Student Visa Information

International students studying in the United States (even if only studying for a short time) are required to obtain a student visa. Below you will find information that will help you understand the visa process.

Types of Student Visas

There are three main types of student visas:

F-1 Visa - This visa is issued to students who are attending an academic or English language program. F-1 students must maintain full-time student status. They can remain in the U.S. up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete their academic program. They are expected to complete their studies by the expiration date on the I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).

J-1 Visa - This visa is issued to students who need to obtain practical training, which is not available in their home country, to complete their academic program.

M-1 Visa - This visa is issued to students who plan to attend a non-academic or vocational school.

How to Obtain a Student Visa

To obtain a student visa, you will need to submit, at minimum, documentation to a U.S. Consulate or Embassy (preferably in your home country).

  • Be sure to pay the SEVIS fee prior to applying for the student visa (Form I-901). You will need to show a receipt as proof of payment for the SEVIS fee before applying for your visa.
  • A visa application form (DS-156 and DS-158); male applicants will also have to complete form DS-157.
  • A valid I-20 form from Chemeketa.
  • A passport valid for travel to the U.S.; the date must be at least six months beyond your intended period of stay.
  • One photograph 1½ inches square (37x37mm), full face showing, head must not be covered, against a light background.
  • Documentation showing you have sufficient financial resources for your studies. Chemeketa and the U.S. immigration office require proof of sufficient funds (such as a bank statement or a confirmation of financial support).
  • Take your passport, the I-20, and your admissions and financial support documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country to apply for an F-1 student visa. You will have to pay an application fee.
  • When you turn in your application, a consular official will schedule an interview date and time.

Tips for a Successful Visa Interview

Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, such as student visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can demonstrate to the consular officer that they are not. In other words, you need to convince the consular official that you are only coming to the U.S. to study, and not to immigrate. You must be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the U.S.

Be sure to:

Bring documentation. Bring all important school correspondence to the interview, including e-mail messages; bring SEVIS fee payment receipt and make sure that all information on the I-20 form is correct.

Show "ties" to your home country. You must be able to show strong reasons (such as job, family, financial prospects that you own, etc.) why you want to return to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence after you complete your course of study. The interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family, educational objectives, and career prospects in your home country.

Prepare for interview in English. Prepare for the interview to be conducted in English and not in your native language. Practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview, but do not prepare speeches.

Speak for yourself . Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The interviewing officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression may be created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.

Know the program and how it fits your career plans. You should be able to explain the reasons you will study in a particular program and how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career when you return home.

Be brief. Consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point. You may only have 2-3 minutes of interview time.

Address dependents living at home. If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. You will not be allowed to support them financially while you are in the U.S.

Maintain a positive attitude. Do not argue with the consular officer. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reasons for denial in writing.

Frequently Asked Questions - Visit this link for more questions about the student visa process.

More Information

If you would like more information about attending Chemeketa, contact our Office of International Programs, by telephone 503.399.5141, or by FAX 503.365.4768.