Apply for an F-1 Student Visa

If you are a citizen of a foreign country, you must apply for an F-1 visa. As soon as you receive your I-20, schedule your visa appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for an F-1 visa. 

Visa Application Steps:

  1. Contact your local US Consulate or Embassy to obtain F-1 international student visa application procedures. A list of Consulates and Embassies can be found click here
  2. After you receive an I-20, follow the US Embassy/Consulate’s instructions to schedule an interview. Apply for your student visa as far in advance as possible.  Many consulates recommend that appointments be made no more than 120 days from the intended date of travel, but some can make earlier arrangements for interviews.
  3. Pay the SEVIS fee online click here. You must bring the receipt of fee payment with you to the interview. If you have lost the receipt, the Visa Officer should be able to view your payment history in his or her SEVIS database.
  4. Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit the DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online process. After you have completed the DS-160, you need to print and keep the DS-160 barcode page. (You will not need to print the full application). Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for additional country-specific instructions.
  5. Pay the visa application fee by following instructions on your local US embassy or consulate’s website.
  6. Prepare and bring to your visa interview the following:
    • A passport valid for at least six months
    • Form I-20 or DS 2019 (sign the form as appropriate)
    • School admission letter
    • Completed visa applications (DS-156, DS-158, and, if applicable, DS-157)
    • Two 2x2 photographs in the prescribed format (see the www.travel.state.gov website)
    • A receipt for the visa application fee
    • A receipt for the SEVIS fee. If you have not received an official receipt in the mail showing payment and you paid the fee electronically, the US embassy or consulate will accept the temporary receipt you printed from your computer. If you do not have a receipt, the consulate may be able to see your payment electronically if your fee payment was processed at least 3 business days before your interview.
    • Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study.
    • Any information that proves that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the US. This may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community.

Visa Interviews: Interviews are quick. Remain calm and be honest about everything you state in your visa application and say in your interview. The interview will be conducted in English. Here are 10 helpful points to remember: NAFSA 10 Points to Remember when Applying for a Student Visa

Visa Procedures for Canadian Citizens:

Citizens of Canada do not have to apply for an F1 visa at a US Consulate or US Embassy.  Instead, their immigration documents are reviewed at a US Port of Entry by an Immigration Officer. If successful, the US Immigration Officer will stamp the student’s passport with “F1” and the student will be allowed to enter the US in F-1 status. However, there are still special documents that are required for entry, including proof that the SEVIS fee has been paid, proof of ability to pay for school fees, and proof of ties to Canada. For details, please see the US Embassy Site.

Additional Resources:

Travel State Gov: Information about bringing dependents to the US, returning to continue studies, and renewing your visa.

Study in the StatesFor prospective applicants and newly admitted students.

SEVIS Fee Payment and Visa processes: Information on tasks you will need to complete to accept your admission, such as paying your SEVIS fee, applying for a F1 visa, and entering the US. 

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