To apply for an F1 student visa:
Check with the U.S. Embassy where you will apply for a nonimmigrant visa, since additional or different documents might be required and the application submission method might differ depending upon which U.S. Embassy you will go to. You can find contact information through http://usembassy.state.gov/. Prepare documents that you must show when applying for a student visa, such as:
- An application Form DS-156, completed and signed. Blank forms are available without charge at all U.S. consular offices.
- A passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry in the U.S.
- One photograph showing full face against a light background. Please click on Photo Requirements for Visa Processing. It is imperative that these instructions be carefully followed, or the picture will be rejected.
- A receipt for visa processing fee.
- All three pages of the I-20 Form. It must be signed by the applicant and by a school official in the appropriate places.
- Financial evidence that shows you or your financial sponsors have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses, such as bank statement, scholarship letter, or graduate assistantship appointment letter.
- Transcripts of diplomas from previous institutions attended.
- Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
- Proof of your binding ties to a residence in your home country which you have no intention of abandoning.
- For applicants with dependents: Proof of the student's relationships to his/her spouse and/or children (i.e. marriage and birth certificates). It is preferred that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder's passport and visa, along with all other required documents.
- Click on this link and follow all instructions: SEVIS I-901 receipt (Extremely Important)
10 POINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN APPLYING FOR A NONIMMIGRANT VISA:
1. TIES TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY
Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, such a students visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the U.S. Ties to your home country are the things that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans and career prospects in your home country. Each person's situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter, which can guarantee visa issuance.
Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview.
3. SPEAK FOR YOURSELF
Do not bring parents of family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there in case there are questions, for example, about funding, they should wait in the waiting room.
4. KNOW THE PROGRAM AND HOW IT FITS YOUR CAREER PLANS
If you are not able to explain the reasons you will study in a particular program in the U.S., you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career when your return home.
5. BE BRIEF
Because of the volumes of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point.
6. SUPPLEMENTAL DOCUMENTATION
It should be clear at a glance to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time, if you're lucky.
7. NOT ALL COUNTRIES ARE EQUAL
Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the U.S. as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the U.S.
Your main purpose in coming to the U.S. should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the U.S. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the U.S. Volunteer work and taking recreational classes are permitted activities.
9. DEPENDENTS REMAINING AT HOME
If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family members will need you to remit money from the U.S. in order to support themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.
10. MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.