A visa is a document that is placed into your passport and allows you to request permission from an Immigration officer at a port-of-entry (usually at an airport) to enter the United States. The visa itself does not guarantee admission into the U.S. all other documents must be in order as well. The procedure to enter the U.S. is covered in more detail further down this page.
F-1 (Student) Visa
The F-1 visa is the most often used visa by international students to study at an accredited U.S. college, university, or English language institute. Students on F-1 visas come to the United States for a full degree program.
If all goes according to plan, you will receive an F-1 visa stamp in your passport. Congratulations! Some U.S. Embassies actually put your I-20 in a sealed envelope and staple it to your passport. It is recommended that you do not open this envelope. The Immigration officer at the U.S. port-of-entry will open it and check your documents when you arrive. Check your visa for errors before you leave the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
You may not enter the U.S. on your F-1 visa more than 30 days prior to the report date on your I-20.
If you received a late visa appointment and will not be able to enter the U.S. by the report date on your I-20, please contact OIS as soon as you know this information so that we may defer this date on your I-20 so that you are not turned away at the port-of-entry into the U.S.
On your flight to the U.S., a flight attendant will hand you a Form I-94 to fill out. This is a very important Immigration form, so please be sure to fill it out neatly and correctly. You should write your name on the I-94 card just as it is displayed in your passport. At the port-of-entry, an Immigration officer will look over your Immigration documents and ask you several questions about your stay in the U.S. They will staple a portion of the I-94 card into your passport. This card shows when and where you entered the U.S., in what status, and for how long your stay is valid. Do not lose this card! It costs $330 to replace it!