Apply for Your Initial Student Visa

Most International students who wish to study full-time in the United States must apply for either an F-1 or J-1 visa (Student) through a U.S. Consulate. In most countries, first time student visa applicants are required to appear for an in-person interview. However, each Embassy and consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas. Students should consult Embassy web sites or call for specific instructions.

If you are currently in the U.S. and studying on an F1 or J1 you will transfer your SEVIS record from your current U.S. school to Portland State University. Please contact the office of International Student and Scholar Services about the SEVIS transfer process.

When Should I Apply for My Initial Student Visa?

You are encouraged to apply for your visa as early as possible. You may apply for your visa as soon as you have your I-20 or DS-2019 Form from PSU and have paid the SEVIS fee. See the US State Department website for more details.

  • Students who receive a Form I-20 from Portland State University will apply for an F-1 student visa.
  • Students who receive a Form DS-2019 from Portland State University will apply for a J-1 student visa. The Portland State University Office of International Student and Scholar Services issues all DS-2019 forms.
  • Embassies and Consulates are able to issue visas no more than 120 days before your program of study begins. If you apply for your visa more than 120 days before your program is scheduled to begin, then the Embassy or Consulate will hold your application until it is able to issue the visa.
  • International students may enter the United States no more 30 days before their program study start date as shown on the Form I-20 or DS-2019. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the United States.

What Do I Need to Apply for My Initial Student Visa?

  • Admission Letter from Portland State University
  • Original Form I-20 issued by Portland State University
  • Proof of payment of Sevis Fee (I-901 SEVIS Fee) - Paying Your i-901 SEVIS Fee
  • Appointment with U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Be sure to check on Embassy/Consulate website for specific student visa application instructions
  • Printed Forms DS-160
  • Passport valid for at least six months after you plan to enter the United States
  • Two-inch by two-inch photos of yourself
  • Receipt of your Visa Application Fee
  • Dependent Information and Documentation

Be sure to check with your individual Embassy/Consulate for specific Visa application requirements and appointment information.

In addition to this information you should be prepared to the show the following during your interview:

  • Acceptance to a SEVP-certified school. (Form I-20, Admission Letter)
  • You have financial ability to pay for school costs plus living expenses and expenses for any dependents you will bring with you.
  • Examples of documents to bring:
  • Financial documents used to show proof of funding for Form I-20
  • Proof of continued funding for duration of study in the U.S.
  • You are prepared for the academic program into which you will enroll
  • Examples of what to bring:
  • Secondary School and College Transcripts
  • Test score copies: i.e. TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, SAT, GRE etc.
  • Proof you that you will not be permanently immigrating to the U.S.
  • How you plan to use your education after completion

For the most up to date information visit How to Prepare for Your Visa Appointment on the Department of Homeland Security's website.