Applying for an F-1 visa

To provide time for visa processing, students are encouraged to apply for their visa as soon as they receive their I-20 issued by Northeastern University. USA Embassies or USA Consulates are able to issue F-1 entry visas up to 120 days before the program start date listed on your I-20.

In most countries, student visa applicants must appear in person for the visa interview. However, each USA Embassy or USA Consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures. Students should consult the specific embassy website or call for application instructions; visit usembassy.state.gov for more information.

The following documents are typically required for the F-1 visa application:

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form (DS-160) confirmation page
  • Visa application fee payment receipt (visit the USA Embassy or USA Consulate website for specific instructions)
  • Form I-20 issued by the Office of Global Services at Northeastern University
  • Valid passport (the passport should be valid for at least six months after your date of entry to the USA)
  • Evidence of financial support (proof of sufficient funds for estimated cost of one academic year)
  • Student and Exchange Visitor Information System I-90 fee payment receipt
  • A copy of your acceptance letter to Northeastern University
  • One photograph (see the USA Department of State website for photo requirements)

All applicants should be prepared to provide additional information, such as transcripts or diplomas from previously attended institutions, or documents which demonstrate that the applicant intends to return home after their studies. Dependents will receive their own I-20 with a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System identification to apply for the F-2 visa. Dependents are not required to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee.

No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore, final travel plans or the purchase of non-refundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued. After the visa has been issued, please be sure the F-1 visa sticker in your passport is accurate and that your original I-20 has been returned to you as you will need to have it in hand when entering the USA.

NOTE: Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need to apply for an F-1 visa, but are required to have the I-20 and pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System I-901 fee before entering the USA to study.

F-1 visa questions you may be asked

During your F-1/J-1 visa interview or at the Customs Control at the port of entry you may be asked questions about your studies, your university choice, how you are planning to pay for your education, your post-graduation plans, and more. Here are some of the common questions that you may expect.

  1. What’s your purpose to go to the USA?
  2. Why did you choose to study in the USA?
  3. Which University will you attend?
  4. What will be your degree and major?
  5. Did you go to a University at your home country?
  6. What is your occupation at the moment?
  7. Why don’t you continue your studies in your home country?
  8. How many universities did you apply to and in which countries?
  9. How many universities sent you an admittance letter?
  10. Have you ever been to the USA before?
  11. Why did you choose a university in Boston?
  12. Where will you be staying while in the USA?
  13. What do you know about USA educational system?
  14. What is your English test score?
  15. What is your GPA from your previous institution?
  16. How will you deal with the cultural differences?
  17. Who will support you financially while you are in the USA?
  18. What do your parents do for a living?
  19. Have you received any scholarship for your education?
  20. How much is the cost of your education in the USA?
  21. What are your plans after you finish with your studies in the USA?
  22. Do you have relatives or friends in the USA?
  23. Do you have a career that you want to pursue after you finish with your studies?
  24. Tell me a little bit about your family. Do you have any siblings?

Please use this for your reference: National Association of Foreign Student Advisors.

Entering the USA

When preparing for your arrival to the USA, you should plan your travel according to the information provided by your college. According to immigration regulations, F-1 student visa holders can enter the USA up to 30 days prior to the program report date on the I-20.

Students transferring to Northeastern University in F-1 status from another institution or changing their degree level at Northeastern may stay in the USA or travel between programs. And, they may enter the USA more than 30 days before the new program start date listed on your I-20.

When you travel, please have the following documents in your carry-on bag:

  • Valid passport with an official F-1 visa sticker
  • Your original I-20 issued by Northeastern University
  • I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee receipt
  • Financial documents
  • Admissions letter

At the USA port of entry, you will be required to present your passport and I-20 to the immigration officer who will stamp your passport. In most cases, the officer notes “D/S” (Duration of Status) on your passport pages. This means you are allowed to stay in the USA for the length of time indicated on your I-20, provided that you maintain full-time enrollment and a valid F-1 visa status. Ensure your passport is properly stamped before exiting the immigration inspection area. Do not enter the USA in visitor status (B-1/B-2, WT, or WB). This status does not permit full-time study in the USA. After your arrival, print your Admission (I-94) number at cbp.gov/I94 and keep a copy of all travel documents (I-94 information, F-1 visa, and I-20) for your personal records. Ensure your I-94 print out contains the correct information, including F-1 visa status and “Duration of Status.”

Related Articles:

I-20 Form Instructions

With so many different ways to fill out the I-20 form, figuring out how to complete yours can be confusing. Use the instructions below that correspond to your program to fill out the form.

Pre-arrival for J-1 Students

Your DS-2019 form is the document you need to apply for a visa to enter the USA. We will walk you through the DS-2019 application process and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

J-1 Scholar Arrival

Understanding J-1 status. Maintaining J-1 status. Attending a J-1 orientation session. We know you may feel overwhelmed with the number of obligations you have to meet as a J-1 student. Relax. The Office of Global Services remains committed to helping you at every step.