F-1 Visa Application Process

Immigration Status

The difference between U.S. immigration status and a visa stamp is an important and sometimes confusing concept. F-1 status can be extended, shortened or even changed to a different immigration status (such as the H-1B) while you are inside the U.S., yet your F-1 visa stamp does not have to match your immigration status while you are inside the United States.

The visa stamp is only necessary for travel purposes. Initial entry and subsequent re-entry into the U.S. from abroad requires a valid visa corresponding to your particular immigration status at all times. However, you do not need to depart the U.S. if your visa stamp expires as long as your F-1 (or other) immigration status is still valid.

The U.S. Department of State has more information about the visa application process, visa fee payments, and reasons for possible delays in the issuing of U.S. visas.

Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa stamp from a U.S. consulate. Canadians are inspected at the U.S. border and admitted there in F-1 status

Visa Appointment

Do not schedule a visa appointment until you have received your Form I-20 from Dartmouth. Apply for the visa at the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy in your country with jurisdiction over your residence abroad. Appointment procedures and times vary from consulate to consulate, so check for details at the U.S. consulate where you will apply.

What to Bring to Your F-1 Visa Appointment

  • The completed Form DS-160 from the appropriate U.S. consulate
  • Form I-20, issued by Dartmouth College
  • Your passport (valid for at least six months into the future)
  • Proof (receipt) of the SEVIS fee payment
  • Documentary evidence of the funding listed on your Form I-20
  • Evidence of sufficient English language ability
  • Evidence that you have strong personal, financial, academic and/or professional ties to your home country, and that you plan to return there after your U.S. program of study (non-immigrant intent). This evidence may include:
    • A simple statement that you plan to leave the U.S. at the end of your program and return to your home country
    • Evidence of property, real estate or land ownership in your home country
    • Evidence of financial holdings in your home country
    • Ownership of a car or other liquid assets
    • Spouse, children or significant other family relatives in your home country
    • Permanent employment offer in the home country
    • Strong religious or civic ties to your local community
    • Proof of acceptance to your Dartmouth degree program


There are two application fees for F-1 visas. There is a one-time SEVIS fee of $200. A standard worldwide Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is $160.

Depending on your own country's policy on fees for U.S. citizens, you may also have to pay a reciprocity fee. Depending on how far away the nearest U.S. consulate is from your home, you may also need to allow for additional travel and accommodation costs to get to your nearest consulate city.

If Your Visa Expires

Your F-1 status is valid as long as you are maintaining full-time enrollment and satisfactory progress in your degree program, even if your F-1 visa expires. You would only need to obtain a new, extended visa if you have plans to depart the U.S. for a visit abroad and re-enter the United States.

You may legally remain in the U.S. if your F-1 visa has expired, without any negative consequences, as long as your F-1 status is still valid.