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Application Process for Students Applying From Overseas

Before you go to the visa interview, prepare the following documents:

Required Documents:

  • current passport with at least six months remaining before the expiration date
  • completed visa application forms
  • receipt showing you have paid the SEVIS fee
  • I-20 issued by NOVA
  • acceptance letter from NOVA
  • financial documents
  • educational documents
  • confirmation of interview appointment (if one was issued)

Visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for more information on documents required.

An F-1 visa can only be obtained at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the United States -- it is not possible to renew by mail or in person within the U.S. Visa application procedures may vary by embassy. Most now require appointments for visa processing. You should visit the website for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply for your visa for additional information or to set up an appointment if required.

The visa interview may last between 2-5 minutes. Visa decisions are based on the answers you give at the interview in addition to any documentation you present to the visa issuing officer. The officer is looking to see if the information you provide makes sense.

Answer questions as clearly and honestly as possible. Before the officer will issue a visa, he or she must be satisfied that you meet these three criteria:

  1. You are a serious student.
  2. You have enough money to support yourself while you are studying.
  3. You plan to return to your home country after you have finished studying.

Anyone applying for an F-1 visa must prove to the satisfaction of the consular officer that he or she does not intend to immigrate to the U.S.

It is important to bring supporting documents to provide evidence of your intent to return to your home country such as: proof of family ties, ownership of property in your home country, a job in your home country, etc.


  • SEVIS Fee: First time F-1 applicants (and some renewing applicants) are required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. 
  • Visa Fee: You will also need to pay the visa application fee. Please see the embassy’s website for information on how to pay this fee.

If you would like more information about the visa process or would like help in preparing for your interview, please find an office of EducationUSA or the Institute of International Education (IIE) near you. EducationUSA also offers a pre-departure orientation that you may find useful. These organizations have offices in many countries around the world. They offer free, impartial and accurate advice to students wishing to study internationally.