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Applying for the F-1 Student Visa. Study in USA, Study in US for Indian students

Updated: May 12, 2023

When to Apply

It is crucial to apply for your F-1 student visa well ahead of your intended arrival since the processing time can sometimes take several weeks, and occasionally even longer. Even though the U.S. Department of State permits issuing F-1 visas up to 365 days before the program start date, the Office of International Students for any university can only begin the process after you accept your offer of admission and your student record is received from your school/university.

For detailed instructions, please refer to the consulate's website where you plan to apply for the visa (link below):


Pre-Application Checklist

Checklist for F1 student visa

Before you begin the visa application process, you must have the following documents:

I-20 Form

After you receive an admission offer from your university, they will send you an I-20 form through mail (via post)/email. This form is necessary when applying for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate and for entering the United States. The I-20 is created through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), indicating that your record is in the system. Your SEVIS ID number is printed in the upper corner above the bar code, usually beginning with an N. It is essential to carefully examine your I-20 for accuracy and sign it on the first page's bottom. If you have any questions or concerns, you should reach out to your university international office/admission team for clarification on any query.

SEVIS Fee Receipt

Additional I-20 Forms


The Application Process

Get your F1 USA student visa stamped
F1 student visa

1. Complete the DS-160

The first step in applying for a U.S. visa is the online application DS-160.

Access the DS-160 application at the Consular Electronic Application Center website.

Tips for Completing Your DS-160 Form

Here are some suggested responses that you can use when filling out this form. Please note that you are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the information you provide in the form.

  • U.S. Address or Contact Point - Use the contact information and address of your department's contact person, or Use the contact information and address of your college's. Contact your international office/school advisor. Also, listed on your I-20.

  • Address Where You Will Reside in the U.S. - If you already have a place to stay, use that address. If you have not yet secured housing at the time of your visa appointment, you can choose one of the following options: Use the University's address as listed on your I-20/DS-2019 as your place of residence. Or, Use your college's address.

  • Person/Entity Funding Your Trip List the primary source of funding as it appears on your I-20/DS-2019.

Additional resources:

Watch an overview of the online application process.

Read Frequently Asked Questions about the DS-160.

2. Schedule a Visa Interview Appointment

3. Attend your Interview

4. Receive and Review your Entry Visa


TIP and point's to remember

When applying for your student visa, pay careful attention to the following.

Entering the U.S. early

You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the starting date noted on the I-20 form. If you try to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before this starting date, you may not be permitted to enter the U.S.

Enter the U.S. by the I-20 Start Date

Expiring Visas


Ending Tip

  • It's important to have a clear understanding of your studies at your US university to avoid any confusion during the visa application process. Including type of visa: Long-term (including Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD's) falls under F1-vsa, Short-term: J1 visa (summer school, exchange programs, vocational training's, etc.)

Remember to carry your I-20 application when travelling to US on a F1 student visa
Travel with your F1 VISA

  • If the U.S. consulate has any questions about your studies at your university, it's best to contact your university Office of International Services or admission team for clarification and guidance.

  • If your visa application is delayed or denied, it's important to notify your university adviser immediately to discuss your options and next steps.

  • Prior to travel, be sure to review all the necessary documents and information related to your visa, I-20 form, and travel plans to ensure a smooth arrival in the U.S.

  • Make sure to keep all important documents, such as your passport and visa, in a safe and secure place while traveling.

Good luck! and, safe travels in your study abroad journey!

Remember: you can contact Shivi study abroad advisors anytime for help in your study abroad journey.

Study in USA, Study in US for Indian students

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