Student Visa Information

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Coming to America...


Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa to study in the United States. Your course of study and the type of school you plan to attend determine whether you need an F visa or an M visa.


The steps below will help you through the process:


International Students

Student Visa (F-1 visa)

The F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows international students to pursue their studies in the USA. 

In order to apply for an F-1 visa, you first need to be accepted by an SEVP approved school that can issue an I-20 form. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has been approved to issue I-20 forms. 

SEVP stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. The SEVP oversees schools and international students on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security. 



Important forms

I-20 form - Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. Our university will issue this form when you get accepted. Our immigration advisor will enter your information in the SEVIS system, print your I-20 form and ship it to you. This form cannot be scanned nor emailed. You will need the original I-20 for your embassy interview and later to enter the US. Your I-20 contains your ESL program start and end dates as well as information on the financial resources you presented to us. 

Acceptance documents (I-20  form and the acceptance letter) will be shipped at the student's cost.


What is a SEVIS I-901 Fee?

All international students must be part of the SEVIS system. 

Student information is monitored through SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). UTC will enter your information in SEVIS upon acceptance. The student visa applicant must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. This fee provides funding for the system and is mandatory.

You will not get a visa if you do not pay this fee. This is not a fee you pay to UTC.


International Student

Visa Application

Now that you have all your documents and you have paid the SEVIS I-901 fee, it is time to complete your online visa application, also known as "DS-160."

You will have to fill out an online form in English, upload your photo, submit and print the confirmation.

After you complete this step, you will need to make an appointment at the US Embassy or Consulate.

Visit their website for further instructions.



Embassy Appointments

Remember to apply early for your visa so that you have enough time to attend your interview and make travel plans. 

Check the appointment wait times for different locations here

You may also be required to pay visa application or visa issuing fees depending on your country of origin.

There may be country-specific instructions published on the website of your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.


Documents for the Interview

Collect all the required documents, including your passport, printed DS-160 confirmation page, application fee payment receipt, SEVIS I-901 payment receiptphotoI-20 form and your financial documents. These documents are very important as they constitute the evidence of the preparations you have made to finance your stay (e.g. How will you access your funds?

Are the funds available to you? Where you will be staying?).  Additional documents may be required such as transcripts or certificates from schools you attended. You may also need to prove your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study (you may need to prove your ties to your country of origin).



Interview at the Embassy

During the interview the officer will decide if you are qualified to receive your visa. Your digital fingerprints and photo will be taken. You may be informed of the decision on the spot.

Your application may also require further administrative processing.

More information about administrative processing can be found here.

Remember to apply early for your visa.

After your visa is approved, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will return your passport with your visa in it.


Moving In

Arrival in the U.S.A.

You will be required to show your passport, visa and I-20 form upon arrival to the USA. The US Customs and Border Protection official makes the final decision whether to authorize your entry to the USA.

You can enter the U.S. 30 days prior to your program start date (See your I-20 for more details).


English as a Second Language Institute

English as a Second Language Institute