As you begin your journey of preparing to study in the United States, you may be considering the option of consulting service providers to help you in this process. Depending on where you live, service providers could include a recruiter, broker or agent who charges fees or receives a commission for such things as helping you obtain a student visa, locate housing in the United States or other services.
It is important to know your rights and responsibilities and the problems you could encounter by hiring a recruiter, broker or agent.
Beware of Scams
- Look for a recruiter with a legitimate reputation in your home community. Ask peers, current teachers or other people who have used the recruiter about their experience.
- Be wary of recruiters who do not detail what services will be provided for a particular fee or who do not provide sufficient detail about their background, training or experience in the industry when you ask them.
- Maintain control of all documents used to support your eligibility for an F or M visa. A recruiter must not make or supply any of your required documents. Any documents you present that have been altered or are otherwise identified as fraudulent may make you ineligible not only for your F or M visa but also, possibly, for a future U.S. visa.
- Be wary of a recruiter who promises you guaranteed acceptance at a school. The recruiter cannot influence your acceptance at a chosen school – your admission to a school will be based on your qualifications as listed in your application to the school.
- You must ensure that your living arrangements in the United States are adequate for your needs. The arrangements a recruiter makes for you may not match how the recruiter describes them. A recruiter cannot prevent you from moving to a new living arrangement. Also, the fees for your housing should not be paid to the agent or recruiter.
Do Your Own Research
- Verify that the schools with which the recruiter partners are certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). An F or M student may only attend an SEVP-certified school. Use the School Search tool to make sure the school that interests you is SEVP-certified.
- Do your own research on the schools with which the recruiter partners and determine the academic reputation of a particular school you are considering. Before you work with the recruiter, determine for yourself if the school is right for you. EducationUSA has more than 400 advising centers in 170 countries around the world. These advisors can help you choose a school and a program of study. There are no fees for their services.
- You must ensure that the school where you enroll meets your educational objectives. If it does not, a recruiter cannot prevent you from transferring to another school.
- If you decide to transfer to another school, make sure that your school’s credits will be accepted by other schools in the United States. You can ask your designated school official (DSO) to identify schools that will accept your credits and then contact those schools to confirm this is the case.
Work Directly with Your School Official
You should work directly with a DSO at the school you are considering attending. When a school accepts you, the DSO will issue you a Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status" and email or mail it directly to you. For this reason, when you apply to the school for admission, you should give them the address where you receive mail, not the address of your recruiter, and your personal email address.
Please note: A recruiter has no proper role in handling your Form I-20. A recruiter does not issue a Form I-20, nor should they receive your Form I-20 from your school or hold onto it for any reason. For more information, refer to SEVP Policy Guidance: Form I-20 Issuance and School Use of Recruiters.
For additional best practices on working with recruiters, visit the What is a Commission-Based Recruiter? page.
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