The Process for Obtaining a Student Visa

 

Overview

The first step towards obtaining a student visa is to complete the admissions process and gain admission into an eligible program at BGSP.  International students who have been accepted into an eligible program at BGSP will receive an application packet for a document called a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status.” This form is a paper record of your information in the database called SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.  You will need this form to start the application process for the F-1 Student Visa.  While the Form I-20 allows you to apply for a visa and proves student status, it is not a visa itself.

The F-1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by a United States Embassy or Consulate abroad to international students coming to the United States for the purpose of pursuing full-time studies at a specified academic institution.  Once you have received your I-20, you will need to make an appointment at the United States Embassy or Consulate near you for a visa interview as part of the F-1 visa application.  If approved, the F-1 visa will be stamped in your passport, and along with your I-20, will serve as an entry permit allowing you to enter the US in legal, student status.

Application for the Form I-20

Following acceptance into an eligible program at BGSP, you will be asked to complete and submit the BGSP I-20 Application Packet, including any supporting documents.  All materials should be sent to:

Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
Attn: Office of International Students
1581 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02446
USA

Once we receive your completed BGSP I-20 Application Packet and all supporting documents, you should expect a 1-2 week processing time before the Form I-20 is mailed to you.  Due to the official nature of this document, it is BGSP’s policy to mail the Form I-20 through a shipping carrier that will provide a tracking number.  Because of this, there is a postal fee to ship your Form I-20 which usually ranges from $25 to $90 depending on your location.  Your student account will be billed and payment is expected with your semester registration.

Supporting Financial Documents

As part of the I-20 application, you are required to show proof of full funding for one academic year at BGSP.  A cost of attendance worksheet is included in the packet to help determine the amount.  First, you will be asked to indicate who will provide the funds for the time that you are in school.  A sponsor may be yourself, a parent, a relative, or a friend.  You may have multiple sponsors.  We ask that each sponsor (other than yourself) provide a letter indicating their agreement to provide direct financial support equal to your cost of attendance (tuition, fees, and living expenses) while a student at BGSP.

In addition, we ask that your sponsor(s) show evidence that they are collectively able to provide you with financial support for one academic year.  This is usually documented with a bank statement, or other financial document.  We ask that you include this original documentation (with exact figures) in English, along with your I-20 application.

You will also need to show these financial documents during your visa interview with the US Embassy/Consulate when applying for the F-1 visa.  Because the US Embassy/Consulate and BGSP both require original documents, we recommend that you request two sets of financial documents from each source of funding.  All financial documents should have been prepared within the last 3 months.  Keep in mind that the embassy official will carefully review your financial documents during the visa interview.  Be prepared to explain all financial sources and if requested, provide additional documentation as needed.

Applying for the F-1 Student Visa

If you are not already in the United States, you will have to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.  The fee is currently $200.  To pay the I-901 SEVIS fee, visit www.FMJfee.com.  Once paid, you should print the receipt of payment to bring with you to the visa interview.  You will be asked at the interview to show proof that you paid the I-901 fee.

Now that you have received your I-20 and have your receipt for the I-901 fee, you are ready to apply for the F-1 student visa and prepare for the visa interview appointment.  Procedures for visa application vary among consulates, so we recommend that you consult the instructions on the US Embassy or Consulate website where you intend to apply.

F-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days (about 4 months) prior to your program start date, as listed on your I-20.  Many embassies/consulates recommend that appointments be made no more than 90 days prior to your intended travel date, but some recommend that you make earlier arrangements for interviews.  For information about the estimated visa wait time at a specific US embassy or consulate, click here.

Once you have scheduled your appointment with the embassy/consulate, it is time to prepare for the visa interview.  The documentation you may need to obtain a new F-1 visa includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • The Form I-20 signed by the DSO at BGSP, and your original Form I-20 (if different).
  • The original admissions acceptance letter from BGSP
  • Original, current evidence showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses (bank statement(s) and sponsor letter(s) of support)
  • Evidence showing your intention to return to your home country upon program completion, including evidence of compelling social and economic ties to your home country.

After you Receive Your F-1 Visa

Please notify the International Students Coordinator at BGSP after you receive your F-1 visa to confirm your plans and receive further information.  As you begin to make travel arrangements, please remember that you will not be permitted to enter the United States in F-1 status earlier than 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20.

Information for Students from Canada and Bermuda

Citizens of Canada and of Bermuda are not required to request a visa interview and obtain the F-1 student visa.  However, it is necessary for Canadian and Bermudian citizens to request and receive the I-20, and show proof of payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee.  You will be asked for these documents by the customs officer at the US border for admission in F-1 student status.

Once admitted to the US in F-1 status, citizens of Canada and Bermuda are required to abide by all other provisions and restrictions for lawfully maintaining F-1 status, including provisions for employment and full time enrollment each semester.

Information for F-1 Transfer Students

If you are already in the United States in lawful F-1 status and plan to enroll at BGSP after either completing or leaving another program of study, you may be able to transfer your F-1 status.  This process is applicable for students who do not have plans to travel out of the United States in between the two programs of study.  To begin the transfer procedure, you should request a SEVIS transfer form from the International Students Coordinator at BGSP.  Next, you will need to contact your current school to notify them of your plans to transfer your F-1 status.  Your current school is responsible for transferring your SEVIS record to BGSP.