What Exactly is a Visa?
A visa is a document that is placed into your passport and allows you to request permission from an Immigration officer at a port-of-entry (usually at an airport) to enter the United States. The visa itself does not guarantee admission into the U.S.; all other documents must be in order as well. The procedure to enter the U.S. is covered in more detail further down this page.
F-1 (Student) Visa
The F-1 visa is the most often used visa by international students to study at an accredited U.S. college, university, or English language institute. Students on F-1 visas come to the United States for a full degree program. To apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you will need a Certificate of Eligibility I-20 document.
Visa Application Steps
- Admission to University of St. Francis
- Receive Certificate of Eligibility I-20 from the University of St. Francis
- Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee *
- SEVIS Fee: http://www.fmjfee.com.
- F-1 students: $350
- Keep receipt or print-out of payment for proof that you paid it for your visa interview.
*You may have received an I-20 from several schools, but you should only pay the SEVIS fee once and apply for your visa with the I-20 of the school you are planning to attend.
- SEVIS Fee: http://www.fmjfee.com.
- Schedule a visa appointment/interview
Checklist for Visa Appointment
- A completed visa application form
- Form I-20
- Proof that you paid the SEVIS fee & visa application fees
- A passport valid for at least 6 months or more into the future
- Financial support documentation (no older than 2 months)
- Your admission letter from the University of St. Francis (recommended, not required)
- Proof of home country ties, including but not limited to: proof of property ownership, bank accounts, significant family in your home country, a job offer in your home country upon completion of your U.S. studies (you may or may not be asked about this, but it is always good to be prepared)
- For dependents applying for an F-2: You should also bring your marriage certificate.
Steps after Receiving the Visa
If all goes according to plan, you will receive an F-1 visa stamp in your passport. Congratulations! Some U.S. Embassies actually put your I-20 in a sealed envelope and staple it to your passport. It is recommended that you do not open this envelope. The Immigration officer at the U.S. port-of-entry will open it and check your documents when you arrive. Check your visa for errors before you leave the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
You may not enter the U.S. on your F-1 visa more than 30 days prior to the report date on your I-20
If you received a late visa appointment and will not be able to enter the U.S. by the report date on your I-20, please contact International Admissions as soon as you know this information so that we may defer this date on your I-20 so that you are not turned away at the port-of-entry into the U.S..
Arrival to the United States
Upon entry into the U.S., a CBP Officer will create an electronic I-94 record of the non-immigrant arrival. The CBP Officer will also provide an admission stamp directly in the passport which will be annotated with the date of admission, class of admission and admitted until date.
Upon entry into the U.S., International Admissions recommends you review your electronic I-94 record at www.cbp.gov/i94 to ensure it is correct. We suggest you check your records each time you enter the U.S. to ensure you have been admitted in the correct immigration class. This will be especially important for those who hold multiple valid visas.
Reporting to the University of St. Francis
Students who have been granted entry to the United States must immediately report to the University of St. Francis International Programs Office at the following address:
International Programs Office (IPO)
500 Wilcox Street, Joliet, IL 60435
Donovan Hall C226