How to get your F-1 Student Visa

Now that you have been admitted and issued your Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status, the next step is to apply for your F-1 Student Visa! For complete information on this process, visit U.S. Homeland Security’s website.

If you are exempt from the visa requirement (for example, a Canadian citizen), you must still follow all of the following rules and procedures at the U.S. Port of Entry. Wherever the word "consul" or "visa" is mentioned below, you should substitute the words "Port of Entry Inspector" and "student status."

It is very important that you understand the process and rules for obtaining the F-1 status. The most common reason that you are denied the F-1 visa or not admitted to the U.S. is because they were not prepared. Don't let this happen to you! Read the following information very carefully and contact us if you need more information or help.

Know the rules

  • Pay the U.S. SEVIS Fee and have a printed receipt that proves payment before your visa interview. Find out how to pay your SEVIS Fee at
  • Apply for your visa as soon as possible! There may be considerable wait time for both the visa interview and visa processing. Wait time information for specific embassies and consulates is available here.
  • The Embassy/consulate will not issue your visa more than four months before your Form I-20’s program start date.
  • By law, you are seen as someone who plans to remain in the U.S. permanently. The consul must, by U.S. law, believe that you do not intend to return home after completing your studies in the U.S. Do not take this personally. Student visas are only given to those who can convince the consul that they intend to return to their home country. THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON FOR VISA DENIAL! You must convince the consul that he or she is wrong and that you do plan to go back home to stay.
  • You must have a good educational or professional objective for coming to study at MVCC that will prepare you for a career back home. You also must be able to prove that you are academically qualified and have the financial means to pursue it.
  • Be brief. Answer questions directly and to the point.
  • Consuls are impersonal when administering laws. In the U.S., laws are applied equally to all people regardless of status or gender. DO NOT TRY TO NEGOTIATE OR DISCUSS PERSONAL MATTERS with them.
  • U.S. Government officials require evidence to prove that you qualify for the F-1 visa. Carefully follow our instructions and take all necessary documentation with you. Detailed information regarding this documentation may be found at U.S. Department of State Study & Exchange and on your embassy/consulate’s website.
  • Keep a positive attitude.

Be well-prepared

Be ready to clearly explain why you want to come to the U.S. to study at MVCC.

  • Why do you want to study in the U.S.?
  • Why do you want to pursue the program of study?
  • Why did you choose Mohawk Valley Community College?
  • What career will your studies prepare you for back home?