Applying for the F-1 Student Visa
Before you begin the visa application process, you must have the following documents:
- Form I-20 (Sent to you in the mail from Suffolk after you have been admitted.)Your I-20 is required when applying for an F-1 student visa at an American Embassy or Consulate and for entry into the United States. This I-20 has been produced by Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and is an acknowledgement that your record is in the SEVIS system. The form includes your SEVIS ID number, which is the number in the upper right hand corner above the bar code (usually starts with an N).
- SEVIS Fee Receipt All new students coming in F-1 status must pay a $200 SEVIS fee prior to applying for your visa.
Applying for your Student Visa
You must apply for your visa well in advance of your arrival, as it can, in some instances take several weeks, and occasionally longer, to obtain the student visa.
To apply for a U.S. visa, you will need to present the following documents at the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest to you:
- Your Form I-20
- The SEVIS Fee receipt
- A copy of your financial support documents, i.e. evidence that you have sufficient funds to meet the expenses of studying at Suffolk, e.g. bank statement.
- A valid passport
- Passport-size photographs
- Completed visa applications forms (Visa application forms are available on individual consular Web sites.)
An application fee and an interview will also be required.
When applying for your student visa, pay careful attention to the following:
- The U.S. Department of State has instructed U.S. consulates that they may issue an F-1 visa no more than 120 days in advance of the program start date. However, an application for an F-1 visa can be submitted more than 120 days in advance of the I-20 start date in order to accommodate long processing times. Again check the Web site of the consulate where you will apply for a visa for detailed instructions.
- You must pay particular attention to the starting date noted on this document (Item #3), as you must enter the U.S. by this date. If you cannot enter the U.S. by this date, please contact ISSO.
In addition, you may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the starting date noted on the I-20 Form. If you try to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date on your I-20, you may not be permitted to enter the U.S.
Paying the SEVIS Fee
All new F-1 Students using I-20 must pay a $200 SEVIS fee prior to applying for a U.S. visa.
When should you pay the SEVIS fee?
The SEVIS fee must be paid at least three days prior to submitting the application for a U.S. visa. Canadian citizens, who are exempt from the visa requirement, must pay the SEVIS fee at least three days prior to applying for admission to the U.S. at a U.S. port of entry.
How do you pay the SEVIS fee?
You may pay this fee with a credit card through an internet connection or by mail in the form of a check or money order to DHS. Third party payment is permitted. To pay the fee on-line, go to www.fmjfee.com. Complete the form supplying the necessary information. Be certain that your name appears exactly as it appears on the I-20 form.
The SEVIS ID# is the number which begins with N000 located in the upper right hand corner of the I-20 form.
On the second screen you will provide the payment information. If you pay by credit card, you will immediately receive a receipt of the payment. Print out the receipt (the print button is at the bottom of the receipt page.) A receipt (I-797) will also be mailed to you. If you are paying by mail, you will print out the I-901 form and send it to the address indicated with a check or money order in US dollar for $200.
The receipt is proof you have paid the fee. You will need to present the fee receipt with your application for a visa. (Canadians will need to present the fee receipt at the U.S. port of entry.)
For more information about the SEVIS fee, see this Web site.