Student F-1 Visa Process

Ready to apply for a non-immigrant student Visa? After an international student has officially been accepted to the University of Pikeville, the student will receive an admission letter and the university will provide you with a Form I-20 to present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.
More information on the process is available here:
When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
  • Student pays the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • Apply for an “F-1” student visa on line DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • After you have completed the DS-160, you must take these next steps below:
  • Print and keep the DS-160 barcode page. (You will not need to print the full application.)
  • Schedule a visa interview appointment. (The U.S. Embassy or Consulate does not schedule an appointment for you.) Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will be interviewed for country-specific instructions.(
  • Pay the visa application processing fee. Review country-specific instructions on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website (

Who makes the final decision to grant or deny an F-1 Visa?
The consular officers in the U.S. embassies overseas have the sole responsibility for issuance or refusal of visas. Therefore, it is imperative that students be knowledgeable and well prepared to convince the officer that their stay in the U.S. will be temporary and is for the sole purpose of study.

What is required to be granted an F-1 Visa?
Applicants must demonstrate the sole purpose of their travel is to pursue a program of study. This requires an I-20 form from the school that has accepted the international student, transcripts listing courses that prove the completion of 12 years. of school, and any score reports required for admittance to the school.

  • International students have the ability and intention to be a full-time student in the U.S. - International students must exhibit appropriate knowledge of the English language to undertake a full course of study or provide documentation that special arrangements for English language studies have been made by the receiving institution. 
  • International students possess adequate funds to cover all tuition, living and anticipated incidental expenses without taking unauthorized employment. Must provide long-term, detailed bank statements and an employer’s statement of wages, showing your family’s financial ability to pay for your entire college expense. Working off campus is illegal without special permission from immigration. 
  • International students have sufficiently strong social, economic, and other “ties” to compel their departure from the U.S. upon completion of the projected program of studies. “Ties” are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country or residence such as your possessions, employment, social and family relationships. Returning home to use your education to run the family business or showing that you are the eldest child responsible for the care of your parents, are examples of cultural and family reasons for returning to your home country.

How can a student prepare for the Visa interview?

  • Acquire knowledge of the process. Get free, accurate information from the U.S. Embassy website in your country. It will give you the specifics of what is required and the student is expected to know. For example, students must know when to apply. Visas should be applied for no more than 90 days prior to the expected date of arrival at the school as listed on the I-20. You can find helpful information by visiting
  • Be prepared. Take the I-20 form, all school documents, test scores, letters or e-mails from the school you will be attending, evidence of funding, business card if you work, letters of recommendation for your educational plan and any documents that you feel would help you prove intent to return home.
  • Answer the questions the officer asks. Avoid prepared speeches. Don't use a prepared script. Know your career plan, why you are going to the U.S., what you plan to study and why you chose the particular college you want to attend, and what you plan to do at home after graduation.
  • Tell the truth. If the visa officer thinks you are lying, you won’t get a visa. If you don’t know an answer, tell the officer you don’t know. They are looking for evidence that you have given serious thought to your plans. Do you have an ambition and is it believable in the context of your country?

What are the major reasons for students to be denied an 
F-1 Visa?

  • Failure to prove “strong ties” that will compel you to return to your home country
  • Lack of supporting documents showing sufficient finances to pay for your education
  • Fraudulent documents

For additional information about student visa, refer to the U.S. Department of State website at http//

Student F-1 Visa Employment in the United States
Working in the U.S. with an F-1 Visa as an international student has specific rules. Students may work on-campus only and the job must be funded by institutional (not federal) money.  
An international student must receive permission from the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) and International Student Services to be employed off-campus. Without permission if students do so, it will negatively affect their visa and the consequences are severe. Regulations for reference related to this are found in Title 8 Code of Federal Regulations - Employment (CFR) 214.2(f)(9),(10),(11).
International students may work up to 20 hours per week during the semester in an on-campus job. During vacation breaks (summer, fall, winter and spring) students can work up to 40 hours per week. Again, the job cannot be funded by federal grants and must be funded by institutional funds only.  
Please note that on-campus jobs are limited and are highly competitive.

  • —  Student can only work on the campus of the school that issued their current I-20 .
  • —  Student must successfully complete one semester with 12 credits.
  • —  Student must have a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA of 2.0)
  • —  Student must be enrolled in 12 credits for fall/spring (per UCSIS) 

Definition of On-Campus Employment:
On-campus employment includes work done as a teaching or research assistant as well as jobs in the university library, dormitory,  dining facilities, laboratories and administrative offices. On-campus also includes employment with on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as stores or restaurants located in a university-owned building.   
See the International Student Services Designated School Official (DSO) for more information.


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