Step 2. Apply for Your F-1 Visa

There are many resources available to guide you through applying for your visa. EducationUSA and the U.S. Department of State provide an overview, step-by-step instructions, information on fees, required documentation and dependents. To apply for your visa, find the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Want to talk to a student who has successfully completed the process? Schedule a Visa Prep Session with one of our trained International Enrollment Assistants.

Schedule Visa Prep Session

Please Remember: 

  • Visas to study in the U.S. may be issued up to 120 days in advance of your program start date.
  • You may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to your program start date. 
  • Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, time of year, and visa type. Apply for your visa early.  
  • If you are denied the visa, ask the officer for a list of documents they would suggest you bring next time and get the reason you were denied in writing. Stay positive. Do not engage in an argument. 

Before Your Visa Appointment:

  1. Before you apply for your visa, you must first pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee. This fee supports SEVIS, an electronic system run by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). SEVIS tracks and monitors international visitors in the United States. Be sure to print your receipt after you pay. Have more questions? Go to the Study In the States FAQ page.
  2. Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160): The next step in applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa is to complete your visa application. It takes approximately 90 minutes to do this. After you submit your application, you can move on to the next steps such as scheduling your interview. You may use this guide to help you fill out the DS-160.
Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160) Guide

What to Expect at Your Visa Appointment:

Your visa interview will be quick, so remember the following tips:
  • Be honest in everything you write and say for your interview.
  • Be prepared to explain why you want to study in the U.S. and talk about why you chose Minnesota State Mankato, your program of study.
  • Be ready to explain how you’ll use that education and experience in your home country when you return home. 

What to Bring to Your Appointment:

Bring With You Tips to Remember
#1: Your Visa Application Fill everything out completely and double check your work!
#2: SEVIS I-901 Fee Receipt  Fully understand what the I-901 fee is and how to print your receipt.
#3: Valid Passport  
#4: Passport-style Photos Photos must follow U.S. Department of State photo guidelines 
#5: I-20 or DS-2019  
#6: Financial Evidence You must be able to show financial evidence detailing source and amount of funding. 
#7: Admission Letter Bring the original copy that was sent with your I-20. 
 #8: Proof of English Proficiency  
#9: Continuing Ties to Your Home Country When a visa is denied, this is typically why. See below for more information.

Evidence of Continuing Ties to Your Home Country

Under the United States laws and practices, the consular officer views the visa applicant as a potential immigrant and it is up to the applicant to prove that this is not the case.  You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the U.S. Since the F-1 and J-1 visas are non-immigrant visas, expressing your ties to your home country are of the utmost importance.

  • “Ties” to your country are the things that bind you to your hometown, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, or financial connections (e.g. bank accounts, property, investments, etc.).
    • Does your family own land or a business?
    • Do you have employment waiting for you?
    • Are your family and friends still in your home country?
  • The consular officer may ask about your: future employment; family or other relationships; educational objectives; your educational background; long-range goals; and career prospects in your home country. 

Find more tips on the following sites: