Applying for Your Visa
International Programs & Services Office
Once you have been admitted to Otero College, you will receive an I-20 form (immigration document for F-1 or M-1 student visas) or a DS-2019 form (immigration document for J-1 scholar visas).
These are the Steps that you should take to get your visa once your immigration document has arrived:
- Make sure your name and birthdate are correct. Occasionally errors are made and student will write birthdays as day/month/year on their application or we will accidentally spell a name incorrectly. While this is rare, it is important that if a mistake is made you let us know immediately as this could cause a delay or issue with your visa being approved.
- Read through the form. It is important that you read the form carefully and understand your responsibilities as an international student in the U.S. when you sign the form.
- Make an appointment with the embassy or consulate. The best way to set an appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you will vary by location. For a complete list of all Embassies, Consulates and Diplomatic Missions visit the U.S. State Department site at: http://www.usembassy.gov/.
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. The SEVIS is a standard fee paid by all international students to cover the costs of maintaining the SEVIS system. The current cost is $200 and the fee must be paid and you should bring the receipt to your visa interview.
- Complete the VISA application form(s). All applicants will have to complete the visa application form. Most embassies are
moving to only accepting online submissions of the visa application DS-160 which combines
the old DS-157 and DS-158 forms.
Please check with the Embassy or Consulate where you will be applying to ensure that you are using the correct version of the visa application form.
Pre-interview checklist of forms:
- A current and valid passport.
- VISA Applications (DS-160 or DS-156 and DS-157/DS-158 if applicable).
- Photographs as specified by the Embassy or Consulate.
- Receipt for I-901 Fee.
- Receipt or payment for Application and VISA fees as specified by the Embassy or Consulate.
- I-20 from Otero College or DS-2019 from sponsoring program.
- Official letter of Acceptance and any academic transcripts if you have studied in the U.S. before.
- Proof of ability to pay for your education in the United States. You should bring bank statements, letters of sponsorship and affidavits of support with you to demonstrate proof of funds at minimum to cover one year of your education in the United States.
- Any other documents specifically required by the Embassy or Consulate where your interview
- The VISA interview. The most important thing to remember is to be on time, be brief and be specific when answering the questions of the official conducting your interview as they have just a short time in which to make their assessment. The interview process will vary by Embassy or Consulate, so check ahead to know what to expect.
- Your VISA is approved! Processing times may vary by Embassy or Consulate, it can take anywhere from a few days to over a month. Please wait until you have your VISA to schedule your flight as you cannot enter as a student without it.
If you are a student from Canada, you will not need to go through the VISA Application Process as noted above, nor will you have a VISA stamp in your passport outside of that issued at entry. What this means is that at your port of entry, the immigration official will look at your I-20 and passport. They may also request proof of financial support and the receipt showing payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee. If all checks out, they will stamp you in as an F-1 student.
Note: Do not enter as a B-2 or VISA waiver tourist! You cannot attend school on these visas and you will have to exit and re-enter on the correct visa or apply for a change of status here which can be expensive.