3 - 5 months prior to U.S.study:

"To prepare for your interview, be calm and have all your documents organized.


- Student from Ethiopia

"Be sure you know how the student visa process works. Follow up and get involved if you have questions.


- Student from Argentina

STEP 1: Receive your certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student status: either Form I-20 (for F or M visa) or Form DS-2019 (for J visa).

        To apply for a visa, you must first have received a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. The U.S. academic institution or program sponsor will provide you with the appropriate form only after you have:

        Been admitted to a SEVP-approved institution or accepted in an exchange program.

        Provided evidence that you can meet all the costs of the program.

        The academic institutions that admit you will send you a Form I-20 (for F or M visa) or Form DS-2019 (for J-visa) depending on the visa that matches your study status.

STEP 2: Pay SEVIS fee

        You must pay a SEVIS fee and fill out other visa applications forms prior to your visa interview. Go to the SEVIS I-901 fee processing website for complete information about paying your SEVIS fee. Follow the instructions carefully. For more information, you may also visit the Study in the States website for students.

STEP 3: Schedule Your Interview and Apply for Your Visa

        Refer to the U.S. nonimmigrant visa website to complete the required application forms.






        It is best practice to ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the end of your study in the United States and that your name is spelled correctly and appears the same on all documents.

        Be sure to have your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 and your SEVIS receipt.

        Confirm you have the required documents and schedule your visa interview following the instructions on the website of your nearest
U.S. embassy or consulate.

        During the interview, be prepared to answer questions regarding ties to your home country, your English language skills, your academic background, the program in the United States to which you have been admitted, and proof of your financial ability.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a program within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that manages the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is the internet-based system that maintains records of foreign students and exchange visitors before and during their stays in the United States.

Once you receive the required documentation, you can make an appointment with the U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a visa. Even if you do not intend to begin your program for several months, it is best to apply as early as possible. Your visa can be issued up to 120 days before your arrival in the United States.


Any inconsistencies can delay the issuance of your visa.


Visa interview scheduling is done online or by phone at most U.S. embassies and consulates.


Consult an EducationUSA Adviser who can help you to understand visa requirements, prepare for your interview, or answer other questions about the student visa process.

Your answers to the questions asked in Step 1: Research Your Options will also help you prepare for your visa interview.

Follow the Step-by-Step Visa Application Process