Documents, Fees, and Interviews Needed
for F-1 Student Visa Application
Printable copies of Official U.S. government forms can be found here. In order to prevent delays in processing, all forms should be thoroughly completed.
All applicants for an F-1 Student Visa must provide the following:
- Either Form I-20A-B (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status) or Form I-20M-N (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students). Most internationals students who are undergraduates will need Form I-20A-B.
- Form I-20, which will be provided by the college or university at which the student was accepted. The student and a school official, most likely the student's DSO, must sign the I-20 form.
- All students, as well as their spouses and dependents (children) must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This is an internet-based system that maintains information on non-immigrant students, exchange visitors and their dependents (F/M-2 visa holders). The student’s school is responsible for entering information into SEVIS.
- Students will also have to pay an SEVIS I-901 fee for each program of study.
- Form DS-156 (Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant), together with a Form DS-158 (Contact and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Application). Some applicants will also be required to complete and sign Form DS-157 (Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application). A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent's passport.
- Almost all applicants for a F-1 Student Visa will need to interview at the local embassy or consulate in the student’s home country. During the visa interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be taken, as well as a digital photo. Some applicants will need additional screening, and will be notified when they apply. The expected waiting time for an interview will vary depending upon location. Early application for the visa is strongly encouraged. Estimated waiting times at U.S. embassies are available here.
- Applicants will need a passport that is valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an application.
- One (1) 2”x2” photograph. The required photo format is explained here.
- A receipt to show payment of the visa application (MRV fee). Applicants may also need to pay a visa issuance fee depending upon which country they are from. Information about this fee is available here.
- Applicants will also need a receipt for the SEVIS I-901 fee. The fee can be paid online here. While all F-visa applicants must pay the MRV fee, including dependents, only the F-1 principal applicants must pay the SEVIS fee.
The following documents are not necessarily required for the visa application, but all applicants should be prepared to provide the following in order to prevent delays in processing:
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended
- Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
- Evidence of sufficient financial funds to cover tuition and living expenses during the period of the student's intended study. Demonstrating sufficient financial funds to the U.S. government is a separate process than demonstrating adequate funds to the university. Examples of acceptable documents include income tax documents, and original bank books and/or statements. If the applicant or their sponsor owns a business, bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, in addition to original bank books and/or statements.
Applicants with dependents (such as children) must also provide:
- Proof of the student’s relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates.)
- Families should apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time (the student applies for F-1 status while spouse and children apply for F-2 status), but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder’s passport and visa, along with all other required documents listed above.
This information was adapted from the United States Department of State. Additional information can be found here.