Apply for an F-1 Visa

The F-1 visa is issued by U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad, and each Consulate/Embassy has differing requirements and procedures for the visa application. It is recommended that you apply for your visa in your country of citizenship or permanent residence. It is not possible to renew an F-1 visa while in the United States.

Visit your country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate website to learn where you will apply for your F-1 visa. Learn how to schedule an appointment, how many times you can apply for your visa, what specific documents are required, and what procedures must be followed.

Apply for your F-1 visa as soon as possible. Make sure that you allow adequate time for security checks.

DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application

The DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form, is for temporary travel to the United States, including for F-1 student study. Form DS-160 is submitted electronically to the Department of State website. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine your eligibility for the F-1 visa.

Below is important information that you will need when applying for an F-1 visa

  • UTSA's school code:  SNA214F01500000
  • How to pay the mandatory SEVIS I-901 Fee

Review the Frequently Asked Questions for instructions about completing the DS-160.

Documents for Your Visa Application Interview

  • All appropriate U.S. Department of State forms and documents as listed on the Embassy/Consulate Web site, including your non-refundable visa application fee and photographs.
  • Valid passport.
  • Information showing admission to a UTSA program.
  • Financial Support Evidence.
  • Receipt for payment of SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • Documents proving intent to return to the home country after completion of F-1 status.
  • Form I-20 signed by your UTSA International Student Advisor.
  • For students renewing their visa after a stay in the United States:
    • Transcripts from all U.S. institutions attended,
    • Support documentation from your academic program (only if requested by U.S. Consulate or Embassy),
    • UTSA enrollment verification letter from the UTSA One Stop
  • The International Services Office also recommends carrying your resume and/or CV and a copy of the UTSA catalog description of your major.

Security Clearances

Students can experience significant delays due to required security checks. Masters and Ph.D. students in scientific and technical fields are advised to provide detailed information about their field of study when applying for visas. Some helpful items to bring to your visa interview include:

  • a resume,
  • a list of publications including samples, and
  • a letter from the UTSA academic department specifying the area of research and possible applications.

Exceptions: Canadian Citizens

Canadian Citizens do not need F-1 visas to study in the U.S. When you enter the U.S. to study, you will need to provide the Officer at the port of entry:

  • Proof of identity and citizenship (a Canadian passport for example)
  • The original Form I-20 signed by your UTSA International Student Advisor.
  • Proof that you have paid your SEVIS I-901 fee
  • Information showing admission to a UTSA program.
  • Financial Support Evidence
  • Proof of your ties to Canada

Preparing for Your Visa Interview

Below is important information that you will need when applying for an F-1 visa.

  • UTSA's School Code:  SNA214F01500000
  • How to pay the mandatory SEVIS I-901 Fee
  • Demonstrate intent to return to your home country:
    • Provide proof of residence abroad
    • Proof of ownership of property abroad
    • Proof of immediate relatives residing abroad
    • Proof of bank accounts abroad
  • Demonstrate that you are unlikely to become a public charge:
    • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay
    • Visa officers may evaluate the following factors when considering whether you are likely to become a public charge:
      • age
      • health
      • family status
      • education and skill
      • assets, resources, and financial status
  • Be prepared to discuss your academic plans:
    • Articulate why you want to attend UTSA
    • What you plan to study
    • How you plan to use your education when you return to your home country.
    • Make sure you understand your academic program and how it fits your career plans.
  • Understand the role of employment:
    • Employment in the US is a potential immigration benefit, but not your primary goal.

Visa Denial:

If your F-1 visa is denied under INA 214 (b), this normally indicates that you did not sufficiently demonstrate the intent to be an F-1 student who failed to demonstrate ties to your home country.

If your F-1 visa is denied under INA 212(a)(4), this normally indicates that you did sufficiently demonstrate that you are unlikely to become a public charge during your stay in the U.S.

If you have new information to prove your intent, you may re-apply for an F-1 visa at any time. Notify the International Services Office at if you are denied a visa so that we may assist you to either defer your admission or apply again. Please attach the denial notice to your email.

SEVIS I-901 Fee

As a part of an F-1 or J-1 visa application, students are required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. The I-901 fee is in addition to the consular visa fee and is non-refundable. Bring a copy of your payment receipt to your visa interview with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy, as your visa application will be denied if the I-901 fee has not been paid. Canadian students do not need F-1 visas to enter the U.S. to study, but they are still subject to the SEVIS I-901 fee. You must make the payment before arriving at the port of entry. Proof of payment will be required.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website include information on I-901 payment options, refunds, payment status verification, requirements for the I-901 fee, and frequently asked questions. You can pay the I-901 SEVIS fee through the following methods:


  • By mail: You can submit the I-901 form and a check or money order that has been drawn from a U.S. bank and is payable in U.S. dollars. Many foreign banks can issue checks drawn from a U.S. bank or foreign subsidiaries of a U.S. bank. A receipt will be mailed to the address listed on the I-901.
  • Online: You can submit the I-901 form online and make the payment using a credit card. A receipt will also be mailed to the address listed on the I-901 form. If you decide to pay via the Internet, we strongly suggest that you print a copy of the payment confirmation and keep it with your immigration documents.
  • In-person through the Western Union Quick Pay service: You must read the instructions for this payment option and bring a printed copy of the instructions and the sample of the completed Western Union form to the Western Union Agent to correctly process your payment.

A narrated video tutorial, available on Study in the States, walks students and exchange visitors through the steps of paying the I-901 SEVIS fee.

DHS Arrival Reporting Requirement

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires all F-1 students to maintain their F-1 record through several reporting procedures throughout the course of their F-1 status.  Reporting your arrival is a DHS requirement.
Newly admitted F-1 students must complete the arrival reporting requirement to activate their SEVIS record and notify DHS of their arrival. To meet your arrival reporting requirement you must complete the following by the Census Day of your first semester at UTSA. The International Services Office will facilitate reporting your arrival to DHS and activating your SEVIS record.


  • Register and attend the International Student Orientation. Visit the Orientation webpage for available dates and to register.
  • Submit a copy of your immigration documents to the International Services Office. Visit the Immigration Document Verification page for details on documents to submit and submission instructions.
  • Update your student record with your new local address. 

Not meeting your arrival reporting requirement by Census Day can negatively impact your F-1 status.