AFS-USA Community College Program students are enrolled through an F-1 visa facilitated by the community college via the I-20 form. Colleges have their own requirements for granting the I-20 form and students will need to provide this information during the application process.
In many cases, the college will require a bank statement showing that the student has at least US$2500 in personal spending money. Students may want to include the bank statement with their application to save time if the college requests it.
The Form I-20 (also known as the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students) is a United States Department of Homeland Security, specifically ICE and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), document issued by SEVP-certified schools (colleges, universities, and vocational schools) that provides supporting information on a student's F or M status.
Since the introduction of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) run by SEVP, the I-20 form also includes the student tracking number (SEVIS ID number) and school code. The Form I-20 is only for F-1, F-2, M-1, and M-2 statuses. J-1 and J-2 status holders have an equivalent Form DS-2019 which is issued by a United States Department of State-designated J exchange visitor program.
F-1 Visa Instructions
These instructions will assist students with applying for the F-1 visa at the US Embassy.
Gather your documents! You will need a copy of your AFS Application as well as the following items:
- Copy of passport photo page
- Proof of graduation from high school
- Evidence of sufficient finances (recent bank statements) for incidental expenses, approximately $2500
- Letter of Support from AFS USA (original sent to college)
- The college will issue the I-20 and mail it directly to the international home address of the student. Students will be offered the chance to pay for having their I-20 expedited. Students may choose to pay an additional fee for FedEx type delivery of their I-20. Otherwise, the I-20 is mailed via regular mail to them.
- There are several types of I-20’s. If you are enrolling in the Intensive English program, this may be a different I-20 from the college’s academic Associates Degree program version. Be aware of which I-20 you have been granted.
Pay the SEVIS Fee. Start this step AFTER receiving the admissions package and the I-20 from the Community College. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) collects a US$ 200 fee from international students to cover the costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
- Students who enter the USA with a Form I-20 must pay this fee. Information from the I-20 form is used while paying this fee.
- Applicants must pay this fee before going to the US Embassy or consulate for their visa interviews. The fee should be paid at least 3 business days before the interview for online payments; and 15 business days before the interview for mailed payments.
- The interviewing consular officer will confirm that the fee has been paid by accessing SEVIS and/or asking for your payment receipt.
- We recommend that you pay through the Internet at www.FMJfee.com by using a credit or debit card and completing the online Form I-901.
- If you can not pay online, you can mail a completed Form I-901 and international money order or check drawn on a US Bank to: I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee, P.O. Box 970020, St. Louis, MO 63197-0200, USA.
- Bring the receipt of payment to your visa interview.
After receiving your Admissions Packet from the Community College with the SEVIS I-20 Form and paid your SEVIS fee, you are ready to apply for the F-1 visa.
- Visit the website of your nearest US Embassy or Consulate for detailed instructions on how to apply.
- You will find instructions on how to submit your online visa application (Form DS-160) and make your appointment for your F-1 interview.
- The current fee for the F-1 visa is US$ 160.
Prepare for your Interview
Bring the following documents to your visa interview:
- Confirmation page of the DS-160 online visa application form
- Proof of SEVIS payment
- SEVIS Form I-20 and your letter of Admission from the Community College
- Valid passport good for at least 6 months from entry into the USA
- Financial evidence including bank statements
- Sponsor letter from AFS USA
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous schools attended
Optional documents that you may wish to have with you:
- Written explanation of why you wish to study in the USA
- Written explanation of your plans to return to your home country
- Relevant language tests and scores
- Be prepared to speak about your plans. Why do you want to study English and spend a year in the USA? What do you plan to do next?
- Be aware that the visa interview may be conducted in English
- Do not bring parents or friends to the interview. It is important that you speak for yourself.
- Keep your answers to the officer’s questions clear and short.
- Why do you want to go to the USA?
- What are you going to do in the USA?
- With whom and where are you going to live? (answer: AFS Host Family)
- How long will you stay in the USA?
- What will you be studying?
- Have you finished high school?
- Who is going to pay for all of this? (answer: Program fee paid to AFS, your sponsor)
- Do you have enough money?
- Who is your sponsor? (answer: AFS)
- Do you have relatives or family living in the USA?
- Will anyone be travelling with you? (answer: other students from your country, if applicable)
- When do you plan to go to the USA? (answer: August 14 for HCC & NOVA, Sept 5 for PCC)
- What will you do after you return to your home country?
If your visa is denied, you may want to re-apply. Often, F-1 visas are denied because the consular officer is not convinced that the applicant is a non-immigrant whose purpose for coming is to study and then return home. Make sure that your statements clearly indicate that you plan to return home.
After your interview – make sure to contact AFS and let them know the results of the visa interview! We have to let your Community College know the results of the interview.