You have been accepted to a U.S college or university. Congratulations! Now, it is time to prepare the required items and documents for your trip to U.S.
1. Prepare your passport
First, you need a passport. A passport is a document that identifies you and your travel. It's a small booklet that has your photo, your name, your country, and a lot of blank pages. These pages will be stamped with the official seals of the countries that you have traveled to. Basically you need a passport to leave and enter your country from other countries. If you plan go to U.S to pursue your education, this is a must have travel document. Since you are old enough to apply for college, you should be able to apply for your own passport. Each country will have different policies for the passport application, and you can have detailed instructions through your country's Department of State.
2. Apply for U.S visa
Second, you will need a U.S visa. A U.S. visa is required for a foreign citizen to enter to the U.S. for temporary or permanent stay. Your visa will be placed on the blank pages of your passport. If you enter the U.S to attend university or college, you will need to apply for a F-1 visa. F1-visas are valid for 1 year, and allow students who travel to the U.S. to work in their schools up to 20 hours a week. With a F-1 visa, you are allowed to stay in the U.S for the time that is stated in the I-20, plus 30 days before and 60 days after your education program.
What is an I-20? If you are accepted to a U.S college, decide to study there, and pay the tuition fee, the school will send you an I-20. This form will prove to The U.S. Government Department of Immigration or the U.S. Consulate that you are a full time student of the school. An I-20 is valid in 4 or 5 years, depending on your school's program.
Here are the basic steps for your first time applying for a F-1 visa. You need to pay the SEVIS fee (I-901 SEVIS or SEVIS I-901), which is $350. The SEVIS fee payment receipt is required for your U.S visa application. Once you've paid for SEVIS, complete your online visa application (DS-160) and pay the visa fee. For a F-1 visa, the fee is $160 USD. The final step is scheduling your visa interview.
It's possible that you won't be approved for your F-1 visa. If you are denied, thank your interviewer and kindly ask the reasons for your rejection. You can schedule another interview and spend time preparing based on the feedback you receive from your interviewer. If your next interview is within 12 months from the day you got rejected, you won't need to pay an additional SEVIS fee.
For other common SEVIS fee questions or how to apply for an international student visa the U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement office has a handy FAQ section
3. Pack your bag
Once your visa has been approved, it's time to pack! Bring your luggage. Passport, I-20, school report transcripts, and all the documents that you brought to your interview. Clothes, school supplies, toiletries, medicine, and cash (in USD), are all things you should prepare for your travel and time studying in the U.S. If you want to bring food with you, make sure you research the airport you'll arrive at. Each airport will have different food that is allowed and you can be charged $150 USD or more if you go against the airport's rules!
4. Spirit, spirit, spirit!
Last but not least, prepare your spirit! Everything is done now! Book your airline ticket, get your passport with a U.S visa nicely placed in it, pack your luggage, and you are ready to go.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.