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Once you have your SEVIS I-20 from Pratt, you are ready to start your F-1 student visa application. The steps are listed below.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from entry visa requirements, but need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. 

If you already have an unexpired, uncancelled F-1 entry visa in your passport from any U.S. it will also be valid for use with your Pratt I-20.


All new I-20s require payment of a SEVIS I-901 fee to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for maintenance of your SEVIS record.

Do not attempt to pay the SEVIS fee before you get your I-20. You need your SEVIS ID, which is only produced after your I-20 is created. Your SEVIS ID is on the upper right hand corner of your I-20 (N00XXXXXXXX). Your School Code is also on your I-20 and referenced here.

Pay the fee with a debit/or credit card and print a copy of the I-901 fee payment receipt to take to your visa interview. If you have a Transfer I-20 with the same SEVIS ID as your prior study I-20, you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again.


The DS-160 is the online non-immigrant visa application for the U.S. You will need to complete the DS-160 online and pay the visa application processing fee(s).

Total visa fees vary depending on your personal details. The visa fees go the the U.S. Department of State, who issue entry visas. This is different from the SEVIS I-901 fee, which goes to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, who admits you to the U.S. and allows you to stay in the U.S.


U.S. entry visas are issued by U.S. consulates worldwide. You are recommended to apply at the location closest to your permanent residence. Find the instructions of your local U.S. consulate for student visa applications. The specific procedure to schedule an appointment and appointment wait times vary by consulate. Some locations require two appointments. In general, an in-person interview is required and biometrics (fingerprint and eye scan) are collected.

Schedule the earliest possible F-1 student appointment. If the available appointment is after your I-20 program start date (on page 1), you should find the email and/or phone for your local consulate and request an Emergency or Expedited appointment based on your I-20 start date. Do not give up on this and keep asking, as many consulates will deny emergency appointments until it is very close to the I-20 start date. Pratt/OIA cannot intervene on securing any earlier visa appointment for students, as U.S. consulates only accept requests from the visa applicant themselves.

Make sure to review your local consulate’s information on what documents you should bring with you, as requirements vary. Documents you may be asked for include:

  • your passport
  • Pratt I-20
  • financial statement(s) (and affidavit of support, if applicable)
  • Pratt admission letter
  • SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
  • DS-160 barcode page
  • any evidence of temporary intent in the U.S. or ties to your home country, such as family responsibilities, property or permanent job offer in home country, if applicable

Review these critical visa interview tips before you attend your visa appointment.

Arrive on-time. The interview is with a U.S. government official called a Consular Officer. It will be in English, be very short, and likely you will be standing talking to the officer through a glass window; there will be many other visa applicants applying at the same time. It’s important to be prepared to answer honestly and clearly about your rationale and your intention for studying in your academic program, in the U.S., at Pratt Institute. Only show the officer the documents they ask for.

F-1 student is a non-immigrant status and you are required to demonstrate non-immigrant, temporary intent, and show ties to your home country either through your words or documents. The most common reason for visa denial is that you fail to prove to the Consular Officer that your time in the U.S. will be temporary, which is called 214(b). If you are told your visa is denied, request the denial reason in writing and send it to for review. Please be aware that Pratt/OIA cannot intervene or overturn visa denials. You are eligible to reapply if you feel you can gather present documentation to overcome the reason for denial.


The earliest you can enter the U.S. is based on the program start date of your I-20 (page 1). You can arrive up to 30 days before the I-20 start date. You should arrive no later than the program start date.  

If you feel you cannot arrive at Pratt by your I-20 start date, please notify and explain your situation. Arrival is time sensitive based on your I-20 start date and we cannot push back the start date to a later date.

When you arrive in the U.S., be prepared to wait in a long line to go through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) entry processes. When it is your turn, you must show CBP your I-20 and your F-1 entry visa in your passport. The CBP officer may ask your intentions in the U.S. and where you will be staying (home address you will be living). They will collect your fingerprints and photo.

Do not be too nervous, the CBP officers are not extremely nice, but they are also not mean. Under the vast majority of cases, if you have your valid Pratt I-20 and F-1 visa, all will likely go very smoothly. Welcome to the U.S.!


Once you enter the U.S., you should go to CPB’s website and access your I-94 record. You should check to make sure it says “F-1 D/S.” If it does not, please contact for assistance. 

You will need to upload a copy of that I-94 record and complete Arrival Check-in for OIA before the semester begins. Arrival Check-in will be available in your TDS Student Portal once the I-20 entry period begins (30 days before I-20 start date). Since you need the I-94, you cannot complete Arrival Check-in prior to entering the U.S. in F-1 status.

Let know if you have any questions, now or in the future. OIA looks forward to assisting you throughout your academic journey.