Student Visas

To study full time in the International & English Language Programs at the UW, you must have an F-1 student visa. You can study part time in select programs if you have an F-2 dependent visa. You do not need a student visa to take evening courses or the Short Term English Program, but you may need a different type of visa, such as a visitor visa, to enter the United States.

Applying for an F-1 Visa

Before you can obtain an F-1 visa, you must apply and be accepted to the program you wish to attend. Processing your application usually takes 9 to 12 business days. If you are accepted, we will provide you with a Visa Eligibility Form, known as an I-20. After you have received the I-20, follow these steps to apply for your F-1 visa:

  1. Make a Visa Appointment
    Make a visa appointment with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. You can find out about the wait times for obtaining an interview appointment and for visa processing by visiting the Visa Wait Times page on the U.S. Department of State website.

  2. Pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee
    You will need to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee before you go to your visa interview. Instructions for paying the fee are available online. For more information about this fee, see the SEVIS I-901 page on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

  3. Prepare for the Visa Interview
    • Anticipate that your interview will be in English. It helps to practice beforehand.
    • Be prepared to answer questions. Here are some common questions you might be asked:
      • "How are you going to pay for your studies in the United States?"
      • "What ties do you have to your country? (Ties to your country might include property or other assets, a business, offer of a job upon return or family and social ties.)"
      • "How can you guarantee your return to your country?"
      • "What are your educational plans in the United States? (Sample answer: 'I plan to study English for 10 weeks.')"
    • Be sure to bring your I-20 and any supporting documents to the interview, such as financial statements and evidence of ties to your country.
    • Keep in mind that the interview will be short, so make a good first impression.

For more information, see the Student Visas page on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website and check with your U.S. embassy or consulate for entry requirements.

Canadian Citizens

If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need a student visa for full-time IELP enrollment, but you must still get an I-20 and carry other travel documents. For more information, see the Canadian Students page on Canada's U.S. Embassy website.

Need Help?

If you have questions about getting an F-1 student visa for one of our full-time programs, you can contact our International Student Advisors. They are available to help you by email, phone, or in-person. Please note they cannot answer questions about other visa types. It is the visa holder's responsibility to know the restrictions and limitations of their visa type.


Contact one of our immigration advisors to learn more about how to get an F-1 student visa.