Applying for a Student Visa
It is recommended that you complete the application for your student visa 60 days before the start of a term.
You must apply to the college and receive an I-20 document before applying for a student visa. The I-20 document details your plan of study and the time period you intend to complete your degree. An U.S. embassy or consulate will use the I-20 and your SEVIS registration to confirm your status as a student.
What is SEVIS?
Before you can apply for a student visa you must register with the SEVIS system.The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a database that includes potential and active international students. During the student visa application process, your local United States embassy will use this database to confirm you have been accepted by the college. The SEVIS form and fee are both handled by the Department of Homeland Security. Please see the SEVIS website to complete the form and pay the registration fee.
Start the Application
After you receive your I-20 document and after you have paid the SEVIS fee, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to begin the student visa application. You can apply to any international U.S. embassy, but you may find it more difficult to complete the application process if the embassy is not in your home county.
You will be applying for a class F1 student visa using Form DS-160. This form is also used for other classes of nonimmigrant visas, so be sure to specify F1. The online form should be completed before scheduling an interview with the embassy.
- SEVIS payment receipt (paper)
- Form DS-160 (online)
- Form DS-160 fee payment receipt (paper)
- I-20 Document (paper)
- Passport (paper)
- 2x2 Photograph (paper)
Student Visa Interview
You should schedule an interview with your local U.S. embassy after you have collected the required documents.
The interviewer at the embassy will ask you some questions to verify your status as a student. Be prepared to answer questions regarding ties to your country, your English language skills, your academic background, proof of your financial ability, and the program of study you have been accepted.
Be prepared to show:
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions
- Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution
- Financial evidence of ability to pay
Entry into the U.S.
A student visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S., but it does make the entry process easier. The United States port of entry makes the final decision to grant you entry.
First-time international students may enter the U.S. 30 days before classes begin. If you need to enter earlier, you will have to apply for special permission at your local U.S. embassy.
Continuing second year students may enter the U.S. at any time before classes start. However, if you are outside the U.S. for more than 5 months you will be required to apply for a new student visa. The North Central State summer break is only a few months long so you can continue classes from year to year using one student visa as long as you don't skip a term.