Obtaining Your F-1 Visa & Status

Read carefully all information on the Form I-20, “Certificate of Visa Eligibility”, especially page 2, where your legal responsibilities as an F-1 student in the US are explained. The US Government mandates that you understand and follow the rules and regulations pertaining to your student visa.

1. For students outside the US

1. Go to the website for your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate and follow the instructions on how to obtain a non-immigrant F-1 student visa. A list of Embassies and Consulates can be found HERE. Once you choose your country, click the "visas" tab.
2. Sign the front page of your I-20 and schedule your F-1 student visa appointment by following the instructions on your local Embassy/Consulate's website.
3. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee by going to the following website: https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/.
4. Pay the visa application fee by following the instructions on your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.
5. Obtain and complete a student visa application form DS-160. This form is available HERE.
6. Prepare the following items, and bring them to your visa interview:

  • Completed visa application
  • Original I-20 form and the admission letter sent by the University of St. Thomas
  • SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt
  • Nonrefundable visa application fee
  • Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the expiration of your I-20
  • One photograph (2x2 inches)
  • Original school transcripts and public examination certificates, including a student copy of your TOEFL, IETLS, GMAT, or GRE score report if applicable
  • Official documentation to prove your financial support
  • Any evidence that demonstrates strong ties to your country or any other residence outside of the USA (property, employment, finances, family, etc.)
  • All other documents listed on the visa application specific to your country

7. If you have further questions about the visa process, please visit the following website for more information: http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html or contact the University of St. Thomas International Admissions office.

Attention: Do not enter the United States on a B-2 Tourist Visa! As of April 2002, the US government has made it very difficult to change to an F-1 Student Visa here in the US. In addition, you will not be able to begin studies until the change to F-1 is approved.

When you arrive in the US, an Immigration Inspector will review your papers and may interview you as described above. He/she will check that you have a valid F-1 student visa in your passport, will look at your Form I-20 Form and may ask to see financial documentation. Please note that U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently began using an automated Form I-94 "Arrival/Departure Record". This means that CBP no longer requires visitors to fill out the form before arriving at a U.S. port of entry.

Be sure to bring your passport and I-20 to your SEVIS registration so that ISS staff can make sure your legal papers are in order and copy them for filing purposes.

2. Transfer Procedures for F-1 students already in the US

If you are an F-1 student transferring to St. Thomas from another college or university in the US, be sure to read the “F-1 Transfer Memo” and fill out the “Transfer Verification Form” and have it signed by the Foreign Student Adviser at your current school. The signed form can be mailed or faxed to us in advance, or you can bring it with you to your document check, so we can officially process your transfer to St. Thomas. Your St. Thomas I-20 will not be legal and official until you present it and a signed transfer verification form to an ISS advisor during your document check.

2. Change of visa status procedures

If you are currently in the US on a visa other than F-1 and want to change your status to F-1, please contact ISS directly about how and when to apply for a change of status.

J-1 Students

Follow the same basic directions as F-1 students, section I (above), but substitute “DS-2019” for “I-20”.

Students With Other Non immigrant Visas or Status (F-2, J-2, H-1, H-4, etc…)

Students with a nonimmigrant status other than F-1 or J-1 should consult with the International Admissions regarding their eligibility for study.

Airport Greeters

We will arrange for Airport Greeters to meet you at the airport, please click here for more information.