Office of International Programs

Applying for a Visa

We recommend that you schedule an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible. You must wait until you receive your I-20 or DS-2019 BEFORE you make your visa appointment. Please note that you cannot have your visa issued more than 90 days prior to the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. The website of your particular Consulate or Embassy can be found at . Select the city and country where you will apply for a student visa (“non-immigrant” section) to learn what the procedures are for your particular consulate. The following state department websites also have information:

The following resources should also provide some additional visa assistance:


Typical Required Documents:

**Note: Requirements can change frequently and may differ from consulate to consulate. Be sure to check with your particular consulate for requirements. This list is intended to be a guide only.**

  • Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019 form)

  • Passport valid for at least 6 months in the future

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application Form, DS-160. NOTE: This form is completed and submitted online. Be sure to add your electronic signature or the form may be denied.

  • Proof of admission to the U.S. university

  • Now that the Application (DS-160) is being submitted online applicants must also submit digital photos along with their application. Be sure to review the photograph requirements before sending your photographs!

  • Receipt for visa processing fee (SEVIS fee) known as I-901

  • A MRV fee receipt to show payment of the Visa Application Fee (this fee is typically $140 but may vary from country to country so be sure to visit the embassy or consulate website where you will be applying.)

  • Evidence of ties to your home country

  • Evidence of financial support

  • Evidence of sufficient knowledge of English during the interview

  • Evidence of academic credentials qualifying you for admission (such as TOEFL, transcripts etc.)

Commonly Asked Questions:

Do I need a visa if I am a Canadian citizen?

  • Citizens of Canada are NOT required to obtain a U.S. visa to enter the United States. However, a U.S. Immigration official will inspect your papers upon entry. You must have proof of Canadian citizenship, your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019 form) and proof of financial support. Make sure your documents are marked F-1 or J-1 D/S upon entering (especially if you are driving into the U.S.)!

 What if I have received an I-20 or DS-2019 form from another school?

  • DO NOT enter the United States using a college or university’s I-20 or DS-2019 form if you do not intend to enroll at that school. If you have been admitted to more than one school, you must enter using the form for the school that you plan to attend and be sure to inform the other schools that you will not attend.

What if I am unable to attend USM?

  • You MUST inform your the International office at USM immediately so that your SEVIS form can be cancelled. You CANNOT enter using your USM immigration form if you plan to go to another school.

What if I am going to another school in the U.S. before I come to USM?

  • You should only get an I-20 from the FIRST school you will attend. When you are done your program at the first school, you will need to have your SEVIS I-20 record transferred to USM.

Can I use my tourist visa to enter the US?

  • NO! You will have to leave the US and re-enter in the appropriate status.