Applying for a Visa

Applying for a visa can take a lot of time and preparation. Be sure to start early, and refer to the U.S. embassy Web site in your country.

Visa Eligibility Form I-20

An I-20 is a form that U.S. schools issue to international students to indicate they have met all admission requirements to enter that school. If you live outside the U.S., you will need to take the Form I-20 to the nearest U.S. Consulate in your country, along with a valid passport, TOEFL score, financial support documents and school transcripts, to obtain a F-1 Student visa. It is important to remember to sign your I-20 prior to entering the United States.

If you are already in the U.S., the form may be issued only after the release date given to you by your previous school. That is usually the last date that you have attended classes.

To allow time to overcome any unforeseen problems that might arise, students are encouraged to apply for their visas several weeks before they plan to travel. Students may not be issued a visa more than 120 days before the registration date noted on the I-20.

Applying for a Student Visa

All applicants for a Student Visa must provide:

  • A Form I-20 A/B. Iowa State will mail the Certificate of Eligibility for a Student Visa (Form I-20 A/B) to you once you have been selected for admission and have demonstrated that you have adequate funds to cover all of your educational and living expenses. When you receive it, please check the spelling of your name, birth date, and entry date for accuracy, read it carefully, and sign it in the designated space.
  • A completed nonimmigrant visa application form (DS-156) with your photo. These forms are available at the Embassy at no charge.
  • A passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the United States.
  • A receipt for the visa application processing fee.
  • Proof of SEVIS fee payment (I-901 receipt).

All applicants should be prepared to provide:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from all institutions attended.
  • Scores from any standardized tests taken, such as the TOEFL, SAT, ACT, IELTS, etc.
  • Financial evidence that shows you or your financial sponsor have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. (You may use the copy you made of the Undergraduate Financial Statement and attach supporting documents. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring income tax documents and original bank books and/or statements. If you or your sponsor own a business, please bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.)

Making Travel Arrangements

Once you have your visa, you may begin making your travel arrangements. Please do so early, as airline flights are filled quickly during the student travel season.

It is important to remember that visa regulations prohibit students from arriving more than 30 days in advance of the date of arrival on their Form I-20.

Students Who Are Currently in the U.S.

You must have your current visa status verified by your current school by having them complete the Transfer I-20 Request Form. This form should not be completed until you have accepted your offer of admission to Iowa State University.