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Apply for the F-1 visa

The DS-160 is the official student visa application form for international students, necessary to be filled before the consulate interview. Learn how to fill out your F-1 visa application and which fees to expect.

Read our DS-160 F-1 visa guide, understand the visa requirements before you apply, and make sure you have everything you need to fill out your DS-160 application form.

What Is a DS-160 Form? 

The DS-160 application is a required form for your F-1 student visa. A F-1 student visa is for international students who want to enroll in a English Language learning program, not a vocational course of study. For international students, a DS-160 application tells the United States government that you have been accepted into an accredited Language School program and that you have met all the eligibility requirements for study in the US. It also includes relevant personal, academic, and professional information, travel plans, and contact information when you are in the United States. You will also have to answer some security questions during the DS-160 F-1 visa process. 

See a sample DS-160 form

Who Needs a DS-160 Form? 

If you are coming to the US to study, work, or even to travel for an extended period, you likely need a visa to be admitted into the United States. Your DS-160 application contains the basic information the US government needs to understand the purpose of your visit and determine that it is safe for you to visit and to know how you will spending your time in the country. If you need a visa, you need to fill out a DS-160, the only available application for all visa types.

Which Documents Will I Need to Complete My DS-160?

The most important document to have is your Form I-20, the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. An I-20 is provided by the Designated School Official (DSO) when an international student gets accepted into a program. When international students receive their form I-20 official paperwork from their Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, they can then begin the DS-160 F-1 visa application process. 

Here is a list of which documents and information are required to complete your DS-160 before you can be issued your student visa. 

  • A valid passport: You will need a valid passport to enter the United States, but you will also need one to complete your DS-160 form.

  • Your SEVIS ID: Your I-20 will have your Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) ID located in the top left corner. 

  • Your travel itinerary: If you have already made your plans for travel to the United States, have them with you (but it is OK to use approximate dates). Make sure you have your I-20 details and your program end date as well.

  • US travel history: Have you been to the United States before? If so, you will have to include the dates of your last five visits to the United States, and in addition, you may need your international travel history from the five years previous to your application for a visa.

  • Resume or curriculum vitae (CV): You should not have to submit your resume or CV, but you will be asked about your employment and training history, so it will be helpful to have when you are applying for an F-1 student visa.

  • Digital photo: According to the Department of State, you can submit your digital passport-style photo during the application process. (You can review the complete list of photo requirements in advance.)

  • Other information you may need: Depending on your home country and consulate, you may need additional information for your DS-160, such as bank account statements and social media account information. Additional information for your DS-160 F-1 visa could be requested prior to or during your interview, so be sure to have these documents handy. That way, you will be ready if they ask during the F-1 visa interview.

DS-160 Form Fees and Application Process

The DS-160 fee is $160 per applicant (student and dependents need a DS-160), which covers the cost to submit your DS-160 F-1 visa application to the US government. This fee is separate from the $350 SEVIS I-901 fee that you pay to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. The good news is that you do not have to pay for your visa interview — the next step after submitting your DS-160. That cost is covered in the $160 you will pay with your DS-160 application form. 

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