Obtaining Your Visa

It is important that you understand the student visa procedures in order to get all of your travel/immigration transactions settled, and arrive safely in the United States.  This process includes getting a form I-20 from Fresno State, securing appropriate application forms and interviews, as well as providing supplementary documents.  Allow extra time in your planning. Visa issuance may take several weeks but some take even longer.  While individual experiences differ, these are the basic steps you should follow and what you can expect throughout the process: 

1.    Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).  Regulation requires all prospective F and M students to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee, before the U.S. Department of State issues you a visa. I-901 SEVIS Fee is associated with your I-20 SEVIS number (N00XXXXXXXXX) and is separate from Visa fee.

2.    Identify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that is most convenient for you to visit.

3.    Visit the website of the embassy or consulate you will visit, and follow the instructions on the site to:

  • Complete your online DS-160 visa application,
  • Pay your visa fee,
  • Get a list of all required documents you must bring, and
  • Schedule your visa interview appointment.

Make an Appointment

To schedule a visa appointment, in most countries, F-1 visa applicant will be asked for 1). Passport number; 2) Receipt number from your Visa Fee receipt; 3) Ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page.  Visa application procedures vary somewhat among embassies and consulates, depending on local needs. In most countries, you will need to make an appointment. This can be done by phone, mail, online, or in person, depending on the circumstances of your country. Wait times for appointments may be long.  Schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Helpful Tips for Visa Application

Click on the links below for information from official resources:

10 Points to Remember when Applying for a Student Visa

Five Ways to Prepare for your Visa Interview

Visa Approval

If your visa is approved, the visa will be sent to your designated location selected when you scheduled your appointment. 

Visa Denial

Although many F-1 students are approved with F-1 visas, a visa denial is not uncommon. In most cases, the visa application is notified of the reasons of denial under section of law which applies. The applicant may re-apply again with evidence of significant changes since previous visa denial if the visa is denied due to immigrant intent. If an applicant’s visa is denied due to insufficient evidence or administrative processing, the applicant would be given a letter listing what documents the applicant may need or next-steps after administrative processing is complete. For more information regarding visa denial, please refer to Visa Denial webpage under Department of State.