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How do I apply for an F-1 (Student) Visa?

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

First, you will need to apply to Colorado School of English's Intensive English Program. For more information about that process, check out our blog post here. Once you have received your acceptance letter and Form I-20 from Colorado School of English, you will need to fill out the DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application on the USCIS website. Your DSO (Designated School Official) will send you the link where you can complete this. After completing the DS-160, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee using the link and information that was sent to you. The SEVIS fee is a fee that all international students and exchange visitors must pay to USCIS. Once the SEVIS fee is paid, you can contact your local embassy to schedule an interview for your visa. This interview is the most important step to becoming an international student in the US.

A example image of a US visa.

How do I prepare for my visa interview?

Your visa interview is very important. If your visa is denied, you can always apply again but your visa application history is permanent and can always be seen by visa officers. It may be more difficult to have your visa approved if you have been denied in the past, so it is very important that you are prepared. It is crucial that you have a plan for your time in the United States and you are ready to explain that plan. If you want to utilize Colorado School of English’s Pathway to Success, talk to your DSO about receiving a conditional letter of acceptance from a local community college. This may help show the visa officer that you have a clear plan. The visa interview may be conducted in your native language or in English in some circumstances. It’s crucial to be prepared and practice!

You are required to bring the following documents to your visa interview:

  • Your passport

  • Your acceptance letter and Form I-20

  • Proof that you have paid the SEVIS fee and completed the DS-160

  • 2 passport sized photos

You might also want to bring these documents, although they are not required:

  • Copies of school transcripts

  • Any degrees or certificates you have

  • Any standardized test scores you have (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)

  • Financial documents to prove you can pay for your studies in the US

Why would my visa be denied?

There are multiple reasons why your visa might be denied. One reason might be if the visa officer believes you are not planning to return to your home country. F-1 visas are non-immigrant visas, so they are issued with the idea that you will not live in the United States forever. If the visa officer believes your plan is to live permanently in the US rather than to visit for the purpose of studying, your visa will likely be denied. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, you will want to be able to prove that you have strong ties to your country and plans when you return.

A US visa with the words "rejected" written over the top

Another reason your visa might be denied is if the visa officer believes you can’t afford to live and study in the United States. Studying in the US can be expensive. Make sure you do plenty of research about the cost of living in Denver and bring documentation to prove you can pay for your entire program, including tuition, books, lodging, food, and any extra expenses. Remember: international students cannot work while studying at Colorado School of English. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but in general, you will not be able to make money while living in the US. This is why it’s very important to have the documents to prove you can pay for your program.

A common reason students might get denied is if they don’t have a basic level of skill in English. Even if the student is applying for an English program, it’s possible that the visa officer might still deny the student. In general, visa officers believe that international students should be able to answer simple questions in English in order to survive in the US.


The visa officer who is interviewing you has complete control over the decision. If your visa is denied, there is nothing you can do to appeal the decision. This is why it's so important to be prepared.

Think about these questions before your visa interview:

  • How will learning English and studying in the US improve your opportunities in your home country?

  • What is your plan once you’ve finished your studies in the US?

  • What is your plan once you’ve finished the Intensive English Program (IEP) at Colorado School of English? Will you return home at this point or will you transfer to a college or university?

  • If you’re planning on transferring once you’ve completed the IEP, which school would you like to attend? What do you want to study?

  • Have you done research about the cost of living in Denver and the expenses you will need to cover during your time in the US? Do you have enough money to cover your expenses for your entire program?

  • Why do you want to study in the United States? How did you choose to study at Colorado School of English?

Feeling nervous for your interview? You can sign up for a consultation from an ex-visa officer with Argo visa here or contact our DSO's with any questions at: DSO@englishamerica.com or StudentServices@englishamerica.com.

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