How to successfully apply for US F1 Visa - detailed guide [2021]

How to successfully apply for US F1 Visa - detailed guide [2021]


Table of Contents

Getting an F1 student visa is a long process. This blog will help you avoid making mistakes and give step-by-step Instructions on how to fill in your I-20 form. The most important thing that you need to worry about when applying for a US student visa are the timelines. The F1 visa application process for the US takes a maximum of 60 days (which might get extended in individual circumstances). Thus, it is advisable to apply much in advance from the intended date of travel for a US visa. You can track the status of your visa application online.

Around the first week of April, you would have just received your I-20 form from your DSO, and you can’t wait to start the visa application procedure to attend your dream US University. These are the steps that you need to follow When applying for your F1 visa:

  1. Payment of SEVIS Fee I-901
  2. Filling of Online DS-160 Visa application
  3. Payment of Visa fee
  4. Booking Visa slots
  5. Documents you need to carry for your Visa interview

US Visa Application Step 1. Payment of SEVIS Fee I-901

In 2004, Congress mandated all nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors must pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee, which funds the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and SEVIS. This fee is separate from visa fees and school SEVIS administration fees.

Open this link and go through the I-901 Fee payment tutorial by US Immigration and customs enforcement. Fee payment link:

US Visa Application Step 2. Filling of Online DS-160 Visa application

The DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form, is for temporary travel to the United States. Form DS-160 is submitted electronically to the Department of State website via the Internet. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

Open this link to begin your DS-160 application.

Select the consulate where you will be appearing for your visa interview and click on 'Start an application'.

DS-160: Landing Page

Note down your application ID. If the page times out or you wish to continue the application later on, you will need your application ID. Also, select a security question and answer, which will be required to retrieve your application at a later stage.

DS-160: Security Question

Fill up your personal information. Note: On the passport page, keep in mind that Indian passport book number is not applicable. Choose 'Regular' as your Passport type and type in your Indian Passport book number.

DS-160: Passport Information

On the travel tab:

DS-160 Travel Information

In case you are unsure of where you will be staying, provide your college address.

Choose 'No', in the Travel companions page unless you have a dependent.

DS-160: Travel Companion

At the 'US point of contact information' page, mention the name in your i20 form under the heading 'School official to contact upon arrival' and the PoC address as the college address.

On the Present Work/Education/Training Information page, mention work details if you are working and enter your college address if you are a student.

DS-160: Work/Education/Training (1)

While entering educational institution information, input dates as per college transcript/degree certificate for your college dates, and HSC/SSC certificate for your school dates.

DS-160: Work/Education/Training (2)

Input SEVIS number from your i20 document at the SEVIS Information page.

DS-160: SEVIS Information

Once you finish your application, click on review. You'll be able to review and edit details if necessary. After confirming whether your consulate details are correct, click on 'Sign and Submit'.

Once you reach the 'Confirmation' page, click on print confirmation and save it as a PDF for future printing. Come back to the previous page, email confirmation and send the confirmation to your email address.

DS-160: Confirmation

Note down the DS-160 confirmation number.

You are done!

US Visa Application Step 3. Payment of Visa fee

Visa applicants, including children, are required to pay a non-refundable, non-transferable visa application fee, sometimes referred to as the MRV fee, before applying for a nonimmigrant visa. The visa application fee must be paid whether a visa is issued or not. The type of visa for which you apply determines the fee amount. The fee for an F-1 visa is $ USD and Rs. 12160 in INR. Although fees are listed in U.S. dollars, payment must be made using local currency.

Your visa application fee is non-refundable and you cannot transfer it to another person. You will receive a receipt after paying the application fee. This receipt is valid for one year from the date of payment and allows you to schedule your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You must schedule your interview while the receipt is valid, which means your interview must be booked within one year of paying your fee. If you do not schedule an interview within a year of payment then your receipt will expire, you will not be able to schedule an interview, and you must pay the fee again and begin the process anew. To start off, open this link and create a new profile.

Visa: Landing page

Click on “New application/Schedule appointment”

Visa: New applicatio 

Select Non Immigrant Visa type and continue.

Visa: Select Visa type

Select ‘Student and Exchange Visitors’ type

Visa: Select Visa category

After filling up all the fields, review details and click on continue.

Visa: Review Details

After finishing payment, you’ll be able to book a slot for your Visa interview.

Open the same link to book your slot. Once done, click on continue.

Join our active visa info group for real time updates on visa slots availability, visa interview discussions and other visa process queries.

Verify your passport pickup location once.

Visa: Verify Location

You’ll find your receipt number pre-filled. You can proceed to pick time and date for the interview.

Visa: Schedule Appointment

Once you pick the Visa interview date, you will be asked to select a date for OFC appointment.

Your Visa slot is successfully booked! Make sure you email the confirmation to yourself and save a PDF version.

Visa: Appointment Confirmation

US Visa Application Step 5. Consolidated list of documents you need to carry for your Visa interview


  • SEVIS I-901 payment receipt
  • DS-160 Confirmation page with barcode (Don’t take DS160 form. Only confirmation page)
  • Visa payment receipt
  • Visa appointment confirmation
  • Passport and Old passport (If any)
  • I20 Document

Supporting Documents

  • GRE/GMAT Score report – Downloadable version
  • TOEFL/IELTS Score report – Downloadable version
  • 4 Visa Photographs (2x2 Inch photos)
  • Bank statements/FD/Passbooks/PF/PPF statements/IT Returns/Pay slips
  • Loan sanction letter
  • Relieving letter, Exp. certificate, Proof of employment certificate
  • Affidavit of support document (Notarized)
  • CA Statement of assets and properties
  • Decision letters from universities
  • SOP/Resume
  • Original 10th,12th, UG/PG degree certificate, Transcript, Mark sheets
  • IDs like Voter ID, Driver license, College ID card, Ration card, Birth cert.


After securing admission to your dream college, applying for a US visa is the next step. It is not tough to secure a US Visa for a student, but you should know the application process altogether to avoid any mistakes on your part. Planning for your OPT (Optional Practical Training) application in advance is essential to getting an internship/part time job in the US post your arrival. Getting a job or an internship in the US isn’t a piece of cake, and you must start actively looking for one from the first week after you land in the USA.

Here is an active student forum for discussing Internships, TA and other part time job opportunities in the US.

Do reach out to us in case you have any queries. All the very best!