Obtaining a U.S. Entry Visa - Department of State (DOS)
Entry visas are issued by the U.S. Department of State and are obtained at U.S. Embassies or Consulates abroad. You should present your visa application materials during a scheduled interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consular post in your home country.
Where Should I Apply for a U.S. Visa?
Read the documentary requirements of the individual embassy or consulate at which you will be applying for a visa. You can find a complete list at www.usembassy.gov/.
Dependents will need to show proof of the relationship to the primary visa holder, e.g. marriage and/or birth certificates.
Immaculata’s Office of International Student Services recommends that you apply for visa stamps in your home country.
If you are a third-country national, many consulates will allow you to apply for visas, but you may face delays or difficulty proving non-immigrant intent.
If you are denied a visa, you will not be allowed to enter or re-enter the U.S. and will likely have to return to your home country directly from the country where you submitted the visa application.
Per I.N.A. Sect 101 (a)(15)(F)(i), Students and Exchange Visitors must establish non-immigrant intent, i.e. prove that they have ties to their home countries such as family, property, or employment, and plan to return after their programs end.
F-1 students must also pay the SEVIS fee and bring their fee receipts (Form 1-901 payment receipt) to the interview and be ready to show that they are bona fide students with adequate funding. F-2 dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.
An F-1 student visa may be issued no earlier than 120 days before the program start date indicated on the Form I-20. However, F-1 students can apply for the F-1 visa stamp earlier than 120 days before the program start date to allow for visa processing and security clearance delays. New F-1 students and their dependents may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the program start date indicated on the Form 1-20.
Visa Application Status Check Website
On January 9, 2013, the U.S. Department of State introduced the online "Visa Status Check" site, which allows both immigrant and non-immigrant applicants to check the status of their cases at the Consular Electronic Application Center.
DOS Administrative Processing Visa Delays
Certain non-immigrant visa applicants will be subject to additional security checks and visa application processing delay before the visa is issued.
Depending on your country of origin, or whether your field of study, research or employment is in a sensitive area as referenced in the Technology Alert List (TAL), the consular officer might request a Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) from the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.
An SAO involves multiple database checks and may be extremely lengthy. Although the Department of State has made it clear that requests to expedite processing will not be considered, students experiencing security clearance delays of more than 30 days should report these delays to International Student Services (ISS) and to their Immaculata departments. In case of visa issuance that is delayed by more than 30 days, ISS will contact the U.S. consular post to inquire about the case and to offer any assistance possible.
By tracking visa delays and reporting to the Association of International Educators (NAFSA) and University government relations representatives, ISS continues to be involved in advocating for smoother visa processing for international students.
However, individual case resolution is not possible at this point. While it is at the discretion of consular officer whether to request an SAO, individuals may avoid delays by making sure the documentation they present to the consular officer is complete and transparent.
The purpose of the visa stamp is to gain entry to the U.S. Its expiration date has no bearing on your immigration status and your permission to remain in the U.S. Therefore, if you are maintaining status, you may remain in the U.S., pursue your program objectives, and travel domestically with an expired visa stamp.
However, you must obtain a new visa stamp in order to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad.
If you are applying for a new visa, please read the documentary requirements of the individual embassy or consulate at which you will be applying. You can find a complete list at www.usembassy.gov/.
An F-1 student with the same SEVIS ID is not required to pay the SEVIS fee again.
List of Countries with Limited or No U.S. Visa Services
As a result of various conditions such as wars, natural disasters or security reasons, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) is forced to limit or suspend visa services in certain countries.
In order to accurately inform the public, DOS has posted a complete list of countries where U.S. visa services are limited, where visa services have been suspended, and countries where the U.S. does not have embassies or consulates.