Immigration Information for New Students
Video: Student to Student - Study in the States
Topics on this page:
- How do I obtain a visa?
- What is the SEVIS fee?
- Who has to pay the SEVIS fee?
- How do I pay the SEVIS fee?
- How do I prepare for my visa interview?
- Once I arrive, how do I maintain my status during my stay?
- More sources of immigration information for new students
This information is for a nonimmigrant that plans to enter the United States for the first time to study. For information on bringing dependents to the US, returning to continue studies, or renewing your visa, or for more details on how to apply for a student visa, refer to the U.S. Department of State website HERE
Contact your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy to ask about how to get an F-1 international student visa. A list of Consulates and Embassies can be found at HERE
After you receive a Form I-20 from Oklahoma State University, follow the US Embassy/Consulate’s instructions to schedule an interview for your F-1 student visa. It is important to apply for your student visa as far in advance as possible. Many consulates recommend that appointments be made no more than 90 days from the intended date of travel, but some can make earlier arrangements for interviews. It is important for you to plan to start the process well in advance in case of delays while obtaining your visa.
More information on visa wait times.
Complete the following forms:
- DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form
Pay the visa application fee by following instructions on your local US embassy or consulate’s web site.
If your Form I-20 is marked for “initial” attendance (see #3 on your Form I-20), you will need to pay the $200 SEVIS fee.
You will need to participate in a visa interview.
SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is an internet-based system that maintains data on foreign students and exchange visitors before and during their stay in the United States. It is administered by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The SEVIS fee is a one-time fee that must be paid by all new students entering the country on a F-1 or J-1 visa. The revenue from the fee is used to support the SEVIS program. More information on SEVIS and the SEVIS fee.
Students on F-1, F-3, M-1 or M-3 visas must pay the $200 SEVIS fee. Exchange visitors (with J-1 visas) must pay the $180 SEVIS fee unless participating in federally sponsored exchange visitor programs (program codes start with G-1, G-2, or G-3). Spouses and dependent children of students or exchange visitors do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.
You do not need to pay the $200 SEVIS fee if you are transferring schools, extending your program, applying for an F-2 dependent visa, or have paid this fee and been denied a visa within the last twelve months.
To Pay By Mail
- Obtain a Form I-901 “Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Non-immigrants.”
- Complete the Form I-901
- Write your name and date of birth exactly as it appears on your Form I-20.
- Enter SEVIS ID Number correctly from Form I-20.
- Provide accurate address where you want the receipt mailed.
- If you have chosen expedited delivery your address must be a street address not a post office box.
- Prepare a check, international money order, or foreign draft (drawn on US banks only**) in the amount of $200 USD, made payable to “The Department of Homeland Security.” If you have selected expedited delivery of the receipt include an additional $30 USD and a contact phone number for courier delivery.
- Mail the completed I-901 and accurate payment to the following address:
I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
P.O. Box 970020
St. Louis, MO 63197-0020, U.S.A
By Courier (expedite delivery):
I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101, U.S.A.
Phone # 1-314-418-4393 (USA Country Code 011)
- A Form I-797 receipt notice will be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. In most cases, you will receive an expedited delivery within 3-5 days. However, the time varies by country and how far you live from a major transportation center. Currently, DHL is the SEVP Courier. The DHL web site can provide the estimated delivery time for your country.
- Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your important immigration documents.
**Many foreign banks are able to issue checks or money orders drawn on a U.S. bank. You may obtain a check from: 1) a bank chartered or operated in the United States; 2) a foreign subsidiary of a US bank, or 3) a foreign bank that has an arrangement with a US bank to issue a check, money order or foreign draft that is drawn on a US bank.
To Pay Online
- Fill out Form I-901 at HERE
- Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard, or American Express information.
- 1. Enter your name and date of birth exactly as it appears on your Form I-20.
- 2. Enter SEVIS ID Number correctly from Form I-20.
- 3. Provide accurate address where you want the receipt mailed.
- 4. Print a copy of the online receipt. This receipt will be shown as proof of payment to the visa-issuing officer at the US Embassy or Consulate.
- Form I-797 receipt will be mailed to the address you provide.
- Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.
Prepare and bring the following to your visa interview:
- A passport valid for at least six months
- Form I-20 (sign the form under Item 11)
- School admission letter
- Completed visa applications (DS-160)
- Two 2”x 2” photographs in the prescribed format.
Click here for more information
- A receipt for the visa application fee, which varies by country.
- A receipt for the SEVIS fee - If you have not received an official receipt in the mail showing payment and you paid the fee electronically, the consulate will accept the temporary receipt you printed from your computer. If you do not have a receipt, the consulate may be able to see your payment electronically if your fee payment was processed at least 3 business days before your interview.
- Financial evidence showing you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study.
- Provide any information proving that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the U.S. This may include:
- proof of property, family, or other ties to your community.
- proof that one or both parents is working in the home country;
- that other family members have not immigrated to the United States;
- that family members are not illegally present in the U.S.;
- that the student has job prospects upon return home;
- that the student's family is able to economically support him/her;
- evidence of property or business interests in the home country, etc.
- If the applicant for a visa is a student dependent, he or she must present evidence of the relationship such as a birth certificate or marriage certificate, as well as the types of evidence previously mentioned.
Remain calm and answer all questions asked to you openly and honestly.
Immigration regulations can be difficult to understand. Please check this link for the basic guidelines that you will need to follow to maintain your immigration status as a student while you are in the U.S. There is a lot of information about immigration regulations throughout the ISS website. If you have any questions or difficulties once you arrive, come to the ISS office. Immigration counselors are available to answer questions and help you successfully navigate the immigration system and maintain your status.