Obtaining a student visa
Required documents and necessary steps
- Complete the visa application form and pay visa fees.
- Receipt for payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee, if applicable. Click here for information on SEVIS fees.
- Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the United States.
- You will need a photograph (two inches high, two inches wide).
- Form I-20 for the school or program you wish to attend.
- Financial evidence detailing the source and amount of your funding.
Consular and immigration officers exercise considerable discretion in determining whether financial support exists and is sufficient to cover your entire period of stay. Prepare documentation that is thorough, consistent, credible, and varied.
- Official academic transcripts, confirmation of enrollment, and proof of English language proficiency may also be requested.
- Evidence of continuing ties to your home country (i.e. family, career, or property).
Visa applicants are presumed to be "intending immigrants." Your visa will be denied unless you satisfy the consular officer that you will return home. Unfortunately, there is no single explanation, document, or letter than can guarantee visa issuance.
Tips for obtaining a visa
- Apply for the visa in a timely manner. For wait times, consult the embassy or consulate where you will apply.
- If students are denied the visa, they should ask the visa officer the reason for denial and then consult with the WSU Spokane international advisor, Liz West (email@example.com).
The consular interview is an important step in the process of receiving a visa. Often, the initial impression a consular interviewer receives from you is critical to your success. Reviewing the tips provided below may help you during your consular interview.
- Keep your answers concise. Be honest in everything you write on your visa application and say during the interview. Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English. Do not bring other people to speak on your behalf.
- Be able to explain the reasons you want to study in the U.S. and remember that your main reason for coming to the United States is to study, not to work.
- If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your home country, be prepared to explain how they will support themselves in your absence. If they are accompanying you to the U.S., what are the financial arrangements?
- As a temporary visitor, you may be questioned about your intention to return your home country after completing your studies. You should be ready to provide evidence that you do not intend to emigrate to the U.S. and that you intend to return to your home country after completing your studies.
Examples of evidence include a voter registration card, proof that you or your parents own an apartment or house, and evidence of a bank account.
- If you are denied the visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring the next time you apply, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.
Maintain a positive attitude! Do not argue with the consular officer.
International students should apply for visas in their home country, unless circumstances or travel plans make this impossible. If the student applies in a third country, the application may take more time and be reviewed more critically than if it was applied for at home.
The U.S. Department of State maintains an authoritative website on the visa application process that should be studied carefully. The information below provides a brief summary.
Security and name checks
Effective November 13, 2001, certain visa applicants became subject to an additional name check clearance procedure before being issued a non-immigrant visa. The procedure requires consular officers to send the visa applicant's name to be checked against information in various security, law enforcement, and intelligence databases.
Visa applicants affected include (but may not be limited to) males between the ages of 16 and 45 from one of the following countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen and students in certain areas of study. Reports indicate that the procedure can take at least 20 business days.If you potentially belong to an affected group, please factor this extra time into your planned visa processing time.