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The United States Student Visa Application Process

Once you receive your I-20, you can start applying for the F-1 Visa in order to enter the US as an F-1 international student.

Pay SEVIS Fee (one-time fee)

  1. Go to www.fmjfee.com
  2. Complete Form I-901 (SEVIS fee) online (be sure to fill out your name exactly as it appears on your I-20).
  3. Print a copy of the online receipt. (Keep a copy of your receipt for your Consular Interview).

Schedule a Consulate Appointment

Contact the U.S. embassy nearest you as soon as possible to set up an appointment. This is important because the wait time for an appointment and for visa issuance varies. To see how long this process takes in your country, read the Department of State’s visa wait time information.

It’s best to apply in your home country. If you are not sure which embassy you should contact, see this list of U.S. embassies

The Consulate Interview

In order to qualify for Student Visa, you must prove that your intention to study in the U.S. is true, and you will return to your country after completion of your activities.  Consular Officers call this “nonimmigrant intent.”  You must prove your “nonimmigrant intent” by giving the Consular Officer documents that indicate that you have strong reasons to return to your home country.

Assessing your situation

The following questions are a guideline to help you decide if you should make extra efforts to prove your true intent to study in the U.S.  The more “yes” answers you give, the more efforts you should spend in proving your intent to return to your home country:

  • Have there been a significant percentage of F-1 or J-1 Visa Applications denied by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country?
  • Do you have family members living in the U.S.?
  • Are they U.S. citizens or permanent residents?
  • Is your financial sponsor for your study a friend or relatives living in the U.S.?
  • Will this be your first trip to the U.S.?
  • Have you ever been denied a U.S. Visa?

Financial Relation

Proof of strong financial ties to your home country is a great indicator of “nonimmigrant intent”.  Note that you cannot use the same assets that will be used to pay for your F-1 or J-1 programs.

  • Suggestive documents to bring to the interview: Copies of investment statements, home country work contracts, home ownership documents.

Family Relation

If all members of your immediate family live in your home country, the U.S. Consular Officer may understand that you have strong reasons to return.  If a member of your immediate family is not in good health, this is another reason to indicate that you might return.

  • Suggestive documents to bring to the interview: Copies of official documents providing family relationships, letters from physicians explaining any special medical condition of your family members.

Your Visa and Immigration History

If you have visited other countries and returned to your home country after those visits in a timely manner, you have demonstrated a pattern of obeying immigration regulations.  The Consular Officer will be more likely to believe that you will return home after your study in the U.S.  The more trips you have made, the better your situation.

  • Suggestive documents to bring to the interview: Current and past passports with visa, entry and exist stamps.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding this process.  Please feel free to contact OISS for assistance.

Last updated: 09/09/2016