Visa Process


Applying for the F-1 or J-1 Student Visa

The worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 virus currently presents many challenges to the process of obtaining a U.S. visa. Therefore, as soon as U.S. consulates around the world resume their operations, it will be important to start the application for your F1 visa as soon as possible, as it can in some cases take several weeks and occasionally longer to obtain the visa. Right now many embassies are closed. Please contact your local embassy to determine whether it is open or not for visa appointments.

Pre-Application Checklist

Before you begin your visa application you will need to have your I-20 issued by Nicholls State University. You will receive this document once you are admitted to the university. This I-20 has been produced by Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and is an acknowledgement that your record is in the SEVIS system. The form includes your SEVIS ID number, which is the number in the upper corner above the bar code, (usually starts with an N). You will be asked for this number when paying the SEVIS fee.

If you are beginning a new F-1 or J-1 visa status, you will need to pay a one-time SEVIS fee before applying to your visa. You must bring the receipt of SEVIS fee payment with you to the visa interview.

If you have family members traveling with you in F-2 status, Nicholls will issue an I-20 to each of them. Each F-2 dependent I-20 will have their own SEVIS number but an additional SEVIS fee does not need to be paid for a dependent.

Application Process

Complete the DS-160

You can watch an overview of the online application process here.

The next step is scheduling an interview with your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Bring the following documents to the appointment:

  • Form I-20 (sign it).
  • SEVIS fee receipt.
  • A valid passport.
  • School admission letter.
  • Transcripts from previous schools attended and scores of standardized tests (TOEFL/GRE, etc).
  • Completed visa application.
  • Two 2 inch x 2 inch (or 51 mm x 51 mm) photographs in the prescribed format.
  • Receipt for the visa application fee.
  • Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study at Nicholls.
  • Any other information that proves that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the U.S. This may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community.

Important Notes:

Applying for F1 visa early

U.S. consulates may issue an F-1 visa no more than 120 days in advance of the program start date. However, if you already have your I-20, you can submit the application for an F-1 visa more than 120 days in advance of the I-20 start date in order to accommodate long processing times, but the visa validity will never be before the 120-day mark.

Entering the U.S.

Keep in mind that you are not allowed to enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the starting date noted on the I-20. You must enter the U.S. by this date. If you cannot enter the U.S. by this date, please contact International Student Services for changing your start date.

Expiring Visa

The expiration date on your visa may not match the end date of your degree program. If your visa expires before you complete your degree program, you will need to apply for a new visa on your first trip outside the U.S. after your current visa expires.


Students wanting to enter the U.S. on another visa status should confirm that they can legally study on that visa type before entering the country. If you enter the U.S. on a B visa or an F-2 visa, you will NOT be able to pursue a course of study. Please email any questions to