What do you need to know about getting a student visa? It’s easy right? Surely, it’s as easy as going into the post office similar to getting a passport? Well…..not really…… let me explain..

It’s obviously one of the last parts of the whole college recruitment process. But probably the most important, if you don’t get a student visa, then you won’t be going to the US. That’s a fact.

The US student visa, is called a class F1 Student visa. An F1 visa is issued to international students who are attending an academic program or English language program at a US college or university. An F1 visa will also be given to students attending a high school.

Typically, what we do (When we help students’ study in colleges/universities) is deal with all class F1 Visas, because the visa is actually sponsored by the high school or the college that the student will be attending. A J1 visa, is essentially sponsored by a study abroad agency in Australia, they would sponsor that visa for a student Athlete to go and do a six-month study abroad.

Here in Australia and New Zealand, to get one of these, you must attend a meeting at the US consulate. Now the consulates are in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and if you’re in New Zealand, it’s in Auckland.

“You basically book your appointment, attend the interview, give them your passport, they stamp it, send it straight back to you, happy days, off to the States”

There’s is no way around it. If you don’t live in one of these cities, you will have to travel to one of these consulates to get your visa. Basically, once you go through the process, you book an appointment, and you’ll stand in line longer than the actual appointment takes.

It will take about half an hour, if everything looks all good, then they’ll take your passport, they’ll attach the visa into it, they’ll keep it for a few days. And then within five days or so they mail it back to you with your student visa attached.

Boom. Sounds pretty simple. You basically book your appointment, attend the interview, give them your passport, they stamp it, send it straight back to you, happy days, off to the States!


Look that was a very, very quick overview of everything. But there’s a much more of a detailed process that needs to be followed to even get that appointment.

I’ll basically get into the ins and outs of the whole visa process and the additional details required when applying for the F1 student visa.

When does the visa process begin?

You can’t actually start the visa process until – You’ve been accepted by a school.

You have to satisfy all the requirements of the application and admission process for the particular institution that you’ll be going to, before you can even think about getting a visa. So, don’t start applying for a Visa until the institution has confirmed your placement.

The visa will come in time, because there’s a lot of things that you have to do, to get the document that will allow you to complete the visa application. That is once you’ve completed all the relevant school application requirements- which includes sending your grade reports, financial documentation, and your immunization records.

“Your I-20 is your international proof of enrollment”

It’s sending everything that the school needs to say, “Yep, we’re happy to accept you into this program.”

Once they’ve accepted you into the institution, they will essentially create a document for you called a form I-20. Your I-20 is your international proof of enrollment. And you will have to have that I-20 in your possession, before you can start the visa process.

The school has to put your I-20 in the post, which they’ll typically send through DHL or courier, some sort FedEx, it’ll get here pretty quickly, they’ll give you tracking information and will arrive in the physical form in the post with real ink signatures on it. So, you can’t do it with a scanned copy. It’s got to be the original before you can start the steps relating to the visa process.

So, basically, you cannot and should not do anything with visas, until you’ve been completely accepted into the institution that you’re applying for and you’ve received your I-20 document in the mail from that institution.

The one thing that you can do, prior to anything relating to visas, is make sure that your passport is up to date.

If you’ve got a child’s passport, it’s only a five-year passport and look the fact is, that’s going to expire sometime in the next few years. Go ahead and apply for an adult passport, because that gives you 10 years.

Then you won’t have to worry about renewing your passport throughout your time in college or deal with any of that, because that becomes a little bit of a hassle. If you don’t have a passport that lasts the whole time that you’re in college, and you have to renew it at some point within, then you can do it and it’s easy. But then you have to carry two passports with you at all times, which becomes a bit of a pain.

We’ve had students lose one passport, much less having to keep track of two. So that is the one thing that is in your control, prior to being accepted to a college, prior to receiving an I-20 from the college that allows you to get visa. Make sure your passport is up to date. That is the biggest and most important thing that you can be doing while waiting to start the actual student visa process.

I’ve received my I-20 in the mail. What happens next? What do I need to do?

Super excited. Now the fun begins. We can start the visa process.

So, look, after you receive your I-20 in the post, there’s essentially three main steps that you need to follow. The school will usually give you instructions but no matter how many schools we worked with, and how many times that we’ve seen school send instructions about the visa process, they tend to leave plenty of room for interpretation.

And yes, Australia, the US and New Zealand we all speak English, but we use different vocabulary … So, the first step and the school will typically tell you this, is that you’re going to pay your SEVIS I-901 fees.

Now, quickly to all NSR athletes and families out there, you might hear some words in this SEVIS DS-160, all these different things, with the visa application process. Don’t stress, we help you through every single step of the way and try, and make it as easy and stress free as possible we will spell it out literally step by step, by step.

“Your SEVIS identification number is a unique number assigned to you”

The first step is paying your SEVIS fee or your I-901 fee. Essentially what the I-20 gives you is a SEVIS identification number. Your SEVIS identification number is a unique number assigned to you. That essentially registers you the international student with US Homeland Security. So, they can follow you, they can see when you’re entering and exiting the country. That SEVIS number is essentially- That GPS tracker.

It is your unique identification number that will be registered every time you enter and leave the country. So, the first step is to register that number. And you register that number through a website where you pay a fee. I believe the SEVIS fee is- $200 US.

Then you’ll essentially get a confirmation page that you’ll print out and keep with you. So, the first step, pay the SEVIS fee, keep the payment receipt, because you’re going to need that at the appointment.

Step two, the DS-160 form.

The DS-160 will probably take the longest, out of everything, probably 30 to 45 minutes to complete. This is a form that essentially US Homeland Security is going to ask you all sorts of questions… They’ll ask the same question, three different times, in a few different ways.

“there’s a handful of different questions that they will go through and they’ll ask literally the same question, three different ways”

In a few different ways to try, and trip you up or just essentially make sure that you’re going to be going to the US for the right reasons, for the reasons listed on your I-20 all that good stuff, right? So there’s going to be questions about terrorism. There’s going to be questions about people trafficking. There’s going to be questions about drug trafficking.

Essentially, all questions that you should answer no to. They’re going to ask for particular travel dates, do you know your address, a couple different people that know that you’re going to be going to the US, aside from your immediate family. So again, there’s a handful of different questions that they will go through and they’ll ask literally the same question, three different ways.

You need to concentrate and it’s not something you can just sort of breeze through and just go through and click buttons. You need to concentrate because you slip up once on this form, it could be detrimental.

It’s just one of those things that … some of you, I promise you, every one of you will look at some of those questions and be like really? But essentially the answers to all those questions should be no or you will have some problems.

Once you’ve completed that DS-160, you’ll upload a photo and then you’ll also get a confirmation page with that. So, the DS-160 confirmation page will have your photo on it as well as a barcode. And that is another very, very important document that you will take with you, to the appointment once that’s scheduled.

Step three, scheduled the appointment.

Schedule the visa appointment at one of the US Consulate General.

So once you’ve completed the SEVIS fee payment, you’ve completed the DS-160, you got both those confirmation pages, the third step is logging on to the US travel docs site, to actually book your appointment. And you have to complete steps one and two with the SEVIS and the DS-160 first, because you’re going to get confirmation numbers that you’ll input into the US travel doc site.

That will then pull up your information, so that essentially the system knows what appointment you’re applying for and what type of Visa. Obviously, for the F1 student visa. The scheduling of the appointments is literally look at an online calendar, see when the first available appointment is and book it.

Look at the dates that correspond with times that you’re free. If you have to travel, then it’s looking at what dates you’re going to be free and the easiest way to sort of correspond with your schedules. But the third step is just booking that appointment and then you’re going to get a confirmation page with that as well. Your appointment confirmation, so then you’ve got three confirmation pages that are super, super important. Which you we will need to take with you.


Don’t forget to grab your FREE 12 Step Guide on how to find Sports Scholarships in the USA – Click the image below to get yours