Obtaining A Visa

International SRJC student

You must have a student visa to study in the United States. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Each embassy and consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas.

June, July and August are the busiest months and interview appointments are the most difficult to get during that period. You can apply for the visa up to 120 days before the report date listed on the SEVIS I-20 form. Consulates are able to issue your visa no more than 90 days prior to the report date on the SEVIS I-20. New students can enter the US no earlier than 30 days before the report date on the SEVIS Form I-20. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the US.


Before your Visa Interview

  1. After you receive the SRJC SEVIS I-20 form, contact your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy to learn how to make an interview appointment. A list of Consulates can be found at: http://usembassy.state.gov   
  1. Complete the online form DS-160, the Non-Immigrant Visa Application: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
  1. Pay the visa application processing fee by following instructions on your local U.S. Consulate’s website. Visa fees may vary by country.
  1. Pay the $200 SEVIS processing fee. This fee can be paid online or by mail. To pay online, visit the website at: www.fmjfee.com and follow the instructions for completing Form I-901. You will need the I-20 form and a credit card for this process. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form. Print a copy of the online receipt. This fee may also be paid by a friend or relative in the US or abroad on your behalf. Ask them to send the receipt to you.


Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements).
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements
  • SEVIS Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish that you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • Your academic preparation, such as: Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and scores from tests that your U.S. school required, such as the TOEFL or IELTS.
  • Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study;
  • How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs. 


Attend Your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying. 

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.

When the visa is approved, you  may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.



Helpful websites:


Studying in the U.S.



US Visas:                                            



I-901 form SEVIS Fee



Visa Photo Requirements



Arriving in the U.S.



For more information, contact Teresa Tope at ttope@santarosa.edu.