Applying for an F-1 student visa
Step 1: Receive your I-20 from your chosen university
An I-20 is a paper record of your information in the government database called SEVIS (Student and Visitor Exchange Visitor Program). When applying to your chosen university, you’ll submit evidence of your financial situation. You must provide a bank statement with the required amount to apply for your I-20. If the bank statement in not in your name, the university will provide an affidavit of support for your sponsor to complete. Once your application is accepted, your chosen university will create an I-20 form for you. You’ll need this to apply for a visa.
Step 2: Pay the $200 SEVIS I-901 fee online
Paying this fee activates your I-20 in the SEVIS database. Remember to print your receipt and take it with you to the US Embassy/Consulate. There is a SEVIS ID number on your I-20 form, above the barcode on the top right-hand side. You’ll need this to complete the SEVIS Form I-901.
Pay your SEVIS fee
Step 3: Make an appointment for your visa interview
Make an appointment with your local US Embassy/Consulate for a visa interview as soon as you’ve completed steps 1 and 2. It may take a few weeks to get an appointment. Wait to make travel arrangements until after you’ve received your visa.
Find your nearest US Embassy/Consulate
Check wait and processing times
Step 4: Take documents with you to your visa interview
Make sure you have these documents and take them with you to your visa interview:
- Passport valid for travel to the United States - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
- Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20
Applying to USF
Step 5: Upload documents
Log on to the immigration portal before leaving home and upload your passport, signed I-20 and visa. For document imaging tips, visit USF's International Services.