Applying for an F-1 Visa

Note: Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require visas to enter the United States as students. You will only require your Form I-20.

Official information can be found on

Basic steps

  • After receiving your I-20 and paying the I-901 SEVIS Fee, you can complete the online DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application).
  • Receive an appointment with the US embassy or consulate.
  • Follow the instructions from the US embassy or consulate.

Be careful when using third party services that help with the visa process. They will sometimes charge large fees and not provide faster service than if you were to apply yourself.

Global visa appointment wait times are publicly available here. You should also visit the embassy website where you are applying for your visa. They will often have extra information for nonimmigrant applications.

Transfer students

  • If you already have a valid F-1 visa and are in the US, you will not need a new one.
  • If your current visa has expired, you can use your UW Bothell I-20 to apply for a new F-1 visa if outside of the US.

Visa interview tips

  • Be honest. Students have been denied visas for presenting false information.
  • Ties to your Home Country. You must be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the US “Ties” to your home country that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence such as job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc.
  • Financial Support. Make sure you bring sufficient proof that you have enough money to support yourself in the US.
  • English. Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. If you are coming to the United States to study only English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.
  • Know the Program and How It Fits Your Career Plans. You should be able to explain how studying in the US relates to your future professional career.
  • Employment. Your main purpose in coming to the US should be to study, not to work in the US before or after graduation. While many students do work on-campus during their studies, employment is not their main purpose.