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How to obtain a visa

Pay the SEVIS fee

SEVIS is the database that U.S. Immigration Service uses to track all International Students studying in the United States. Most new students must pay the SEVIS fee before applying for an entry visa or entering the United States. This fee, SEVIS I-901 Fee, is assessed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is not administered by the University of Minnesota. For more information »

Locate the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country

Embassy and consulate information is available online:

Schedule an appointment for your visa interview

Your local embassy or consulate will have specific instructions for scheduling an appointment. Keep in mind that waiting times for an appointment can be lengthy (up to several weeks or longer), especially during the busy summer months. Schedule your appointment as soon as possible after receiving your visa documents. Approximate visa wait times at consular locations can be found at the Department of State Web site.

Prepare documents for your visa interview

All visa applicants must provide the following documents to the U.S. embassy or consulate at the time of the application:

Practice for your visa interview:

When applying for your non-immigrant visa, the United States Consular Officer interviewing you will assume that you plan to immigrate permanently to the U.S unless you prove otherwise. During the interview you will need to prove that you will only study temporarily in the U.S. and will return home after your studies are complete. Answer all questions truthfully but only provided information related to the question asked. Be prepared to answer confidently and clearly in English:

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens are eligible to enter the U.S. without obtaining an entry visa in their passport. However, Canadian citizens must obtain an I-20 and pay the SEVIS fee before entering the US. Upon entry, you must present to immigration your passport, I-20, proof of financial support for at least one year, and proof of SEVIS fee payment.

Importance of Name Consistency

To avoid problems or delays in obtaining your visa and entering the United States, ensure that all of your immigration documents reflect the same name, exactly as it appears in your passport. Do not use “nicknames” or shortened names on any of your documents, including your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, entry visa stamp, or any additional documents that you acquire after your arrival in the United States.