Applying for an F-1 Student Visa
Applying for an F-1 student visa to study at Tougaloo College is a four-step process which begins with your application.
Complete the Tougaloo College application form and submitting it—along with all required documentation and fees—to the Admission Office. Once your application file is complete, an admission decision will be made.
Upon admission to study at Tougaloo College, the Admission Office will provide you with an admission letter and a FORM I-20. Your Tougaloo College admission letter and I-20 are important documents: they tell both you and the U.S. Consular Officer, who will review your visa application, that you have satisfied Tougaloo College’s admission requirements and have been formally admitted to a program of study at Tougaloo College.
The second step in the visa application process is to pay the $100 SEVIS fee. We strongly recommend you pay the $100 SEVIS fee online using a credit card. Be sure to print at least 3 copies of the online receipt to show to the Consulate during your interview and keep a copy with you when you travel.
To pay online, have your passport, FORM I-20, and a credit card available. Make certain your computer is connected to a printer. Go to www.fmjfee.com and follow the “Proceed to I-901 Form and Payment” link in the center of the page. Another way to pay is through Western Union or by mail. More details about the fee, methods of paying, processing times, and other frequently asked questions can be found at www.ice.gov/sevis/i901.
Schedule a visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy/Consulate will not issue an F-1 student visa more than 120 days before the program start date indicated at item #5 on page one of the I-20. You may be able to schedule an appointment before that 120 day period, but you will not get the visa approved until you are within 120 days of your start date. You also need to know that you may not enter the United States more than 45 days before the start date on the I-20, so make your travel arrangements with that 45 day period in mind.
To learn where U.S. Embassies and Consulates are located, please follow this link: usembassy.state.gov.
If you wish to know how long you may have to wait for an appointment at the Embassy/Consulate, check this website travel.state.gov/visa/tempvisitors_wait.php. Selecting the appropriate location from the drop-down list near the bottom of the page.
The fourth step is the visa interview. While documentation requirements vary by Embassy/Consulate, at a minimum you must present the following items at your visa interview:
- Your Form I-20
- Your I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
- A complete application Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158
- A passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the United States
- Two (2) 2x2 photographs
- A MRV (Machine Readable Visa) fee receipt to show payment of the visa applications fee, a visa issuance fee if applicable, (please consult Visa Reciprocity Table) and separate SEVIS I-901 fee receipt. While all visa applicants must pay the MRV fee, including dependents, only the F-1 principal applicant must pay the SEVIS fee.
F-1 student visa interviews are generally very brief. Therefore, avoid the temptation to prepare a monologue or a script because the U.S. Consular Offices are not interested in something you memorized. Simply listen to the questions asked and respond directly and honestly. Be yourself and be confident.
Many F-1 student visas are denied because students insinuate that they will not return to their home country once they complete their education in the United States. Therefore, never suggest that you want to live in the U.S. permanently or that you want to work here for many years after you graduate. Speak of the ways in which you will use your U.S. degree when you return home. You might be denied a visa if you do not show proof that your financial support will be there for the entire period of study in the U.S. F-1 student are limited to part-time campus jobs, so you must show a strong funding source that will continue for as many years as you are a student. Due to
security issues the approval process may take several weeks, so apply as early as possible and then travel in time to arrive at least one day in advance of the program start date listed on your FORM I-20.
For more detailed information on obtaining a U.S. Visa, please visit travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html.