How to apply for an F-1 visa

Congratulations on your acceptance to Shoreline Community College! We have sent a packet of important documents to you. As soon as you receive it, please use this guide to apply for your F-1 student visa. There are several steps to apply for a visa.

1. Check your I-20

Your packet contains an I-20. This document should be taken with you when you go to your visa interview. Read the first page carefully and make sure all of your personal information is correct. If there are special characters in your name, such as a hyphen or an accent mark, the special characters may not appear on your I-20. For example, Chia-Hao may be Chia Hao, and José may be Jose. However, if you find an error, contact us immediately.

Also note the Program Start Date. You are required to report to the college on that date.

2. Check the expiration date on your passport

The expiration date on your passport should be at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.

3. Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee

This U.S. government fee is required for all students applying for an F-1 visa. You can pay the fee at the I-901 fee website. Once you have paid the fee, print out the receipt to bring it with you to the visa interview.

4. Apply for an F-1 nonimmigrant visa

For locations and specific instructions, visit

You need to do the following:

Student visas for new students can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the program start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on your student visa more than 30 days before the program start date.

5. Schedule your interview

Wait times for interview appointments vary, so apply early. Students can apply up to 120 days in advance of the Program Start Date.

6. Prepare for your interview

Take the following items to your visa interview

  • Current passport
  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • Photo
  • Visa application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • I-20 issued by Shoreline Community College
  • Acceptance letter from Shoreline Community College

Additional Documentation May Be Required

  • Transcripts or diplomas from schools you attended
  • English proficiency score reports (if you have them)
  • Financial statements

Here are some tips for you to prepare for the visa interview.

If you would like to request a practice visa interview with a Shoreline staff member, fill out this form.

7. Attend your visa interview

A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a student visa.

If your visa is approved, congratulations! When you receive your visa, make sure to check all of the information. If you find a mistake in your biographical data or your visa type, contact the embassy or consulate to ask officials to correct the error.

If you are denied a visa, try to politely ask the consular officer why the application was denied. Feel free to contact us if you would like to have a Shoreline staff member help you prepare for the next visa interview.

If your visa application requires further administrative processing, the consular officer will inform you if any actions needed to be taken.