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International Visa Application

F-1 Student Visa Application

As you may already know, if you are a citizen of a country other than the United States, you are required to get a student visa to study in the U.S. You will need to take your SMSU issued I-20 to the nearest U.S. consulate to apply for your F-1 Visa. More information about your Visa interview that is not provided here can be found here.

How to Apply

To apply for a F-1 Student Visa, there are several important steps you must take. Due to each country possibly having different application processes and different order of taking these said steps, kindly visit the official embassy or consulate website where you wish to apply. With that said, there are still areas of your application that will be the same for all applicants, no matter where you are from.

Online Visa Application

Please note that the online visa application is NOT your complete visa application. This online application we refer to is the DS-160 form. You must first complete this online form to then schedule an interview appointment. To learn more about the DS-160 form, kindly visit the official U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs specifically on the information about the DS-160 electronic form. Please follow the instructions given and complete your DS-160 form online at the official U.S. Department of State, Consular Electronic Application Center website.

I-901 SEVIS Fee

All students applying for an F-1 Student Visa are required by our U.S. government to pay a $200 fee to cover the costs of administering and maintaining the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Learn more about it the I-901 SEVIS Fee. This fee can be paid in one of the following ways:

  • The fee may be paid by mail, by submitting the I-901 Form, together with a check or money order to the U.S. government that has been drawn on a U.S. bank and has been made payable in U.S. currency. (An application fee submitted from outside the United States may be made by an international money order or foreign draft drawn on a financial institution in the United States, and payable in U.S. currency.) In other words, many foreign banks are able to issue checks or money orders drawn on a U.S. bank. the form you will need to pay the SEVIS fee can be downloaded at the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) website.
  • Pay your fee electronically by completing the Form I-901 through the internet and using a credit. Kindly visit the official Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) SEVIS I-901 Fee processing website to pay your I-901 SEVIS fee online.
  • The Department of Homeland Security acknowledges that some people may experience difficulty making these payments. To reduce as many of these problems as possible, the Department of Homeland Security will accept fee payments from a third party, either in the United States or abroad, using the methods mentioned previously.

Please note that fee payments does not need to be completed prior to scheduling an interview with the consulate - or any other activities undertaken prior to the in-person application process at the embassy. However, the fee payment must be processed at least 3 days before you go for your visa interview. If the payment has not been processed at least 3 days before you go for your visa interview, you will not be issued an F-1 Student Visa. For individuals that made their payments visa the internet will be able to print out a receipt and will be able to use that printed receipt for immediate verification of payment. Those submitting their fee by mail will be mailed a paper receipt to the address provide on the I-901 Form. Finally, prospective students who have paid the fee and were denied a visa will not have to pay another fee for the same visa classification for a period of 12 months.

Schedule an Interview

Please note that you should schedule your visa interview when you receive notification of your SEVIS number from SMSU.  You do not need to wait to schedule an interview until you receive your I-20, however you must have the I-20 when you do go for your interview.  So, you must give yourself enough time to receive the I-20.  . Most visa applicants are required to schedule an interview to obtain their visas. We say most because there are special cases whereby the applicant does not need a visa interview. Please visit the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs website to check your eligibility for an exception. Assuming all applicants are not in any special cases, you must schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which you live. Learn more about this process at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Prepare for the Interview

There is a number of documents that you must prepare to show before your interview. These documents are and not limited to:

  • A valid passport to travel to the United States
  • A DS-160 Form confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt which you will receive after paying the fee
  • A photo of the applicant that fulfills the photo requirements
  • I-20 Form that was mailed to you after officially being admitted to SMSU

Note that the list above will vary depending on your home country. For example, you may need to show your past academic history or a financial statement/affidavit to proof your eligibility to study in the U.S. Kindly visit the U.S. embassy or consulate website where you apply to learn more about preparing for your interview.

Visa interview

Here comes the part that can be scary: the actual visa interview. SMSU cannot guarantee anything regarding your visa application but we can provide you with some suggestions that will help you in your interview.

  • Make sure you address your interviewee with the utmost respectful and polite manner.
  • Answers like: "Yes, sir"/"No sir" or "Yes ma'am"/"No ma'am" will be appreciated by officers at the embassy
  • Many times, officers will make their decision based on whether they judge your intent is to immigrate to the United States. If the officer believe that you will use your F-1 status as a means to gain entry to the United States to seek permanent residency, your chances of being denied a visa greatly increases.
  • Any assurance you can provide indicating that you are coming to the U.S. for an education and that you intend to return to your home country will improve your chances of getting an F-1 student visa.  Talk about what you hope to accomplish with your degree once you return home . Talk about your family/friend ties in your home country.  Etc. 
  • Become very familiar with Southwest Minnesota State University! One problem that students have encountered is that they do not know enough about SMSU. You may need to answer questions such as" "Why did you choose SMSU?", "What can you tell me about your academic program?", "Where is SMSU? How many students attend?" or "Are you familiar with the weather in Minnesota?"
  • Be sure that you have all your financial documents up to date and meet the required amount that is stated in the international application packet.
  • Ensure that you have paid the I-901 SEVIS Fee at least THREE (3) days before your interview. Do NOT send the form or any money to SMSU regarding the SEVIS fee. We will NOT process it and this will cause a delay in your interview.
  • Start the application process early. Interview appointment times fill up rapidly and you may not be able to secure an appointment if you wait.
  • Be sure that your name is spelled exactly as it is on your passport in ALL of your documents which includes your I-20.

To learn more about the visa interview, watch this video by a third party. Note that this video is NOT maintained or originated by anyone from SMSU, this video only functions as a third party source of information.

Note: Kindly spend some time on the website and become familiar with SMSU and the website. Before you contact us to ask questions, kindly spend time studying the website and review what is easily accessible.

Last Modified: 7/6/22 3:16 PM | Website Feedback