International Students

Steps to Obtain Your Student Visa

Step 1: Submit Certification of Financial Support

The United States (US) Government requires proof from international students who need F-1 or J-1 visas that they have the financial resources to enroll at Webster.  During the enrollment process, you must show available monetary resources (in the form of bank statements, bank letters, scholarship award letters or loan approval letters) that are enough to cover your first year of educational and living expenses in the United States. Please note that although you are initially required to document resources enough to cover your first academic year's (nine months) expenses, you will also need to provide financial support for all expenses associated with your study for the rest of your degree program. For a list of the current year's expenses, please see here.  If you have question about financial documents, please contact International Recruitment and International Services (IRIS) by email at intlstudy@webster.edu or by phone at 1-314-246-7800.

Deadlines for submission of your official certified financial document by Webster University start term.

Start Term Accepted Financial Document Issued Date
Summer term (May/June): Financial document dated after January 1
Fall 1 term (August): Financial document dated after March 1
Fall 2 term (October): Financial document dated after May 1
Spring 1 term (January): Financial document dated after July 1
Spring 2 term (March): Financial document dated after October 1 
 
 

Step 2: Obtain Form I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students) 

Once you have been accepted and submitted your Certification of Financial Support, Webster University will send you a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status or a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Exchange Visitor status. International students and their dependents need these forms to obtain F or J visas, to enter the United States, and to document their F or J immigration status. As soon as you receive this document, please check your Form I-20 or DS-2019 against your passport information and make sure your name and date of birth are correctly listed as they exactly appear on your passport. If any of the information is not correct, notify our office immediately via email at intlstudy@webster.edu to request a correct Form I-20 or DS-2019 before you apply for your visa. Sign the Form I-20 at item #11 or the DS-2019 at the bottom where indicated.

Step 3: Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee

The United States government requires F-1 and J-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time I-901 Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS) fee. The SEVIS fee for F-1 applicants is $200 and the fee for J-1 applicants is $180.  All first time F-1 and J-1 students must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) before applying for an F-1 or a J-1 visa. You can pay this fee online, by mail or by a wire transfer (Western Union).  Please note, a student whose country of citizenship or birth is Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or Gambia is not currently permitted to pay online by credit card or debit card.This fee must be paid at least three days before your visa interview.  If you are transferring schools, extending your program, applying for an F-2 or J-2 dependent visa, or have paid this fee and been denied a visa in the last twelve months, you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.

You can make payment of the SEVIS fee by completing Form I-901 available from here. In order to complete Form I-901, you must have your passport, Form I-20 or DS-2019, and know your SEVIS ID number (beginning with the letter N), Webster University School Code (on I-20 for F visa) or Program Number (on DS-2019 for J visa). On the Form I-20, the SEVIS ID number is located on the top right hand side of the first page under the words “Student’s Copy” and above the barcode. On the DS-2019, the SEVIS ID number is located on the top right hand side of the first page in the box above the barcode.  The “School Code” for F visa is on the bottom line of item number 2 of the Form I-20.  The “Program Number” for J visa is located on Item 2 of the DS-2019.

Step 4: Submit your Visa Application

Apply for a visa as soon as possible! Please note, the U.S. Embassy or consulate cannot issue you a visa more than 120 days before the reporting date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Therefore, do not apply for visa more than four months before your reporting date. 

Complete the DS-160, Online Non-immigrant Visa Application Form, and print out the DS-160 confirmation (barcode) page for each applicant. The application can be completed at the Consular Electronic Application CenterCitizens of Canada or Bermuda are exempt from visa requirement; and therefore do not need to complete this step. However, they still need Forms I-20 or DS-2019.  Visa processing time varies by embassy or consulate, and by whether or not a security clearance is demanded. You can review the Visa Wait Times information for interview appointments and visa processing time at the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you by clicking on this link.

Step 5: Pay your Visa Application Fee

Pay the Non-immigrant Visa Application Fee by following the instructions on your local United States Embassy or Consulate's website.  You may also have to pay a visa issuance fee, which is based on reciprocity between your country and the United States.

Step 6: Schedule a Visa Interview

Visit the U.S. embassy or consulate closest to you or its website to make an appointment for a visa interview as soon as you apply for visa. Many locations now use an online booking system. You can locate U.S. embassy or consulate closest to you by visiting USEmbassy.GovCheck the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' website regarding visa appointment and processing wait times. Security clearance may be necessary for some applicants and those procedures can take 2 to 4 months (and in some cases longer) in addition to the normal processing time. It is important to apply for your visa as far in advance as possible. Many embassies or consulates recommend that appointments be made no more than 90 days from the intended date of travel, but some can make earlier arrangements for interviews.

Step 7: Prepare for your Visa Interview

The U.S. embassies or consulates require all visa applicants to appear in person at the Consular Section to apply for a U.S. visa during which a face-to-face interview is usually conducted. To prepare for the visa interview you need to do the following:

Gather the following required documents 

 

  1. Passport (valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the U.S.)  
  2. Signed Form I-20, or Form DS-2019
  3. Form DS-160 Visa Application Confirmation page
  4. Visa application fee payment receipt 
  5. I-901 SEVIS fee payment confirmation page
  6. Photograph: You will upload your digital photograph while completing the online Form DS-160. Other locations require one, 2 x 2 inches photograph (photo requirements).
  7. Your original Certification of Financial Support and supporting documentation.  If you have a sponsor, you must bring the support letter and bank statement of your sponsor. Include scholarship letter if you are receiving scholarship from Webster University.
  8. Evidence of “compelling ties” to your home country that will make you return to your home country after finishing your studies. This may include proof of property ownership, presence of immediate family, future employment offers, etc.
  9. Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended. 
  10. Proof of English Proficiency (such as TOEFL or IELTS) (if applicable).
  11. Webster University Admission Letter

Review potential areas of your visa interview questions

The following are potential areas where your visa interview questions are going to come from:

  • Your educational plans and interest in U.S. education: You should be able to explain what you plan to study (that is degree program or major) and why you chose to study at Webster University. Also be ready to elaborate your reason for studying in the United States and not in your home country. Finally, you should be able to demonstrate how you will use the knowledge you have learned when you return to your home country.
  • Evidence that you will return to your home country:  You should be able to demonstrate that you intend to return to your home country after completing your studies in the United States. You need to show that you have compelling ties to your home country that you don't intent to abandon such as proof of property ownership, family, financial ties, and/or proof of job offer.
  • Your financial ability: You should be ready to show that you have sufficient funds to pay for your education and living expenses throughout your program. If you have been offered scholarship from Webster University, you should present your scholarship award letter as well.

Contact EducationUSA advising center near you if possible

We encourage you to contact EducationUSA advising center near you if possible. EducationUSA assists international students with finding a school, and applying to an accredited U.S. college or university including visa application preparation guidance. EducationUSA centers are usually located at U.S. embassies or consulates.

Step 8: The Visa Interview

Arrive at your visa interview early and answer all the consular officer's questions openly and honestly. Although this experience may be stressful, above all, be courteous, calm and confident. During the interview, you will be asked to produce the above relevant documents and asked some questions. 

Unless a security clearance is requested, the consular officer will interview you, review the documents and evidence presented, and will issue you a visa or denial within a few days of the submission of the application and visa interview.