F-1 Student Visa Process

If you’re an international student enrolling in a campus-based or low-residency program, you’ll need an F-1 Student Visa to study in the United States.

Our International Student Services Office is here to help you through the process, whether you’re coming here from your home country, or transferring from another school within the United States.

Get Your F-1 Visa

Follow the 5 steps below to acquire your student visa:

  • Step 1: Complete our Immigration and Financial Declaration Form

    Complete Lesley’s Immigration and Financial Declaration Form (PDF). This is an application for your I-20.

    Provide proof that you have the funds to pay tuition, fees, and living expenses for one year of your education, or for the entire low-residency program. We’ll send you an Estimate of Expenses so you can complete the application.

    Email the form to Lesley’s International Student Services at iss@lesley.edu with the necessary documentation. We’ll use this information to create your I-20. This takes about one week. We’ll email you shipping instructions and then send your I-20 to you. Review it and let us know if there are errors. When you are sure it's correct, sign and date the bottom of the first page.

  • Step 2: Pay the $200 I-901 SEVIS fee

    The Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the database where your I-20 is created. You must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee when a new SEVIS record is created for you. Pay the fee online at least 3 days before your visa interview. Print out a copy of your receipt.

  • Step 3: Schedule an F-1 Student Visa appointment

    Book your appointment for an F-1 Student Visa at the closest U.S. embassy or consulate.

    Complete form DS-160 and pay $160 to make your appointment. Print out the DS-160 confirmation page and your $160 payment receipt.

  • Step 4: Have your visa interview

    Take these items to your visa appointment:

    • Your Lesley I-20
    • DS-160 confirmation page and payment receipt
    • Passport
    • 2 passport-sized photos
    • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
    • Letter of acceptance from Lesley University
    • Proof of financial support


    Your interview will be brief, and in English. Be positive and don’t argue with the consular officer. It's important to establish non-immigrant intent in your interview—show you have clear plans to return to your home country after you complete your degree. If your visa is denied, politely ask for a written explanation. Email us at iss@lesley.edu for help.

  • Step 5: Enter the U.S. up to 30 days before your program starts

    Enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date indicated in the "Program of Study" section on the first page of your I-20.

    Carry your I-20 and passport with you in your carry-on luggage. Show your F-1 visa and your I-20 to the border agent when you enter the U.S. The border agent may ask to see your Lesley acceptance letter and your proof of finances, too, so keep those handy.

Transfer International Students

Complete this Transfer-In Form (PDF) if you are transferring to Lesley University from another institution in the U.S.

Complete the top of the Transfer-In Form and have your international student advisor complete the bottom of the form. Send the form to International Student Services at iss@lesley.edu. We’ll use your Transfer-In form, and other immigration documents, to create your Transfer Form I-20.

Low-Residency Students

In a low-residency program, students come to the U.S. for 7–10 days at a time, then complete work from home between semesters.

If you’re enrolled in a low-residency graduate program, you’ll need to apply for a new I-20, pay a new SEVIS fee, and obtain a new F-1 Student Visa before each residency even if your current F-1 Student Visa has not expired.

At least three months before each time you come to the U.S. for your residency:

  1. Complete the Immigration and Financial Declaration Form (PDF) and send it to International Students Services at iss@lesley.edu with the requested documentation.
  2. Pay the $200 SEVIS fee online.
  3. Obtain a new F-1 Student Visa
Contact International Student Services