How to Get Your Student (F) Visa

If you are applying for a student visa for the first time, an in-person interview is usually required. June, July, and August are usually the busiest months, so it might be difficult to get an appointment during this time. Don't wait until the last minute! You are encouraged to apply for your visa as soon as you know when you plan to travel. Allow several weeks for planning and getting an appointment for the visa. For more information, refer to the instructions on the embassy or consulate website where you intend to apply.

  1. Applicants for a student visa must provide the following items when they go to the Embassy for the interview.
    1. Form I-20 – Certificate of Eligibility (included with your welcome letter from your University or College)
    2. Form DS-160 – Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application including your digital photo
    3. A passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your expected stay in the US.
    4. Application fee payment receipt
    5. Financial documents (such as bank books, account statements, tax documents) in English to show how you will pay for all educational, living, and travel costs.  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 the projected stay.
    6. Proof of your relationship to your spouse and children if you are married and/or have children.
    7. Additional documents may be required. Please check with the embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa.
  2. How to prepare for your visa interview:

    In addition to the documents you present, you need to be well-prepared for the visa interview.. The interview will be conducted in English, so make sure that you listen carefully to all questions that the official may ask you.

    • Show that you have strong ties to your home country and that you will return to your home country after you complete your studies in the US.
      • You have a residence in your home country
      • You intend to return to that residence
      • You intend to leave the US when your course of study is completed
    • Prepare for reasons why you want to study English in the US.
      • Why is it important for you to know English?
      • Do you intend to study another subject / degree program once you have finished your English program? If so, which subject?
      • How will you use English when you return to your home country?
    • Do NOT say you want to go to the US just because:
      • Your friends are there;
      • You like American movies or some other unimportant reason;
      • You have family in the US.
    • An official may see 200 applicants per day. They do not have a lot of time to discuss your application, and they have to make a quick decision. You can make a good impression by being prepared and keeping your answers short and to the point.
  3. What to do if the official refuses to give you a visa:

    It is not possible to say exactly why you have been refused a visa, because applicants’ circumstances vary greatly.

    • Maintain a positive attitude. Do not argue with the consular official if you are refused a visa. Ask them for the reason why you are refused a visa and if possible, try to get the reason you were denied in writing.
    • 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?
    • If your visa is denied, you can re-apply for another interview. If so, you should prepare additional evidence to show how your situation has changed since the first interview. Some students who are denied a visa are able to pass the interview on the second or third try.

    Additional information is available at the Department of State web site, the USCIS web site, and the NAFSA web site.