1. Make an appointment with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate
Students must apply for a visa with the nearest U.S. embassy, consulate, or other U.S. designated venue in their country of residence after receiving their I-20 form, following their specific application instructions. Apply for your visa early (up to 120 days from the start of your program) to provide ample time for processing.
First time F-1 visa applicants are required to appear for an in-person interview. Each embassy / consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures. Keep in mind that June, July, August, and December are the busiest months in most consular sections.
Visit the Department of State website for a list of US Embassies and Consulates.
2. Pay the I-901 Fee (also called SEVIS fee)
The I-901 fee ($350) must be paid before the visa appointment. Click here for instructions and methods of payment.
Use the SEVIS ID number found on the upper left corner of your I-20 form (the number beginning with “N”) to pay the I-901 fee. Print out your payment confirmation as a receipt, and bring it with you to the interview and United States.
We recommend that you read the information below prior to your visa interview.
Review your documents
Review all your documents carefully (visa application, I-20 form, financial documents) and make sure all the information is clear, accurate and complete. If someone else completed the visa application for you, make sure that you read and understand the information provided.
Check your I-20 Form:
Ensure that your name is spelled correctly and matches the name in your passport
Check to be sure your date of birth is correct
Check that your program information, reporting dates and financial information are correct (if the reporting date has passed, you must update it before your appointment) To update your reporting date, please make a Deferral Request at the Student Portal. Please refer to instructions.
Make sure that we have signed page 1 of your I-20 from in blue ink
Prepare for the interview
It is important that you explain your study goals clearly and completely to the visa officer. Prior to your interview, you should do the following:
Prepare to explain your long-term goals:
You must be able to clearly and convincingly explain that you have reasons for leaving the United States after you complete your studies. You should be prepared to demonstrate strong ties to somewhere outside the United States, such as your home country, hometown, or current place of residence. Examples of strong ties include family, employment, financial prospects, and investments. Those who cannot demonstrate strong ties to a country other than the United States are normally denied a student visa.
Review your financial support:
Make sure that you are familiar with the financial documents in your application. If your parents or family members prepared the documents, they may not have shown you all the information, because it is private. Make sure that your sponsor shows you all the financial information, so you can answer any questions the visa officer might have.
Know the Program you have applied for at NSC:
The officer will want to know that you have thought about why you want to study in the United States, what your major will be, and what your long-term career goals are.
For the most successful outcome to your interview, we suggest the following:
- Dress appropriately
- Smile and greet the officer
- Be polite and do not argue with the officer
- Answer all questions (it is fine to ask the officer to repeat a question if needed)
- Speak in English as much as possible
- Answer honestly and avoid using a prepared speech (it will sound false to the officer)
- Do not lie or hide information (if the officer knows you lied, you will not get a visa)
If you are denied a visa, do not be discouraged. Many students do not get a visa the first time: it can take two or three tries to get a visa.
After a denial, we recommend that you take these steps:
- Do not argue with the officer; politely ask for a written explanation of the refusal
- Ask the officer what documents/information you will need to apply again
- Review the information you submitted and make sure your documents are in order
- If the information you received is unclear, contact your agent or our office
If you are unable to obtain the F-1 visa, you can apply to defer to a later quarter. To request a deferral, you must go to the Student Portal and complete the Deferral Request.