Steps for getting an F-1 Visa

  1. Find the nearest US Embassy or Consulate;
  2. Although most U.S. Embassy and Consulate visa requirements are universal, there may be some variations, so find out EXACTLY what the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country requires by visiting its webpage, telephoning, or even visiting before you schedule the interview;
  3. Download and fill out the following visa forms. Check with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country to find out if there are any additional forms.
  1. DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application;
  2. DS-158 Contact information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant;
  3. DS-157 Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application. Complete this only if you are male between the ages of 16 and 45.
  1. After the I-20 is ready and Northeastern has given you approval schedule your appointment with the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate. Do not forget to pay the I-20 SEVIS fee of $200 as instructed by the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate;
  2. Pay any additional fees associated with the F-1 Visa. You need to check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country to find out the costs.

Obtaining the I-20 and F-1 or J-1 Visas

  • You must obtain an I-20 from Northeastern before scheduling an appointment with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate’s Consular Office.
  • You must contact the Office of International Programs to check on your I-20 status.
  • When you arrive in the United States, you must report to the Office of International Programs at Northeastern Illinois University, Lech Walesa Hall 0008. 
  • Visit the international admissions website for more details.

Note: Graduate students should expect the process for getting the I-20 to take longer than undergraduates since they must be admitted to the university and the department.

What to bring to the visa interview


  1. HAVE EXTRA PHOTOCOPIES: You may need to give extra sets of documents, so take extra completed copies of any of the below documents.
  2. BE ORGANIZED with your documents. Most importantly, do NOT hand the officer anything unless he or she asks for it.
  3. TRANSLATIONS: If anything is in your native language you must have translated into English and notarized by a government official in your country, or the U.S. Embassy/Consulate may not accept it as a legal document.
  4. MOST IMPORTANTLY: All isa applications, bank forms, government issued documents, passport information, and other document and forms should have no mistakes. For example: Every name must be spelled the same and correctly; birth dates, school dates, and any other dates should be written in the same format (month/day/year), and be the same on each document. Many visas are denied when there is a different date or different spelling name on another documents.
  • SEVIS I-20 signed by both a Northeastern representative and you. 
  • The original SEVIS Fee receipt
  • Your passport valid for at least six months from your expected departure date. 
  • At least five regulation-sized photos. Check with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, but the regulation size is usually 2 inches by 2 inches (5.08 cm x 5.08 cm)
  • Completed DS-156, DS-158, and/or DS-157 forms, and/or other documents.
  • Any of the following documents if dependents are coming with you.
  • Government-issued marriage certificates and/or
  • Dependent birth certificates.
  • Application materials and fees for dependents.
  • Financial documents as proof of family/student funds for support of your family, such as affidavits of support, completed US Embassy Form I-134, foreign sources of funding with notarized affidavits of support. All documents must be written in English or translated with US dollar amounts on them.

How to prepare for the visa interview

Speak in English. The interview is short (about 5-7 minutes), so prepare to answer many questions quickly. Be very confident in your answers. 

Briefly explain why you will return to your home country: Be prepared to explain your wishes, desires, hopes, wants, and personal needs for returning to your home country. 

Be prepared to provide proof of any relationship with your home country, such as:

  • Family Relationships
  • Almost all of your immediate family is in your home country.
  • You will not take your spouse or children with you while you are in the U.S., so you have to return.
  • You have a fiancé(e) you are planning to marry when you return.
  • You are an only child or the child who makes the most money, so you need to come back and support your elderly parents
  • Financial Documents
  • Current bank account statements showing the balance and when the account was open. (Accounts open less than a year will be looked at suspiciously).
  • Your tax records showing you are a good tax-paying citizen in your country.
  • Family businesses you or your family own and you have a reason to return to manage.
  • Any and all property ownership with notarized and translated government issued document, such as a deed.
  • Employment or Employment Opportunities in your country:
  • Employment confirmation letter.
  • A letter from a future employer who will hire you when you return to your country because you have an American degree.
  • Statistics about any future employment