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. U.S. Embassies or U.S. 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 U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures. Students should consult the specific embassy website or call for application instructions; visit the Website of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions for more information.

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

  • Online Non-immigrant Visa Application Form (DS-160) confirmation page
    • If your address in the U.S. is not available yet, you can use the Northeastern University address: Office of Global Services, 354 Richards Hall, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. Email: [email protected]
    • For a contact person, you can put the name of the person who signed your I-20. You can find this information under “School Attestation” on your I-20.
  • Visa application fee payment receipt (visit the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate website for specific instructions)
  • Form I-20 issued by OGS at Northeastern University
  • Valid passport (the passport should be valid for at least six months after your date of entry into the U.S.)
  • Evidence of financial support (proof of sufficient funds for estimated cost of one academic year)
  • Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee payment receipt
  • A copy of your acceptance letter to Northeastern University
  • One photograph (see the U.S. 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 SEVIS identification to apply for the F-2 visa. Dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS 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 stamp 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 U.S.

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 SEVIS I-901 fee before entering the U.S. to study.

F-1 visa questions you may be asked

During your F-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 for going to the U.S.?
  2. Why did you choose to study in the U.S.?
  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 U.S. before?
  11. Why did you choose a university in Boston?
  12. Where will you be staying while in the U.S.?
  13. What do you know about U.S. 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 U.S.?
  18. What do your parents do for a living?
  19. Have you received any scholarships for your education?
  20. How much is the cost of your education in the U.S.?
  21. What are your plans after you finish with your studies in the U.S.?
  22. Do you have relatives or friends in the U.S.?
  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 guide from NAFSA for your reference: 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa.

Entering the U.S.

When preparing for your arrival to the U.S., 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 U.S. 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 U.S. or travel between programs. And, they may enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the new program start date listed on your I-20.

Documents to bring when entering the U.S.

  • Valid passport with an official F-1 visa stamp
  • Your original I-20 issued by Northeastern University
  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
  • Financial documents
  • Admissions letter

At the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. in visitor status (B-1/B-2, WT, or WB). This status does not permit full-time study in the U.S. After your arrival, print your Admission (I-94) number at 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.”

Video: Applying for an F-1 Visa