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Pre-Arrival Information for International Students

Pre-Arrival Information for International Students

Now that you have been admitted to UNCSA and have the I-20, there are steps you need to take in order to apply for the student visa. In order to study in the U.S., all international students must obtain an F-1 visa stamp in their passport prior to entering the U.S.

Obtaining the F-1 Visa Stamp

Students may apply for an initial visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate as early as 120 days prior to the program start date listed on the Form I-20. Please plan to apply early! Check the website for U.S. embassies ( for specific embassy locations, procedures, documents required, scheduling an appointment, and operating hours. Wait times vary at different embassies.

check Visa Wait Times

The documents you will need to present to the consulate are:

  1. Passport valid for at least six months beyond the program end date on your I-20
  2. SEVIS I-901 confirmation receipt
  3. I-20
  4. Letter of Admission
  5. Affidavit of financial responsibility, guarantee of financial support and bank statement(s)
  6. If applicable, scholarship award letter
  7. If applicable, loan letter and/or documentation
  8. Additional documents listed on the embassy/consulate website

How to Pay the SEVIS Fee

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires a SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee of $350 for students applying for F-1 visas. The SEVIS fee is in addition to visa application fees. You must pay the SEVIS fee at least three business days prior to applying for your visa.  We recommend you apply and pay the fee online by credit or debit card. However, you can also apply using the I-901 form  and pay by mail with a check or money order. When paying the fee online, be sure to print the confirmation receipt and take it to the visa appointment. You may also be asked to show the receipt at the U.S. port of entry.  For more information regarding the SEVIS fee please refer to


Note: At this time, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program is unable to accept SEVIS I-901 fee payments by credit card on behalf of students from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Gambia and Nigeria. Students these countries must pay SEVIS fee by cashier’s check, money order or Western Union Quick Pay.

Do not discard the form I-20 after your Visa appointment. You will need to present it to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry to the U.S.

Before presenting the required documents to the embassy or consulate, please review everything to ensure accuracy and completeness. You can expect that the consular officer will thoroughly scrutinize your documents.

Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement; however, Form I-20 and documents listed above are  required for entry in F-1 student immigration status. The SEVIS fee is also required.

Social Media Questions on Form DS-160

The U.S. Department of State now includes questions regarding social media on the Form DS-160, used to apply for a nonimmigrant visa stamp.

The mandatory question is applicable to most visa applicants and concerns social media platforms used by the applicant within the last five years. It asks for the applicant’s username for the selected social media platform, but not the password.


Contact: Ronit Weingarden, International Advisor and principal designated school official, PDSO
TaWanna Archia, International Advisor, DSO