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Ask the Consul — May 2023
May 8, 2023

Question: I’ve been accepted by a U.S. university and I am awaiting my I-20.  I already have my vacation visa.  Do I need to have this visa changed or do I apply again for another visa?

Answer: Congratulations on this accomplishment. You are required to apply for a student visa for your studies in the United States. You may have both a tourist visa and a student visa at the same time.

While the I-20 is evidence of your admission to the institution, an interview is required to determine if you qualify for the student visa.

As with all non-immigrant visa applications, the process begins with the online submission of the DS-160 application form, creation of an online profile to register for service, and payment of the visa application fee at Scotiabank. There is no online payment option.

The DS-160 form is available at ceac.state.gov. After submitting the form online, please print the confirmation or barcode page. You will need this page on the day of the interview.

Visit the Information and Appointment Website to register for service and access the payment slip at https://ais.usvisa-info.com.

To pay the visa application fee at a Scotiabank branch you must have the payment slip generated online. Within 24-48 hours of fee payment, the online profile will prompt you to schedule an interview date.

For your visa interview you must bring the following documents: your valid passport, DS-160 confirmation page, passport photo, I-20 form, and proof you paid the required Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee.

The photo uploaded to the DS-160 should be less than 6 months old with a white solid background and without eyewear. If you are unsure whether the photo meets these requirements, bring a new photo to the interview to avoid a processing delay.

As your university issues the I-20 and registers you in SEVIS, please follow up with your university if you have questions about either requirement. Both the I-20 and registration in SEVIS are required for all international students studying in the United States.

You are required to pay the SEVIS fee before the visa may be issued. The SEVIS fee does not replace the visa application fee. Please note visa application fees are not refundable. Information on the SEVIS fee and payment options is available at https://www.ice.gov/sevis.

During the interview, you will also need documents showing how you will finance your education. These include, but are not limited to, bank statements from family members, job letters from family members’ current employment, and scholarship or award letters. You must be able to explain why your financial supporter is willing to help you.

The Consular Officer must ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover at least the first year of university and a viable plan for funding the full course of study. During your interview, please be prepared to talk about your program of study and plans after graduating.

If approved, the passport will be returned within 7-10 working days after your interview.

Visit the Information and Appointment website for information on visa services https://ais.usvisa-info.com/