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F1 Student Visa Information

In most cases, international students study at Boise State University on an F-1 student visa. If you are not on an F-1 student visa, please contact the International Admissions Office about your next steps:

International Admissions Office
1910 University Drive
Boise ID 83725-1320 USA
Phone: 208-426-1757

You cannot study at Boise State University on a B (business/tourist visa) or an F2 (dependent of student visa). If you are on an official study abroad exchange between your university and Boise State University, you will study on a J1 exchange visa.   Information on the J1 exchange visa can be found on the J1 exchange visa information page.

I-20 Documentation

Once you are admitted to Boise State University we will work with you to create an I-20 form, which is a form that you will need to apply for your F-1 student visa. To receive an I-20 you must show that you have the financial resources to pay for one full year of study. How we create your I-20 depends on whether you are already in the U.S. on a student visa (see the SEVIS transfer information below) or outside the U.S. applying for a student visa.
An I-20 form is a form you need before you can apply for your F-1 student visa. You can only receive it after you have been admitted to Boise State University and have shown that you have the financial resources to pay for a full year of study. Your I-20 form contains important information, so when you receive it please read it carefully, especially the instructions to students on page 2. Please make sure all the information is listed correctly. You will need to take both pages of your I-20 form, evidence of your financial resources, and other required documents, to apply for an F-1 student visa at the United States embassy or consulate in your home country.  If your spouse or children are coming with you, they will also need an I-20 to apply for their F-2 visa. Please contact the International Admissions Office for more information.

For more information on applying for your F1 student visa, please read the information below and review the F-1 Student Visa page on the U.S. Department of State website.

Here is an article with 10 points to remember when applying for your student visa, as developed by NAFSA (National Association of International Educators).

The Visa Application Process

The easiest place to apply for your visa is at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country, or the country in which you are living. You should contact the specific consular office where you intend to apply to inquire about specific local procedures.
We recommend that you apply for your visa as early as you can. You can be issued a visa as much as 4 months before the semester starts. Although the approximate visa application wait times are published on the Visa Wait times section of the U.S. Department of State website, there can be delays. You can enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before orientation.

After you have received your I-20 from Boise State University, you’ll need to take the following steps to apply for your visa (if you do not already have a valid F1 visa):

  1. Pay the SEVIS fee on the SEVIS fee payment website. The SEVIS fee is charged by the U.S. government, and it is different from your visa application fee. Your SEVIS ID number is listed on your I-20. You will use that ID number to pay the fee. Print out and keep your SEVIS fee receipt.
  2. Complete the online visa application (DS-160 form) and pay the visa application fee. You will need to upload an approved photo as part of the application. Print out and keep the DS-160 confirmation page (you do not need to print the completed application).
  3. Make your visa appointment at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.

The Visa Interview

Often applicants are very nervous about this part of the visa application process. However, if you remain calm, answer questions honestly, and bring all the required documents, the process can be very straightforward. The interviews are usually in English, and they do not last very long. We do not recommend that you bring another person to speak on your behalf. Digital finger print scans are usually taken during the visa interview.
The U.S. consular official makes the ultimate decision as to whether you will be granted a student visa, and he or she will exercise a lot of discretion in the process. Although Boise State University has already certified English-language proficiency and financial support, you should be ready to present proof that you are a genuine student. You must also be ready to show that you have a residence in your home country and plan to return home once your studies are completed.

What to Bring to Your Visa Interview

  • When you go to the consulate to apply for your visa, we recommend that you bring the following items:
  • Visa application (DS-160) confirmation page
  • Visa application fee receipt, if required to pay it in advance
  • SEVIS Fee receipt
  • Passport – valid for at least six months
  • Boise State University Admission letter
  • Approved Photos – you will upload your photo while completing form DS-160. You must bring one approved photo if the photo upload fails. Here are the instructions regarding approved photos.
  • I-20 form – remember to sign it under Item 11
  • Financial Support documents
  • Evidence that proves you will return to your country after finishing your studies in the U.S. This may include proof of property, family or other ties to your community. There are no exact documents to fulfill this requirement, since every person’s situation is different. Please look at the U.S. embassy or consulate website in case they have specific requirements for your country
  • Any other documents required by the U.S. embassy or consulate

Visas for Family Members

Family members can come with you to the U.S. while you study at Boise State University. These family members are called your “dependents” and can apply for an F-2 visa.  For these purposes, dependents are your legal spouse or unmarried children (under age 21). If other family members are coming with you to Boise State University, they will need to apply for a tourist visa.
In order to obtain an F-2 visa, your family member must have their own I-20, and your I-20 must indicate that you are supporting a dependent. Boise State University’s International Admissions Office can help you with this I-20 paperwork.

To obtain appropriate I-20 paperwork, please complete the Financial Documentation Form sent to you by the International Admissions Office. Write the names and details of your spouse and children in the “Dependents” section of the form, and include a copy of their passports. U.S. Immigration requires you to show that you have the financial resources to cover your study and living expenses, as well as the living expenses for any dependents coming with you to the U.S. Therefore you must show that you have an extra $3,000 of financial resources available per dependent.

Dependents of F-1 visa holders should apply for an F-2 visa at their local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  In addition to the visa application, your dependent must show evidence that he or she is your spouse or child (such as a marriage license or birth certificate). Your dependent must also show enough resources to cover living expenses while in the U.S., and intent to leave the U.S. once you have finished your studies.

F-2 spouses cannot engage in full-time study.   If your spouse would like to study at Boise State University, then he or she must obtain F-1 status in their own right. Children can only engage in full-time study at an elementary or secondary school. F-2 dependents cannot work while in the U.S. Spouses and children born in the U.S. are typically not eligible for a dependent I-20.

What to Do If Your Visa Application Is Denied

If you are denied a visa, you can ask the officer for some basic information about why you were denied. We recommend that you ask for a list of items that he or she recommends you bring the next time you apply. Try to get the reason you were denied in writing, but do not engage the consular officer in an argument. It’s very possible that you will be successful the next time you apply, if you follow the officer’s suggestions. For more information on visa denials, please review the U.S. Department of State website about visa denials. If the visa application process is taking a very long time, and you think you will be late for the start of the semester, please email International Student Services.

SEVIS Transfer Students

If you are currently in the U.S. with F-1 visa status, we can only issue an I-20 to you after the SEVIS transfer date specified by your current school, regardless of whether you are currently attending a high school, English language school or university. In this situation “transfer” refers to your immigration record, and not university credit. In most cases, the SEVIS transfer is made after you have finished your classes at your current school.
Only your current school has access to your SEVIS record, so please talk to the immigration advisor at your current school about your plans to transfer.  You must currently be maintaining F-1 status to be eligible to transfer to Boise State University.

If you choose to leave the United States between schools you MUST re-enter the United States using your Boise State University I-20, and you must re-enter before the start date of orientation. Please plan your travel accordingly.

If it will be more than five months between your last class at your current school and the orientation date at Boise State University, you cannot transfer your SEVIS record. Instead, you will need to leave the U.S. and we will issue you a new initial I-20. You will need to pay the SEVIS fee again, and you will need to reapply for your visa (even if it has not expired your visa is now invalid).  Please talk with the immigration advisor at your current school and contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate for more information.

Important Information for Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens are exempt from obtaining an F-1 visa, but must still have an I-20 to enter the U.S. to study. When you enter the U.S., you will be required to show your valid passport, I-20, proof of financial resources to support your study, and SEVIS fee payment receipt. Please use the SEVIS ID number on your I-20 to pay your SEVIS fee online before you enter the U.S. Since most Canadians crossing the border enter as visitors, it’s important that you tell the immigration officer that you would like to enter as a student.
If you enter via land, the immigration officer at the port of entry will give you an I-94 card to complete, and your portion will be returned to you. Keep this I-94 in a safe place, as it confirms your F-1 status in the United States. If you enter the US via air, you will have an electronic I-94. You will be able to print this out to show evidence of your student status in the US. In both cases there is a small fee associated with the I-94 document (currently this is $10).

Even though you do not have an F-1 visa in your passport, you must still follow all the F-1 regulations, including those related to employment and the full-time study requirement.