Applying for your US student visa? A few things to know

Ask the US Embassy

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Q: I was recently accepted to a US academic institution for a programme that will start in September 2019. What do I need for my visa application?

A: Congratulations on your acceptance! We are proud of our academic institutions and hope that you will have a wonderful experience.

Once the school has processed your admission, they will send you the Form I-20, which will indicate the type of visa you will require. Generally, if you are attending a university, college, high school, seminary, conservatory, or other academic institution such as a language training programme, you will require an F-1 visa.

When you have received the Form I-20, you may complete your online visa application (DS-160). All applicants must fill out the DS-160 visa application, pay the application fee, schedule an appointment for a visa interview, and bring the standard visa application documentation to the embassy (a passport valid for at least the next six months, any previous passports/visas, DS-160 confirmation sheet, appointment confirmation page, a passport sized photo, and proof of visa application fee).

Applicants for student visas have several other items, along with the I-20 that they should bring to the interview. These include:

•Payment confirmation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee. Your school will enrol you in SEVIS and the fee (US$350 for F-1 and M-1 visas) can be paid online at . You can find your SEVIS number on the Form I-20. The embassy is not authorised to collect this fee.

•Proof of sufficient funds to cover all associated costs in the United States for the period of anticipated study. Applicants should be prepared to present documentation relating to scholarships, grants, loans, and payment plans, if applicable, as well as financial statements from sponsors.

Q: Who can travel and reside with me in the United States while I study?

A: Your spouse and unmarried minor children may also reside with you in the United States while you study. If they choose to do this, they must obtain their own individual I-20s, but don't need to pay the SEVIS fee. Feel free to schedule their interviews at the same time as your own and bring proof of relationship (for example, birth and marriage certificates), as well as evidence of sufficient funds to support all dependents.

Q. How early may I arrive in the United States before I begin my studies? Am I allowed to travel on my B1/B2 visa if I will be studying on a student visa?

A: When you come to the United States on your student visa for the first time, you may not arrive earlier than 30 days before you begin your studies on your F-1 visa. If you wish to arrive in the United States earlier than 30 days before you begin your studies, please visit and for the latest guidance on the appropriate visa categories and any requirements for extensions and/or change of status requests before beginning your studies.

If for some reason your departure for the United States is delayed, be sure to alert the registrar or admissions office of your academic institution. Students who are not present on the start date indicated on their I-20 risk being marked as “no-shows”, which could complicate future travel to the United States.

Congratulations again, and enjoy your studies in the United States.

You can find more information about how to travel to the United States on our website, and the website of our authorised service provider at . Keep on top of embassy news on our Facebook page, and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter. We also answer general visa questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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