Getting a Visa
When applying for a U.S. visa you will need an I-20 form or form DS-2019 from WPI. These forms will be issued once your admission or acceptance of a position with a respective office at the university has been completed.
Before you get started on the visa application process we strongly encourage you to look at the U.S. Department of State Destination USA Web site for information about U.S. Visa Policy and the latest on how to get a U.S. visa. When the U.S. Consulate issues your visa, the duration of the visa and the fee you have to pay is dependent on different factors. In addition to the length of your planned program of study/work at WPI the duration of the visa and the fee is also based on Reciprocity Agreements.
In addition, students and scholars on F-1 and J-1 visas have to pay an additional SEVIS Fee before applying for the visa. The SEVIS Fee regulations have recently increased and the new fee of $200 has been in effect since October 27th, 2008. Students and exchange visitors can learn more about the SEVIS Fee and how to pay the fee at the Department of Homeland Security website.
An Application for an F-1 Visa should consist of the following:
- Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application with appropriate fee
- Form DS-158, Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant
- Form DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application (This form is required for males 16-45 years, but some Consulate Posts require the form from all applicants)
- Form DS-160, is the new Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application. Students from specific countries are required to use this form
- Form 1-20, Certificate of Eligibility
- SEVIS Fee receipt
- Evidence of Financial Resources
- Evidence of your ties to your home country
- Valid, unexpired passport (Must be valid at least six months past the date of travel to the US)
- One passport-type photography (2x2 inches full-face photo against a white background with head centered in the frame)
10 Helpful Hints to Obtain a Visa
- Security Issues: Individuals requesting a visa will be subject to a security check. Sometimes these checks can take up to one-month or more to complete. You must first be cleared through this security check before the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will approve a U.S. visa. Please check the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website in your home country for all the forms you will need, for information about how and when to apply for a visa, to set an appointment, and security check procedures. You can also check the current visa wait times.
- Interviews: Most individuals who request a visa from the the U.S. Consulate or Embassy must be interviewed. Be sure to make your appointment for an interview as soon as possible. Security checks will not begin until you physically hand in your application to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Your interview will last less than five minutes. If you bring lengthy documents (must be translated into English), be able to explain them quickly. Keep your answers short and to the point.
- Conversation: The interview will be conducted in English. Be prepared to speak for yourself. Do not prepare speeches. Do not have a family member talk for you. If family members insist on accompanying you to the visa interview, have them wait in the waiting room.
- Employment (for students): While you may be employed during your stay in the United States (for school related internships or post-graduation practical training), it should be clear that working is not your intention. You are coming to WPI to study. Be very clear that you will return to your country after completion of your studies to begin working.
- Know your academic program and how it fits your career plan: If you are not able to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the United States relates to your future professional career when you return home.
- Not all countries are equal: Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United States.
- Dependents: If your spouse and children are not coming to the United States with you, be ready to explain how they will be supported in your absence. If your family does decide to join you at a later date, it is helpful if they apply at the same post where you applied for your visa. If your spouse is applying for an F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, work in the United States, nor can F-2 dependents study full-time in a college setting. If asked, be prepared to explain what your spouse will be doing while in the United States. Volunteer work and taking incidental classes such as conversational English classes are permitted.
- Ties to Home: Under US law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. Therefore a common reason for visa denials are due to the individual's inability to prove connections to their home country. If you have family, a job, land/property, or a residence/house that you will be returning to, bring proof to the interview. Deeds or papers, which document the land or house you own, are helpful. If you have a job waiting for you when you get back to your home country, have your employer write a letter stating that you will return to that position. If you are leaving your family behind, you could bring marriage and birth certificates to the interview. Written proof is always better than verbal explanations. You must be able to clearly explain your plan to return home at the end of your program.
- Positive Attitude: Do not argue with the consular officer. If you are denied a visa, ask the officer for a list of documents that he/she recommends you bring to your next interview to overcome the refusal. Try to get the reason for the denial in writing.
- All documents presented to a Counselor Official must be originals- NO COPIES!