F1 Visa Application Process

We finally got our visas!!

Earlier this week we had an appointment at the US Embassy in Madrid (Spain) to request our visas. I decided to apply for an F1 visa, thus my wife got an F2 visa. We had to leave our passports to the embassy official, and two days later we got them back at home.


The whole process has been quite fast, and it doesn’t take too long to get an F1 visa, at least in Spain -is possible to get the visa in less than two months. The process is the following:

  1. Request the I-20 form to your school. You might need to fill in an online form in order to request the I-20 and send some documentation to the school via post mail. Small piece of advice: send the documents using express parcel shipment. This way you make sure that your documents will not get lost on their way, and you also reduce the time that it takes the school to get the needed documentation. Normally, it takes two weeks to get the I-20.
  2. Make an appointment at the US embassy. Once you have the I-20, you can call the US embassy in your country and schedule an interview appointment. Depending on the embassy, the waiting period can take up to a month, so do it as soon as possible!
  3. Pay the SEVIS fee, which costs $200. The purpose of this fee is to help support the office in charge of  keeping track of students and exchange visitors and ensure that they maintain their status while in the US.
  4. Fill in the DS-160 form. This is done online, and it will require you to have paid the SEVIS fee before. You will also need to have the I-20 form at hand and an electronic photograph of yourself.
  5. You will need a 5×5 cm size photograph.
  6. Pay the F1 visa fee. This fee is different from the SEVIS fee, and normally costs $160. You will need to pay it personally in the bank and you will need to show at the embassy proof that you paid this fee. It can only be paid at certain banks -in Spain you could only pay it in the Santander Bank. If you are requesting several visas, i.e. for your family members, you will have to pay the fee separately for each visa.

Once you’ve finished all these steps, prepare the documents that you will have to take with you to the interview at the US embassy. Besides the documents stated above, you should take:

  • Proof of funding for the first academic year. For instance, you can take a signed copy of your bank stating hoe much savings you have in your account.
  • Marriage certificate, in case you are married.
  • Family record book, in case you have kids.
  • It’s always good to take with you a document that proves where are you living and registered. They might ask you about your post-study plans, and you might have to prove where are you currently living.
  • Some people have told that they were asked to show their college degree.

We spent an hour and a half at the embassy, however the interview lasted just a couple of minutes. We were just asked questions about my job and whether I would return there after my MBA. They told us that our visas were approved, and that we would get them in 4 to 5 days -it just took 2 days :).

We are done with all the paperwork! We just need to get health insurance for both of us, and we will be all set.

1 month and 11 days left to move to Durham!


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