F-1 Visa Requirements

Information for First Time Student Applicants for the F-1 Visa

First-time student visa applicants should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence. All first-time student visa applicants are required to appear at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an in-person interview. However, each embassy and consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas. Consult embassy websites or call for specific application instructions.

Keep in mind that June, July, and August are the busiest months in most consular sections, and interview appointments are the most difficult to get during that period. Plan ahead to avoid having to make repeat visits to the embassy. To the extent possible, bring the documents suggested below, as well as any other documents that might help establish your ties to the local community.

To allow time to overcome any unforeseen problems that might arise, apply for your visa several weeks before you plan to travel. Do not apply more than 120 days before the registration date noted on the I-20.

It is important to remember that applying early and providing the requested documents does not guarantee that you will receive a visa. Also, because each student’s personal and academic situation is different, two students applying for the same visa may be asked different questions and be required to submit different documents. For that reason, the guidelines that follow are general and can be abridged or expanded by consular officers overseas, depending on each student’s situation. Oglethorpe University is not responsible for any student not obtaining a U.S. student visa.


What is needed to Apply for a Student Visa?

(Remember there may be differences, depending on the country. Please check with the U.S. Embassy)

Required documentation

  • A passport valid for at least six months
  • One passport-sized photo (2” x 2” in a dark-colored shirt on white or off-white background). This photo can not be more than 6 months old.
  • All previous U.S. visas in old passports (even if the visa and/or passport has expired or has been cancelled)
  • Payment of visa application fees (different in each country)
  • DS-156 Application for Non-Immigrant Visa
  • DS-157 and DS-158 for males
  • I-20A (provided by the educational institution)
  • US $350.00 SEVIS fee receipt

Supporting documentation

  • Test Scores and high school/college transcripts
  • Acceptance letter and correspondence with the school
  • Proof that first year can be paid upfront and that there are funds to pay for the remainder of schooling
  • Applicants may be required to prove their ability to succeed in a college or university in the United States.
  • Applicants are required to submit evidence that shows the purpose of study, arrangements made with sponsor(s) to cover costs of studies, along with evidence of employment and assets of any sponsor.
  • Applicants must show that they have sufficient academic preparation to pursue the intended course of study.

Additional Information for the Student Visa Applicant

  • Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. However, you may not use a visitor visa to study in the United States – you must apply for an F-1 student visa.
  • Students are not permitted to accept outside employment during their first year in the United States.
  • Holders of student visas will not be admitted to the U.S. until a date thirty days or less prior to the beginning of your program date, or start date, as stated on your Form I-20.

Applicants currently holding an F – 1 visa and studying in the United States

  • Please contact the admission office at Oglethorpe University and speak to the international admission counselor


Attempting to obtain a U.S. Embassy or Consulate visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, will result in the refusal of a visa and permanent denial of entry into the United States.