Step 4: Apply for Your F-1 Student Visa
Your F-1 Student Visa
Most often, if you are a citizen of a foreign country wishing to enter the United States for purposes of undergraduate study, you must request and be granted permission to do so in the form of an F-1 Student Visa issued by the U.S Department of State. Your Visa Application serves as your request for permission, and Issuance of Your F-1 Student Visa grants you permission, to study at a specific U.S. institution.
An F-1 Student Visa is a stamp endorsed in your passport that indicates that a Consular Officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad has determined that you are eligible to request entry to the United States for study at a designated institution.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that international students be accepted by a school approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) before applying for a visa. USF is an SEVP-certified school, and you have been enrolled in SEVIS based on your admission to USF.
You must have received your USF Form I-20 [Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status], paid your SEVIS I-901 Fee, and completed all Visa Application Requirements before your F-1 Student Visa can be issued. Please see below for further information.
Please Note that you must obtain your F-1 Student Visa before beginning your studies at USF.
Your USF Form I-20
If you are an international student who applied for admission from outside of the U.S., your USF Form I-20 has been enclosed with your admission letter. Please review the accuracy of the I-20 information and be in touch with your Admission Counselor or Contact Us as soon as possible if you notice any errors.
If you are an international student already studying in the U.S. on an F-1 Student Visa, your USF I-20 will be issued once your SEVIS Record has been released to USF by your current International Student Adviser. This usually is done once you have completed your studies at your current school. Instructions on How to Request Release and Transfer of Your SEVIS Record have been enclosed with your admission letter.
Your SEVIS I-901 Fee
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that you pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee of $200 before you submit your F-1 Student Visa Application. You should pay this Fee at least three days before your Visa Interview Appointment (See Below: Your Visa Interview Appointment) and keep a copy of your Proof of Payment Receipt with your I-20 when you travel.
For more information, and to pay the Fee, please visit the DHS Study in the States Paying Your I-901 SEVIS Fee web page.
Please Note that you must Present Proof of Payment of the SEVIS I-901 Fee at Your Visa Interview (See Below: Your Visa Interview) in order for your visa to be issued.
Your F-1 Student Visa Application
Please Note that you cannot apply for a visa within the United States, and that your visa can only be issued through an application submitted to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
You may apply for your student visa up to 120 days before the date you are required to arrive at USF. This date is indicated on your I-20 as the “Program Start Date.” The Program Start Date for Spring 2019 is January 18. International Student Orientation (See Step 15), which you are required to attend, will be held on the Program Start Date.
To Apply for an F-1 Student Visa, you will need to complete all Visa Application Requirements and Schedule a Visa Interview Appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The visa application process varies for each country, so please contact the Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply for specific instructions.
Visa Application Requirements
Although the specific visa application process is different in each country, several standard items are required for all students:
- Current Passport Valid for Travel to the United States (Valid For At Least 6 Months)
- One Passport-Style Photograph
- SEVIS I-901 Fee of $200 and Proof of Payment Receipt
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form (DS-160) and Printed Confirmation Page
- Proof of payment for the Visa Application Processing fee of $160, paid through your local consulate.
- Original USF Form I-20
- Copies of your USF Admission Letter, Academic Records, and Test Scores documenting your acceptance to USF, academic preparation and qualifications, and English language proficiency.
- Certification of Finances and Supporting Documents showing that you have sufficient funds to pay for all of your educational, living, and travel expenses for at least your first year of study at USF.
Your Visa Appointment and Interview
A Brief Interview with a Consular Officer will be held in English and will be required as part of your visa application process. You should be prepared to provide proof that you have a permanent residence outside the United States, to give evidence of strong family or other ties to your home country, and to explain how studying in the U.S. will relate to your future professional career goals when you return home.
To learn more about How to Apply for Your F-1 Student Visa, please visit the U.S. Department of State Student Visa web page and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Applying for a Visa to Travel to the United States web page.