Visa Tips

Newly Admitted Students

In order to enter the U.S., you must obtain the appropriate entry visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate. A U.S. visa gives you permission to apply for admission to the United States in a particular status. DO NOT use a tourist visa or the visa waiver program to enter the U.S. if you are not coming here to be a tourist. Obtain a visa for the correct status.

Applying for a Visa

To apply for an F-1 visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate, you will need to submit the following documents to the consular officer at the interview:

  • PCC I-20
  • PCC acceptance letter
  • Visa Application (Form DS-160) and visa fee receipt (available on U.S. Embassy/Consulate website)
  • A passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your proposed date of entry into the United States
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph
  • SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
  • Evidence of financial support from sponsor indicated on I-20
  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous schools (optional)

Visa Processing Time

All visa applications require a face-to-face interview with a US consular officer. The visa application process can take up to 6-8 weeks, so plan accordingly. The earliest that an F-1 visa can be granted is 120 days before the reporting date listed on your I-20 Form. You may apply for an F-1 visa earlier than 120 days before the start date to allow for visa processing and security clearance delays, however, the consulate cannot actually issue the visa until 120 days before the program start date.

Appointments are required for all non-immigrant visa applicants. Visit to locate the embassy or consulate near you. Visit for visa appointment wait times visit. For additional information you may wish to visit the new website by the Department of Homeland Security -

Visa Fee and Duration

For information on the cost and duration of visas, consult:
Visa Reciprocity Tables:

Must Attend School Indicated on Visa

Students who are coming to the U.S. for the first time to study must use a visa that indicates the school they will be attending. That means that if you obtained an F-1 visa with another school's I-20 but you have decided to attend the Pasadena City College, you must go back to the Embassy/Consulate and have the notation on your visa changed to indicate the Pasadena City College. (Current students who have attended another school in the U.S. prior to coming to PCC may use the original visa if it is still valid.)

Meeting with the Consular Officer

Applying for an F-1 student visa can be complicated and frustrating. There is no guarantee that the visa officer at the U.S. Embassy or the Consulate will issue you a visa. You will need to convince the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you are a serious student who will study full-time and earn good grades. You must also show sufficient financial support and demonstrate evidence that you will return to your home country after you have completed your studies.

  • The Consular officer will speak to you in English
  • When answering questions, be concise and to the point. You must make a good impression in a very short period of time.
  • To help make a good impression, dress well. You should approach this interview as if it was a job official interview.
  • Speak for yourself. Do not rely on another person to speak for you
  • The Consular officer will also look at whether or not you have sufficient financial resources for your stay in the U.S. and your intention to return to your home country at the conclusion of your activity in the U.S.

If Visa Application Is Denied

Most students obtain U.S. visas easily. Unfortunately, some students have been denied visas. If you are denied, make sure the consular officer gives you information in writing as to the reason for the denial. Then, please contact the International Student Center as soon as possible.

**Before scheduling your visa interview, you may wish to review these points:

Ties to your home country

Under U.S. law, all applicants for non immigrant visas, such as F-1 visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. Thus, you should be able to demonstrate that you have significant ties to return to your home country rather than to remain in the U.S. A "tie" to your home country may be your place of residence, job prospects, family, investments, bank account, etc.

Know the academic program that you have been accepted to

We recommend that you review our website for curriculum information on your program of study. You should be able to explain how completing a degree in the U.S. relates to your future professional career plans.

**PLEASE NOTE Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa stamp; however, they must show proof of financial support in addition to their visa document(s) at the port of entry upon arrival to the U.S. Visit for more information.

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