Applying for US Visa

All Alabama universities and colleges who admit international students are certified under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

You can use the Study in the States school search page to make sure the school you are interested in is SEVP-certified. You can also view the SEVP 101 tutorial to learn more about the various U.S. government roles in the international education process.

After your acceptance to a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, you need to follow these steps before arriving in the United States:

  • Get a Form I-20: Once you receive acceptance to a SEVP-certified school and provide evidence of financial support, as well as any other supporting documents, that school’s designated school official will send you a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status.”  If you apply to and are admitted to multiple universities or colleges you will receive a Form I-20 from every school that accepts you. However you may only use the one for the school you plan on attending to get your visa and for entry into the US. Note that you MUST attend the school whose documents you entered the US with, later you might want to transfer which is something you should talk about with your international student advisor after you have begun your studies in the US.
  • Pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee: All international students must pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee. You can pay your fee at For more information, view the Form I-901 Fee Payment tutorial.
  • Apply for a visa to travel to the United States: You can apply for a visa to travel to the United States at your designated U.S. embassy or consulate. Make sure you bring all required documents with you.

Once you have followed all the steps above and received your visa notify your Alabama school of your planned arrival date(s) and time so they can coordinate with you your arrival on campus.

Now you are ready to come to the US. The next step is arriving through the US Port of Entry where all your documents will be reviewed and stamped for entry into the US. To help you with the process the US DHS has provided students with a guide to arrival into the US.

Once you have cleared US immigration processing and US customs (where they check your baggage and what you are bringing into the US) you should follow the instructions your university or college provided you with. Always keep the 24/7 phone number your university or college provided you with so if you have any problems once in the US you can contact them. Remember that once you enter the US you must report in person to the institution that issued your documents for entry into the US.

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