How do I apply for an F-1 Visa?

Applying for the F-1 student visa may vary depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate you are working with. You will be required to pay a nonrefundable visa application fee. There is an online visa application available, which allows you to complete and print the Form DS-160 to take to your F-1 visa interview.

You can schedule your F-1 visa interview with the U.S. embassy or consulate. Visit the U.S. embassy's website to find the U.S. embassy or consulate location that is most convenient for you. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. An F-1 student visa for the U.S. can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your course of study start date. However, you will only be able to enter the US with an F-1 visa 30 days before your start date.

The following documents are required for your F-1 visa interview:

  • I-20 Certificate of Eligibility Form provided by UCSB Professional and Continuing Education
  • Letter of admission provided by UCSB Professional and Continuing Education
  • Financial Support documents (current proof of support that would meet expenses for the program duration as indicated on Form I-20—i.e., bank statements, award letters, or loan approval letters)
  • Form DS-160 "Nonimmigrant Visa Application" available at your local embassy or consulate's website
  • A passport that is valid for at least six months beyond your program completion date
  • Two photos
  • Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee, which is currently $160 USD
  • Receipt for payment of the I-901 SEVIS Fee

Additional documents may be requested to prove your eligibility for the F-1 student visa, including academic transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates. Test scores such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, or GMAT may also be requested, as well as proof of your intent to depart the U.S. after your program is complete and proof of your financial stability.

Your F-1 visa interview will determine whether you are qualified to receive an F-1 student visa for the USA. Assuming that you have prepared the appropriate documents and meet all of the F-1 visa requirements, your visa will be approved at the discretion of the consular officer.

You may be required to pay a visa issuance fee. Digital fingerprint scans will be taken for records. Your passport will be taken so that you can get your visa and you will be informed when you can get it back, whether it's in person or in the mail.

Keep in mind that visa issuance is not guaranteed. Never make final travel plans until you have your visa approved.

For additional information on F-1 visas, visit the U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs Student Visa page. To learn more about U.S. consulates around the world, visit the U.S. Embassy's page.

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