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Preparing For Your F-1 Visa Application

This college is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant alien students.

This information is for students who plan to enter the United States for the first time to study.  If you are currently in the U.S. on an F-1 visa and have a valid I-20 issued by another school, please complete the I-20 transfer process.  Further details is available at the U.S. Department of State.

Important Numbers
SEVIS ID: listed on the upper right corner of your I-20, starting with “N.”
SVA's SEVIS School Code: NYC214F00731000.

U.S. Entry Timeline

New international students who are entering the U.S. for the first time on an F-1 visa can only enter the country 30 days prior to the start of classes.  This 30-day rule does not apply to returning students who already have a valid F-1 visa.

English and the Visual Arts Program (EVA), Summer 2019
English and the Visual Arts program for the 2019-2020 academic year begins on June 24, 2019. Orientation attendance is mandatory on June 20 and 21. Students may enter the U.S. beginning May 25, 2019.

Summer Pre-College Program 2019
Summer 2019 Pre-College Program begins on Monday, July 8, 2019. The earliest date you may enter the U.S. using your F-1 student visa is June 8, 2019, 30-days before the program begins. (This 30-day rule does not apply to students who already have a valid F-1 visa.)

MFA Art Practice, Summer Residency
Summer semester starts on June 12, 2019 and runs through July 30, 2019.  Orientation attendance is required on June 12-14.  F-1 students may enter the U.S. beginning May 13, 2019.

MFA Visual Narrative, Summer Residency
Summer semester starts on June 3, 2019 and runs through July 26, 2019.  Orientation attendance is required on May 31.  F-1 students may enter the U.S. beginning May 4, 2019.

Fall 2019 semester
Students may enter the U.S. beginning August 4, 2019 and should arrive no later than the start of classes on September 3, 2019. Attendance at orientation during the week of August 25 is required.

Spring 2020 semester
Students may enter the U.S. beginning December 14, 2019 and should arrive no later than the start of classes on January 13, 2020.

Note for Canadian citizens

Canadian citizens are required to obtain F-1 status in order to legally study in the U.S. but do not need to apply for the visa stamp at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.   In order to obtain F-1 status, you must show the I-20 form issued by SVA, proof of SEVIS fee payment and supporting financial documentation to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry when you enter the U.S.  Do not enter the U.S. as a visitor, the Visa Waiver Program or as a B-1/B-2 Visitor because full-time study is prohibited under the visitor visa status.

Skip to Step 5: Pay the $350 SEVIS fee.

Step 1: Contact your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy

A list of U.S. Consulates and Embassies is available at

Step 2: Schedule your interview appointment

After you receive the I-20 from SVA, schedule an interview appointment at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country.  The F-1 student visa can be issued up to 120 days before the program start date, but please do not schedule an appointment until you receive the I-20.

Step 3: Complete the visa application forms

Fill out the DS-160 Online Application Form.

Step 4: Pay the visa application fee

Follow the instructions on your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate's website to pay the $160 visa application fee.

Step 5: Pay the $350 SEVIS fee

If your I-20 is marked for initial attendance, you will need to pay the $350 SEVIS fee.

If you are transferring your I-20 from another school, applying for an F-2 dependent visa, or have paid this fee and been denied a visa within the last twelve months, you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.

Note: the SEVIS I-901 fee increased from $200 to $350 on Monday, June 24, 2019. For more information, please see

To Pay Online: 
It is strongly recommended that you pay your SEVIS fee online and not by mail.

Access the Form I-901:

Enter SVA's SEVIS School Code: NYC214F00731000. Your SEVIS ID Number starts with an N and is listed on the top of your I-20.

Complete the form online and supply the credit card information. You may use credit cards that were issued in the U.S. or in your country. Be sure to write your name exactly how it appears on your I-20.  You must enter the Credit Card Security code prior to Credit Card authorization.  The Credit Card Security code is a security feature for credit card transactions, for protection against credit card fraud. For Visa or MasterCard, the Credit Card Security code is the last three digits printed on the back of the card.  For American Express, the Credit Card Security code is a four-digit number that is printed above the credit card number on the front of the card.  (Please refer to the samples sent with your I-20.)

Print a copy of the receipt.

You must bring the SEVIS fee payment receipt to the interview. 

Step 6: Prepare documents for the visa interview
  • Passport valid for at least six months
  • Certificate of Eligibility, Form I-20 (You must sign the form)
  • SVA's letter of admission
  • Completed visa application form (DS-160 online)
  • Two 2" x 2" photographs in the specified format (See the website)
  • A receipt of the visa application fee payment
  • A receipt for the SEVIS fee payment.  Print the payment confirmation screen upon payment.  A paper receipt will not be mailed.
  • Financial evidence of sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses. You must bring the original and sufficient letter/statement from you or your sponsor’s bank.
  • Any information to prove that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the U.S. This may include proof that your family members live in your home country, or that you have a job to return to or other ties to your community.
Step 7: The visa interview

The visa stamp will be affixed to your passport after a short interview.

If your visa is delayed or denied
Please contact the International Student Office immediately and email us a copy of the denial letter.  The most common reasons for visa denial are failure to prove sufficient ties to your home country or the lack of sufficient proof of financial support.

Students who are currently in the U.S. on a F-1 visa

If you already have a valid F-1 visa and are enrolled in another SEVP-approved institution in the U.S., you must have your I-20 sponsorship transferred to SVA.

Download the I-20 Transfer Form. Have the international student advisor at your current or previous school fill out and sign the form. Return it to SVA's International Student Office with a photocopy of your passport and your current I-20.

Your SEVIS record will be transferred to SVA when the release date is reached.  The release date is determined by your previous school.  If you are in valid F-1 status, SVA will issue the transfer I-20.

International Student Profile

School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587