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F-1 Visa Application Process

Application Process for Students Applying From Overseas

Step 1: Apply to NOVA for an I-20

  • Send all forms and required documents to the Office of International Student Services by the application deadline.
  • We will contact you within two business days to inform you if your application is complete or if you still need to fill out some documentation. 
  • If everything is in order, the College is authorized to issue you an I-20 document. This is an official document that confirms you are eligible to study at NOVA. Your I-20 will be issued within 10 working days.

Step 2: The Visa Interview

  • Pay the SEVIS fee (Student and Exchange Visitor Information Service). The fee is currently $200 USD. This may be paid online at the SEVIS Fee Payment information page.
  • Make an appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an interview. Many branches now use an online booking system.
  • At the interview, you will be asked to show your relevant papers (I-20, financial papers, passport). You will be asked about your educational plans, your financial support and your plans for returning to your home country. Visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for more information about the visa interview.
  • If the consular officer determines that everything is in order, the officer is authorized to issue you an F-1 student visa.

Step 3: Travel to the U.S.

  • After you receive your F-1 visa you should make travel arrangements.
  • You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the reporting date listed under #5 on your I-20.

Step 4: Check in at NOVA

  • Check in at the Student Services Center or International Student Office at the NOVA campus where you plan to study. Bring your I-20, passport and I-94 card.  
  • The office will provide you with more information about orientation session, placement testing and your responsibilities as an F-1 international student.
  • Take the English placement test. The result of the test will determine the level of English you will begin studying at the College or whether or not you need to take developmental English classes before starting a degree program.
  • Meet with a counselor to review your test results and to register for your classes.