• Don't wait until the last minute! Apply for your visa as early as possible - F-1 visas may be issued up to 120 days before the program start date on the Form I-20. There is no limit on how early a J-1 visa may be issued.
  • Allow several weeks for getting an appointment and a visa. Call the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest to you, or go to the embassy website for information and instructions. You must complete several forms before your interview, and the embassy may want to verify the information you give them.
  • Use the Form I-20 or DS-2019 from Whitman College if you plan to attend here. Students who apply to several schools may get a Form I-20 from each school. To attend Whitman, you must use the Whitman-issued Form I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Be well organized and well prepared. (See "Preparing for the Visa Interview" below.)

Preparing for the Visa Interview

  • Dress neatly.
  • Be prepared to talk about your educational goals: what you're interested in studying, why the degree that you're pursuing is important to your future career in your home country, your graduate school plans, if any.
  • Be prepared to explain where and how you learned English.

DO NOT SAY that you want to study in the U.S. because your friends are there, or because you like American culture, or some other reason that the official might see as unimportant. You need to have strong reasons to go, and equally strong (or even stronger!) reasons to return home.'

Remember: the consular official is required to assume that each visa applicant is secretly planning to remain in the U.S. If the official thinks you may stay in the U.S. permanently, they will reject your application. If you are asked and can show convincing reasons for your return home after studying, your application is more likely to be successful. F-1 and J-1 visas are for people who will enter the U.S. temporarily for the purposes of study or participation in an exchange program.
VERY IMPORTANT! Answer only the questions asked. Always be truthful in your statements to U.S. consular officials. If they find that you have misrepresented yourself or your documents, you may be barred from entering the U.S. in the future.

Important note: When signing the Form I-20/DS-2019, make sure that you read the instructions that are attached to the form - this is a legally binding contract to which you are agreeing when you sign the Form I-20/DS-2019.

If Your Visa Application is Denied
If you are denied a visa, please contact Principal Designated School Official & Responsible Officer Kyle Martz (martzkj@whitman.edu or +1-509-527-5001) as soon as possible.