Steps to obtain your F1 visa

F1 Visa
F1 Visa

Whenever an alien wishes come to United States he or she must obtain a visa. In your case a student visa (F1 visa or M visa) 

These are of two types

  • Nonimmigrant visa : Meaning temporary stay
  • Immigrant visa : Permanent stay

In order to study in the united states you need a student visa and this falls under the category of Non- Immigrant visa.

The type of student visa depends on

  • The type of school you are enrolled in
  • The course of study

Entering the United States in order to attend the following type of course, you have to obtain an F visa ( example F1 visa )

University or college, High School, Private elementary school, Seminary, Conservatory, Another academic institution, including a language-training program

However, If you are entering the United States in order to attend the following type of course, you have to obtain an M visa

Vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language-training program

Even if you are a student who belongs to a country under the visa, waiver program and you want to study in the US

One still needs a student visa and you cannot enter the US with the waiver program or (B) visitor visa

If you are entering the United States to pursue a recreational course (Read: Course that does not lead to a credit toward an academic degree visitor visa may be permitted. (For updated information, visit the government’s website)

Here are the steps that you need to follow in order to get your F1 visa

  • Before you apply for the visa check if you are admitted to an SEVP approved school (SEVP : Student and Exchange Visitor Program)
  • Once you get admitted, You have to pay the SEVIS fees and obtain I-901 (PLEASE GUARD THIS DOCUMENT : This is your first immigration document)
  • As soon as you pay this fee you will be entered into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This acts as a means to track you in the United states
  • Then your school issues you an I-20 (Guard every I-20 you will ever get, keep them without folding or damaging in a folder)
  • Upload a digital photo while applying for the visa online so make sure you obtain a US Passport size digital copy. Read the photo requirements here
  • Once you obtain your I-20 it is time to apply for your visa. You must first complete the Online NON IMMIGRATION VISA APPLICATION FORM called DS -160. You can read the instructions to fill the DS-160 here
  • You can fill your DS-160 here
  • Once completed , print and keep the DS 160 form, especially the BAR CODE PAGE
  •  schedule a visa interview appointment
  • (Consulate does not schedule an appointment for you once you fill the DS 160 you have to pay a fee and schedule.) Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will be interviewed for country-specific instructions.
  • Pay the NON-REFUNDABLE visa application-processing fee. Fees may vary according to country and ranges between $160 – $240 PLEASE VISIT THE US consulate website where you will apply to know what is applicable to you.
  • New Students – can be issued up to 120 days in advance of study start date. But you will not be allowed to enter the United States in earlier than 30 days before your start date.

Here are the following documents you will need before you attend the interview in order to get the F1 visa

  • Passport: At least valid for 6 months
  • Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt
  • US passport size Photo (Not your country passport size please read the instructions)
  • Form I-20: You and your school official must sign the Form I-20.

Additional documentation you must take.

  • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees
  • Standardized test scores (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS ETC)
  • Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study
  • All financial documentation

ALL the best for your visa interviews. The next post will on the type of questions that will be asked in your F-1 visa interview


Our website only gives you the overview of how to apply. Do not trust any blog, or website including our own when it comes to the order of applying. Please visit your embassy or consulate website in order to know the exact application process.


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