Center for International Programs

Obtaining an F-1 Visa

To enter the U.S., you will need to obtain an F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You may apply for a visa up to 120 days before the start date on your I-20.

To obtain an F-1 visa, you will need the following documents:

1. Immigration Form I-20 (F1) or DS2019 (J1)
2. Passport;
3. Receipt for SEVIS fee payment

Paying the F-1 SEVIS Fee: Prior to applying for your F-1 visa, you must pay a SEVIS fee. This fee is in addition to the visa application fee. You can pay the fee electronically online. Make sure that the payment is received at least 3 days before your visa interview, or for Canadian citizens, 3 days before you enter the U.S. For more information on this fee, please click here.

4. Admission letter from Humboldt State
5. Evidence of financial support (Copy of Certificate of Finance form—supported by bank statement or scholarship letter)
6. Evidence of ties to your home country (e.g., family and property ties, your plan to apply your U.S. education to your career in your home country, etc.)
7. Visa application form

Application Fee: You must pay the visa application fee to obtain a visa. Please check with your U.S. Consulate to see if they require any additional documents. You can visit the Department of State website to learn more about the visa process and to schedule an appointment.

All nonimmigrants require a valid visa stamp in their passports before coming to the U.S. to work or study. Exceptions to this general rule include citizens of Canada or contiguous islands that are considered visa exempt.

 In general, a valid visa stamp is also required for nonimmigrants returning to the U.S. after travel abroad. An exception to this general rule exists when a student travels to only to Canada or Mexico (and certain contiguous territories) and complies with the automatic visa revalidation standards.

 Visa stamps in passports are only for admission to the U.S. in a specific status, or visa "type". After admission, visa stamps do not have any substantive impact on one's status in the U.S. Therefore it is not necessary for nonimmigrants maintaining status in the U.S. to possess a valid visa stamp in their passport. An expired visa may only need to be renewed for re-entry into the U.S.

 Visit for a list of embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions. Each Web site will have specific visa application procedures for your area. Also visit for information about visa wait times in your area. Note that visa wait time information is not always accurate. Visa application procedures, appointment times and visa issuance times are subject to change without notice.

Visa application appointments must be scheduled in advance. You should plan to schedule your visa application appointment at least one month in advance. In some instances, applications must be scheduled many months in advance. Please note that you should ensure that you schedule your visa application appointment for a date when you will have all required materials. Visa applications will often require a document from the U.S. such as an I-20, DS-2019 or I-797. You should ensure that you will have this document at the time of your application.

 F-1 and J-1 applicants (among others) must demonstrate to the U.S. consulate that they do not plan to reside in the U.S. permanently. These applicants should be prepared to provide the consulate with ample documentation that they plan to return to their home country. F-1 and J-1 applicants must also pay the SEVIS fee (SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) prior to their applications.

 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa

Center for International Programs
Humboldt State University
1 Harpst Street.
Arcata, CA, 95521-8299 U.S.A.

Telephone: +1 (707) 826-4142
Fax: +1 (707) 826-3939