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F-1 Visa Application Process
Transcript of F-1 Visa Application Process
By the Office of International Students & Scholars
The Student Visa Application Process: Demystified
Ok, I have the I-20, now what?
First, you will use the I-20 information to pay the SEVIS fee. This is a non-refundable fee that all F-1 students must pay prior to their visa appointment. To do this, you must visit fmjfee.com. After you make your payment, there will be a payment confirmation called the I-901. You must print this and keep it. You should always have it with you when entering the United States in the future and you will need it for your visa interview.
I paid the SEVIS fee!
The next step is to begin your visa application called the DS-160 form. This application can be done online and you will need your I-20 to complete this. As part of this form, you will select your visa interview appointment time and date. At the end, there will be a confirmation, which you must print and bring to the appointment at your local embassy or consulate. You'll also need to upload a photo as part of your application. There are specific requirements for this that you can find online. The earliest that you can go for your visa appointment is 120 days prior to your program's start date. In some countries, you must pay the application fee before your interview.
What do I need to bring to my interview?
Your Form I-20
Valid passport (must be valid for six months beyond your start date at least)
Visa Application Confirmation
Application fee receipt if you are required to pay prior to your interview.
Transcripts, test scores, diplomas, and certificates from previous studies if consular officer has questions regarding academic qualifications
Financial documents with proof that you are able to cover the full cost of attendance. If you are on financial aid, you should bring your award letter as well. You should specifically pay attention to section 8 (a) of your I-20 as that is the amount that your family is expected to contribute and you will need to show proof of funding for that.
Any proof of your ties to your home country.
I got approved!
Now you can book your flight to the US. Please pay attention to Trinity's arrival date for international students and do not book a flight after that date. International Student Orientation is mandatory for all international students as we will go over some very important immigration regulations that all F-1 students need to know! Please note when booking your flight, that you cannot arrive in the US earlier than 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20.
Do I need to know anything before I leave for the US?
What happens when I arrive in the US?
I've been admitted to Trinity, what's next?
The first step to obtaining your visa is to get your Form I-20. The Form I-20 is the document that certifies that you are eligible to be a non immigrant in the United States in student status. It certifies the length of your program and that you have the funding to pay for your studies.
After the interview, what happens?
Once the interview is over, you will know whether your application has been approved. In some countries, you may have to pay a visa issuance fee. The consular office can give you more information in regards to processing time and the return of your passport with your visa in it.
Anytime you travel to the US, you need to make sure that you have all of your immigration documents with you including your I-20, visa, passport, and I-901 receipt. Please make sure you sign your I-20 before you travel and check your visa to be sure that everything is correct including the type of visa (F-1). It is not a good idea to bring large amounts of cash with you when you travel.
Make sure that all of your immigration documents are not in your checked luggage just in case your luggage is lost. You will depart the plane and proceed to Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) with a completed customs form. There may be a long wait to see a CBP officer. The CBP Officer will ask you questions and it is important for you to tell them that you will be a student at Trinity. The Officer will then verify your information and admit you to the US. Sometimes if an officer can't immediately verify your information, they will bring you to a room called Secondary Inspection where they will investigate further. Don't be alarmed if this happens. You may get asked additional questions and it could take extra time. Plan for extra time in between flights in case this happens when so that you don't miss any connecting flights.
Contact the International Student Advisor, Katie, at firstname.lastname@example.org