Obtaining Your F-1 Visa

You have been accepted to HCC and received a Form I-20. What is Next?

  • If you are applying to become an F-1 visa student and coming to the U.S. directly from your home country, the U.S. Embassy/Consulate will make the final decision in granting you entry into the U.S. You will need to pay the SEVIS fee and start the application process for a student visa. 
  • If you already have an F-1 student visa and are transferring to HCC from another institution in the United States, you can skip to the next section.
  • If you are a new F-1 student who has received an "Initial Attendance" Form I-20, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee. Your Form I-20 acts as proof of acceptance and contains the information that is needed to pay the SEVIS fee; apply for a visa or change of status, and admission into the United States. Be sure to print your receipt before closing the screen! You will need the receipt to apply for your F-1 visa.

Make a Visa Appointment

Make a visa appointment with the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate. F-1 student visas are issued by U.S. Embassies and Consulates located outside the United States. Non-immigrant students may apply for a visa at the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence up to 120 days prior to the program start date on their Form I-20. The local Embassy or Consulate will provide you with specific application instructions and which documents you will need to bring for your interview. Check for specific requirements in your home country. If you don’t, you may be required to return for a second time, which may delay your visa for several weeks.

The application process typically includes an in-person interview with a consular official to determine the applicant’s purpose of travel to the U.S. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary from country to country, so be sure to allow adequate time to schedule your visa interview. Check your average visa wait time!

Required Forms and Documents for Visa Interview

  • Form I-20, issued by HCC, signed and dated
  • Letter of Admission from HCC
  • Completed visa application obtained from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate and visa application fee receipt
  • Passport valid for travel to the U.S. (valid at least six months into the future)
  • 2x2 photograph (see specific nonimmigrant visa photograph requirements)
  • SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
  • Financial evidence of sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses while studying in the U.S. (original bank or scholarship documents that prove funding for the first year of study and access to sufficient funds for the remaining years of study. We recommend that you submit bank statements of the last four months showing at a minimum an average balance of the required amount). 

Commonly Asked Visa Interview Questions and Helpful Tips

  • Why do you want to study at Hillsborough Community College in the United States?
  • What do you want to do with your degree when you return home? Have a clear plan and be ready to explain why you choose a community college over a four-year college or university to begin your studies. Describe why, where, and what you plan to study in the U.S. and how that study fits into your career plans.
  • Which other schools did you apply to?
  • Where will you live in the United States?
  • Do you have any family members or relatives in the United States? If you have relatives in the United States, identify who they are, what their relationship is to you, and where they live.
  • What ties do you have in your home country that will draw you home? Establish a strong personal motive to return to your country after you complete your course of study. 
  • Who is paying for your education? Show documents proving there is a valid source of funds, such as funds from parents or other relatives, loans, scholarships, and funds from your home government, and explain clearly how they were obtained and/or will be obtained in the future.
  • Do you bring any dependents with you to the United States? If yes, do you have funds to support them? If no, how will any dependents remaining in your home country support themselves? 

These questions are only a guide. Each interview is different. Answer all questions calmly, truthfully, and be prepared to supplement your answers with a few documents that show that you are a legitimate student with a strong commitment to return to your country after you complete your studies. 

If your visa is denied, you can reapply after a certain time. Be sure to check how soon you can do that.

Other Resources

EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State-supported network of hundreds of advising centers around the world. Each year, EducationUSA advisers at EducationUSA Advising Centers respond to millions of inquiries from international students. Visit an EducationUSA Advising Center to help prepare your visa interview!

Study in the States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a comprehensive information hub for international students with blog posts, interactive guides, news articles and videos on how to study in the United States and how to maintain status.

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