Visa Process for International Students

PAFA is authorized to offer F-1 student visas to full-time enrolled students. Accepted international students should start the visa application as soon as possible to ensure they will be granted all documentation in enough time to make plans for moving to the United States and starting at PAFA.

Form I-20

Form I-20 ("Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status") is required as part of the F-1 student visa process. A student and the student's dependents must have a Form I-20 to apply for a student visa, to enter the United States, and apply for benefits.

All admitted applicants to PAFA must submit the following paperwork for the I-20:

  • A copy of your passport: Name, date of birth, citizenship, and expiration date
  • International Student Personal Data Sheet
  • A notarized Statement of Financial Support
  • Original documents of current Bank Information/Financial Statement(s)

PAFA cannot process your I-20 paperwork without the following steps:

  1. Submit Your Deposit: To become an enrolled student at PAFA, you must first submit a school deposit. If you intend to enroll at PAFA, we recommend that you submit your deposit as soon as possible.
  2. Complete the Statement of Financial Support: PAFA, I-20 application, and the U.S. visa interviews require all international applicants submit proof of sufficient available funds that equal or exceed the educational and personal expenses while studying at PAFA. The I-20 form cannot be issued without a valid Statement of Financial Support and supporting documentation.

Make sure all supporting documents are included with your request before you submit them to our office. Missing or separate documents will only slow down the process. Your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20/DS-2019) documents cannot be processed until all proof of funding documents are received.

Financial Documentation Requirements

We are required by law to verify that each person has sufficient funds to cover the period of their stay in the U.S. The Statement of Financial Support form must be completed in English and notarized/certified by your bank official. This statement must declare the availability of enough funds to cover the full cost of attendance for one year (tuition, fees, housing, and personal expenses), and be accompanied by financial statements (original documents) as proof of funding.

In most cases, the documentation we require will also be required at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Acceptable Proof of Funds

Regardless of the funding types submitted, your funds must be liquid. This means the funds can be converted to cash easily and quickly, without withdrawal prohibitions.

  • Personal funds: Checking or savings account with bank statements in your name showing balance of account. Statements from multiple accounts are acceptable. Do not submit long statements that include transaction history.
  • PAFA Scholarships
  • Private Sponsors (includes parents or guardians): Bank account statement in the name of a parent/legal guardian. If a person other than a parent or guardian is supporting all or a portion of your study, the letter must indicate the relationship between you and the sponsor(s), the amount of support and the length of support.
  • Other institutional support (includes home government, grant funding, current employer, or other private organization): Sponsor letter should be on official letterhead.

Funds that can not be accepted:

  • Assets that are not in liquidated form (e.g. house, car, etc.)
  • Proof of employment or salary
  • Tax return forms or documents
  • Stock and investment portfolio reports
  • Pension or retirement funds
  • Life insurance policy statements
  • Any other non-liquid form of funding

Submitted documents must meet the following criteria:

  • Provide original copies only, no older than 1 year at the time of the I-20 application.
  • Scanned, copied or faxed versions of these documents will not be accepted.
  • Convert values into U.S. dollars (USD). If this is not possible, clearly indicate the quantity and type of currency.
  • Submit bank statements and letters in English or include notarized English translation.

Securing Your Visa

Once PAFA processes the financial materials noted above, we will send you a printed I-20 form. The U.S. Department of State issues visas at U.S. embassies and consulates.

You must take the I-20 form, along with financial documentation, to the United States Consulate nearest to where you live. To find the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to you, visit the U.S. Embassy website.

Prior to your visa appointment, you will need to pay the Student and Exchange Visitors Information System (SEVIS) fee, and present the receipt at your visa interview at the Consulate or Embassy. This fee is non-refundable, regardless of application approval.

Pay your SEVIS Fee online →

Prepare for the Visa Interview

The U.S. Department of State issues visas at U.S. embassies and consulates. The visa application process includes an interview with a U.S. Department of State representative, or consular officer. This interview is your opportunity to tell the consular officer about your plans while in the United States and what you will do when you have completed your studies.

You will need to bring the following to your interview:

  1. A completed Form I-20.
  2. Your school's acceptance letter.
  3. A Statement of Financial Support.
  4. A receipt for your SEVIS fee.
  5. Copies of any standardized test scores, academic transcripts, diplomas or certificates from previous education that you provided in your school application.

Learn more about the expectations of the visa interview and how to prepare for it.

Visa Transfers

International students who have attended high school or college in the United States on an F-1 visa must consult with the international officer at the school you are attending. Your current institution must release your record to SEVIS before PAFA can issue you an I-20 for enrollment. You will be sent an additional form to verify this transfer process.

Arriving in the United States

Once a student has been granted their F-1 visa, they are allowed to arrive in the United States 30 days prior to the start of the program. The start date of your program will be listed on your I-20 form. You will be required to show your I-20 form, your passport, proof of SEVIS fee payment, and financial documents upon entry to the United States.

Picture Yourself at PAFA

The Admissions and Financial Aid staff at PAFA are ready and available to assist you during all stages of the application and enrollment process.

Telephone: (215) 972-7625
Fax: (215) 569-0153
Financial Aid Telephone: (215) 972-2019