Visa Process

Students from all countries, including Canada and Mexico, must have a visa to enter the U.S. for the purposes of study. If you are enrolling as a degree-seeking student at Roanoke College, you will need to apply for an F-1, Non-Immigrant Student Visa.

When you are accepted at Roanoke College, we will send a form, called an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student Status, with your acceptance packet. You will need this form to apply for your student visa.

You can get general information on how to apply for your student visa by going to the U.S. Department of State's website, and clicking on "Visas" and then on "Study." You will apply for your visa at the U.S. consulate or embassy that serves your area. You can find out where your consulate is and link to its website by going to All consular websites provide information on the requirements and process for getting your visa. A personal interview at the consulate is always required. The consulate's website will tell you how to schedule your interview.

Before going for your visa interview, you must pay a fee called the I-901 fee or SEVIS fee, which is currently $200. For information on the fee and how to pay it, go to You will need the receipt you receive for payment of the fee when you go for your visa interview. If you complete the I-901 information on-line and pay by credit or debit card, you will receive a printable receipt immediately. If you submit your information and payment by other methods, your receipt will be mailed to you.

Each consulate has its own procedures for processing visa applications. In general, the following will be required:

  • Letter of admission from Roanoke College
  • Form I-20 from Roanoke College
  • Completed Forms DS-156 (Non-Immigrant Visa Application) and DS-158 (Contact Information and Work History for Non-Immigrant)
  • Passport valid for more than six months upon entry to the U.S.
  • Financial information, including bank statement and proof of ability to pay one full year of expenses

After your visa interview, depending on the circumstances and the consulate's procedures, the consular officer will either approve or deny your visa or request additional information or documents. If your visa is approved, the officer will let you know when you will receive your visa.

On the airplane shortly before arrival in the U.S., airline personnel will provide you with Form I-94. You will need to enter some information on this form before going through immigration inspection at your arrival airport.

At your arrival airport or other port-of-entry, you will need to provide to the immigration officer with the following:

  • Valid passport with valid visa
  • Sealed envelope with I-20
  • Completed I-94 (all three sections)

Any other requested information such as financial information or admission letter
The immigration officer will:

  • Return the valid passport with valid visa with a USCIS entry stamp
  • Return the I-94 departure card (this may be stapled into your passport)
  • Return your Form I-20 with an entry stamp in the right-hand corner
  • Return any other documents you provided