Questions and Answers on Student Visas

What type of visa do I need to become an academic student in the United States?
F-1, or Student Visa: This visa is the most common for those who wish to engage in academic studies in the United States. USA English Language Center is authorized to issued an F-1 to qualifying candidates.

When would be the best time to apply for my student visa?

Once you have all the required documentation, you may apply for the visa, even if you do not intend to begin your program of study for several months. It is best to apply early for the visa to make sure that there is sufficient time for visa processing.
How early should apply for my student visa?

You should bear in mind that the U.S. Embassy/Consulate cannot issue a visa more than 120 days before the actual start of the program in the United States. However, visa applicants are encouraged to apply for their visa as soon as they are prepared to do so. Thus, if the college or university to which you have been admitted states on the I-20 or DS-2019 that the program will start on September 1, a visa cannot be issued before May 1.

When can I enter the US with my student visa?

Even if you have been issued a visa to enter the United States and it is your first entry as a student to the United States you will not be allowed to enter the country more than 30 days before the start of your program, Returning students do not have this requirement. Using the earlier example, if the program of study starts on September 1, you will not be permitted to enter the United States until August 1 or later.

What is the waiting time for visa interviews?

Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. embassy or consulate worldwide is available on the DOS website at Visa Wait Times, and on most embassy Web sites.

In some embassies or consulates students are not required to make an appointment for their interview check your embassy website for specific arrangements at each embassy.

How do I make an appointment once I receive my I-20?
Students should check the embassy or consulate Web sites at http://usembassy.state.gov/. Each has directions for non-immigrants applying for a student visa that includes how to make an appointment for a visa interview.

Should I proceed with my ticket reservations once I have submitted my application to the US embassy?
No one can promise a visa will be issued before the embassy has fully processed the visa application. Therefore, do not make final travel plans or purchase nonrefundable tickets until a visa has been issued.

As a student what do I need to bring to a visa interview?
An interview at the U.S. consular section is required for almost all visa applicants.
Each applicant for a student visa must submit these forms and documentation as explained below:
• Form I-20A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1), the original formed mailed to you from SDUIS.
• Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit the DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online process.
• A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an application.
• One (1) 2×2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in nonimmigrant photograph requirements;
• A MRV fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee.
• The SEVIS I-901 fee receipt.

What is SEVIS?
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), administered by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is an Internet-based system that maintains data on foreign students and exchange visitors before and during their stay in the United States.