How to Prepare for Your Visa Appointment
The Department of State issues visas at U.S. embassies and consulates. A visa allows you to travel to the United States for a specific purpose.
NOTE: Canadian citizens generally do not require a visa to enter the United States directly from Canada for the purposes of visiting or studying. However, all Canadians entering the U.S. by air require passports, and Canadians entering the U.S. by land or sea must have a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant travel document.
The visa interview is your opportunity to tell the consular officer about your plans while in the United States and what you will do when you have completed your studies.
- Contact your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy to ask about how to get a F-1 international student visa. To find a place near you visit the US embassy website.
- After you receive a Form I-20 from the school that you want to attend, follow the U.S. Embassy/Consulate’s instructions to schedule an interview for your F-1 student visa.
- You should make your appointment for your visa interview as soon as possible after receiving your Form I-20 and paying the I-901 SEVIS fee
- Pay the visa application fee by following instructions on your local U.S. Embassy’s or Consulate’s website.
- Pay your SEVIS fee
Bring the following forms with you to the interview:
- A passport valid for at least six months
- Form I-20 (sign the form)
- School admission letter
- Completed visa applications
- DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form
- DS-158 Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant
- If a male between the ages of 16 to 45, DS-157 Supplemental nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Two 2” X2” photographs in the correct format
- A receipt for the visa application fee
- A receipt for the SEVIS fee
- 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.
Preparing for the interview:
International students are put through a visa interview in English. Most questions during the interview are part of these 5 categories. There are many other questions you may be asked, but these are some examples to help you prepare.
Your study plans. Examples are:
- Why are you going to the U.S.?
- What will be your major?
- Can you not continue your education in your home country?
- Your university/college choice. Examples are:
- How many colleges did you apply to?
- Have you been to the U.S. before?
- What city is your school located in?
Your academic ability. Examples are:
- What are your tests scores (IELTS, TOEFL)?
- How will you manage the cultural and educational differences in the U.S.?
- How good is your English?
- Why not study in Canada, Australia, or the UK?
Your financial status. Examples are:
- What is your monthly income?
- How do you plan to fund the entire duration of your education?
- How much does your school cost?
- Do you have a copy of your bank statements/sponsorship letter?
Your post-graduation plans. Examples are:
- Do you have relatives or friends currently in the U.S.?
- Do you have a job or career in mind after you graduate?
- Do you plan on returning to your home country?
- Wear formal clothes as if for a formal business meeting. The interviewing officer will always be an American.
- Arrive early. You do not want to miss your interview because you planned poorly.
- Do not get nervous. Remain confident. You will be more confident if you have prepared thoroughly. Smile when you meet the visa officer for the first time. Look into the eyes of the officer while speaking.
- Be confident in your answers. Make short, clear, to-the-point replies, in a loud and clear voice. Do not tell anything that is not asked.
- Be polite. Do not argue and do not ask unnecessary or unrelated questions.
- You might not understand what the interviewing officer is saying because of his/her American accent and/or the microphone system. If you do not understand one of their sentences do not feel afraid to say, “I do not understand” and ask them to repeat the question.
- Be honest during the interview and while preparing the documents.
What to Bring
Depending on your country and embassy or consulate, additional steps may be required, but you will definitely need the following items to apply for your student visa.
You will have to pay a non-refundable application fee. This means that if your visa is not approved, you will not get your money back.
- Form DS-160, All applicants will need to complete and submit DS-160, the online application for a non-immigrant visa
- Form DS-157 , A DS-157 form for all males aged 16-45
Your passport must have a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.
You can upload a digital photo that is:
- In color
- Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22mm and 25mm) or 50% and 69% of the image’s total height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
- Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
- Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
- Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
- With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
- Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis.
- You must bring all your original forms and documents with you.