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Applying for F1 visa

The information below is for students who plan to enter the U.S. for the first time to study, and is subject to change without notice. Also, note that visa requirements are not the same in every country, so be sure to check with your local U.S. embassy or consulate to confirm their procedures for F-1 visa applications.

After you receive your I-20, follow these steps to complete the visa application process

  1. You should apply for the F-1 visa in your country of citizenship or permanent residence. To confirm what your local U.S. embassy or consulate requires for F-1 visa applications, visit its website. (For links to U.S. embassy and consulate websites, see On the website, learn how to schedule an appointment, how many times you can apply for a visa, what specific documents are required and what procedures you must follow.
  2. After you receive the I-20 form from The Boston Conservatory, follow your U.S. embassy/consulate’s instructions to schedule an interview for your F-1 student visa. It is important to apply for your student visa as soon as possible.
  3. Pay your I-901 SEVIS fee as soon as possible after receiving your I-20. Click here for information about the SEVIS fee.
  4. Prepare your application documents to bring to the visa interview. The following list is only a guide. To confirm the specific requirements and procedure for applying for an F-1 visa in your country, be sure to consult the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will apply.

    ___ Visa application forms DS-156 and DS-158. Some applicants must also complete form DS-157.

    ___ Proof of payment of the visa application fee. Pay the fee by following the instructions on your local U.S. embassy or consulate’s website. Bring the receipt of fee payment with you to the interview.

    ___ Your new SEVIS I-20 form from The Boston Conservatory, signed by the Director of International Student Affairs. After you read the guidelines on the form, be sure that you print your name, sign, and date the form at item 11 using blue ink. (To apply for a visa, you must use the I-20 from the school you plan to attend.)

    ___ Proof of admission to The Boston Conservatory (your acceptance letter).

    ___ Proof of payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee. Bring the receipt of fee payment with you to the interview. 

    ___ Two photographs. The photographs must meet USCIS specifications (“passport-style” photos, in color, full frontal view of your face to mid-chest, 2 inches square) and must be no more than one month old. You may find additional specifications at

    ___ Valid passport. Your passport must be valid at least six months into the future when you arrive in the U.S. 

    ___ Financial support documents that are recent and that show you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition, fees, and living expenses during the period in which you intend to study. Include any scholarship letters.

    ___ Documents proving your intent to return to your home country after you complete your degree program. This may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community.
  5. At the interview, remain calm and answer all of the visa officer’s questions to you openly and honestly. You will need to demonstrate the following:
    1. You intend to return to your home country after completing your program, and you do not intend to immigrate to the U.S. You have a residence in your home country that you do not intend to abandon.
    2. You have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your program.
    3. You have made academic progress and maintained F-1 status during any prior periods of study in the U.S.

For additional advice, read the enclosed document called “The F-1 Visa Interview: 10 Points to Remember.”

Information for Canadians: If you are Canadian, you do not need to apply for an F-1 visa, but do need to (1) obtain an I-20 from our school, (2) pay the SEVIS fee, and (3) carry your passport, financial documents, SEVIS fee receipt, and any previously issued U.S. immigration documents (e.g., old I-20s) with you when you enter the U.S.

For more visa information, see the U.S. State Department website:


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