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Applying for an F-1 Visa

International Student Services: Newly Admitted Students




I- 20

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. Remember to sign your I-20.

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 Travel.State.Gov website for 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.

Visa application fee

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 $350 I-901 “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).

I-901 "SEVIS" Fee

New F-1 students with an I-20 marked for “initial” attendance (see your I-20 form), will also need to pay the $350 I-901 Fee.

We recommend that you pay the I-901 Fee online.  You can fill in the Form I-901 online at

Pay the I-901 Fee 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.  You must bring it to your visa interview.

(c) Make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.


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 DS-160 visa application fee.

(g) A receipt for the I-901 Fee.

(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 or call 845-257-3595.

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