IMPORTANT STEPS FOR GETTING YOUR F-1 VISA
PREPARING FOR YOUR VISA INTERVIEW
Attached to this form is your SUNY New Paltz I-20 certificate of Eligibility for F-1 student status. You might receive several I-20 forms if you are accepted to several U.S. schools, but you must use the form from the school you want to attend. Sign the I-20 at item #11.
Schedule a visa interview
Contact your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy to ask about how to get an F-1 international student visa. First look at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate’s website instructions to schedule an interview for your F-1 student visa. A list of Consulates and Embassies can be found on the State Department website. It is important to apply for your student visa as early as possible.
Visa application forms
Most US Consulates now require all applicants for entry visas to complete the DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. The online form now combines several forms into one. You may also be instructed to upload digital pictures as part of your application. Please follow all visa application instructions carefully.
The website of your consulate may provide instructions in your native language or provide additional information specific to the procedures of that consulate.
Pay the $160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Fee by following instructions on your local US embassy or consulate’s website. Note that this fee is different from the $200 “SEVIS Fee” described below. (You may also have to pay a visa issuance fee, which is based on reciprocity between your country and the United States.)
New F-1 students with an I-20 marked for “initial” attendance (see #3 on your I-20 form), will also need to pay the $200 SEVIS fee.
We recommend that you pay the fee online by following the instructions:
To Pay Online
(a) Complete the form I-901 online and write your Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. IMPORTANT: write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form.
(b) Print a copy of the online receipt.
(c) Make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents
If you are not able to pay online, you must follow the “Pay By Mail” instructions below.
To Pay By Mail
Contact the Center for International Programs at SUNY New Paltz to request the form
Ask for the form by phone at 1-800-870-3676 (only inside the US)
(b) Complete the Form I-901. Write your name exactly how it appears on your I-20 form.
(c) Prepare a check, international money order or foreign draft (drawn on US banks only*) in the amount of $200 USD, made payable to “The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
(d) Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on Form I-901.
(e) A Form I-797 receipt confirmation letter should be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. Make copies of this receipt letter, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.
You must bring the receipt of fee payment with you to the interview. If you have lost the receipt, the Visa Officer should be able to view your payment history on the computer.
If you are transferring schools, extending your program, applying for an F-2 dependent visa, or have paid this fee and been denied a visa within the last twelve months, you do not need to pay the $200 SEVIS fee.
*Many foreign banks are able to issue checks or money orders drawn on a U.S. bank. You may therefore obtain a check from: 1) a bank chartered or operated in the United States; b) a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. bank, or c) a foreign bank that has an arrangement with a U.S. bank to issue a check, money order, or foreign draft that is drawn on a U.S. bank.
The Visa Interview
Arrive at your interview early and answer all the Visa Officer’s questions to you openly and honestly. Prepare and bring the following to your visa interview:
(a) A passport valid for at least six months
(b) Form I-20 (from SUNY New Paltz)
(b) School admission letter
(d) Confirmation page with barcode of the DS-160. This is the receipt of online submission of the application
(e) Two 2”x 2” photographs in the prescribed format (unless you uploaded digital photos with the online visa application)
(f) A receipt for the visa application fee
(g) A receipt for the SEVIS fee. If you have not received an official receipt in the mail showing payment and you paid the fee electronically, the consulate will accept the temporary receipt you printed from your computer. If you do not have a receipt, the consulate may be able to see your payment on the computer if your fee payment was processed at least 3 business days before your interview.
(h) Financial documents that show you have enough funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study. If you have a sponsor, you must bring the support letter and bank statement of your sponsor.
(i) Any information that proves you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the U.S. F-1 student status is for a temporary ‘non-immigrant’ stay in the United Sates. You may need to prove that you will return to your home country by showing personal and professional ties to your community, for example, proof of property (original documents of ownership required), or family (residing in your home country). Students may have problems documenting their plan to return home if:
i. They have previously stayed in the United States longer than permitted.
ii. They have many close family members living in the United States.
iii. They are not able to clearly explain why they plan to study in the United States and then return home.
iv. They are from a country where many students have not returned home after studying in the United States.
If any of these are true for you, ask yourself the following questions:
What major am I planning to study in the United States? How can I use the knowledge I learn when I return home? What kind of jobs will be available to me when I return to my home country? What personal/ family ties do I have at home? Do I have close relatives, etc? What other personal, professional and financial reasons do I have to return home?
If you have any questions, please contact the International Student Advisor at the Center for International Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (845) 257 3595.