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Attain Your F-1 Visa
While the paperwork and authorizations may seem overwhelming, a study experience in the United States at Urbana University provides a lifetime of rewards. The V-1 visa is the most popular visa provided to students coming to the United States to enroll in an academic program or complete a English as a Second Language (ESL) program. You must maintain full-time status if you are using an F-1 visa to enter the United States.
Make Sure You Meet Visa Qualifications
You’ll need to demonstrate you have the resources to support yourself financially during your stay in the United States. Since the expectation is that you will return to your home country within 60 days of completing your studies, you must show that you intend to maintain strong ties to your foreign residence.
Follow Us: The Path to Your F-1 Visa
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply.
- Submit the information to Urbana University required to generate and ship your I-20. Once the University has determined that your application is complete and you are academically eligible, they will issue an I-20 form to enable you to apply for your student visa. Email email@example.com if you have questions
- Pay your SEVIS (I-901) fee at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901. To pay your SEVIS fee, you will need Urbana University’s school code (003133) and your SEVIS ID number, which is available after your I-20 is generated.
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule requires F-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time fee of $200 to supplement the administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS). The following information specifically addresses fee issues for F-1 students.
The fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to applying for your visa, The fee can be paid to the DHS by mail, online, or through Western Union and must be accompanied by a Form I-901. It can be paid by you or by a third party, inside or outside the US.
To Pay By Mail
- Obtain a Form I-901 “Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.” Download the form from www.FMJfee.com Request the form by phone at 1-800-870-3676 (inside the US)
- Complete the Form I-901. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form.
- Prepare a check, international money order or foreign draft (drawn on US banks only1) in the amount of $200, made payable to “The Department of Homeland Security”.
To Pay Online
- Find the Form I-901 at www.FMJfee.com
- Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. *Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form.
- Print a copy of the online receipt.
- Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.
To Pay at Western Union
- Go to a local participating Western Union Agent location. To find the nearest Western Union Agent location go to http://www.payment-solutions.com/agent.asp and select a country or call the telephone number of the Western Union Commercial Services Network Agent in your country as listed in your phone book.
- Request and fill out the blue form. You must request a Blue Form at the participating local Western Union Agent location. This form may show words such as “Payment Services” or “Quick Pay” printed in the applicable local language. However, please note that all Quick Pay forms will be blue. Once you have obtained the Blue Form from the Western Union Agent location, you must fill out all appropriate information.
Fee payments should be entered into your permanent immigration (SEVIS) record but it is strongly recommended that you retain a copy of your fee receipt (form I-797) to use as needed.
If you have been accepted to more than one institution and paid the fee using the SEVIS ID number of an institution you will not be attending, you will not have to pay the fee again. Bring the I-20s of both the school for which you paid the fee and the school you will be attending, as well as your SEVIS fee payment receipt, to the consulate or port-of-entry (if you are applying for a visa, you should bring both of the I-20s back to the consulate)
If your F-1 visa application is denied the SEVIS fee will not be refunded. However, if you reapply for a new F-1 visa within 12 months of the denial, you will not have to pay the fee again.
3. Apply for a visa from your local embassy. The application process will include completing a DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application and a successful in-person interview.
Follow the instructions provided by your local embassy to apply for a nonimmigrant F-1 student visa. Usually you will need to do the following:
- Fill out a DS-160 non-immigrant visa application at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/.
- Pay a visa application fee.
- Schedule an appointment to go to the embassy for a visa interview. Find the nearest embassy or consulate at http://usembassy.state.gov/.
Gather documents for the interview that include:
- Passport, valid for at least six months;
- Your I-20 issued by Urbana University
- Your admission letter from Urbana University
- 2 recent passport-size photos, 2 by 2 inches (5 cm by 5 cm), color on a light background with head centered in the frame;
- Supporting documents showing evidence of strong ties to one’s home country.
- Your receipt of payment for the SEVIS fee.
- Financial documents to prove you can support yourself in the USA.
- Review our tips for a successful visa interview.
Let Your Determination and Your Confidence Guide You
Keep in mind that 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 those 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. Maintain a positive attitude.
Know the program and how it fits your career plans.
Be able to explain why you chose Urbana University and how studying in the United States. will relate to your future professional career when you return home. Be ready to explain why you want to study that particular program in the United States.
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.
Keep your answers to the officer’s questions short and to the point. Do not bring family members with you to the interview. The officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.
Do not concede, under any circumstance, that you intend to work in the United States after completing your studies. While many students do work off-campus after their graduation, this work is incidental to their main purpose for coming to the United States
Ties to your home country
You will need to show strong ties in your home country that will insure your return home after your education in the United States. Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. “Ties” to your home country are the things that bind you to your homeland: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc.
Documents to bring to the interview
It should be immediately clear to the consular officer what written documents that you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. For more information on the list of websites for U.S Embassies and Consulates, visit www.usembassy.gov.
Bring all documents needed to the interview. The following is a list of required documents or evidence:
- I-20 from Urbana University
- Letter of acceptance
- Original financial documents (bank statements on bank letterhead and stamped by the bank)
- Passport valid for at least 6 months
- SEVIS fee receipt
- Evidence of intent to depart the U.S after completion of studies
- Photograph (check with embassy for specific dimensions)
You can find more information about the F1-visa at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/student.html.
If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstance, be employed or study on F-2 status in the United States. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States.
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 will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support them, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied.
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.
Keep This Important Information in Mind
- We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
- Students who are outside the United States, and who have not been attending classes for five (5) months or more, should apply for a new student visa to reenter the United States.
- Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
Spouse and children
- Your spouse and unmarried, minor children who intend to reside with you during your study may apply for an F-2 visa. Urbana University must issue them an individual Form I-20, which is required to apply for their visas. You must provide proof of relationship.
- Your minor children are permitted to attend school in the United States while accompanying you