Skip to main content
UW International & English Language Programs

Applying for a Visa

To study full time in the International & English Language Programs at the UW, you must have an F-1 student visa.

There are some exceptions to the F-1 visa requirement. You can study part time in select programs if you have an F-2 dependent visa. And you don’t need a student visa to take any of the Short Programs. But you may need a different type of visa, such as a visitor visa, to enter the United States. Online courses also do not require a visa.

How to Apply for an F-1 Visa

Before you can obtain an F-1 visa, you must apply and be accepted to the program you want to attend. Processing a program application (assuming it’s complete) usually takes five to seven business days.

If you’re accepted, we’ll send you a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, which is also known as an I-20. Once you have the I-20, follow these steps to apply for your F-1 visa:

  1. Complete Your Visa Application
    Complete the visa application form provided by your U.S. embassy or consulate and pay the visa application fee.
  2. Make a Visa Appointment
    Schedule a visa appointment with the U.S. embassy or consulate. You can get 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.
  3. Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee
    You’ll need to pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee before you go to your visa interview. Pay the fee online by visiting the I-901 Fee page.
  4. Prepare for the Visa Interview
    • Expect 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, job offer 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 original 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 Visa page on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Check with your U.S. embassy or consulate for entry requirements.

Canadian Citizens

If you’re 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 additional questions about getting an F-1 student visa for one of our full-time programs, contact an international student advisor. Please note that we can't answer questions about other visa types.

If you're a current IELP student, you can find answers to your visa questions on the Immigration & Academic Advising page.