COVID-19 Updates

Read the latest updates.

F-1 Visa Appointment Information and Tips

What Is an F-1 Visa?

The F-1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows international students to enter the U.S. and study at institutions certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

As an F-1 student, the duration of your stay will vary based on the program in which you enroll. The I-20 form provided by the university you wish to attend will list the expiration date of your program.

How to Apply for an F-1 Visa

  1. Get admitted before submitting your visa application. After being admitted, we will work with you to create your I-20 form. You will need an I-20 form to apply for your F-1 visa.
    • As soon as you receive your I-20 form review it to ensure all information is accurate. Report any issues as soon as possible.
    • Sign and date your I-20 once you confirm its accuracy
  2. Pay your SEVIS fee
    • The current fee is $350.
    • Print/keep your payment receipt.
  3. Complete your DS-160 visa application
    • You will need your I-20, passport, travel itinerary, and photos for your visa
    • The current fee is $160
  4. Schedule your visa interview
    • Find the nearest US embassy or consulate
    • Wait times will vary by country; set up your appointment as early as possible.
  5. Attend your visa interview
    • Have the following documents ready for evaluation:
      • A valid passport
      • A copy of the photo you will use for your visa
      • Printed copies of your DS-160 and I-901 SEVIS payment confirmations
      • I-20 form
      • School transcript and official test scores cited on your university application
      • Diploma (if applicable)
      • Bank statements or other proof of finances
    • Additional documents to consider bringing:
      • Academic records such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended
      • Standardized test scores required by your US institution
      • Evidence of your intent to depart the United States upon completion of your course of study
      • Statements proving your ability to pay all educational, living, and travel costs

The F-1 Visa Interview

Your interviewer will ask questions to determine:

  • Are you a legitimate student?
  • Do you have the resources to pay for your studies?
  • Do you plan to return home after completing your degree?

Questions you might be asked at your visa interview:

  • Why did you pick this university?
  • Which other U.S. universities did you apply to?
  • How will you pay for your education?
  • Do you have relatives in the USA?
  • Do you plan to work while in the USA?
  • What do you plan to do after graduation?

10 tips for a successful interview:

  1. Establish ties to your home country.
  2. The visa interview will be conducted in English.
  3. Speak for yourself and on your own behalf (family members won’t be in the interview).
  4. Know your chosen academic program and how it fits your career plans.
  5. Be concise (clear and to the point).
  6. Have supplemental documentation (listed above).
  7. Your main objective for coming to the US is to study; allowable employment is incidental.
  8. Clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program.
  9. If you have dependents remaining at home, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence.
  10. Maintain a positive attitude.

Tony Marotta ’05

Director of International Admission and Student Services
International Education

Connect with #elmhurstu