Obtaining an F-1 Student Visa and Entering the United States
Your Form I-20 is necessary to obtain an F-1 Student Visa. This visa permits you to enter the United States for the purpose of studying at Lasell College. If you enter the U.S. on a tourist visa, you will be required to leave the U.S. in order to enter on a proper student visa. You must be enrolled as a full-time student to obtain an F-1 student visa.
Obtaining a Visa
- If you do not have a passport, you must obtain one from the appropriate office of your government. Your passport must be valid for at least six months into the future at all times. It is your responsibility to be aware of the expiration date of your passport and to renew it at the appropriate time.
- We recommend that you schedule an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible. For the latest information on visa processing, required materials, and current listings of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, we recommend the following web link from the U.S. Department of State: http://usembassy.state.gov.
- Read carefully all the information on the Form 1-20, especially page two. This will explain your legal responsibilities as an F-1 student in the United States. Sign the Student Certification (#11) on page 1 of the Form 1-20, and provide the information requested if under the age of 18.
- With your passport, proof of financial support, Form I-20, and acceptance letter from Lasell College, go to (or mail the materials to) the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You will also need an application fee of $200. Consult the above link for the processing procedures in your region. The U.S. Consular Officer will review your papers, and if all is in order, issue an F-1 student visa permitting you to enter the U.S. for the purpose of studying at Lasell College.
Application check list:
- Passport valid for at least six months
- Completed Form I-20
- Acceptance letter from Lasell
- Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Proof of financial support
- Evidence of English ability sufficient for study
- Application fee of $200
- Proof that you have paid the SEVIS fee - also $200 (see below*)
Consulates vary in the amount of time they require to issue a visa and the fees charged. It is important to contact the specific consular office where you intend to apply to ask about specific local procedures.
The consular officer will require you to present proof of having paid the SEVIS fee ($200). To learn more about this new fee or to pay online visit http://www.fmjfee.com
A new initiative allows Western Union to collect the SEVIS I-901 fee in local currency, along with the needed Form I-901 data, and to transmit the payment and data electronically to SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program). The properly completed Western Union receipt serves as immediate proof-of-payment for a visa interview at a U.S. consulate and for admission at a U.S. port of entry. This option is available in any country where Western Union offers its Quick Pay™ service. The instructions, along with a completed sample of the Western Union form, can be found on the SEVP website.
It is imperative that you read the instructions for this payment option on the SEVP website at www.ice.gov/sevis and bring a printed copy of the instructions and the sample of the completed Western Union form, also on the website, to the Western Union Agent in order to correctly process your payments.
If you have received an I-20 from more than one school, be sure to use the I-20 of the school you plan to attend when applying for your visa. The Consular Officer will only issue the visa for one Form 1-20 and will cancel all other I-20s in SEVIS (the electronic Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).
You will not get a visa if you do not prove to the Consular Officer that you plan to return to your home country when you complete your studies in the U.S. In order to demonstrate to the Consular Officer that you will return to your country, you must show that:
- You have sufficient funds to cover all your expenses for the duration of your stay in the U.S. If sponsored by an agency, be prepared to show a letter of award. If your support is from personal and/or family funds, be prepared to show bank statements, certified letters of credit and proof of your annual salary and/or your total available or anticipated assets of that of your immediate family. At a minimum, you must prove to the satisfaction of the U.S. Consul that you have sufficient funds for at least one year of study. You will not be allowed to work off-campus during your time at Lasell and jobs on campus are limited.
- You have good reason to return home when you finish your program (e.g. all your family is in your country and not in the U.S.; you have a job awaiting you in your country; all your assets are at home and not in the U.S. etc.) You must show that you have strong ties (professional, family, financial, etc.) to your country and that you will return home upon completion of your studies.
If you cannot prove these points to the Consular Officer, you may be denied a visa. In order to maintain an F-1 status, you must maintain a valid passport and pursue a full course of study, making progress toward the completion of the course of study. A full course of study is at least 12 credit hours per term. If you are not taking a full course load, you are in danger of losing your F-1 status.
If you have any questions please contact:
Bradi Hajjar, Associate Director, Director of International Recruitment, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine Lookner, Director of International Student Services, by e-mail at email@example.com