Applying for an F-1 Visa

Applying for an F-1 Visa

The following information is provided to help you apply for a student visa and prepare for your entry into the U.S. as an F-1 student. While this will give you a general idea of the process, each U.S. Consulate or Embassy has its own system for visa applications. Therefore, you should also check with your local consulate to find out how to arrange for the visa application and what documents are required. You may also refer to the U.S. State Department website for visa policy and procedures.

  • Students who are outside the United States must take the Form I-20 A-B (to apply for an F-1 visa) or Form DS-2019 (to apply for a J-1 visa) to the Visa Office of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • Along with the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, you should also be prepared to present the following documents with your visa application:
1. Passport- your passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future
2. Admission Letter- Admit Letter to California State University, East Bay
3. Financial Support- Documents to demonstrate financial support for the program for which you have been admitted
4. I-901 Fee- proof of payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee
5. Ties to you home country- Documentation to demonstrate your intention to return home after completion of your academic program

  • Generally, your time with a consular official will be short. Therefore, you should be prepared to explain the reason you are planning to study in the U.S. and how it will help you further your goals when you return home after your degree.
  • If you are granted a visa, the name of the school that issued your I-20 or DS-2019 will be printed on your visa by the Consular Officer. You will be required by the Immigration Service to enroll in that school before a transfer can be approved. If you have been given documents by two or more schools, or are anticipating acceptance to another institution but don't have that I-20 or DS-2019 yet, discuss the situation with the Visa Officer before submitting any documents in conjunction with your application for a student visa.
  • Upon Arrival, your passport may be stamped with your admission date, immigration status, and length of authorized stay (which should be 'D/S' - Duration of Status - for F-1 and J-1 students).
    • Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) which will indicate the length of your authorized stay in the U.S. For F-1 and J-1 students this should indicate an authorized stay of D/S (Duration of Status), which allows you to stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status under the terms of the USCIS regulations for student status. If for any reason your I-94 does not indicate 'D/S', but instead gives you a specific date of authorized stay, please notify us at - we will need to help you correct this.


Canadian Students

If you are a Canadian citizen, you are not required to obtain an entry visa to enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 student status. However, you must present the following upon entering the United States in order to obtain F-1 or J-1 student status:

  1.     A valid Form I-20 (for F-1 status) or DS-2019 (for J-1 status)
  2.     Your CSUEB admission letter
  3.     Original financial documents
  4.     Proof of payment of the I-901 SEVIS Fee 
  5.     Proof of Canadian citizenship (such as a Canadian passport)

A border inspector will review your documents and determine your eligibility to enter the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student. The inspector will then stamp your passport and issue a paper version I94 card or create an I-94 record which can be retrieved via US Customs and Border Protection website here.

Please Note:

1. If you are a new student entering the U.S. to begin studies at CSUEB, and have an I-20 marked "Initial Attendance," you are not permitted to enter more than 30 days before the start date indicated on your I-20.

2. Failure to obtain an I-94 card or record indicating "F-1 D/S" or "J-1 D/S" may mean that your admission record may not be correct. It is essential that you request and obtain F-1 or J-1 status when entering the U.S.