Resources on Visas, SEVIS, and U.S. Entry

Below are links to some additional useful sources of information on visa application and SEVIS available online.

The U.S. Study Advantage: 

Questions and Answers: Visa Processing and U.S. Entry

What are current average visa wait times?


Is it more difficult for Muslim students to get a visa to the United States than it is for those of other religions?


Will my political or religious views prevent me from getting a visa?


Is there any guaranteed deadline for visa decisions to be made?


What if I apply late or the processing takes longer than expected and I don’t get my visa in time for my program start date?


Is it possible that I may be denied a student visa even though I have gone through the whole process of applying to a U.S. university?


What about after I am awarded the visa? Am I guaranteed admission to the United States then?


I applied for a visa using an I-20 from one school. Now I have received an acceptance from another school and would prefer to go there instead. Can I just use the visa and I-20 that I have and then go to the other school?


Can I travel on a tourist visa and then switch to a student visa in the United States?


What does the security review of visa applications involve? How long does it generally take?


If I am rejected for a visa and then reapply, will I have to pay the visa application fee and the SEVIS fee again?


The U.S. Study Advantage: 

Questions and Answers: The Visa Interview

How long will my visa interview last?

Are there any dress requirements for visa interviews?

I don’t know yet what I want to do in the future. How do I explain this in my visa interview—or should I just make up something that sounds good?

I have family who live permanently in the United States. Is that a problem?

What are the consequences if I don’t tell the truth during a visa interview?

Can my parents/sponsor come to my visa interview?

What if I am worried about my English abilities? Can I bring someone along who speaks better English to the visa interview?

The U.S. Study Advantage: 

Questions and Answers: Types of Visas, Visa Application Forms, and SEVIS

Start with our introductory page on U.S. Student Visas, which covers the most frequently asked questions on this subject.

Below are additional questions we’ve answered related to different types of visas, completing U.S. visa application forms, and registering for SEVIS. Each month, we add any new questions that we’ve responded to on this subject, so check back for more.

If you have questions not currently answered on our site, please write us.

What is a visa?


What are the types of visas for students and how do they differ from each other?


Are there any rules about who can be awarded a dependent visa?


My name is listed one way on my passport and a different way on my I-20. Which version should I use on the visa forms? 



My date of birth is different on my I-20 from what is given on my passport. Which date should I use on the visa forms?


I have received both an I-20 form and a DS-2019 form; which should I use?


Why doesn’t everyone need to fill out Form DS-157?


Who is exempt from the SEVIS fee? What does this fee cover?


Do students from all countries have to be registered in SEVIS? Why are students being singled out to be included in this system?


How much is the SEVIS fee? When, how, and where do I pay it?


Can I wear glasses in my visa photo?

The U.S. Study Advantage: 

Student Visa Interview Advice

Although you should remember to bring all potentially useful documents, it is also important to remember that the visa interview is a conversation, not a document review session.  The best thing that you can do is to clearly articulate—

  1. Why you want to go to the specific school
  2. What you plan to study
  3. How you plan to use your education when you return home.

Be ready to cover this information in no more than about 3 to 5 sentences, and practice saying those sentences with family and friends until you become comfortable with the English.

Here are some of the types of questions that you might get asked:

  • Why have you chosen this university?
  • Who will sponsor your education?
  • Why don’t you study this in your own country?
  • Do you intend to work in the United States? (Remember that only very limited amounts and types of work are permitted under student visa status.)
  • What are your plans after finishing the degree?
  • What was your TOEFL score?

Also important, as for any first conversation, is to dress nicely and smile. 

In regard to documents, it is better to have too many documents than to have too few. Just keep them in order so you can find whatever you may need!

The U.S. Study Advantage: 

U.S. Visa Requirements: Intent to Return

Everyone applying for U.S. non-immigrant visas, including all visas granted for the purpose of U.S. study) is required to demonstrate an intention to return to their home country. The burden of proof is on the applicant to prove ties to the home country and establish what is called “non-immigrant intent.”

During your student visa interview, you will be asked whether you intend to return to your home country after your education. We hope the answer is an honest "yes." If so, you need to provide evidence to prove this.

  • Have a few sentences in mind that express how you intend to use your degree or research at home after your finish your program
  • Bring copies of deeds to any property (land, house, apartment, store, business) that you or your family owns in your home country
  • Bring bank statements for any accounts that you or your family maintain in your home country
  • If you have an employer who intends to employ you when you return home, bring a letter from that employer
  • For more information from the U.S. Department of State about the requirement to demonstrate ties to your home country click here
  • Also, for some good information and recommendations, we would suggest reading Ten Points To Remember When Applying For A Non-Immigrant Visa (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators).
The U.S. Study Advantage: 

U.S. Student Visas: The Essentials

When should I apply for a student visa?

You will want to apply as soon as you can. Generally, this means as soon as you have decided which school you want to attend and have received the official I-20 form indicating academic acceptance at that institution. (If you are a sponsored student, you should receive the DS-2019 from your sponsoring agency showing that you are participating in their program instead of an I-20 from your university, and the DS-2019 is the form that you should use in applying.)

The U.S. Study Advantage: 

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