When Do I Need to
Apply for My F-1 Visa?
encouraged to apply for their visa early to provide ample time for visa
processing. Students may apply for their visa as soon as they are prepared to
Students should note
that Embassies and Consulates are able to issue your student visa 120 days or
less, in advance of the course of study registration date. If you apply for
your visa more than 120 days prior to your start date or registration date as
provided on the Form I-20, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your application
until it is able to issue the visa. Consular officials will use that extra time
for application processing.
Students are advised
of the Department of Homeland Security regulation which requires that all
initial or beginning students enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the
course of study start/report date as shown on the Form I-20. Please consider
this date carefully when making travel plans to the U.S.
Qualifying For a
The Immigration and
National Act is very specific with regard to the requirements which must be met
by applicants to qualify for the student visa. The consular officer will
determine whether you qualify for the visa.
Additionally, applicants must
demonstrate that they properly meet student visa requirements including:
- Have a residence
abroad, with no immediate intention of abandoning that residence;
- Intend to depart
from the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
- Possess sufficient
funds to pursue the proposed course of study.
As part of the visa
application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required
for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. The waiting
time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa
application is strongly encouraged. Learn how to schedule an appointment for an
interview, pay the application processing fee, review embassy specific
instructions, and much more by visiting the Embassy or Consulate website where
you will apply.
During the visa
application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint
scan will be quickly taken. Also, because each student’s personal and academic
situation is different, two students applying for same visa may be asked
different questions and be required to submit different additional documents.
Each applicant for a
student visa must submit these forms and documentation as explained below:
- Form I-20A-B,
Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic
and Language Students or Form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant
(M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students. You will need to submit a SEVIS
generated Form, I-20, which was provided to you by your school. You and your
school official must sign the I-20 form.
- Online Nonimmigrant
Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit our DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online process.
- A passport valid for
travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond
the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless
country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is
included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an
- One (1) 2x2
- A MRV fee receipt to
show payment of the visa application fee.
- The SEVIS I-901 fee
should be prepared to provide:
- Transcripts and
diplomas from previous institutions attended;
- Scores from
standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL,
SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.;
- Financial evidence
that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you has sufficient funds to
cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended
study. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring
income tax documents and original bank books and/or statements. If you or your
sponsor owns a business, please bring business registration, licenses, etc.,
and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.
What are the
application processing fee - For current fees for Department of State
government services select Fees. You will need to provide a receipt showing the
visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa
Visa issuance fee –
Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance
reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to
find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee
amount is. If there is a fee for issuance for the visa, it is equal as nearly
as possible to the fee charged to United States citizens by the applicant's country
More information on applying for your F-1 Visa can be found on the Department of State website here.