Applying for Your F-1 Visa
Applying for your F-1 visa includes many steps, and includes a background check and fingerprinting (in some countries).
You can apply for a visa 120 days before the start date on your I-20, and we recommend you apply as soon as possible.
Step 1: Pay the $200 SEVIS Fee (I-901 Fee) After Receiving Your I-20
Print your payment receipt: required for your visa appointment
- Pay online using a credit card: go to www.FMJFee.com
- Pay by Western Union: follow the instructions at https://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/wu-instructions
- Students born in or citizens of Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or Gambia must pay by Western Union Quick Pay , money order, or certified check drawn from a U.S. bank. Go to https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/paying-your-i-901-sevis-fee to download the form to pay by money order or certified check.
Step 2: Learn Your Consulate’s Requirements
- Go to http://www.usembassy.gov. Choose your country, then choose the U.S. Consulate closest to your home. Click on “Visas”, then read the information on “Student Visas” or “Non-immigrant visas”.
- You may need a fingerprint appointment, or provide additional documents before your appointment day. Go to http://www.ustraveldocs.com for information and videos in your language.
Step 3: Complete the Online Visa Application (DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa)
- Apply online at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv and complete the online application (required to schedule an interview)
- Not living with friends or relatives? Use Foothill’s information for a contact in the USA.
- Print and keep the DS-160 barcode confirmation page.
Step 4: Make the Visa Appointment and Pay the Visa Application Fee
- Follow the instructions listed for your Consulate
Step 5: Collect Your Documents
- Passport (must be valid for 6+ months beyond your stay in the USA)
- I-20 from Foothill College
- SEVIS Fee receipt
- DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa barcode confirmation page.
- Visa Application Fee receipt
- Additional Documents: your embassy or consulate may require additional documents, such as a copy of your financials, TOEFL score, or transcripts.
Step 6: Prepare For Your Visa Interview
A visa interview may be short, or you may be asked a lot of questions! Be prepared to answer the following questions during your interview:
- Why you want to study in the United States
- Why you chose Foothill College
- Explain your financial support while in school
- Your plans after your studies are finished
- Connections or ties to your country (family friends, etc.)
Search for “10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa” from NAFSA for more information and videos about applying for your visa.
U.S. Government Websites with Helpful & Information About Applying For Your F-1 Visa
http://educationusa.state.gov - Click on the link for “International Students”, then “Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study”
http://usvisas.state.gov - Click on “Study and Exchange” then “Student Visas”
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Overseas Applicant Deadlines