Visa Process for International Students
Immediately after enrolling, international students at PAFA are required to complete and submit PAFA's I-20 Application, which can be found on an applicant's Acceptance Letter.
PAFA is authorized to offer F-1 student visas to full-time enrolled students.
You must obtain the F-1 visa before you leave your home country.
PAFA cannot issue an I-20 form to students who have not formally enrolled by:
- Completing Candidate Response Form on the applicant's Acceptance Letter.
- Submitting enrollment deposit
We recommend that you submit your deposit as soon as possible in order to have enough time for the visa process.
Our office will use your submitted documentation to issue an I-20, or transfer your visa if you are currently enrolled at another U.S. institution. Students living abroad will need to schedule a consular appointment, so plan accordingly to ensure an appointment. In the meantime, please visit Study in the States, which has additional resources maintained by the SEVIS/Homeland Security.
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,
- enter the United States, and
- apply for benefits.
The Form I-20 is an important document that you should keep safe, as you will need it throughout the international student life cycle.
All enrolling international students must submit PAFA's I-20 Application which includes signing the International Students' Responsibilities Contract, and uploading the following documents:
- A copy of your passport: Name, date of birth, citizenship, and expiration date
- International Student Personal Data Sheet
- Notarized Statement of Financial Support
- Original documents of current Bank Information/Financial Statement(s). PAFA 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.
Make sure all supporting documents are finalized before you upload them to your application. 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.
Please consolidate all financial documents into one .PDF before you uploading to your application.
Submitted documents must meet the following criteria:
- Provide original copies only, no older than 1 year at the time of the I-20 application.
- 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.
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
Securing Your Visa
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.
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:
- A completed Form I-20.
- Your school's acceptance letter.
- A Statement of Financial Support.
- A receipt for your SEVIS fee.
- Copies of any standardized test scores, academic transcripts, diplomas or certificates from previous education that you provided in your school application.
Policies and procedures might be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Please review Study in the States Covid-19 Resources page for the latest information.
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.