Once a student receives the Form I-20 or DS-2019, the next step of the process is to apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. visas are issued only through U.S. embassies and consulates outside the United States. Individuals usually apply for visas in their home countries although it is often possible to apply in another country.
- Form DS-160: This is an online visa application used by many U.S. embassies and consulates. Please review the U.S. Department of State information concerning the Form DS-160 for your visa application.
- Visa Consular Fees: Each country consulate has its own instruction for paying the visa consular fees. You can find these instructions on the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate you will visit.
- Photograph: Photo is a vital part of the visa application. To learn more about the specific guidelines about the photograph requirement please visit travel.state.gov visa photograph requirement page.
- Additional Documentation: Visit the website for the US Embassy or Consulate you will be visiting to find additional documentation they may require.
Paying the SEVIS Fee
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System): This system enables the U.S. Government to maintain updated information on F visa holders. For more information about SEVIS, please visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.
- SEVIS Fee for F Students: The Department of Homeland Security collects a congressionally mandated fee to cover the costs of updating SEVIS. The SEVIS fee for all new F-1 visa holders is $350 and for J-1 visa the fee is $220. Accompanying dependents do not pay the SEVIS fee.
- Paying SEVIS Fee: The SEVIS fee must be paid by U.S. dollars. Those with credit cards and access to the Internet may pay the SEVIS fee online. Those without access to the Internet and credit cards may pay the SEVIS fee by a personal check, money order, or foreign draft drawn on a U.S. bank. The fee and the Form I-901 must be mailed to I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee, P.O. Box 970020, St. Louis, MO 63197-0020
- Evidence of the SEVIS fee payment in the form of a receipt or a payment verification print-out must be presented during a visa application interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
For more information about the SEVIS fee, please refer to the SEVIS website or contact the ISS.
Schedule an Appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
To schedule an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate please follow the instructions on the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate you will visit. Please also look at the required documents that you will need to carry in your specific visa category on this website.
Preparing for your Visa Interview
As you prepare for your visa interview, be prepared to address the following questions:
- Prepare a one page only statement explaining why you chose the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to study. Explain what the academic advantages are for you by attending UA Little Rock. Describe your plans for your future career after you return home. Make sure you can tell the officer how your studies in the U.S. will help you with the job market in your home country.
- Explain in detail to the officer that you will return to your home country and that you have no intention of abandoning your home residence. Since F-1 is a non-immigrant visa, the officer will only grant you a visa if he or she believes that you will return home after your studies.
- Be able to show all finances that are available to you. We also encourage you to take additional financial documentation of personal funds (between $5,000- $10,000 USD) to your interview, which could assist in covering unexpected costs.
- Bank statements should be on bank letterhead and be issued within the past 6 months. If you are using a bank account statement from someone other than yourself, also bring an affidavit of support form this sponsor.
- The officer understands that you are coming to UA Little Rock to study English and will not be evaluating your English proficiency. Just do your best to communicate your future plans.
- Visit StudyInTheStates.dhs.gov for additional assistance preparing for your visa interview.
If your visa was not approved or you wish to join us in a future semester, you may defer your admission to a future semester and receive an updated Form I-20 or DS-2019. Learn more about Deferring to a Future Semester.
Learn more: Sponsoring a Dependent