Prospective Students - Obtaining a F1 Visa
Visa Application Process
- Contact your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy to learn how to get an F-1 international student visa.
- Schedule an interview for your F-1 student visa.
- After you receive your Form I-20 from the College of Saint Elizabeth, follow the U.S. Embassy/Consulate's instructions on how to schedule an interview.
- It is important to apply for your student visa as far in advance as possible. Although many consulates recommend that appointments be made no more than 90 days before the intended date of travel, they will make arrangements for interviews up to 120 days beforehand.
- Complete the following forms (see http://evisaforms.state.gov/):
- DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form
- DS-158 Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant
- If you are a male between the ages of 16 and 45, also complete DS-157 Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
- Pay the visa application fee. Follow the instructions at the website for your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
If your I-20 was issued on or after October 27, 2008 and is marked "Initial attendance" (#3 on your Form I-20), you will also need to pay a $200 SEVIS fee.
To Pay the Sevis Fee by Mail
- Get Form I-901 "Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Non-immigrants." From the internet: Download Form I-901 from www.FMJfee.com Inside the USA: Ask for the form by phone at 1-800-870-3676
- Complete Form I-901. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your Form I-20.
- Prepare a check, international money order, or foreign draft (drawn on U.S. banks only ) in the amount of $200 USD, made payable to "The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement."
- Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on Form I-901.
- A Form I-797 receipt confirmation letter should be mailed to you within 3 days of processing the fee. Make a copy of this receipt letter. Keep the original receipt with your other important immigration documents.
To Pay the Sevis Fee Online
- Locate Form I-901 at www.FMJfee.com
- Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. Be sure to enter your name exactly as it appears on your Form I-20.
- Print a copy of the online receipt.
- Make a copy of your receipt. Keep the original receipt with your other important immigration documents and bring the receipt to your visa interview.
You do not need to pay the $200 SEVIS fee if you are transferring schools, extending your program, applying for an F-2 dependent visa, or have paid this fee and been denied a visa within the last twelve months.
You should bring the following items with you to your visa interview:
- Form I-20 from the College of Saint Elizabeth. Please sign this at Item 11.
- Passport. This must be valid for at least six months after the date you plan to enter the USA.
- Required visa photos. Bring two 2"x 2" photographs. See http://travel.state.gov.
- Visa application fee or proof of application fee payment.
- Receipt for payment of SEVIS fee. You must pay this fee before your visa interview. To read more about this, visit http://www.fmjfee.com. If you pay the fee electronically but do not receive an official receipt in time by mail, the consulate will accept the temporary receipt you printed from your computer. If you do not have any receipt at all, the consulate may be able to see your payment electronically if your fee payment was processed at least 3 business days before your interview.
- Your letter of admission from the College of Saint Elizabeth.
- Proof of financial support. Bring originals documents, like the ones you sent to the College of Saint Elizabeth when you applied for your Form I-20.
- Proof of ties to your home country. Bring any information that proves that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the U.S. This may include evidence of family members who will stay in your home country, property that belongs to you or your family, or evidence of other ties to your community.
- Any other documents required by the embassy or consulate. U.S. government officials like paper; bring evidence with you of anything relevant.
Other Points to Remember
- Be clear about your educational plans. Be able to explain why you chose the College of Saint Elizabeth, and why studying in the United States will be more beneficial than studying in your home country.
- Demonstrate that you have ties to home. Give convincing evidence that you intend to return home after your studies at the College of Saint Elizabeth. By law, the U.S. embassy must view you as someone who plans to remain in the United States permanently. Student visas are only given to people who can convince the consul that they intend to return permanently to their home country when their studies are finished.
- You must bring financial documents demonstrating that you will be able to pay for your education and living expenses without working in the U.S.A. Bring proof for every dollar listed in section 8 of your I-20. This can include bank statements, affidavits of support, scholarship letters, etc. Bring original documents.
- Remain calm and answer all the Visa Officer's questions openly and honestly. Keep your answers simple but clear. Remember that because many people apply for student visas, your interview may be very brief.
- For more information go to the U.S. Department of State website: http://travel.state.gov
Visa Denial or Delay
Most College of Saint Elizabeth students have no trouble obtaining their F-1 visas. Sometimes, however, a student's visa is denied or delayed. The most common reasons for visa denial are:
- Failure to prove strong ties to your home country
- Failure to show proof of sufficient financial support
The visa officer must tell you the reason for any visa denial.
If your visa is denied:
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us the date and location of your visa interview, and anything you know about the reason for the denial.
- DO NOT enter the United States under any status until we communicate with you.
- DO NOT enter the United States on a visitor or tourist visa (B-1/B-2) unless it is was clearly marked "Prospective Student" by a consular officer. U.S. Immigration rarely authorizes a change of status from B to F, and you cannot enroll in school until your change of status is approved. This could take several months.
- DO NOT attempt to enter the United States under the visa waiver program, available to citizens from nearly 30 countries throughout the world. The waiver program is designed for tourists only, and attending school under this program is a clear violation of U.S. Immigration law. No change to F-1 status is possible.
Your Arrival in the United States
- For general information on what to expect when you arrive at a U.S. port of entry, see: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/factsheet/100104ent_stdnt_fs.htm
- DO NOT enter the U.S. using another school's I-20 if you intend to study at the College of Saint Elizabeth. This is considered a fraudulent entry by U.S. Immigration authorities.