing.

Becker may not issue a letter of acceptance or process the Form I-20 until payment has been received.

Acceptable documents include:

  • Results from an English proficiency exam like TOEFL or iELTS completed within the past 2 years
  • A letter from a university stating a program taken was 100% in English

Without the required documents, Becker is not able to process a Form I-20 or issue a letter of acceptance.

All required documents must be in English. If the documents are in another language, you will be requested to provide an official English translation.

Student Life

The Department of Homeland Security requires that you complete 22 study hours or more per week at the SEVP – certified school location indicated on your Form I-20 and F-1 Visa. You Student Advisor will work with you to create the right study plan to which you will need to comply with in order to succeed in the course. In some weeks, you will be required to study more than 22 hours to fully complete the review program you have enrolled in.

Failing to study the required 22 hours per week will constitute:

  • Termination of your Form I-20
  • Falling out of legal status
  • Ineligibility to study with Becker
  • Immediate departure from the U.S. for you and your dependents

Only students enrolled in a Becker course for over 9 months may request time off for vacation or travel. Students enrolled with Becker for less than 9 months are not allowed by the Department of Homeland Security to take time off.

All requests for time off to take vacation or travel must be submitted to your Becker DSO for review and approval. DSO approval must be provided in all instances including emergency situations. Taking time off without your DSO’s approval may impact your required attendance and therefore constitute:

  • Termination of your Form I-20
  • Falling out of legal status
  • Ineligibility to study with Becker
  • Immediate departure from the U.S. for you and your dependents

Your goal as a student coming to the United States on an F-1 Student Visa is to study full-time in order to prepare for your USMLE exam(s). The government of the U.S. has restrictions on the type of work that F-1 visa holders may perform which applies to the following:

Part-time Employment, On-Campus through Becker: If there is a position (these positions are rare) available through Becker at the campus that issued your Form I-20, you may apply to for a part-time job of no more than 20 hours per week. Applicants will be considered based on their qualifications and experience.

Financial Hardship Employment, Off-Campus: After attending a Becker course for 9 months and are able to prove (in writing) that you are experiencing financial hardship you may qualify for this option. The DSO and U.S. government must provide approval for this type of employment before you begin to work.

IMPORTANT: Working without a U.S. Government approval or outside of the above described on and off campus options will be considered unauthorized employment. Immediate termination of your I-20 will be processed in SEVIS and you must leave the U.S. immediately without eligibility to continue to study at Becker.

Students are responsible to secure their living arrangements while in the U.S. Becker is able to provide some recommendations or additional information on possible options.

Daycare services are not offered by Becker.

Social Security numbers are issued to individuals who are authorized to work in the United States and have a valid offer of employment. If you have additional questions, you may consult your Becker DSO or visit for more information.

Most banks will require two forms of identification to open a bank account such as your unexpired passport and your Form I-20. Every bank has different guidelines, therefore Becker recommends that you contact the banks directly to obtain all the details.

Yes, students on an F-1 Visa may get a U.S. driver’s license but there are specific guidelines per state that must be followed. Please contact your DSO or visit for specifics on the state you will be residing in. More details may also be found by reviewing the following

Becker Professional Education has created a welcome package for you, specific to each center location. These welcome packages contain useful information about housing options, ground transportation, recreational activities, banks, etc.

For more information about studying in Dallas download the information packages on our study locations page.

Becker recommends that you secure health insurance before or upon arriving to the U.S. If you get sick, please notify your DSO immediately so that they can advise you about your options.

A leave of absence (LOA) is a temporary break in study during which time an international F student must be out of the United States, but considered to be continuously enrolled in a course at Becker Professional Education. LOA may be granted for emergency situations such as a serious illness, debilitating injury, or death in the immediate family.

Request Process
Students must submit an Authorized Withdrawal/Leave of Absence (LOA) request 15 days prior to the travel date indicated on their travel itinerary/documents. This form may be obtained from the onsite Student Advisor/Designated School Official.

LOA’s are limited to a maximum of 180 calendar days (5 months) in any 12-month period.

How Becker Helped Me Succeed

“I joined Becker after preparing for step 1 for almost a year. I had heard about Becker through Dr Daugherty's posts and free webinars. Coming from India where teachers are totally different, it was a total new experience for me here at live classes. The pain they took to explain every student and making sure everyone understood what was being taught were the best things for me. Teachers were so approachable and I could ask even silliest of my questions. I want to thank everyone at Becker. You all are doing great job.”

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