visa page picture

Steps for Getting a F-1 Visa  

It is important to read through the information below to learn how to obtain your student visa through a U.S. consulate or embassy. Here are some important steps to help you with the visa application process.   

  1. Once you have obtained your I-20 from NEIU’s Office of International Programs, you will need to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. This fee is mandatory and must be paid before you go for your visa interview. We highly recommend that you take the receipt, showing that you have paid this fee, to your visa interview. Go to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pay online.  

  1. Find the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate; Although most U.S. 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 web page, telephoning, or even visiting before you schedule the interview. Make sure to download and fill out the visa application forms. Check with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country to find out if there are any additional forms.  

  1. Detailed information on how to apply for your student visa is available through the U.S. Department of State.  

Important Tips  

  • BRING EXTRA COPIES: You may need to give an extra set of documents, so take extra completed copies of all the documents you are submitting.  

  • BE ORGANIZED with your documents. Most importantly, do NOT hand the officer anything unless he or she asks for it. And be able to hand over the correct document quickly. 

  • TRANSLATIONS: If any document is in your native language you MUST have it 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.  

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: All visa applications, bank forms, government-issued documents, passport information, and other document and forms should have no mistakes in them. Review all your documents to ensure they have the correct and same spelling of your last name, first name and middle name. Birth dates, school dates, and any other dates should be written in the same format. Many visas are denied because there are conflicting dates, or different spellings of one’s name on various documents.  

  • Make sure that the I-20 is signed by both NEIU’s Designated School Official (DSO) and by you.   

  • Have the I-901SEVIS fee receipt.  

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your expected date of departure from the U.S.  

  • At least five regulation-sized passport 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).  

  • Dependent: Make sure you bring copies of your dependent's passport, marriage certificates, birth certificates, and financial documentation to support 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, and be honest. Be able to quickly and confidently answer the following typical questions: Why you want to study in the U.S. (as compared to studying in your home country)? Why do you want to study this degree? Why do you want to study at Northeastern Illinois University?  

  • Ties to your home country. Most visa denials are because the student was not able to provide sufficient information to tie them to their home country. Think about what you plan to do after graduation, and how your degree will help you be successful in your home country. 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. This can include, for example: you or your family owns a business and you will return to manage it; you own property, etc. Be able to demonstrate proof of ownership of all property with notarized and translated government issued documents (e.g., a deed); you have a job waiting for you. In this case bring a letter from an employer who will hire you when you return to your country because you have an American degree. Also, be prepared to provide proof of any personal relationships that will bring you back to your home country (e.g., marriage certificates, children's birth certificates, need to care for parents, etc.).  

  • Financial documents. These are the same documents you provided to obtain your I-20 Form. You can also provide additional documents such as; tax records showing you are a good tax-paying citizen; current bank account statements showing the balance and when the account was open, etc. (Note: bank accounts open less than a year will be looked at suspiciously.)