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Applying For A Student Visa

Boy wearing a military uniformBefore you can apply at a US Embassy or Consulate for an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by a SEVP approved school. St. Catherine’s Academy is authorized under Federal Law to enroll nonimmigrant students.

Acceptance at St. Catherine’s Academy takes place once the admissions process is completed. All forms and required documents need to be received and reviewed by the admissions department in order to complete the admission process. Upon acceptance and payment of the down payment and required fees you will receive the Form I-20.

Process to Apply for the F-1 Visa

Initial Status

Follow these steps if you are applying to come to the United States from your home country to study. See Change of Status below if you are already in the US.

  1. Check your passport
  2. Receive a new initial form I-20 from SCA
  3. Pay the SEVIS fee (I-901)
  4. Complete the DS-160  F1 Visa Application Form online (DS-160)
  5. Schedule interview
  6. Pay the application fee
  7. Attend interview
  8. Get accepted and pick up visa

Change of Status

If you are already in the United States on a valid nonimmigrant visa for a purpose other than attending school, such as for tourism, and are interested in studying in the United States, you will have to change your status. You have two options:

  • Leave the U.S. and follow the same process that you would if you were applying to come to the U.S. from your home country to study. We highly recommend you choose this option.
  • Remain in the U.S. and submit an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your nonimmigrant status by following these steps:
    • Apply to and receive acceptance from St. Catherine’s Academy
    • Obtain an initial Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status" from St. Catherine’s Academy. The DSO will give change of status in the Issue Reason section of the Form I-20.
    • Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee. www.fmjfee.com/i901fee
    • File a Form I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status,” with USCIS. Not all nonimmigrant classifications may change status. Read the instructions carefully to ensure that your category is eligible.
    • If you are changing status from B-1/B-2 to F or M student, refrain from enrolling in or beginning your studies until USCIS has approved your change of status. If USCIS has not adjudicated your change of status at least 15 days before the program start date on your Form I-20, contact the DSO at your new school. You may need to wait to attend (have deferred attendance).
    • Enroll in and begin studies while your change of status application is pending if you meet the following conditions:
      • You are eligible to change status
      • You have submitted an application to change to F or M student status
      • You are not currently in the United States on a visa waiver program or on a B-1/B-2. C, D, K, S or V visa
      • Receive from USCIS (if approved), a Form I-797A,"Notice of Action," which will include an updated Form I-94, "Arrival/Departure Record" listing your new status and the day you must depart the United States (which may be either your "admit until" date or the date of your duration of stay).

If USCIS denies your application, be prepared to leave the US when your current status expires.

For further information, visit USCIS: Change My Nonimmigrant Status.

Additional Resources

The information on this page was obtained from the following sources: ice.gov, US Department of State Consular Application Center, and ice.gov/sevis.