Obtaining an F-1 Visa

The following information is provided to help you get to Fairleigh Dickinson University in appropriate immigration status and in conformance with the regulations of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)


If You Are Outside the U.S.

New Students
The first thing you should do is apply at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy for an F-1 Student entry visa. You will need your form I-20 and, your valid country passport, as well as proof you paid the SEVIS fee.  It is also highly recommended you read the below information on obtaining an initial F-1 visa.

Under U.S. immigration law, "Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a non-immigrant status." This means that the student visa applicants must establish that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country that they have no intention of abandoning, and that they will depart from the U.S. when they have completed their studies. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly. The U.S. Department of State website has useful information for you to review before applying for a student visa.

Original documents are necessary for your application for an F-1 Student visa. Consular standards for visa eligibility may be considerably more rigorous than the standards you must meet to qualify for an I-20. The consular officer will require you to provide the same (and possibly additional) financial documentation you provided Fairleigh Dickinson University. You will be required to show this documentation again upon arrival in the U.S. at your port of entry.

You must complete Form DF-156 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form) and any supplementary forms required by the particular consulate. On occasion, a consular officer may require evidence (in addition to the certification on your Form I-20) of English proficiency sufficient to pursue your proposed program of studies. Check directly with the consulate at which you plan to apply for your F-1 entry visa for application procedures. Most require that applications be made in person; some consulates will permit applications by mail with interviews if needed. The length of visa validity, number of entries permitted, and application fee are based on reciprocity and generally reflect your country's policies in granting visa privileges to visiting U.S. students.

U.S. government regulations require you to enter the United States with the I-20 from the institution you plan on attending.  The name of the institution on the visa must also match the name of the institution on the I-20 on your initial entry. (After your initial entry it may not be necessary that the names of the institutions are the same on the I-20 and visa, you should speak with the Office of International Student Services for more details)  If your visa and I-20 do not match you may need to get a new visa from your U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  Since you plan to enroll at Fairleigh Dickinson University, please use our Form I-20 at the visa interview and at the U.S. Port of Entry.  You must also make sure your visa was issued for you to attend FDU.  Your initial entry to the U.S. may be very difficult if these documents do not match.

Individual procedures and the amount of time required to obtain a visa vary from country to country. The consular officer has the final word on your application; his or her judgment is not subject to review. If, for any reason, you encounter difficulties, please contact the Office of International Admissions.

If You Are Already in the U.S.

Those Currently Not in F-1 Status
Students who do not plan to leave the U.S. before beginning studies at Fairleigh Dickinson (and are currently in an immigration status other than F­-1) are required to change status by application to the USCIS. For more information on changing your status to F-1, follow this link:  Change of Status to F-1.  The Office of International Student Services will be happy to assist you with this application.

Transferring Students in F-1 Status at Another Institution
F-1 students previously enrolled in another U.S. school who are planning to enroll at Fairleigh Dickinson University must complete the Transfer Process to satisfy both University and USCIS requirements.