What is a Visa?
In order to enter the United States, you'll need a visa – a document issued by the U.S. government, usually at an embassy or consulate outside the U.S. This document allows you to present yourself at the U.S. Port of Entry and request to be let in. After you have applied and are accepted to NWTC, you will take the steps to apply for your visa.
1 - Complete Form I-20 and pay SEVIS I-901 fee.
Once accepted to the college, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and you will be issued the Form I-20 by the college. You will then pay the SEVIS I-901 fee to the U.S. government and bring your Form I-20 to a visa interview.
2 - Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
- Learn more about the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
- Upload your photo while completing the online form DS-160. Be aware of the Photograph Requirements.
- You will need to pay a visa application fee when scheduling your visa interview.
3 - Schedule a visa interview.
Generally, schedule the interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where you live. (You may schedule your interview at any U.S. embassy or consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify outsider your place of permanent residence.) Wait times vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa as early as possible. F-1 visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your start date for your course of study (listed on your I-20).
Making travel plans
There are no guarantees that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans for buy tickets until you have a visa.
F-2 visas for family members
Your spouse and unmarried children who intend to reside with you during your stay may apply for an F-2 visa. The college will need to issue them an individual Form I-20 in order for them to receive their visas. Minor children are permitted to attend school in the U.S. while accompanying parents. Get more details on F-2 visas for dependents of F-1 visa holders.
A visa is valid until its expiration date. If a valid U.S. visa is in an expired passport, the visa is still valid. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission into the U.S. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., you are still in legal status, since the entry stamp/Form I-94 documents your authorized period of stay, and your visa is an entry document. (You will need a new visa if you plan to travel outside the U.S. and come back.)
If you are refused a visa, you are permitted to reapply, providing your circumstances have changed. Attempting to obtain a visa by willful misrepresentation may lead to permanent refusal of a visa.