Applying for the Visa
After gaining admission to Claremont McKenna College (CMC) and receiving your I-20 from the DSO, you will need to apply for an F-1 visa in order to enter the United States. There are several steps to apply for an F-1 visa. These steps may vary by each U.S. embassy and consulate and it is important to contact the nearest embassy and consulate office or visit their websites for specific procedural instructions.
Applying from the country of home residence: Department of State regulations first direct those requiring a visa to enter the U.S. to apply for a visa “at a consular office having jurisdiction over the alien’s place of residence.” This means that, generally, you must apply for your student visa in your home country, at the U.S. Embassy, or consulate nearest your home.
Special note: Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need to apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. consulate; however, they do need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and must present their valid passport, I-20 (F-1 immigration document), and SEVIS I-901 fee receipt to U.S. immigration officials at the U.S. port of entry.
How to Apply for an F-1 visa:
More information can be found here.
- Online non-immigrant visa application
- Complete the online visa application, Form DS-160.
- Upload a passport photo as part of the online visa application form, DS-160. Please visit this website for photo requirements.
- Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
- Visa application fee – you must pay the non-refundable visa application fee before your interview. Please visit the nearest U.S. embassy for fee information and instructions.
- Gather required documents for your interview
- Valid passport
- ID issued by your country
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160, confirmation page
- Payment receipt for the visa application fee
- Your signed and dated I-20
- Suggested additional documentations
- Transcripts, test score results, diplomas or certificates from schools that you attended
- Proof of financial support – bank statements, scholarship award letters
When traveling to the U.S., make sure you carry your I-20 with you (do not pack it in checked luggage), as you will need to present it to the U.S. Border Patrol officials at the U.S port of entry.
How to prepare for your visa interview
During your visa interview, the consular officer will ask a series of questions to determine your eligibility for an F-1 visa. Prepare to give short and concise responses about your plans while in the U.S. and what you will do after you finish your studies.
- Review your I-20 and be familiar with the information on it so you can answer any questions that an officer may ask about your I-20.
- Review any financial support documents such as bank statements that you provided to CMC and be prepared to explain your financial ability to pay the costs on your I-20.
- Give short and concise answers to the officer.
- Most importantly, be yourself.
Additional Helpful Resources
- 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa – courtesy of NAFSA: Association of International Educators
- U.S. Department of State Study and Exchange website
- Student and Exchange Visitor SEVIS I-901 Fee website
- Find a U.S. embassy or consulate
- EducationUSA – for a link to a worldwide network of U.S. education advising centers
If you are currently inside the U.S. and attending school with F-1 status, you may be eligible for a SEVIS transfer. This means that your F-1 record can be transferred from your current school to Claremont McKenna College.
- First, you must be officially admitted to CMC and have received your admission letter.
- You need to meet with your current school’s DSO to notify them of your intent to transfer your F1 record out of your current school to Claremont McKenna College. Your current school’s DSO will release your F-1 record after determining your eligibility. Your current school may have transfer processing forms for you and CMC's DSO to complete. If you do have any forms for CMC’s DSO to complete, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you are still enrolled in classes, your DSO will release your record after the current school session ends.
- During the winter or summer break, your F-1 record can be released at any time.
Once your F-1 record is released, CMC will transfer your record on the date that is set by your current school. This means that your transfer I-20 will not be issued until after your F-1 record is fully transferred into CMC.
- You will not need to pay a SEVIS fee if you are transferring your F-1 record and have been maintaining your F-1 immigration status.
Travel during SEVIS transfers
- If you are travelling outside of the U.S. before your transfer release date, then you need to enter the U.S. with your current school’s I-20.
- If you are travelling outside of the U.S. after the transfer release date, then you will need to enter the U.S. with CMC's I-20.
Visa during the SEVIS transfers
- You will only need to apply for an F-1 visa if your F-1 visa is expired and you are traveling outside the U.S.
- If your F-1 visa is not expired and you are traveling outside the U.S., you can re-enter the U.S. with CMC's I-20.