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F-1 Visa Checklist

Applying for an F-1 international student visa or status can involve multiple steps and documentation. Below you will find detailed information about the steps you need to take, the documents that need to be completed, and the various ways you can pay your fees.

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How to Apply for an F-1 Student Visa

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply.

1) Pay the SEVIS fee

A United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule requires F-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time fee of $350 to supplement the administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Detailed information is available at the Study in the States website.

A prospective F or M student with a country of citizenship or country of birth of Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or Gambia must pay by money order, Western Union Quick Pay, or certified check drawn from a U.S. bank. All other prospective F or M students also have the option to make a credit card payment on FMJfee.com.  Someone else can pay your I-901 SEVIS Fee using the same method of payment you are eligible to use. For students who cannot pay the fee by credit card, third party payers are also restricted from paying the fee by credit card. For detailed instructions or for assistance on how to make an I-901 SEVIS Fee payment, view the instructional video on the Study in the States website or call the SEVP Response Center at +1 (703) 603-3400.

Retain a copy of your SEVIS fee receipt (Form I-901), as your should bring it to your visa interview, and it may be required later.

If you paid the SEVIS fee using another school's SEVIS ID, you will need to transfer the fee to match Franklin's SEVIS ID.  Please see What do I do if I paid on one SEVIS ID number and now want to go to a different school or participate in a different exchange visitor program? on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

If your F-1 visa application is denied the SEVIS fee will not be refunded. If you reapply for a new F-1 visa within 12 months of the fee payment, however, you will not have to pay the fee again.

2) Apply for a visa from your local embassy:

Review the Nonimmigrant Visa information at the U.S. Department of State website, and locate the nearest embassy or consulate.  

  • Fill out a Form DS-160 non-immigrant visa application
  • Pay the visa application fee.
  • Schedule an appointment to go to the embassy for a visa interview.
  • Gather documents for the interview that include:
    • Passport, valid for at least six months
    • Your I-20 issued by Franklin University
    • Your admission letter from Franklin University
    • 2 recent passport-size photos
    • Supporting documents showing evidence of strong ties to one’s home country
    • Your receipt of payment for the SEVIS fee
    • Financial documents to prove you have financial support while you are in the USA

See our suggested tips for having a successful visa interview.

Additional Information

  • We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • F-1 students who are outside the United States and who have not been in the U.S. in more than five months should contact OISP for instructions for obtaining a new I-20 to re-enter the U.S.
  • Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid U.S. visa in your expired passport, bring the expired passport along with your new, valid passport for travel to the U.S.