International Students | Applying for a Visa
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Applying for a Visa

International students intending to study in the United States must first obtain an F-1 Student Visa.

Pre-Application Checklist

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

  1. Form I-20
    After you have been accepted, Lyon will mail your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) generated Form 1-20 to you. You will need your 1-20 when applying for an F-1 Student Visa at a U.S. embassy. The form will include your SEVIS ID number (found in the upper corner above the bar code). Please note that you must use the I-20 Lyon provides for you. If you apply to several schools, you may receive an I-20 from each school. However, to attend Lyon, you must use the Lyon I-20.
  2. SEVIS Fee Receipt
    As of October 27, 2008, all new F-1 students must pay a one-time $200 SEVIS fee prior to applying for a U.S. visa. You can find payment instructions here. For more information, go to the SEVP website and review the Frequently Asked Questions. If you are renewing your F-1 visa, we recommend that you have proof of SEVIS fee payment. You will not have to pay the fee again.
  3. Additional I-20 Forms
    If you have any family members traveling with you on an F-2 visa, Lyon will mail a Form 1-20 for their use. Each F-2 dependent must have his or her own I-20. Each F-2 dependent is issued their own SEVIS number, but you will not need to pay an additional SEVIS fee for a dependent.

Once you receive your I-20 from Lyon and have paid your SEVIS fee, you can begin the F-1 application process.

Applying for a U.S. F-1 Student Visa

Please note: You must allow adequate time for visa processing and visa appointment wait times, which can range from several weeks to several months. Review visa wait times at your local embassy here.

If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need an F-1 visa to study or participate in an exchange program in the U.S. However, you will need to obtain a Form I-20 (or DS-2019). Upon receipt of your I-20, you will be assigned a SEVIS number and required to pay the registration fee. You must present your SEVIS receipt and I-20 (or DS-2019) at the U.S.—Canada land border or at the airport for lawful entry to the U.S. as an F-1 student. You will also need to present your Canadian passport, proof of financial support, and proof of ties to Canada.

The Application Process

To apply for a U.S. visa, you will need to present the following documents at the U.S. embassy nearest to you:

  1. Form I-20
  2. I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
  3. Completed visa application forms (available here)

In addition, you must present the following mandatory documents:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Passport-size photographs
  3. Lyon College admission letter
  4. Evidence of financial resources i.e. sufficient proof of funds to pay for the first year of tuition, fees, and living expenses as well as proof of readily available funds to cover the remaining year(s) of study. 
  5. Evidence of strong economic, family, social, or career ties to your home country.

For a more comprehensive list of what to bring to your interview, please visit the Checklist of Materials page.

Make sure you review your Form I-20 and sign the bottom of page 1 if all information presented is correct. If you are under the age of 18, your parent or guardian must co-sign on the bottom of page 1.

When you arrive at the embassy, you will be required to pay an additional application fee and attend an interview with an embassy official. There have been (and continue to be) changes in the visa application process and these changes are usually reflected on the consular websites. 

Find a U.S. Embassy

Entering the U.S.

When entering the U.S., you must provide the following materials to the port of entry officer:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Form I-20
  3. I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
  4. Lyon College admission letter
  5. Official proof of funding or receipt of full payment for program

If you are requesting entry to the U.S. on a visa other than an F-1 or with an F-1 I-20 from another U.S. academic institution, please contact the appropriate party responsible for your immigration status about travel information.

Special Notes

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

  • The U.S. Department of State has instructed U.S. embassies that they may issue an F-1 visa no more than 120 days in advance of the start date noted on your I-20. You may submit your application for an F-1 visa more than 120 days in advance of the start date in order to accommodate long processing times, but the visa will not be valid before the 120 day mark. Check the website of the consulate where you will apply for a visa for detailed instructions.
  • You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the I-20 start date. If you try to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date on your I-20, you will not be permitted to enter the U.S.
  • You must enter the U.S. by the start date noted on your I-20. If you cannot enter the U.S. by this date, please get in touch with Lyon's international student advisor about the process for changing your start date.

Additional Questions

For more information about the visa application process, please contact Joni Bube, International Student Advisor, at 870.307.7027 or joni.bube@lyon.edu.