Apply for an F-1 Visa - University of Houston
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Apply for an F-1 Visa

Most international students study in the Language and Culture Center on an F-1 student visa. Follow the steps below to obtain an F-1 visa. There is no guarantee you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.

Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee

After you receive your Form I-20, the next step is to pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee at Regulation requires that all international students pay this fee before the Department of State issues them a visa. Visit the Paying the I-901 SEVIS Fee page on Study in the States and watch the I-901 SEVIS Fee payment tutorial to learn about each step of the payment process.

Remember to keep your I-901 SEVIS Fee payment receipt and be sure to check that the SEVIS identification (ID) number on the receipt matches the SEVIS ID number that appears on your Form I-20. Please contact SEVP if the SEVIS ID number on these two documents does not match or if you encounter other issues during the payment process.

Schedule a Visa Interview

After receiving your Form I-20 and getting a receipt for payment of the I-901 SEVIS Fee, you can apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for more information about applying for an F-1 visa. You can also find your nearest embassy or consulate by visiting the U.S. Embassy website. Review the website of the embassy or consulate you will visit and follow instructions to:

  • obtain acceptable photos
  • get a list of documents you must bring to the interview
  • complete Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, and print the confirmation page
  • pay the visa application fee and print the payment receipt
  • schedule a visa interview

Prepare for the Visa Interview

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • passport valid for travel to the United States. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States unless exempt by country-specific agreements. Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee and visa application fee payment receipts 
  • confirmation page of Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status. You must sign the Form I-20. Your spouse and/or minor children, if they intend live in the United States with you, will each receive an individual Form I-20.
A consular officer will interview you to determine your qualifications for a student visa, and may request additional documents, such as evidence of:
  • your academic preparation, such as transcripts, mark sheets, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended
  • your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study
  • how you will pay all educational, living and travel costs

Attend the Visa Interview

A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a student visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa. Be ready to answer their questions including:

  • Why did you choose to study in the LCC?
  • What will you do after the LCC? How will your study in the LCC be relevant and beneficial to your future plans?

Receive the Visa

After the visa is approved, you may make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you. You may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality), and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • My visa application was denied. What can I do?

    You may reapply if you believe you have additional evidence of your qualifications for a student or you believe your circumstances have changed. Review Visa Denials to learn more. 

  • Can I bring dependents?

    Yes. Your spouse and unmarried, minor children who intend to reside with you during your study may apply for F-2 visas. Although SEVIS fee payment is not required, each of your dependent needs an individual Form I-20 in order to apply for their visas. You must provide a copy of your F-1 visa and provide proof of relationship. 

    Your minor children are permitted to attend school in the United States while accompanying you.

    U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses.

  • My passport has expired, but my visa is still valid. Can I still use the visa?

    Yes. A valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.