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How to Apply for an F1 Student Visa

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Step 1: Be admitted to PIA and receive your I-20

In order to apply for an F1 visa at a US embassy, you are required to have a receive an I-20 form, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status”.  After you are admitted, PIA will send you an admission packet to the address listed on your application. This packet will include a letter of admission to our program and your I-20. If you are planning to bring your spouse and/or children with you, they are required to also have an I-20 form.

Step 2: Pay your SEVIS fee

Once you receive your I-20, you must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee in order to be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This SEVIS fee is paid to the US government and is not a school fee. For more information on the SEVIS fee, visit To pay your SEVIS fee, visit You will need your I-20 in order to pay this fee. There is no additional SEVIS fee required for your spouse and/or children.

Step 3: Locate your nearest US embassy

The process of applying for the F1 visa may vary depending on the US Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. It is important to review the specific instructions provided the relevant embassy. Information on US Embassies can be found at The following instructions are general guidelines, but you should always follow the specific instructions provided by your local US Embassy or Consulate.

Step 4: Complete the online visa application

how to apply for an f1 student visaComplete the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 and print the application form confirmation page to bring with you. To complete the form and for more information, visit In order to complete your online application, you will need to have:

Step 5: Pay the visa application fee

Pay the visa application fee required by the US Embassy or Consulate. Methods for payments and the required process vary by embassy and consulate, so check the embassy or consulate webpage for specific instructions.

Step 6: Schedule and prepare for your interview

You can schedule your F1 visa interview with the US Embassy or Consulate after you complete the online application and pay the application fee. Check the embassy or consulate webpage for instructions on how to schedule the appointment. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location and time of year, so you should apply for your visa early. An F1 student visa can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your program start date, but you will only be able to enter the US with an F1 visa 30 days before your start date. You should prepare and bring to following documents to your visa interview:
  • A valid passport, good for at least 6 months after your planned arrival in the US
  • An I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status
  • Your PIA admission letter
  • You visa appointment confirmation page
  • The DS-160 application confirmation page
  • The visa application fee payment receipt
  • The SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
  • Two passport photos (if not uploaded)
  • Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study
  • Any information that proves that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the United States. This may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community.
For suggestions and tips on preparing for your visa appointment, see NAFSA’s “10 Points to Remember when Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa.”

Step 7: Attend your F1 visa interview

apply for an f1 student visa todayBe sure to arrive early for your appointment. Your F1 visa interview will determine whether you are qualified to receive an F1 student visa for the US. This interview will be conducted in English. Digital fingerprint scans will be taken for records. The consular officer will check that all of your application materials are complete and that you are eligible. If there are missing items, you may have to bring them at a later time and postpone the interview. If everything is complete, your visa application may be approved at the discretion of the consular officer. If you are approved, your passport will be taken so that you can get your visa and you will be informed when you can get it back at the embassy or by mail.

Step 8: Get your visa and prepare to travel

Once your visa has been issued, you can make travel plans to come to Portland. Let PIA know when your visa is approved and when you plan to arrive in Portland!