Cherry Blossoms

Prospective International Students

Applying for Your F-1 Visa

Applying for your F-1 visa includes many steps, and includes a background check and fingerprinting (in some countries).

You can apply for a visa 120 days before the start date on your I-20, and we recommend you apply as soon as possible.

Step 1: Pay the $350 SEVIS Fee (I-901 Fee) After Receiving Your I-20

Print your payment receipt: required for your visa appointment

Note for Canadian citizens: You do not need to follow the steps below to apply for a visa but can request F-1 status at the port of entry. Arrive in the U.S. no more than 30 days before the program start date on your I-20, and carry your I-20, proof of I-901 fee payment and proof of funding for your education in the U.S.


Step 2: Learn Your Consulate’s Requirements

  • Go to Choose your country, then choose the U.S. Consulate closest to your home. Click on “Visas”, then read the information on “Student Visas” or “Non-immigrant visas”.
  • You may need a fingerprint appointment, or provide additional documents before your appointment day. Go to for information and videos in your language.

Step 3: Complete the Online Visa Application  (DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa)

  • Apply online at  and complete the online application (required to schedule an interview)
  • Not living with friends or relatives? Use Foothill’s information for a contact in the USA.
  • Print and keep the DS-160 barcode confirmation page.

Step 4: Make the Visa Appointment and Pay the Visa Application Fee

  • Follow the instructions specified by your Consulate

Step 5: Collect Your Documents

  • Passport (must be valid for 6+ months beyond your stay in the USA)
  • I-20 from Foothill College
  • SEVIS Fee receipt
  • DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa barcode confirmation page.
  • Visa Application Fee receipt
  • Additional Documents: your embassy or consulate may require additional documents, such as a copy of your financials, TOEFL score, or transcripts.

Step 6: Prepare For Your Visa Interview

A visa interview may be short, or you may be asked a lot of questions! Be prepared to adress the following during your interview:

  • Why you want to study in the United States
  • Why you chose Foothill College
  • Explain your financial support while in school
  • Your plans after your studies are finished
  • Connections or ties to your country (family friends, etc.)

Search for “10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa” from NAFSA for more information and videos about applying for your visa.

U.S. Government Websites with Helpful & Information About Applying For Your F-1 Visa - Click on “Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study” - Click on “Study and Exchange” then “Student Visas” 



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International Student Programs Office


Administration Building 1900 Room 1933

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