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Student Visas

The Institute issues the required documentation needed to process a student visa application, provided that the students meets official eligibility requirements. Students with an F-1 visa must be enrolled full-time (at least 9 credit hours per semester).

After being admitted to an IWP academic program, please complete the I-20 Request Form and submit it to the Registrar’s Office with all required documentation.  With your Form I-20, you can apply for a student (F-1) visa.

International Students – Tips for U.S. Visas and Consulate Appointments

Applicants for student visas should apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to their place of permanent residence. First-time student visa applicants are required to appear for an in-person interview. In most consular sections, June, July, and August are the busiest months; interview appointments are the most difficult to get during that period. Students should plan ahead to avoid making repeat visits to the embassy. Please consult embassy websites or call for specific instructions.

When do I need to apply for a student visa?
What is needed to apply for a student visa?
Where is my closest U.S. Consulate?
How long is the wait to get a visa appointment?
Important additional information!
Useful links for more information/updates

When do I need to apply for my student visa?

  • You are encouraged to apply early to provide ample time for visa processing. You may apply for your visa as soon as you have your Form I-20.
  • You should note that Embassies and Consulates are able to issue your visa in 90 days or less, in advance of your start date as shown on your Form I-20.
  • You are advised of the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) regulation which requires that students enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start/report date as shown on their Form I-20.

What is needed to apply for a student visa?

Applying early and providing the requested documents does not guarantee that students will receive a visa. Each student’s personal and academic situation is different. For that reason, general guidelines are below that can be shortened or expanded by consular officers depending on a student’s situation. Please visit the consular and embassy websites to obtain the most accurate documentation required in each country. All student visa applicants must provide:

  • Application Form DS-160.Some applicants will also be required submit Form DS-157. A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent’s passport;
  • Original I-20 form (scanned or photocopies are not accepted) obtained from a U.S. college, school or university. Students must submit all 3 pages of the I-20, which should be signed by the student and a school official in the appropriate places;
  • A passport valid for at least 6 months after a student’s proposed entry date into the United States;
  • One (1) 2×2 photograph. Non-immigrant photo requirements are explained in detail at
  • A receipt showing payment of the visa application fee for each applicant, including each child listed in a parent’s passport who is also applying for a U.S. visa.

All applicants should be prepared to provide:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended;
  • Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL;
  • Financial evidence (e.g. bank statements, sponsorship forms, etc.) that shows you or your sponsor(s) have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study;
  • Explanation for choosing a course of study in the U.S.

Applicants with dependents must also provide:

  • Proof of the student’s relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates);
  • Families should apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student/visa holder’s passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

I-901 SEVIS fee (payment for the I-20 form)

Since September 1, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) collects a fee from international students to cover the costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The payment of I-901 fees will be recorded and tracked in SEVIS, the automated system for managing information about non-immigrant student and exchange visitors in the U.S.Who pays the fee? The student wishing to enter the United States or a third party such as the student’s relative or sponsor. Spouses and dependent children (F-2) of students do not pay this fee.

How much is the fee?

$200 for F-1 students.

How is the fee paid?

  • By using a credit card and completing the online I-901 form at (students should print and retain the online receipt to take to the visa interview); or
  • With a check or money order (drawn on a U.S. bank and payable in U.S. currency) sent through the mail with a completed paper form I-901 to:

I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
P.O. Box 970020
St. Louis, MO  63197-0200
United States

For assistance with an I-901 payment, please email or call +1-212-620-3418.

When do prospective students pay the SEVIS fee?

Applicants who require a visa to enter the United States must pay the SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate for their visa interviews.

The interviewing consular officer will confirm that the fee has been paid by accessing SEVIS. To allow for adequate processing time, the fee must be paid:

  • At least three business days prior to the visa interview date for electronic submissions.
  • For regular mail submissions, 15 business days should be allowed before the scheduled visa interview.

Nonimmigrants currently in the United States who apply for student status must pay the fee before filing their change of status application.

For urgent questions or problems, call the I-901 Help Desk at +1-785-330-1048.

Where is my closest U.S. consulate?

Please visit for a full listing of U.S. consulates.

How long is the wait to get a visa appointment?

The following link shows visa appointment wait times at consulates and embassies worldwide (select the closest city at the bottom of the page):

Additional Information – Very Important!

Student visa applicants must convince the consular officer that they have strong ties to their home country, that they have no intention of abandoning it, and that they will depart the United States when they have completed their studies. Applicants should prepare documents that support this claim.

U.S. Port of Entry (airport or border crossing)

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The immigration inspector has authority to deny admission. An immigration inspector (not a consular officer) determines the length of time a visa holder may remain in the United States. At the Port of Entry (POE), an inspector validates the I-20 form and I-94 card (record of arrival-departure that students receive at the POE) and notes the permitted length of stay.


An F-1 student may accept on-campus employment from the school who holds their I-20 record. He/She may not work off-campus at any time during the first year of study; however, in special cases, permission to work off-campus may be given after one year. Spouses and children of students may not be employed at any time.

Further Inquiries

Questions about how to obtain the SEVIS I-20 form should be made to the educational institution where a student is applying. Inquiries about visa application procedures, or overseas visa cases already in progress should be addressed to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling a student’s case.

How long may a student stay on an F-1 student visa?

Upon arriving in the United States on an F-1/student visa, students will usually be admitted for the duration of student status. That means a student may stay as long as he/she is a full-time student even if the F-1 visa in their passport expires while he/she is in the U.S.

Useful Information – Links Provided by U.S. Government Agencies (Check for changes and updates)