How to Obtain Your F-1 Visa

If you are planning on studying as a full time student and are planning on obtaining an F-1 visa, it is important that you begin the process as soon as you have received your I-20. In some cases, the procedure can take up to a month (sometimes even more).

Before you begin:

  • Make sure that you indeed need a student visa. If you are of Canadian or Bermudian citizenship, you are NOT required to obtain a student visa.
  • If you already have a student visa that has not yet expired (that you obtained when attending another school), check with your consulate to see if you need to reapply for an F-1 visa.

How to Obtain Your Student Visa

  1. Things you will need to begin

    • An I-20 and Certificate of Admission (COA) issued by us. You will first need to complete our online application and we will have to review it before we issue your I-20 and COA.

    • A valid passport. If your passport has expired or is about to expire, you will not be able to complete the visa application process (your application cannot be accepted until you submit a valid passport).

    • A digital photograph fulfilling the requirements found on this page

    • An address in the U.S.

  2. Complete the DS 160

    After you have the documents mentioned above, you will begin and complete the online DS 160 Form.

    Make sure that you take your time and fill out everything correctly.

    After you are done, save and print your confirmation as you will need this to schedule your visa interview and you will need to bring your confirmation for your appointment.

    For more information about the DS 160 Form you can visit the following page.

  3. Pay your fees

    Given that you are applying for an F-1 visa, you will need to pay for at least two separate fees.

    -The US visa application fee. Which you will need to pay if you want to apply for a visa (regardless of whether or not your visa is issued).
    -The SEVIS fee. This is different from the visa application fee. You will need the number on your I-20 to pay for this fee.

    In some cases, you will also need to pay for the visa reciprocity fee. This is based on the your nationality. Visit this page to know more about the reciprocity fee and whether or not you will need to pay for it.

  4. Schedule the appointment for your interview

    After you have completed all that is mentioned above, you will be able to schedule your interview.

    Find your nearest consulate (use the following page) and schedule the interview with them. In most cases after you are done scheduling this appointment, you will need to schedule another appointment a couple of days before with your nearest Visa Application Center (VAC) so that they can take your biometrics. You will be able to find information about the nearest VAC in your consulate’s website.

    Some consulates require that you submit a digital photography instead of going to the VAC. Check with your consulate to see if that is the case.

    What you will need to schedule an appointment (note: your consulate might require extra documentation):

    -The number you from your DS 160 confirmation page
    -Your passport number
    -Your visa application fee receipt

  5. Gather the required documents for your interview

    For your interview you will need to bring:

    -Your I-20
    -The I 901 Receipt for your SEVIS payment
    -A valid passport (must not expire within 6 months of entering the US)
    -Evidence of financial support
    -You Certificate of Admission
    -Your visa appointment confirmation
    -Your DS 160 Confirmation Page

    Important: the documents mentioned above are the minimum you will need to bring for your interview. It is recommended that you also bring documentation that establishes your intent of returning to your country after your studies have been completed or that shows ties to your country.

    Check your consulate’s website for more information about what else to bring.

  6. Go to your interview

    Some Pointers:

    When you go to your interview, remember to carry all the documents mentioned above as well as any other documents showing ties to your country.

    When you attend your interview, make sure that you answer all of the questions and that you provide the truth.


DS 160 Form

DS 160 Information

Reciprocity Fees

Find Your Nearest Consulate

How to Prepare for Your Interview