In order to enter the United States and study, you must obtain the an F-1 student visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate. An F-1 student visa gives you permission to apply for admission to the United States and if approved, study in the United States.

Applying for an F-1 Student Visa

To receive your F-1 visa, you must take the enclosed I-20, along with proof of financial support, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for your visa interview. Be aware that the consular officer may require additional documents for your interview.

Please follow these steps to obtain your F-1 Student Visa:

  1. Click here to pay the SEVIS Fee (I-901 Fee) of $200 to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency
  2. Sign the I-20 in BLUE INK on page 1
  3. Carefully read the instructions on the I-20 on page 3 
  4. Complete the online Non-immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160)
  5. Locate your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and schedule your visa appointment. Please check carefully what additional documents you will need to bring for your interview
  6. Take the signed I-20 with you, along with any required documents, to your visa interview
  7. Properly scan your F-1 visa once you receive it and email it as a PDF attachment to our office at
  8. Plan your travel to PCC carefully so that you are able to participate in the mandatory International Student Orientation

Visa Information and Regulations

Must attend school indicated on visa

If you are coming to the U.S. for the first time to study, you must use a visa that indicates the school you will be attending. That means that if you obtained an F-1 visa with another school's I-20 but you have decided to attend Pasadena City College, you must go back to the Embassy/Consulate and have the notation on your visa changed to indicate the Pasadena City College. (Current students who have attended another school in the U.S. prior to coming to PCC may use the original visa if it is still valid.)

Processing time

All visa applications require a face-to-face interview with a US consular officer. The visa application process can take up to 6-8 weeks, so plan accordingly and plan ahead. 

Appointments are required for all non-immigrant visa applicants. Visit to locate the embassy or consulate near you. Visit Visa Appointment and Processing Wait Times for visa appointments and wait times. For additional information you may wish to visit the new website by the Department of Homeland Security - STUDY in the STATES.

Meeting with Consular Officer

Applying for an F-1 student visa can be complicated and frustrating. There is no guarantee that the visa officer at the U.S. Embassy or the Consulate will issue you a visa. You will need to convince the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you are a serious student who will study full time and earn good grades. You must also show sufficient financial support and demonstrate evidence that you will return to your home country after you have completed your studies. Here are some tips for a successful interview:

  • The Consular officer will speak to you in English.
  • When answering questions, be concise and to the point. You must make a good impression in a very short period of time.
  • To help make a good impression, dress well. You should approach this interview as if it was an official job interview.
  • Speak for yourself; do not rely on another person to speak for you.
  • The Consular officer will also look at your financial ability to afford your stay in the U.S. and your intention to return to your home country at the conclusion of your activity in the U.S.

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