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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 there might be a long wait for 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.

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

  • The SEVIS fee is in addition to your visa application fee. After you receive your I-20 from Drexel ISSS, you must pay this fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at least 3 days before you apply for your visa.
  • Visit the Study in the States website for guidance to pay the I-901 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 ISSS
  • SEVIS payment receipt
  • Acceptance letter 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 English and when you are planning to go home

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 on visa denials is available at the Department of State website.