Securing a Student Visa
The first step is to process the I-20 ( Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant F-1 Student Status). You must make sure all the documents (like financial-support is not receiving a graduate assistantship) required by the enrollment services have been mailed in time so that a delay in the processing may be avoided. On receiving the I-20 or the DS-2019 (for J-1 exchange visitor visa or for students required to use J-1 visa) you should schedule an appointment with the US embassy in order to apply for the US visa.
Note: The procedure for application for visa might differ depending on the country of residence. It is recommended that you go through the procedure in detail for your country while you are waiting for the I-20 to arrive. Please read the necessary regional information
Most applications for initial F and J visas require an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. In order to make an appointment with the US consulate you will require the SEVIS number on the I-20 (or DS-2019) form (and of course a valid passport). Check the Department of State website
regarding current procedures, required forms, and operating hours. Some applications may require additional security clearances that may take 2-4 months for completion. Please schedule for an appointment as early as possible to accommodate for any such delays.
Note: Please carefully review the required documents for the Student visa application and interview
and the visa application forms
(after determining the required forms for your category) here.
If you are denied a visa, you may request the reason for denial in writing from the visa officer. Please contact the department/center that you will be working with so that they may better advise you on your situation.
Special Note for Canadian Citizens
Canadian citizens are not required to have an entry visa for the U.S., so a visa application at the U.S. Embassy is not needed. However, inspection by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer is essential in order for Canadian citizens to be admitted to the U.S. in valid student status. Therefore it is necessary that you carry all your financial and other supporting documents with you when entering the United States. At the port of entry you must present your I-20 or DS-2019 (together with all supporting documents) and your passport or valid driver's license. The inspecting officer will process your form I-20 or DS-2019 and return it to you with an I-94 arrival-departure card. Both of the documents will be stamped by CBP and should be marked F-1 or J-1 and D/S (for Duration of Status).
Note: Once your passport is stamped, please ensure that all the details on the stamp are accurate, especially the VISA-type (F-1 or J-1). Trust us, mistakes do happen!