After recieving your I-20, obtaining a visa to legally be in the United States is one of the first steps all international students must complete prior to their arrival to the United States. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you through the visa application process.
Step 1: Pay your SEVIS fee
- After receiving your I-20, you must file form I-901 and pay a SEVIS fee of $200 in full and have the receipt for your visa interview.
- To file your form I-901 and pay your SEVIS fee please click here.
Step 2: Schedule your visa interview
- There is no time limit on how soon you can apply for the student visa; however, the visa cannot be granted more than 120 days prior to the start date on your I-20
- The sooner you apply the better. Consulate offices get extremely busy during the late summer months of July, August, and September. It is not wise to wait until the last minute for your visa.
- If you receieve your visa early, you are not allowed to enter the United States more than 30 days prior to the start date on your I-20
Step 3: Prepare for your visa interview
Gather required documents required for the visa interview:
- Form I-20 F-1 visa holders OR Form DS-2019 J-1 visa holders
- Evidence of ability to meet all financial obligations and expenses of studying at Ohio Northern University
- Evidence of English ability sufficient for course of study
- Evidence of intent to depart the U.S. after completion of studies student visas are nonimmigrant visas
- Passport that is valid for at least 6 months in the future
- Photograph check with embassy for specific dimensions
- SEVIS Fee payment proof
- Canadian citizens do not need to obtain a student visa before entering the United States. Upon entering the United States a Canadian citzen only needs to show his or her I-20 or DS-2019 and passport at the US border. Be sure that Customs gives you an I-94!
- Plan to enter the United States on the F-1 or J-1 visa. Changing from B-2 visitor visa to F-1 or J-1 status can take several months. You may not work or be paid while waiting for the change in status. Sometimes this change of status request is denied. Those entering the United States on a visa waiver program cannot change status in the United States.
Prepare for a successful visa interview:
- Many visa applications fail. In some countries most visa applications fail. If you are from countries where the majority of visa applications fail it is very important to apply early and bring many documents to prove you are coming to the United States for academic purposes only.
- Most often visa applications fail because the applicant was unprepared or did not know the rules We do not want this to happen to you.
Tips for a successful visa interview:
- The consular officer will take a very legalistic view. In the United States it is considered important to be impersonal when administering laws. This may be considered rude or improper in many countries, but not in the United States, where the ideal is to apply the laws equally to all, regardless of status or sex.
- This most important rule may seem strange; however, the consular officer who makes the decision on your visa application is required to think of you as someone who plans to come to the United States permanently. It is up to you to proove that you intend to return to your country after completeing studies. U.S. law states very clearly that F and M visas may only be given to persons who intend to remain in the U.S. temporarily. This rule is the number one reason for denials of student visa applications.
The Do's and Don'ts of visa interviews
- Have a definite academic or professional objective. You must know what you are going to study and where it will lead. Be ready to say what you want to study and what kind of career it will prepare for you in your home country.
- Bring documents to prove you are adequately financed to pay for your studies at ONU.
- If your family owns a business, take letters from a bank describing the business to the visa interview with you.
- Try to negotiate with the consular
- Try to bribe the consular
- Discuss personal matters that do not involve pursuing higher education in the United States
- Emphasize any ties you may have to the United States or to family member in the United States
- your visa application is stronger if at least part of your financial support comes from your home country, even if most of your support comes from the United States.
- Do not speak about employment nor plan to use employment as a means of support while you are in the United States. Although working opportunities may come your way in your duration of study, as F-1 or J-1 visa holders your primary reason to come to the United States is for academic purposes not employment.
Additional resources for visa applicants:
- U.S Department of State
- Websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates and Diplomatic Missions
- 10 Tips to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa
Step 4: Inform International Admissions and Services on your visa status.
- Once you find out if your visa has been approved or denied please email International Admissions.