ADMISSION AND VISA INFORMATION
Obtaining an F-1 Visa
If you are not able to read and fully understand the information below, you MUST get help from someone who can read and understand English well.
If you are applying for a student visa for the first time, an interview with the U.S. Embassy will now be required. You must also present a receipt for the SEVP fee of $200.
Lengthy delays are to be expected, so that as soon as you know you want to come to the United States, you must request an appointment with the U.S. Embassy. Because it may take several months to get an interview, please begin right away. You can call the embassy or go to the embassy web site for information and instructions.
Interview and Application Process
Applicants for a student visa must provide the following when they go to the embassy for an interview:
- A SEVIS Form I-20 from the English Language Center.
- A receipt for the $200 SEVP fee which has been previously submitted with the I-901 form. Additional information about the SEVP fee may be accessed at www.fmjfee.com/form.jhtml. The I-901 form will not be available at the embassy. Please be aware that the embassy will not accept payments which are either over or under $200. You may pay by debit card, Visa, Master Charge, American Express credit cards, by check drawn on an American bank paid in U.S. currency, or by an international money order.
- A completed DS-158 and DS-156 non-immigrant visa application with a photo of each person applying. Forms are available at the embassy.
- A passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your expected stay in the U.S.
- Financial documents (such as bank books, account statements, tax documents) that show you have sufficient funds (money) to cover tuition and living expenses during your time in the U.S. The embassy official might need evidence that there are no restrictions on the transfer of funds that would prevent the funds from being made available during your stay.
- Proof of your relationship to your spouse and children (if you are married and/or have children).
- Evidence that you have strong economic, social, family or career ties to your home country.
- Applicants for an F-1 or any non-immigrant visa must convince the official that:
- You have a residence in your home country
- You intend to return to that residence
- You intend to leave the U.S. when your course of study is completed
Preparing For Your Visa Interview
- In addition to the documents you present, you need to listen carefully to the questions the embassy official will ask you.
- Even if the official asks you a question that you think is strange, you must answer it. The official is usually trying to decide whether you intend to stay in the U.S. after you have completed your program. If the official thinks you plan to stay in the U.S., he or she must refuse your visa. Remember, the F-1 visa is for people who intend to return to their home country. Tell the official when you are going to go home.
- In addition, you can prepare reasons why you want to study English in the U.S.
- Talk about your professional development - how will you use English when you get back to your country? Why is it important for you to know English?
- Do you intend to study another subject once you have finished your English program? Which subject? Why do you need English?
- Talk about how learning English more quickly and efficiently is helped by first-hand knowledge of the American culture and interaction with many native speakers. Mention that some of the most advanced teaching methods and technical help in language learning can be found in the U.S.
- Talk about your choice of English programs: show that you know about the university or college that you have applied to, and be able to explain your choice if you can. Do NOT say you want to go to the U.S. because you have family in the U.S., or that your friends are there or that you like American movies or some other unimportant reason.
- The official has to see as many as 200 people a day. Officials do not have a lot of time to discuss your application: they must make a quick decision. Help them by being completely prepared.
The Official Refuses to Give You a Visa
The most frequent reason for a visa refusal is that the official thinks you will not return to your home country.
- Think again about your ties to your home country: family relationships, job, home or farm ownership, other commitments. Is there any additional evidence that you could present? Did you explain your situation clearly? Did you answer all the questions?
- Consular officers have the responsibility for issuance or denial of visas. If your visa is denied, you can re-apply. If you decide to re-apply, you should be prepared to show additional evidence or explain in a different way how your situation has changed since your first application.
You should try at least twice. If you are refused a second time, the probability that a third try will work is not very high.
Additional information is available at the Department of State web site at www.state.gov and the INS (now BCIS) web site at www.usdoj.gov.