Getting your Visa
Now that you have been admitted and issued your Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status, the next step is to apply for your F-1 Student visa!
For complete information on this process, visit U.S. Homeland Security’s website: http://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/getting-a-visa/.
If you are exempt from the visa requirement (for example, a Canadian citizen), you must still follow all of the following rules and procedures at the U.S. Port of Entry. Wherever the word “consul” or “visa” is mentioned below, you should substitute the words “Port of Entry Inspector” and “student status.”
It is very important that you understand the process and rules for obtaining the F-1 Student Visa or status. The most common reason students are denied the F-1 visa or not admitted to the U.S. is because they were not prepared. Don’t let this happen to you! Read the following information very carefully and contact us if you need more information or help.
KNOW THE RULES
- Pay the U.S. SEVIS Fee of $200 and have a printed receipt that proves payment before your visa interview. Find out how to pay your SEVIS Fee at www.FMJFee.com.
- Apply for your visa as soon as possible! There may be considerable wait time for both the visa interview and visa processing. Wait time information for specific embassies and consulates is available at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html.
- The embassy/consulate will not issue your visa more than 4 months before your Form I-20’s program start date.
- By law, you are seen as someone who plans to remain in the U.S. permanently. The consul MUST, by U.S. law, believe that you do not intend to return home after completing your studies in the U.S. Do not take this personally. Student visas are only given to those who can convince the consul that they intend to return to their home country. THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON FOR VISA DENIAL!!!! You must convince the consul that he or she is wrong and that you do plan to go back home to stay.
- You must have a good educational or professional objective for coming to study at Caldwell University that will prepare you for a career back home. You also must be able to prove that you are academically qualified and have the financial means to pursue it.
- Be brief. Answer questions directly and to the point.
- Consuls are impersonal when administering laws. In the U.S., laws are applied equally to all people regardless of status or gender. DO NOT TRY TO NEGOTIATE OR DISCUSS PERSONAL MATTERS with them.
- U.S. Government officials require evidence to prove that you qualify for the F-1 visa. Carefully follow our instructions and take all necessary documentation with you. Detailed information regarding this documentation may be found at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html and on your embassy/consulate’s website http://www.usembassy.gov/.
- Keep a positive attitude.
BE WELL PREPARED
1. Be ready to clearly explain why you want to come to the U.S. to study at Caldwell University.
- Why do you want to study in the U.S.?
- Why do you want to pursue this program of study?
- Why did you choose Caldwell University?
- What career will your studies prepare you for back home?
2. Take evidence of your educational qualifications for admission to Caldwell University. That is original copies of your transcripts and test scores.
Also take original copies of the financial documents you gave us. Your financial documents must match what appears on your Form I-20 (in item number 8). You are required to prove that you have the ability to pay for your U.S. stay.
3. Be ready to convince the consul that you will return home permanently after you complete your studies. Present documents that can prove that you have “ties” to your country, which are so strong; they will force you to return. These ties are usually social, economic and/or family.
- Prove that you have a permanent residence in your country that you do not intend to abandon by taking a photocopy of a deed or lease to your home.
- If your family owns a business, take a letter from the bank describing it. If they own property, take the deeds.
- If you have traveled to the U.S. before, emphasize that you have returned home before!
- If you have a brother or sister who studied in the U.S. and then returned home, take a copy of his or her diploma and a statement from his or her employer.
- If your program of study is in great demand in your country, get a letter from a possible employer stating that they are interested in hiring people with degrees like the one you will get at Caldwell University.
- Do not emphasize ties to the U.S. or to family members in the U.S.
4. Answer questions clearly and briefly.
5. Practice your English. Unless you are going to study English on campus and your Form I-20 says that in item number 6, you will be required to speak it and show your TOEFL score. The consul may even ask you to read something and discuss what it says.
6. Do not talk about working in the U.S. unless you have been awarded a teaching assistantship or fellowship on campus. You are required to prove that you can support the costs of studying and living in the U.S. Employment is strictly controlled by the Department of Homeland Security and is not guaranteed.
7. If you already began your studies in another nonimmigrant status and you received a change of status to F-1, be prepared to discuss how your original purpose for being in the U.S. changed to that of a full-time student. Take transcripts to show what you have been studying.
REVIEW YOUR VISA AFTER IT IS ISSUED
When your F-1 Student visa is issued, make sure that it has been issued correctly before leaving the consulate. Check that your name matches your passport name and that it shows that it is an F-1 visa. If either of these things is incorrect, ask for it to be fixed. This is very important! If you do not get your visa fixed, you will have problems later.
WHAT IF YOUR VISA IS DENIED?
Contact us with complete details of what was said and what documents you presented with your application. Send a copy of any written reason for the denial you may have been given. If you were denied on 214(b) grounds then you did not present enough evidence that you will return home following completion of your studies. We can advise you how to better prepare for your next visa application.