Getting Your Visa

Checking your I-20

  • Check your date of birth, name, and other personal information for accuracy
  • Sign at the bottom where it says your name and date
  • Make a copy of this for your records to leave at home with a family member along with a copy of your passport

Paying your SEVIS fee

  1. Go to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website
  2. Click on “Proceed to I-901 Form and Payment”
  3. Scroll to the bottom and chose “I-20” and “OK”
  4. Fill in this form as it appears on your I-20- your N Number is in the upper right corner of your I-20 “N000…”
  5. Fill in your credit card information for the $200 fee
  6. Print out your receipt for your embassy appointment
  7. Make an appointment with your local U.S. Consulate Office.
  8. Prepare yourself for your interview with the information below.

Preparing for your Interview

Make sure in English, you speak through the following questions before your interview:

  • Your plans after graduation from Tompkins Cortland
  • Why you are coming to Tompkins Cortland
    • your major/focus in high school or your home institution and what you will be taking at Tompkins Cortland
    • why Tompkins Cortland is the school for you
    • what you hope to gain with your studies to improve your home country
  • If you are intending on taking advantage of OPT (optional practical training- for returning graduates only), DO NOT highlight this desire- they will then believe you are trying to come to the US for the work opportunity, not the education, which is not the purpose of the F-1 visa status.

What to take with you to the consulate

  • Passport (make sure this is valid- not expired, and will cover you for six months AFTER your I-20 completion of study date) .
  • Photograph (just like your first embassy visit- you will need to take a new photo for your travel visa stamp/sticker) .
  • Form I-901 SEVIS payment confirmation statement Form I-20 (ALL copies). 
  • Letter of Acceptance, Invitation or Welcome depending on if you are coming as a student, faculty or visitor. 
  • Financial documentation that you can pay for the courses, housing and travel for the study abroad experience. 
  • Proof that you intend to return to your home country (bank statements showing money that you have invested, property that you have, job opportunities, family ties, etc). 
  • May also be wise to carry a copy of your birth certificate- this depends on your country of residence- some countries are much more strict when it comes to proving who you are
  • If you are RENEWING your travel visa: Copy of your current unofficial transcript- showing that you did what you were supposed to do on your last I-20, and then it will also show your enrolled courses for the new I-20).

When you arrive at or return to Tompkins Cortland

  • Check in with the Global office IMMEDIATELY- and arrive to campus by orientation (two days before the start of classes).
  • Make sure the global office has copies of your most recently stamped I-20, passport visa stamp/sticker, and then both sides of your I-94 entry record.
  • If you have a degree program change or address change- make sure to report this within 10 days to the global office.
  • If you are taking less than a full-time course load complete paperwork with the global office BEFORE you start classes If you are taking online courses as your full-time course load, make sure you are enrolled in a MINIMUM of 9 credits of in-class work to remain compliant.
  • If you are intending on working ON CAMPUS during your time here, check in with the global office BEFORE you begin work to ensure proper processing for your Social Security card – your employer can contact the global office for details and the check list.