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Visa & SEVIS Information

How to Apply for a Student Visa

Don't wait until the last minute!

  • If you are applying for a student visa for the first time, an in-person interview is usually required. June, July, and August are usually the busiest months, so it might be difficult to get an appointment during this time.

Apply for your visa as soon as you know when you plan to travel.

  • Allow several weeks for planning and getting an appointment for the visa. You can call the embassy or go to the U.S. embassy web site for information and instructions.
  • You can also contact an EducationUSA Advising Center near you to learn more about how to apply for a visa in your home country.
    Follow the links to your region and country to find the center nearest you.
  • Studying in the United States also provides useful information for international students planning to study in the United States.
  • For more information on obtaining a U.S. visa, visit VisaGuide.World.

All F-1 visa applicants must pay a US $200 SEVIS fee before applying for a visa.

  • The $200 SEVIS fee is in addition to your visa application fee. After you receive your I-20 from Drexel ELC, you must pay this fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at least 3 days before you apply for your visa. See the information below to find out how to pay your SEVIS fee.

Call or visit the embassy web site to find out exactly what documents you must bring with you.

Required documents usually include:

  • I-20 from Drexel ELC
  • SEVIS payment receipt
  • Acceptance letter from Drexel ELC
  • Student bill from Drexel ELC
  • Any payment receipts you received from Drexel ELC or your agent
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your expected stay in the U.S. (In some countries you must bring old passports as well.)
  • Completed visa application forms and photographs for each applicant.
  • Financial documents that show you have sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses during your time in the U.S.
  • Proof of your relationship to your spouse and children if you are married and/or have children.
  • Evidence that you plan to return home after your studies in the U.S.

Be ready for your visa interview

  • Consider the interview a formal event. Business clothes are appropriate.
  • Be prepared to answer questions like these:
    • Why do you need to go to the United States to study English?
    • Why did you choose to go to school in Philadelphia?
  • Listen carefully to the questions the embassy official asks you. The official is usually trying to decide whether you intend to stay in the U.S. after you have completed your program. If the official thinks you plan to stay in the U.S., he or she will refuse your visa. Remember, the F-1 visa is for people who intend to return to their home country. Tell the official why you want to study Englishand when you are planning to go home

Paying the SEVIS Fee

All F-1 visa applicants must pay a US$200 SEVIS fee before applying for a visa.
You can pay this fee online or by mail. Your SEVIS fee can be paid by you or someone else inside or outside of the U.S. Drexel ELC cannot pay the SEVIS fee for you.

To pay your SEVIS fee online:

  • Go to
  • Go to the bottom of the page and click on the box marked "Proceed to I-901 Form and Payment."
  • On the next page, click the button next to "I-20," and then click "OK."
  • Complete the I-901 form online.
  • Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20.
  • The Drexel University school code is PHI 214F 00230000.
  • Supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard, or American Express information.
  • Print a copy of the online receipt.
  • Be sure to make copies of your receipt and keep it with your other important documents.

To pay your SEVIS fee by mail:

Paying the SEVIS fee by mail may take a long time. If you have to pay by mail, we suggest that you apply to Drexel ELC early enough to receive your I-20 at least one month before you apply for your visa. Contact

  • Open and complete Form I-901 (PDF). Be sure to write your name EXACTLY as it appears on your I-20. The Drexel University school code is PHI 214F 00230000.
  • Prepare a check, international money order, or foreign draft in the amount of US$200, made payable to the Department of Homeland Security.*
  • Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on the Instructions for completing the form.
  • A form I-797 receipt notice will be mailed to you. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important documents.

*Please note: You can only use a check, money order, or foreign draft that is drawn on a U.S. bank. Many foreign banks are able to issue checks or money orders drawn on a U.S. bank. You may be able to obtain a check from: a) a bank chartered or operated in the U.S.; b) a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. bank; or c) a foreign bank that has an arrangement with a U.S. bank to issue all or one of these. Please contact your local bank to find out.

For more information, visit

If Your Visa is Denied

  • The most frequent reason for a visa refusal is that the official thinks you may not return to your home country.
  • It is impossible to say exactly what evidence you should take to convince the official that you will go home because applicants' circumstances vary greatly.
  • Think about your ties to your home country: family relationships, job, home or farm ownership, other commitments.
  • Is there any additional evidence that you could present? Did you explain your situation clearly? Did you answer all the questions?
  • Consular officers have the responsibility for issuance or denial of visas. If your visa is denied, you can re-apply.
  • If you decide to re-apply, you should be prepared to show additional evidence or explain in a different way how your situation has changed since the first application.
  • You should try at least twice. If you are refused a second time, the probability that a third try will work is not very high.

Additional information is available at the Department of State website and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.