Most non-U.S. citizens who wish to study in the United States seek an F-1 (non-immigrant) student visa.
A new F-1 or J-1 visa can only be acquired at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States. It is not possible to renew a visa by mail or in person within the United States.
Each U.S. embassy has different visa application procedures; most now require appointments for visa processing. You should contact the U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply for your visa for additional information or to set up an appointment if required. Please plan ahead as there is a wait time at most embassies.
Anyone applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa must "prove" to the satisfaction of the consular officer that he or she does not intend to immigrate to the U.S. It is important to bring supporting documents to provide evidence of your intent to return to your home country such as: proof of family ties, ownership of property in your home country, a job in your home country, etc.
In addition to the visa application fee, first-time F-1 and J-1 applicants (and some renewing applicants) are also required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
Call the Bureau of Consular Affairs at (202) 485-7600, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Washington, D.C. time.
What to Bring to the Visa Interview
Be sure to bring the following with you to the visa appointment:
- Required photo(s)
- Visa fee or proof of visa fee payment
- Federal SEVIS fee payment receipt
- U.S. non-immigrant visa application forms (unless you will completing it at the consulate or embassy)
- Salve Regina admission letter
- Salve Regina University SEVIS I-20
- Test scores and academic records
- Proof of English proficiency
- Proof of financial support
- Evidence of ties to your home country
- Any other documents required by the embassy or consulate
Remember that if you plan to attend Salve Regina, you must present the visa officer with an I-20 issued by Salve Regina. You cannot apply for a U.S. visa using anther school’s I-20 and then try to attend Salve Regina, as that is considered to be a fraudulent entry by U.S. immigration authorities.
Strategies for the Visa Appointment
Be definite and clear about your educational plans. You should be able to explain precisely what you wish to study and why you chose Salve Regina for your education. Be especially prepared to explain your reasons for studying in the United States rather than your country.
Anticipate that the visa interview will be conducted in English. Do not bring your parents or other family members with you to the visa interview. You will create a negative impression if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.
Demonstrate convincing reasons for consular officials to believe that you intend to return home after studies in the United States. Emphasize ties to your home country such as employment, family obligations, bank accounts, family members at home, property or investments that you own or will inherit, and clear explanations of how you plan to use your education to help your country or pursue a career when you return home.
Be prepared to prove financial ability to pay for your education and living expenses. While some students work part time during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their education. You must show the consular officer that you have the annual amount in U.S. dollars listed on your I-20. Your financial evidence should be in the form of bank statements, affidavits of support, scholarship award letters, etc.
Because of the volume of visa applications, consular officials are under considerable pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. For the most part, they must make a decision on the impression they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers short and to the point.
Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from these countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities in the United States.
If you have a spouse and/or children remaining behind in your home country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular official gains the impression that your family members will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support them, your student visa will almost surely be denied.