When to Apply
You must apply for your visa well in advance of your arrival, as it can in some instances take several weeks and occasionally longer, to obtain the F-1 student visa.
Although the U.S. Department of State states that F-1 student visas can be issued up to 365 days in advance of the program start date, OISS can only start the process to issue your immigration document after you accept your offer of admission and we receive your student record from your Yale school, which usually does not happen until March in most cases. Check the website of the consulate where you will apply for a visa for detailed instructions.
Before you begin the visa application process, you must have the following documents:
This will be sent to you in the mail from Yale after you have been admitted. Your I-20 is required when applying for an F-1 student visa at an American embassy or consulate and for entry into the United States. This I-20 has been produced by Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and is an acknowledgement that your record is in the SEVIS system. The form includes your SEVIS ID number, which is the number in the upper corner above the bar code, (usually starts with an N).
Thoroughly review your I-20 to make sure all of the information is correct. Sign the form at the bottom of page 1. If you have any questions, please contact your OISS adviser.
All new students coming in F-1 status must pay a one-time SEVIS fee prior to applying for your visa, and must submit the SEVIS fee receipt as part of their application. You can find instructions about paying the fee on this page. If you are renewing your F-1 visa it is recommended that you have proof of SEVIS fee payment, even though it does not have to be paid again. You can view and print the receipt by clicking “Check I-901 Status” at the top of this page.
If you have family members traveling with you in F-2 status, Yale will mail an I-20 for their use. Each F-2 dependent should have their own I-20 form. Each F-2 dependent I-20 is issued their own SEVIS number but an additional SEVIS fee does not need to be paid for a dependent.
The Application Process
The first step in applying for a U.S. visa is the online application DS-160.
Access the DS-160 application at the Consular Electronic Application Center website.
Watch an overview of the online application process.
Read Frequently Asked Questions about the DS-160.
Tips for Filling Out Your DS-160
Below are suggested answers you are welcome to use when you fill out this form. Please be aware that you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of information you provide in this form.
U.S. Address or Point of Contact
- Use your department contact person's contact information and department address
- Or, use your OISS adviser's contact info and OISS's address (421 Temple Street, New Haven, CT 06511)
Address Where You Will Stay in the U.S.
If you know where you will stay, use that address. If you have not yet secured your housing at the time of your visa appointment you may choose one of the below:
- The address where you will stay is the University’s address as listed on your I-20/DS-2019.
- Use your department or school's address. For Yale College, use 1 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven CT 06511.
Person/Entity Paying for Your Trip
List your primary source of funding as it appears on your I-20/DS-2019.
The next step in applying for a U.S. visa is making an appointment at your closest U.S. embassy or consulate. It is generally recommended that you apply for a visa in your home country rather than a third country if possible.
At this appointment you will need to present the following documents:
- Your I-20 form
- The SEVIS fee receipt (I-901)
- Your DS-160 confirmation page
- A copy of your financial support documents, i.e. evidence that you have sufficient funds to meet the expenses of studying at Yale, e.g. bank statement or your scholarship or financial aid award letter.
- A valid passport
- Passport-size photographs (that you uploaded in the DS-160 application)
- Completed required visa application forms (available on the U.S. consular websites.)
Check the website of the U.S. consulate/embassy where you are applying to see if there are other requirements.
An application fee and an interview will also be required. There have been (and continue to be) changes in the visa application process and these changes are usually reflected on the consular websites.
Find the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
Find the visa appointment wait times at your local consulate.
Attend your scheduled visa interview at your U.S. embassy or consulate. Here are 10 points to remember when applying for a non-immigrant visa.
Check the visa in your passport to make sure that all the information on it is correct. If the information is not correct it can only be changed at the embassy or consulate that issued your visa.
Your I-20 should be returned to you. You will need it to enter the U.S.
When applying for your student visa, pay careful attention to the following.
You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the starting date noted on the I-20 form. If you try to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before this starting date, you may not be permitted to enter the U.S.
You must pay particular attention to the starting date noted on your I-20 form, as you must enter the U.S. by this date. If you cannot enter the U.S. by this date, please get in touch with OISS about the process for changing your start date.
The expiration date on your visa may not match the end date of your degree program. If your visa expires before you complete your degree program, you will apply for a new visa on your first trip outside the U.S. after your current visa expires.
A Final Note
If the U.S. consulate has any questions regarding your studies at Yale, please contact OISS. If your visa application is delayed or denied for any reason, please email your OISS adviser immediately. Safe travels and we look forward to meeting you when you arrive in New Haven!