Apply for a F-1 student visa
The following provides information for F-1 visa students. If you are not a F-1 student, please visit J-1 student visa information.
If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you will need to obtain a student visa to study at CSUMB. After acceptance to your program you will receive important immigration documents along with your admissions package in the mail.
Acquiring a student visa can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. The wait times vary by embassy and The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of current wait times. We recommend that you start the process as early as possible.
F-1 student at CSUMB are:
- Degree-seeking undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs
- American Language & Culture Program (ALCP)
- Students with agents
After you have been accepted to study at CSUMB, you will receive a Form I-20 document in your admission package with your official admission letter and can begin the student visa application process.
How to apply for your F-1 visa
- Verify your information – Form I-20
- Passport must math your name and date of birth (DOB)
- Program dates match the length of the program you've selected
- Immediately contact CSUMB if any of your information is incorrect
- Complete the online visa application – Form DS-160
- Complete the online visa application
- Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must meet photograph requirements
- Schedule an interview - at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. embassy or consulate, but it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your permanent residence. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category. Apply for your visa as early as possible.
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate for your visa interview. The fee must be paid online.
- Gather required documentation
- Form I-20
- Non-immigrant visa application
- Form DS-160 confirmation page
- I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt
- Attend your visa interview – be sure to take your required documents (and all documents your local U.S. consulate requires) to your visa interview.
Canadian citizens do NOT need to go to the U.S. consulate to obtain a visa to enter the U.S.
- Verify your information – Form I-20
If you already possess an F-1 student visa and are in Active SEVIS status at your current U.S. school, you can have your SEVIS record transferred to CSUMB. You must begin your classes or program within five months of transferring out of your current school, completing your program or the end date of your Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment, whichever comes earlier. If you do not meet this requirement, you can depart the country and return as a new F-1 nonimmigrant.
International travel is not advised until your SEVIS record has been transferred to CSUMB and you have been issued your new I-20 document.
Please notify your present school AND CSUMB of your intent to transfer as soon as possible to ensure that the transfer process goes smoothly.
How to transfer your F-1 visa:
- Notify your present school of your intent to transfer. You may need to present your CSUMB admission letter at the time of notification.
- Have your current advisor complete the CSUMB I-20 transfer in form and submit it to our office via fax, mail or email.
- Ask your current advisor to process the transfer in SEVIS on the release date that you have agreed upon.
- After the release date has passed, CSUMB will issue a new initial I-20 for you. Please sign this document as soon as you receive it. If you do not receive your new I-20 within 5 business days please contact our office.
- When you are officially registered at CSUMB, the International Student Advisor will update your SEVIS record and complete your transfer. You will receive an updated I-20 after the second week of classes.
Please note: keep all outdated I-20s for your records.
Entering the U.S.
First, familiarize yourself you documents you may need. Always carry your original documents and make two copies (one for family or friends and one to give to your school officials. Do not put them in your checked baggage.
Important immigration documents:
- Form I-20 or Form DS-2019
- Form I-94
- Border Crossing Card
- Official CSUMB acceptance letter
Once your student visa is approved, you can enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the start of classes.
- At the port of entry, present your passport with your visa and Form I-20. You must also carry the financial documents you presented during your visa interview and your official CSUMB acceptance letter
- A United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official will review your documents and assign you a record of admissions known as I-94 number
- CBP official will stamp your passport with an admission stamp. The stamp includes date, class of admission, and duration of status.
Transfer students currently attending a U.S. school or university do not need to apply for a new visa if they're not planning to leave the U.S. The SEVIS record will need to be transfer to CSUMB (see F-1 visa transfer student section).
Review important immigration terms