How to Apply for a Student Visa

Your Requirements for Admission & Visa Eligibility

SAE Institute is authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant foreign students (M1 Visa) in the full-time Audio Program and full-time Entertainment Business Program in Nashville; and the F1 Visa for the Animation and Visual Effects Bachelor's Degree, Digital Film Bachelor's Degree, and Game Development Bachelor's at SAE Expression College in Emeryville, CA and SAE Institute – San Jose, CA. International students must finish the entire enrollment process, completing all items on the checklist below, before the school can issue Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for M1 or F1 Visas). The student will then present that form, along with all other required documents, to the appropriate consular officials in order to obtain the M1 or F1 visa for entry into the United States. International students are only eligible to attend the full-time program and are not permitted to work while enrolled.

The following will guide you through the steps required to be admitted and obtain Form I-20. Please note how to submit each of the documents on the checklist. If you have any questions regarding International Admission procedures, please get in touch with Marlon Spann.

1. Submit Application & Passport

Submit completed Application and a copy of your passport, valid for travel at least 6 months beyond the date of intended stay in the US.

How to submit: Fax, email, or mail

2. Demonstrate English proficiency

SAE Institute campuses in the U.S.A. require all students to be proficient in English, both spoken and written. Applicants to SAE Institute that have completed secondary school in the following English-speaking foreign countries do not need to demonstrate English language proficiency:

Australia Bahamas Barbados Belgium
Belize Botswana Canada Denmark
Fiji Finland Ghana Guyana
Ireland Jamaica Kenya Lesotho
Liberia Nigeria Netherlands New Zealand
Norway Papua New Guinea Singapore Solomon Islands
South Africa St. Lucia Sweden Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago United Kingdom Zambia Zimbabwe

Applicants from all other countries not listed above must provide evidence of English Language Proficiency by providing exam results above the following cutoff scores:

  • A minimum score of 61 on the internet-based test, 173 on the computer-based test, or 500 on Paper-based version of the TOEFL
  • A minimum score of 42 on the Pearson English Test (PTE)
  • A minimum score of 5.5 for Diploma Program and 6.0 on the IELTS exam

How to submit: The examining/awarding facility must transmit the official results directly to the school. Transmission from students in any form will not be accepted.

3. Provide proof of educational achievement

Secondary education or Post-secondary education completed outside of the U.S. used as evidence of High School Graduation or equivalency must be evaluated by a foreign credential evaluation service, SAE Institute will only admit students that hold a credential deemed equivalent to a U.S. high school education, even if the student has achieved an university/higher level credential. The student need only submit their high school documents for evaluation, but in most cases the evaluation company can use university transcripts to demonstrate US High School diploma equivalency. Approved agencies providing this service include all NACES members, all AICE members and AACARO.

How to submit: The student must apply for the evaluation with the chosen service and instruct the service to transmit the report directly to the school. Copies, faxes, or emails from the student will not be accepted.

4. Demonstrate available financial support and stability for the period of enrollment

This proof may be in the form of bank or other financial statements. The minimum will vary based on cost of living for the area and all program costs. If the financial statements are in another person's name (i.e. parent) who plans to sponsor the student, a letter indicating that he/she plans to support the student must accompany the statements. You may request a template of this letter from the school.

How to submit: Email, fax, or mail

5. Pass the Entrance Evaluation

In addition to the secondary school completion and English Proficiency, students are required to score a passing score on the Wonderlic SLE for the corresponding program. An applicant for a diploma or Associate Degree program must score at least a 14, and applicants for a Bachelor’s Degree must score at least an 18.

SAE Institute requires all applicants to successfully complete the Wonderlic SLE to enroll into a program. An applicant for a diploma and associate’s degree program taking Wonderlic SLE who on the first attempt does not met the minimum score of 14, or an applicant for a bachelor’s degree program who does not meet the minimum score of 18, may retake the exam one hour after the first attempt. If the second attempt does not result in the minimum score of 14 or 18 or higher, a third attempt may be made one week after the second. If the third attempt does not result in a minimum score of 14 or 18 or higher, a fourth attempt may be made three months after the third.

Please contact your SAE Institute representative for details and to set up a date and time for the evaluation.

6. Enrollment Agreement

Once you have chosen a start date, you will be provided with an Enrollment Agreement for that class. Please complete the required information, sign & date all three "Student's Signature" and "Date" fields. An electronic copy may be sent to the school to secure the visa, and then either the original may be mailed directly to the school or signed upon arrival. Students will not be allowed to attend class until a signed, hard copy Enrollment Agreement is on file.

How to submit: Students must mail a signed hard copy of the Enrollment Agreement, or electronically transmit a signed Enrollment Agreement to the school as a placeholder with the understanding that must sign a hard copy of the Enrollment Agreement before they will allowed to attend class.

7. Payment

International students may choose from one of three payment plans (see options and details on following page). Please indicate which payment plan you intend to use and make the initial payment, due upon enrollment, as your final step in the enrollment process. SAE cannot enroll a student or issue any immigration forms, including the I-20, until this payment has been received.

How to remit: wire transfers or credit card payments are the easiest options for overseas payment. Further information and instruction will be provided once necessary.

USCIS & SEVIS Requirements: SEVIS is the internet-based system that maintains information on non-immigrant students, exchange visitors, and their dependents. Once you have received your Form I-20, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) requires that you pay the SEVIS fee before you can apply for a student visa. The easiest way to pay the SEVIS fee is online. Be sure to print your receipt- you will need it for your visa interview.