Visa Application

When you’ve completed the steps for applying to EWU, follow the steps below to ensure a smooth U.S. visa application process.

1. Official Financial Statements Requirement

Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) Requirements for 2017-2018 Main Campus

 English Language InstituteUndergraduateGraduate
Estimated Tuition, Fees, and BooksUS $11,700US $25,434US $28,434
Mandatory Health InsuranceUS $2,278US $2,278US $2,278
Room and BoardUS $14,337US $14,337US $14,337
Total Cost of AttendanceUS $28,315US $42,049US $45,049
Additional Expenses per Dependent30% of Living Expenses

Requirements for Official Financial Statements

  • Statements must provide evidence of your ability to cover Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) Requirements for the first academic year.
  • Statements must be less than six months old.
  • Statements must be in English or sent with an official certified translation.
  • Statements must show either a savings account or bank draft account.
  • If a sponsor is supporting your studies in the United States, your sponsor must submit financial statements.
  • Statements must clearly show the name of the student or the student’s parent, guardian or sponsor.
  • All bank statements must be signed and stamped by the bank or issuing authority.
  • All financial statements must be originals. No copies, scans or faxes are acceptable.
  • All government-issued financial guarantee or sponsor letters must be addressed to EWU.

Documents you should not send as proof of financial ability
These documents will not be accepted as official:

  • Tax forms
  • Statements from investment funds (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.)
  • Letters from employers
  • Your credit card limit
  • Photocopied versions of official documents
  • Digital versions of official documents
  • Faxes

Sponsorship and Financial Statements
If you are sponsored by someone other than a parent, your sponsor must submit a signed letter that clearly indicates you are being sponsored. Your sponsor must also submit official financial documents.

2. Pay the SEVIS Fee to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

  1. Find the Form I-901 at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.
  2. Complete the form online and pay by credit card (Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form).
  3. Print a copy of the online receipt.
  4. Be sure to make copies of your receipt and keep it with your other important immigration documents.

  1. Go to the Student and Exchange Visitor (SEVP) I-901 SEVIS Fee Processing website.
  2. Download the Form I-901 “Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.” Or request the form by phone at 800.870.3676 (inside the U.S.).
  3. Complete the Form I-901 (Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form).
  4. Prepare a check, international money order or foreign draft (drawn on U.S. banks only) in the amount of $200 U.S., made payable to “The Department of Homeland Security”.
  5. Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on Form I-901.
  6. A Form I-797 receipt notice should be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires F-1 and J-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time fee for administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS).

The fee must be paid at least three business days before you apply for your visa.

Common Questions

No. At this time the SEVIS fee can only be processed by the Department of Homeland Security via mail or online.

The SEVIS fee is not required when transferring schools, changing to another degree program or level, requesting a program extension, renewing an F-1 visa or using F-1 program benefits such as practical training. If you are in status when you travel internationally and are not physically outside of the United States for more than five months, you will not be required to pay the fee.

F-2 dependents do not have to pay the fee.

Yes, but you must submit the I-20 form with the SEVIS ID number that you listed on the I-901 form with you to the U.S. consulate/embassy. For change of status or reinstatement applications, please see the next question.

  • Obtain the appropriate Form I-20 from a DHS-approved school.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee by mail or online.
  • Make a copy of the I-797 (mail) or computer receipt (online) for your records.
  • Submit a copy of the I-797 or computer receipt with your visa, change of status or reinstatement application or for students who are exempt from visa requirements, such as Canadians, should take a copy of the SEVIS fee receipt to present at the port of entry with the appropriate I-20. It will not be possible to pay the fee at the port of entry.

3. Complete EWU’s Online Orientation

After you have confirmed and set up your Eagles email, you’ll get an invitation to an orientation class in Canvas, our online learning management tool at Eastern. The class does a few things: it introduces you to a program you will use for many of your classes; it gives you important information you need to know specifically as an international student; and it goes over basic information about registering for classes.

4. Prepare Your Visa Application Documents

To prepare for your visa interview, gather the following documents:

  • A passport (valid for at least six months) after the date you plan to enter the United States
  • Form I-20 from EWU
  • A receipt for the SEVIS fee
  • Official financial documents showing your ability to pay your expenses while in the United States
  • Evidence of English proficiency (often scores from tests such as the TOEFL or IETS)
  • Evidence of intent to return home after completing your studies (often a written letter telling why you want to study in the United States and why you will return home)
  • Visa application Forms DS-156 and DS-158, and any forms required by the U.S. consulate in your home country (forms are available from U.S. consulate website)
  • Your photograph
  • Your visa processing fees

In some cases, the U.S. consulate officer may have additional requirements. It is not possible to say exactly what evidence you may need to convince the official that you will return home because applicants’ circumstances vary greatly.

5. Visa Interview at the U.S. Consulate

EWU does not decide if you receive a visa. Only the United States consular officer who interviews you during the visa application process can decide if you receive a visa. This means that even if you are accepted to EWU and have received your I-20, the consular officers must still decide if you receive a visa.

The interview will be conducted in English. For your interview, honesty is always the best policy. Do not lie. The consulate officer is looking for evidence of three things:

  1. You want to come to the United States with a specific educational goal.
  2. You do not pose a security or safety risk to the United States.
  3. You intend to leave the United States once you complete your specific educational goal.

Be prepared to show proof that:

  • You have a permanent home outside of the United States.
  • You are going back to your country after your studies are completed.
  • You intend to be a serious student and that the degree you are seeking will benefit you when you return to your country.

Be prepared to talk about:

  • Your career and how will you use your degree when you get back to your country. Explain why it is important for you to have a degree from a U.S. university.
  • How learning English is helped by first-hand knowledge of the American culture. It is helped by working with many native speakers. Talk about how these skills will help your career goals.
  • Your choice of school. Show what you know about Eastern and explain your choice to come to Eastern Washington University.

DO NOT say that you want to go to the U.S. because your friends and family are there. DO NOT say it’s because you like American movies or some other unimportant reason.

Having an I-20 alone does not grant you any status in the United States. The I-20 is only a “certificate of eligibility” for an F visa. Your visa is the key to legal entry to the United States.

Good to Know

Plan ahead so that you will have time to attend your visa interview and get your visa before classes start.

You should apply for your visa 60 to 90 days before you plan to travel.

You can download all necessary visa forms at the U.S. Consulate’s website.


Listen carefully to the embassy official’s questions. Even if the official asks a question you think is strange, you must answer it. The official is usually trying to decide whether you intend to stay in the U.S. after you have completed your program. If the official thinks you plan to stay in the U.S., he or she must refuse your visa.

Keep in mind that an official may see as many as 200 people each day. Officials do not have a lot of time to discuss your application. They must make a quick decision. Help them by being prepared.

Remember, the F-1 visa is for people who intend to return to their home country. Tell the official when you are going to go home.

If Your Visa is Denied

  1. Notify EWU.
  2. If it’s your first application, you should always re-apply.
  3. Contact your consulate for special re-application instructions. You may have to wait before you can re-apply.

US Consulate

The SEVIS fee will not be refunded. However, if you re-apply for a new F-1 visa within 12 months of the denial, you will not have to pay the fee again.

Be prepared to show additional evidence or explain in a different way how your situation has changed since the first application. Think again about your ties to your home country. These might include family relationships, job, home or farm ownership, or other commitments. Is there any additional evidence that you could present? Did you explain your situation clearly? Did you answer all the questions?

You can learn more about visa denials at the U.S. Department of State.

You cannot apply more than 120 days before the date you plan to enter the United States.