How to apply for F1 Student Visa
Virginia International University (VIU) has been authorized by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to issue I-20 forms for international students. This official form is the certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status (F-1 visa) for academic and/or language study in the US.
In order to attend VIU as an international student, you must obtain an F-1 student visa from the US embassy in your country. Before applying for a visa you must be accepted by VIU, have received an acceptance letter, as well as a letter introducing VIU to the US embassy in your country, and your official student visa SEVIS I-20 form.
SEVIS Fee: As of 2009, USCIS began charging a non refundable $200 fee to all international students and exchange visitors applying for an I-20. The fee must be completely processed before the applicant can have a visa interview at the local consulate or embassy. The Form I-901 can be completed and payment can be submitted with a credit card at www.fmjfee.com. Other options are to print the I-901 form and either mail the payment to the address in the U.S. or pay using the Western Union Quick PayTM service. Applicants will need the receipt of payment (form I-797) before going to the interview at the local consulate or embassy. For directions on completing the I-901 form, click here.
Who is allowed to study in the United States?
A non-immigrant is someone admitted to the US temporarily for a specific purpose. People who are coming to the United States to pursue full-time academic or vocational studies are usually admitted in one of two non-immigrant categories:
How to get a Student Visa
To apply for a student visa, you must:
- Apply to VIU and pay the non-refundable $150 application fee. Choose a program of study and provide all the admission requirements for your program of interest.
- If you're accepted to a program, you will be sent: a) an official "Acceptance Letter", b) SEVIS Form I-20 and c) an official letter from VIU prepared for the US embassy in your country.
- A Statement of Financial Support: In order to study in the US, you must be able to pay for your school and living expenses (rent, food, transportation, etc.). Evidence of the necessary financial resources required for the course of study must be presented during the visa interview.
- You must demonstrate that you have social, family, work, or other compelling circumstances that will obligate you to return to your native country upon completion of your studies.
To apply for a student visa, you must submit the documents listed above (#2, 3, and 4) to the nearest US consulate or embassy in your home country to obtain a student visa. Only bring the SEVIS Form I-20 from the school you plan to attend for visa processing at the U.S. consulate.
When You Arrive in the US
When you arrive in the United States, you should receive a form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) that will include your admission number to the United States. An Immigration inspector will write this admission number on your SEVIS Form I-20. This record of “port of entry” will be entered into the electronic SEVIS system and VIU will immediately be notified of your arrival in the country. You should keep your Form I-94 safe, because it proves that you legally entered the United States. If this is your initial entry in to the US, you must immediately come to VIU to register for the semester and enrol in full-time classes within the “add and drop” period. If you fail to do so, your status will be terminated and you will loose your F-1 visa.
Please note, initial F-1 visa holders can NOT be admitted to the US sooner than 30 days before the start of the course of study mentioned on the student’s I-20 form. Upon your arrival you will be given a small white I-94 card; stapled inside your passport. This is your "Arrival/Departure Card." The importance of this card is that:
- The I-94 card indicates your status (usually F-1 and stamped as D/S meaning “Duration of Status”).
- Some I-94 cards may indicate a specific date by which you must leave the US.