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How to Successfully Get Your F-1 Student Visa


The information on this page applies to accepted F-1 international students at SUNY Plattsburgh who have been issued an I-20. Prospective students can find out more about how to apply on our international admission pages.

F-1 Visa Application Process

  1. Pay the U.S. SEVIS I-901 fee and print out the receipt. You will need to present this receipt at your visa appointment. This fee is required for ALL international students who want to study in the United States. If you have more questions about the SEVIS I-901 fee, we invite you to visit this link: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm.
  2. Please visit https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ and complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160). Print out the DS-160 barcode page and bring it with you to your visa appointment. This form is required.
  3. Make an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country with jurisdiction over your place of residence.
  4. The Embassy/Consulate will not issue your visa more than 4 months before the program start date listed on your Form I-20.
  5. U.S. government officials require evidence to prove that you qualify for the F-1 visa.

What You Need to Have With You When You Go to the Visa Interview

  • Original Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status
  • DS-160 barcode page (confirmation page with application ID number on it)
  • MRV fee receipt ($160.00 US Dollars)
  • Valid passport (valid at least 6 months beyond intended stay)
  • (1) 2X2 photograph of you
  • Original letter of acceptance from SUNY Plattsburgh
  • Original financial documents (less than 6 months old)
  • Official test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, etc)
  • Official transcripts and diplomas
  • Proof of ties to your home country

Tips for a Successful Visa Interview

  1. Be brief and answer questions directly.
  2. Keep a positive attitude during the interview.
  3. Be ready to explain why you want to come to the United States to study at SUNY Plattsburgh. For example:
    1. Why do you want to study in the United States?
    2. Why did you choose SUNY Plattsburgh?
    3. What career will your studies prepare you for back home?
  4. You must convince the consul that you do plan to go back home to stay after you complete your studies. This is the number one reason for visa denial! Present documents that show you have “ties” to your home country, which will force you to return to your home country. These “ties” are usually social, economic, and/or family.
  5. Practice your English. Unless you are going to study English as a Second Language (ESL) on campus and it is written on your Form I-20, your interview will be in English. You will be required to speak it and show your TOEFL or IELTS score.
  6. Do not talk about working in the United States. You must be able to convince the consul that you have the sufficient funds to support you while you are studying and living in the U.S.

Important Notes for After Your Visa Interview

  1. After your F-1 student visa is issued and before you leave the Embassy/Consulate, please check the visa to make sure that all data on the visa is correct. Check that your name matches your name in your passport and that it shows that it is an F-1 visa. If these items are incorrect, please ask for them to be fixed.
  2. If your visa is denied, contact us with complete details of what was said and what documents you presented with your application. Please send us a copy of any written reason for the denial you may have been given. If you were denied based on 214(b) grounds, you did not present enough evidence regarding your “ties” to your home country.
  3. DO NOT plan to enter the United States earlier than 30 days before your program start date indicated on your Form I-20.
  4. DO NOT pack your immigration documents in your suitcase.
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