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Applying for a Student Visa

Photo of a WatchIf you received a form I-20 from the University of Central Missouri, you will apply for a student visa, or F-1 visa. If you received a form DS-2019 from the university, you will apply for a J-1 exchange visitor visa. If you are confused about what type of form you have received, please look in the bottom left corner on the first page of the form.

The Consulate or Embassy will not issue an F-1 student visa more than 120 days before the start date on the I-20. You may be able to schedule an appointment before that 120-day period, but you will not get the visa approved until you are within 120 days of your start date on our campus. You also need to be aware that you may not enter the United States more than 30 days before the start date on the I-20, so make your travel arrangements with that 30 day period in mind. If you wish to know how long you may have to wait for an appointment at the Consulate, you might wish to check the website

Other information about getting a US visa can be found online at

Most F-1 student visa denials are based on a lack of proof that you will return to your home country when you complete your education in the United States. You must never suggest that you want to live in the U.S. permanently or that you want to work there for many years after you graduate. Emphasize all your family ties, property, future jobs and ways that you will use your U.S. degree when you return home. The second reason you might be denied a visa is proof that your financial support will be there for the entire period that you study in the U.S. Your chance to work will be limited to part-time campus jobs, so you must show a strong funding source that will continue for as many years as you are a student. The approval process may now take several weeks due to security checks, so apply as early as possible and then travel in time to arrive on our airport pickup dates.

This information is for people who plan to enter the United States for the first time to study. For information on bringing dependents to the U.S., returning to continue studies, or renewing your visa, or for more details on how to apply for a student visa, refer to the U.S. Department of State website at:


1.Contact your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to ask about how to get an international student (F-1) or exchange visitor (J-1) international student visa.
Click Here for a list of Consulates and Embassies.

2. Schedule a visa interview as soon as possible. After you receivethe FormI-20 (for F-1) or DS-2019 (for J-1)from the school that you want to attend, follow the U.S. Embassy or Consulate's instructions to schedule an interview for your F-1 or J-1 student visa. It is important to apply for your student visa as far in advance as possible. Many Embassies or Consulates recommend that appointments be made no more than 120 days from the intended date of travel, but some can make earlier arrangements for interviews.

3.Complete the following forms:

(a) Form DS-156 "Nonimmigrant Visa Application"
(b)Form DS-158 "Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant"
(c)Form DS-157 "Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application" (for males between the ages
of 16 and 45)

4.Pay the visa application fee by following instructions on your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate's web site.

5.In addition, pay the SEVIS (I-901) fee. Do not send this fee to our office. We cannot process the fee for you. We strongly recommend that you pay the $200 SEVIS fee online using a credit card since that will be completed quickly. Be sure to print a copy of the online receipt to show to the Consulate during your interview and to keep with you when you travel.
To pay the SEVIS fee online, go to  Another way to pay is through Western Union or by mail.  More details about the fee, methods of paying it, processing times, and other frequently asked questions can be found at

NOTE: If you are transferring schools, extending your program, applying for an F-2 dependent visa, or have paid this fee and been denied a visa within the last twelve months, you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee. The fee is transferable to another I-20 or DS-2019 as long as it is still in your name. To find out about transferring your SEVIS fee, read the following::

6.Prepare and bring to your visa interview the following:

(a) A passport valid for at least six months
(b) Form I-20 or DS-2019 (make sure to sign at the bottom of the form)
(c) School admission letter
(d) Completed visa application forms(Forms DS-156, DS-158, and, if applicable, DS-157)
(e) Two 2"x 2" (5cm x 5cm) photographs in the prescribed format. (See
(f)The receipt for the visa application fee.
(g)The receipt for the SEVIS (I-901) fee. If you do not have a receipt, the consulate may be able to see your payment electronically if your fee payment was processed at least 3 business days before your interview.
(h)  Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study.
(i) Any information that proves that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the U.S.This may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community.

7.Remain calm and answer all theConsular Officer's questions openly and honestly. Some tips for a successful interview are below.

**Many foreign banks are able to issue checks or money orders drawn on a U.S. bank. You may thereforeobtain a check from: 1) a bank chartered or operated in the United States; 2) a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. bank; or 3) a foreign bank that has an arrangement with a U.S. bank to issue a check, money order, or foreign draft that is drawn on a U.S. bank.


  • Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English.
  • Interviews are generally very brief.
  • Keep answers to the officer’s questions short and to the point.
  • Do not take family members or friends with you to the interview.
  • Maintain a positive attitude: be friendly, courteous and confident that you will receive the visa.
  • Be prepared to show strong ties to your home country.
  • Organize your supporting documentation so that it can be logically presented without hesitation or fumbling through a briefcase.
  • Be prepared to show evidence that sufficient financial resources (at least equal to the amount indicated on your I-20) are readily available for your support.
  • Do not state that you intend to work in the United States, even temporarily, after completing your studies.
  • If you are married, especially with children, and your family is remaining behind in your own country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence.
  • Be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstance, be employed in the U.S.  You must show sufficient financial resources to support dependents.
  • Share information about your academic achievements, thus far, in your own country.
  • Be prepared to discuss what you expect to get out of your education.
  • If you have had any family member complete higher education in the U.S. who has now returned to your country, mention this.
  • Be prepared to address a mandatory military service if your country has one.