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Visa Issuance Process

According to the U.S. Department of State, once you have received the I-20 or DS-2019, you will be ready to apply for a student visa. Every U.S. embassy and consulate has different procedures for applying for a visa. 

Go to to find the website for the U.S. embassy or consulate closest to your home.

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule your Visa Appointment

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence. 

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply: 

F-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your course of study start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States earlier than 30 days before your start date.

Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements. 
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20A-B. ISSS will send you a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 once we have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your ISSS advisor must sign the Form I-20. All students, their spouse and minor children if they intend to reside in the United States with the student, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). Each person receives an individual Form I-20.

If the visa officer approves your visa, your passport should have the F-1 or J-1 visa affixed to one of the pages. In addition, your I-20 or DS-2019 will be returned to you in a sealed envelope that must be presented at the U.S. port of entry. Keep your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and financial documents with you during travel.

It is not guaranteed that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.