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Applying for a Student Visa

Below you’ll find answers to some of the most common student visa questions.

Who must apply for a visa?
All students wishing to enter the U.S. to study in F or J status must apply for a visa. Dependents of these students must also apply for visas.

Where do I apply for a visa?
You should apply for your initial visa at a consular office that holds jurisdiction over your place of residence. You can identify these locations and their wait times here.

What documents will I need when I apply for an F1 visa in my country?

You will need the following:

  • Properly completed Form I-20
  • Proof of having paid the SEVIS I-901 fee
  • Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses
  • Evidence of English ability sufficient for course of study
  • Evidence of intent to depart the U.S. after completion of studies
  • Passport valid for at least six months
  • Form DS-160,online, “Nonimmigrant Visa Application”
  • Form DS-157, “Supplemental Non-immigrant Visa Application,” if applicable*
  • Form DS-158, “Contact Information and Work History for Non-Immigrant Visa Applicant”*
  • A photograph of yourself
  • Machine Readable Visa (MRV) surcharge fee
  • Visa reciprocity fee (if applicable)
  • Students at public secondary schools: Proof that you have reimbursed the school district for the cost of your education

*You can access Visa Application forms online.

How long does it take to complete the visa application process?
You can apply for a visa up to 90 days prior to the program start date noted on your I-20 or DS-2019. Allow as much time as possible in order to be sure that you can report to Elmhurst College by that date. Learn how long the wait is at your particular consulate.

Are there any sites that can help me prepare for the F1 visa application process?
Yes. Check out the following:

  • Preparing for your F1 visa interview and Visa Application Process: The United States Department of State offers excellent advice regarding the visa application process on their web site.
  • Information regarding the SEVIS fee (from the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)
  • You can also find the location of your nearest Education USA office. Students are encouraged to make use of the many resources these advising centers provide.
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