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Applying for a Visa

We recommend that you schedule an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible. Please note that you cannot have your visa issued more than 120 days prior to the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. The website of your particular Consulate or Embassy can be found at http://usembassy.state.gov/ . Select the city and country where you will apply for a student visa (“non-immigrant” section) to learn what the procedures are for your particular consulate. The following state department websites also have information:


Typical Required Documents:
**Note: Requirements can change frequently and may differ from consulate to consulate. Be sure to check with your particular consulate for requirements. This list is intended to be a guide only.**

  • Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019 form)
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months in the future
  • Form DS-160(and DS-157 if applicable- only if you are a male between the ages of 16 and 45) Can be filled out online prior to appointment by downloading from your consulates website or http://travel.state.gov/visa/forms/forms_1342.html 
  • Proof of admission to the U.S. university
  • One 2 x 2 inch photograph- see
    http://travel.state.gov/visa/visaphotoreq/visaphotoreq_5334.html
  • Receipt for visa processing fee
  • Evidence of ties to your home country
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Evidence of sufficient knowledge of English during the interview
  • Evidence of academic credentials qualifying you for admission (such as TOEFL, transcripts etc.)

Tips for a Successful Visa Interview

Common questions:
Do I need a visa if I am a Canadian citizen?

  • Citizens of Canada are NOT required to obtain a U.S. visa to enter the United States. However, a U.S. Immigration official will inspect your papers upon entry. You must have proof of Canadian citizenship, your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019 form) and proof of financial support. Make sure your documents are marked F-1 or J-1 D/S upon entering (especially if you are driving into the U.S.)!

What if I have received an I-20 or DS-2019 form from another school?

  • DO NOT enter the United States using a college or university’s I-20 or DS-2019 form if you do not intend to enroll at that school. If you have been admitted to more than one school, you must enter using the form for the school that you plan to attend and be sure to inform the other schools that you will not attend.

What if I am unable to attend BC?

  • You MUST inform your BC admissions office and the OISS immediately so that your SEVIS form can be canceled. You CANNOT enter using your BC immigration form if you plan to go to another school.


What if I am in the U.S. in a status other than F-1?

  • Please contact the OISS immediately to discuss your current status.

What if I am going to another school in the U.S. before I come to BC?

  • You should only get an I-20 from the FIRST school you will attend. When you are done with your program at the first school, you will need to have your SEVIS I-20 record transferred to BC.

What if I recently attended another school in the U.S. in F-1 status?

  • Your I-20 will have to be transferred from your previous school to BC. Contact the OISS for more information.

Can I use my tourist visa to enter the U.S.?

  • NO! You will have to leave and re-enter in the appropriate status

The U.S. Department of State oversees all U.S. consulates abroad and is responsible for issuing visas.

The U.S. Department of Homland Security enforces all customs and immigration regulations and oversees the SEVIS system.