Becoming an International Student: Getting a Visa

First-time Students in the U.S.

Most international students enter on the F-1 student visa. If this is your first time to study in the United States, you will need to sign your Form I-20, pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, and apply for a U.S. F-1 visa through a U.S. consulate or embassy.

Sign Your Form I-20
When you receive your Form I-20, please read the “Instructions to Students” on page 3 very carefully and then sign the “Student Attestation” at the bottom of page 1. Your Form I-20 will allow you to apply for an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa.

If you have questions about your Form I-20, or if you will not enroll by the date stated on the form, notify the Trinity Director of International Student and Academic Services immediately.

Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee for students beginning a new F-1 program. Most F-1 non-immigrants must pay a fee of $350. You must pay this fee prior to applying for your F-1 visa and take a receipt of your payment with you to your visa interview.

Secure a United States Visa
Locate your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and apply for a nonimmigrant student visa (F-1 visa). At the visa interview, you will need to present:

  • DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application receipt. You should complete and submit the application prior to your appointment.
  • Your passport
  • Form I-20 issued by Trinity
  • One passport-sized photo
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • Visa application (MRV) fee payment receipt number (visit your embassy or consulate website for more information)
  • Letter of admission and Financial Package information from Trinity
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Proof of your intention to depart the United States after the completion of your studies
  • Other documents detailed on the U.S. embassy or consulate website.

Please note: F-1 student visas cannot be issued more than 120 days prior to the program start date found in section 5, page 1 of Form I-20. Students admitted to Trinity should not enter the country on a tourist visa (B-1/B-2 visa) – those who enter the country on a tourist visa may not be able to enroll in their intended term.

F-1 Students transferring from a U.S. institution
If you are an F-1 student transferring to Trinity from a high school, college, or university in the U.S., please ask a Designated School Official (DSO) at your previous school to help you complete the SEVIS record transfer form and transfer your SEVIS record to Trinity. If your F-1 visa is still valid, you may continue using this visa. If your F-1 visa is expired, you should apply for a new visa using your Trinity I-20.

Change of Status
If you are currently in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status and will change to F-1 within the U.S., you must file Form I-539, your original Form I-20, and other required documentation with U.S. Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS). Students are strongly advised to consult with the Trinity Director of International Student and Academic Services if considering a change of status application, and to provide a copy of the entire application to Trinity, prior to submitting it to USCIS. View information about Form I-539.

For more information about obtaining an F-1 visa, visit the U.S. Department of State website.