If you want to start
an ESL language school in the United States the process is similar to opening
a private career school but if you hope to enroll
your students from abroad the process will take you considerably longer.
I am often asked how to become an "I-20" school. Most people who wish to start a language school usually believe that getting I-20 approval will be quick. I am to sorry to say that it isn't.
"I-20" schools are schools that can enroll students from abroad and issue
an I-20 visas (F-1s or M-1s) so an international student may enter the United States. Since 9/11 the US Department of Homeland Security has been in charge of international student admissions and controls the process though the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE.
To apply for I-20 status an ESL school must be approved
in the State it is located and be accredited by a nationally recognized
accrediting agency. The application is an I-17 and you can read the regulations
governing the petition for approval at the US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement website at:
If you want to start a
language school in the United States the process is similar to opening
a private career school.
I always suggest that the best place
to start is to draft a business plan. To determine how to achieve your goals you
need to know exactly where you are at the present time, then determine where you
want to go and how to get there. A
well written business plan for your school will incorporate many of the
items that are required for a successful application, which is an additional
benefit to a prospective school owner.
All State Approval Agencies want to see that an organization has a well thought
out and researched strategic plan before it is willing to grant an approval.
After all they are responsible for student protection as well as a quality
assurance. So it should be of no surprise that most applications ask the very
same questions that one has to answer when writing a business plan. The steps
you would have to take to eventually be able to enroll non immigrant students
might follow these steps:
Step 1: Usually takes 6 months
Get approval from your State's Approval or Licensure Agency
Step 2: It will be at least 2 years before you can qualify to do this.
Seek accreditation from a nationally recognize accrediting agency. The school would need to be in operations for at least two before it would qualify to apply.
Step 3: Usually takes 6 months
Apply for approval for attendance by non-immigrant students