F-1 Visa Application & Interview Process

Complete the following prior to the F-1 interview:

1. Complete the visa forms*:

  • DS-160 Online Non-immigrant Visa Application Form
    OR
  • DS-156 Non-immigrant Visa Application Form
  • DS-158 Contact Information and Walk History for Non-immigrant, Visa Applicant Form
  • If a male between the ages of 16 and 45, DS-157 Supplemental Non-immigrant Visa Application Form

*Check the requirements of the US Embassy or Consulate in your country regarding the required forms.

2. Pay the Visa application fee by following instructions on your local US embassy or consulate’s website.

3. Pay the applicable SEVIS fee.

  • Find the form I-901 here.
  • Complete the form online and supply the necessary payment information.
  • Print a copy of the online receipt.
  • Be sure to make copies of your receipt and keep it with your other important immigration documents.  You must bring the receipt of fee payment with you to the interview.  If you have lost the receipt, the visa officer should be able to view your payment history in the database.

Note:  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 12 months, you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.

F-1 Visa Interview

After you receive an I-20 from ACC, follow the US Embassy/Consulate’s instructions to schedule an interview for your F-1 student visa.  Prepare and bring the following to the visa interview:

  • A passport valid for at least six months
  • Form I-20 (sign the form under item 11)
  • School admission letter (included with your I-20)
  • Completed visa applications (DS-160 or DS-156, DS-158, and, if applicable, DS-157)
  • Two 2″ x 2″ photographs in the prescribed format
  • A receipt for the visa application fee
  • A receipt for the SEVIS fee (If you have not received an official receipt in the mail showing payment and you paid the fee electronically, the consulate will accept the temporary receipt you printed from your computer.  If you do not have a receipt, the consulate may be able to see your payment electronically if your fee payment was processed at least three business days before your interview.)
  • Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study (the total amount from #7 on I-20)
  • Any information that proves that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the US (This may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community)

For information on bringing dependents to the US, returning to continue studies, renewing your visa, or details on applying, visit U.S. Visas here.

Note:  Once your visa is issued, it will have the name of the institution you will be attending listed.  You may not enter the United States on an I-20 from an institution other than what is listed on your visa.  You may be refused entry into the United States if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the program start date listed on #5 of your SEVIS I-20 form.

Important Travel Information

There is no guarantee that you will receive an F-1 visa.  Please do not make travel arrangements until you have received your visa.

Possession of a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States.  The Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.  You must have your I-20 in your possession each time you enter the US.  If you are allowed to enter the US, the immigration official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94).

Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay in the US, be sure to keep this in your passport.

Department of Homeland Security regulations require that all initial or beginning students enter the US 30 days or less in advance of the course of study start/report date as shown on Form I-20.  Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the US.