International Students

F-1 Student Visas

Applying For Your F-1 Student Visa

Once you have received your acceptance letter and I-20 form, you can direct questions about applying for a student visa to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country, or visit http://www.travel.state.gov/ or www.educationusa.info for information on applying for your visa.

  1. Make Sure Your Name and Birthdate Are Correct

    Occasionally errors are made and a student will write their birthday as day/month/year instead of month/day/year on the application or not write their name legibly.  Contact us immediately as this will cause a delay or problem with applying for your F-1 student visa.
  2. Read Thru the I-20 Form

    It is very important that you read the form carefully and understand your responsibilities as an international student in the U.S. when you sign your I-20.
  3. Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee

    The SEVIS is a standard fee paid by all international students to cover the costs of maintaining the SEVIS system. The current cost is $200 and the fee must be paid and you should bring the receipt to your visa interview. For specific details on the I-901 fee SEVIS or to pay the fee, visit: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm.
  4. Complete the Visa Application Form(s)

    All applicants will have to complete the visa application form. Most embassies are moving to only accepting online submissions of the visa application (DS-160) which combines the old DS-156, DS-157 and DS-158 forms. However, these forms are still available in fill in PDF form online, simply click on the form(s) you need above and you will be redirected.  You can apply for the visa up to 120 days prior to the term of admission.
    Please check with the Embassy or Consulate where you will be applying to ensure that you are using the correct version of the visa application form.
  5. Make an Appointment with the Embassy or Consulate

    The best way to set an appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you will vary by location. This website lists all U.S. Embassies and Consulates: http://www.usembassy.gov/.  Oftentimes, you can make an appointment for our interview online.  Apply early for the visa to ensure there is sufficient time for the visa to be processed.  The months of June, July, and August are the busiest months and interview appointments are the most difficult to get during these months.
  6. Complete the Visa Application Form(s)

    All applicants will have to complete the visa application form. Most embassies are moving to only accepting online submissions of the visa application (DS-160) which combines the old DS-156, DS-157 and DS-158 forms. However, these forms are still available in fill in PDF form online, simply click on the form(s) you need above and you will be redirected.  You can apply for the visa up to 120 days prior to the term of admission.
    Please check with the Embassy or Consulate where you will be applying to ensure that you are using the correct version of the visa application form.

    Pre-Interview Checklist of Forms Needed

    • A current and valid passport.
    • VISA Applications (DS-160 or DS-156 and DS-157/DS-158 if applicable).
    • One 2x 2 photograph as specified by the Embassy or Consulate.
    • Receipt for the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
    • Receipt or payment for Application and VISA fees as specified http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html
    • I-20 from Aims Community College and official Letter of Acceptance.
    • Academic transcripts if you have studied in the U.S. before.
    • Proof of ability to pay for your education in the United States. You should bring bank statements, letters of sponsorship and Financial support Statement with you to demonstrate proof of funds at minimum to cover one year of your education in the United States.
    • Any other documents specifically required by the Embassy or Consulate where your interview will occur.
  7. The Visa Interview

    The most important thing to remember is to be on time, be brief and be specific when answering the questions of the official conducting your interview as they have just a short time in which to make their assessment. The interview process will vary by Embassy or Consulate, so check ahead to know what to expect. 
  8. Your Visa is Approved

    Processing times may vary by Embassy or Consulate, it can take anywhere from a few days to over a month. Please wait until you have your VISA to schedule your flight as you cannot enter as a student without it.  You may enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the start of the term you were admitted.

Canadians
If you are a student from Canada, you will not need to go through the VISA Application Process as noted above, nor will you have a VISA stamp in your passport outside of that issued at entry. What this means is that at your port of entry, the immigration official will look at your I-20 and passport. They may also request proof of financial support and the receipt showing payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee. If all checks out, they will stamp you in as an F-1 student.

Do Not Enter as a B-2 or Visa Waiver Tourist. You cannot attend school on these visas and you will have to exit and re-enter on the correct visa or apply for a change of status here which can be expensive.

Maintaining F-1 Student Status

  • All F-1 students must complete 12 credit hours during the Fall and Spring semesters and maintain a 2.0 (GPA) grade-point-average.  Failure to main satisfactory academic progress may prevent you from continuing at Aims.
  • ESL/IELP students are required to successfully completing all four classes each semester.
  • Report name and address changes within 10 days of change.
  • Maintain health insurance coverage.
  • Report your travel plans and have your I-20 signed by the international advisor.
  • Students cannot work off campus, unless authorized. 
  • Report intent to transfer to another institution.