Getting your Visa
How to Get Your Student U.S. (F-1) Visa in Your Country
To apply for a student visa, you must first make an appointment for a personal interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. June, July, and August are the busiest months, so getting an appointment may be difficult. Apply for your visa as soon as you know when you plan to travel. You can call the embassy or go to the embassy Web site for information and instructions.
Show these items when you go to the Embassy for your interview:
- An I-20 form and SEVIS fee payment receipt (included with your acceptance letter from the University of Northern Iowa)
- A completed DS-158 and DS-156 Non-Immigrant Visa Application with a photo of each person applying (these forms are available at the U.S. embassy)
- A passport that is valid for at least 6 months past your expected stay in the U.S.
- A receipt for the visa processing fee for each applicant
- Financial documents (such as bank books, account statements, tax documents, or a scholarship or sponsor letter) proving you have enough money to pay for tuition and living expenses in the U.S.
- Proof of your relationship to your spouse and children if you are married and/or have children
Consuls (embassy officials) also must be convinced that:
- You have a residence in your home country
- You intend to return to your home country
- You intend to leave the US after your study
During your visa interview:
You need to listen carefully to the questions the embassy official asks you.
You must answer all questions the embassy official asks. Remember, the F-1 visa is for people who plan to return to their home country. Tell the official when you are going to return home after your study.
Talk about your professional development: How will you use English when you get back to your country? Why is it important for you to know English? Will you study more after you have finished your English program? Which subject?
Talk about learning English more quickly with personal knowledge of the U.S. culture and interactions with native English speakers.
Talk about your choice of program. Show that you know about the University of Northern Iowa and explain why you chose this university. Mention that some of the most advanced teaching methods in language learning can be found in the U.S.
Do NOT say you want to go to the U.S. because:
- Your friends are there
- You like American movies (or some unimportant reason)
- You have family in the U.S.
Remember that an official sees 200 people a day. Officials do not have a lot of time to discuss your application; they must make a quick decision. Help them by being completely prepared.
What to do if the official refuses to give you a visa:
The most frequent reason for a visa refusal is because the official thinks you will not return to your home country.
Think again about your ties to your home country: family relationships, work, home or farm ownership, and other commitments. Is there any additional evidence that you could present? Did you explain your situation clearly? Did you answer all the questions?
If your visa is denied, you can re-apply.
If you decide to re-apply, you should be prepared to show additional evidence or explain in a different way how your situation has changed since the first application.
You should try to apply for a visa at least 2 times.
You can find additional information at the Department of State web site: http://www.state.gov