Redefining the Classroom

Applying for a non-immigrant U.S. Visa

Your journey of becoming an international student is now underway. You have been accepted by LSSU, which is only the first step. In order to get to Sault Ste. Marie, you will need a U.S. visa to enter the U.S. (unless you are a Canadian citizen). So, to make the visa process as quick and easy as possible, it is very important that you bring all of the necessary documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and prepare well for your visa interview. To help you prepare, please read about how to apply for a non-immigrant U.S. Visa below.

What is a non-immigrant U.S. visa?

A non-immigrant U.S. visa is an entry permit to the U.S. It is issued by the U.S. Department of State and is stamped in your passport.

Non-immigrant visas are for international visitors coming to the U.S. temporarily for a specific purpose such as study or work. This U.S. visa stamp allows you to request permission of the border inspector at a U.S. port-of-entry to enter the U.S.

A visa alone does not guarantee entry into the U.S. You must also carry your other documents, including a valid passport, and valid I-20 Approval Notice.

Where do I get a U.S. visa?

You must obtain a U.S. visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the U.S. Please consult the website of the U.S. Consulate / Embassy where you will apply for your visa to find out about application procedures: More information on U.S. Embassy policies and locations

How long will it take to get a U.S. visa?

June, July, and August are the busiest months in most U.S. Consulates so interview appointments may be difficult to obtain during that period. To see the wait times for visas at particular U.S. Consulates, please check: Current wait times for U.S. visas

Due to background checks, mandatory visa interviews and increased scrutiny of individuals studying or doing research in “sensitive fields,” you should be prepared for the possibility of delays in the processing of your visa application. If your field of study or research is on the Technology Alert List, you should obtain a letter from your professor explaining in detail the nature of your studies or research. This letter should be written in simple language so it can be easily understood by non-specialists.

In addition, applicants from certain countries may have additional processing requirements, which may delay the issuance of their U.S. visa stamp. Please check the following sites to see if you will need to satisfy additional requirements:

What is non-immigrant intent?

All applicants for F visas are required to demonstrate their intent to return to their home country following the completion of their studies or scholarly activities. There are several ways you can demonstrate your intent to return home:

  • Be ready to explain clearly how you intend to utilize your degree or research; experience at home after you finish your program
  • Bring proof of ownership of any property (e.g., land, house, apartment) in your home country
  • Bring bank statements for accounts you maintain in your home country
  • Bring proof of a job offer or continuing employment in your home country
  • Bring proof of your family's ties to your home country (e.g. property, business ownership, bank accounts or other assets)

For additional information about applying for an F-1 visa, visit the Department of State website

What do I need to apply for an F-1 student visa?

The U.S. Department of State website lists detailed instructions regarding the forms, documents, etc., which are required for the visa application. It is important that you bring everything to your visa interview to avoid needless delays in the processing of your application.

How do I apply for an F-1 student visa?

  1. Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160)
  2. Pay SEVIS I-901 Fee
    For answers to questions about the SEVIS Fee, please read SEVIS I-901 Fee Frequently Asked Questions.
  3. Pay the Nonrefundable Visa Application Fee
    Note: When your visa is issued, you may also be required to pay the Reciprocal Visa Issuance Fee. Check the Visa Reciprocity Table to see if you are required to pay this fee.

What should I bring to my visa interview?

  • Valid passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended duration of your visit to the U.S.)
  • SEVIS Form I-20
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) confirmation page
  • (If you could not upload it when you completed the online visa application) One photograph which meets the Photograph Requirements
  • Receipt to show payment of the Visa Application (MRV) Fee
  • Visa issuance fee (if required)
  • (If required) Proof of payment of SEVIS Fee (Form I-901)
  • Transcripts and diplomas from current and/or previous institutions
  • Original score reports of standardized tests required by the school (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS)
  • Financial evidence showing sufficient funds to cover educational and living expenses
  • Documents showing your “non-immigrant intent” (i.e., documents which help to prove your ties to your home country and verify that you have no intentions of immigrating to the U.S.)
  • Other requirements as determined by your U.S. Consulate

Please contact or visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for additional requirements.

What do continuing / returning students need in order to renew their U.S. student visa?

We recommend that you contact a DSO (Designated School Official) at the Registrar’s Office in the Fletcher Center.


Useful visa links: