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Getting a Visa


Alex Pia

Director of International Student Services


2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



The Knox Shop
A view of campus from above.

First-time Students in the U.S.

Most international students at Knox enter on the F-1 student visa. If this is your first time to study in the United States, you will need to sign your Form I-20, pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, and apply for a U.S. F-1 visa through a U.S. consulate or embassy.

1. Sign Your Form I-20 
When you receive your Form I-20, please read the “Instructions to Students” on page 3 very carefully and then sign the "Student Attestation" at the bottom of page 1. Your Form I-20 will allow you to apply for an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa.

If you have questions about your Form I-20, or if you will not enroll at Knox by the date stated on the form, notify the Office of International Student Services immediately by email or by calling +1-309-341-7163.

2. Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee for students beginning a new F-1 program. Most F-1 non-immigrants must pay a fee of $350. You must pay this fee prior to applying for your F-1 visa and take a receipt of your payment with you to your visa interview. 

How do I pay the SEVIS fee?

Begin by completing Form I-901. The fastest way to complete Form I-901 is online, but a paper Form I-901 can be downloaded and filed by courier. After completing Form I-901, you have several methods of paying the SEVIS fee: 

  • Online payment. After completing Form I-901 online, you can submit payment using a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card, or by using a debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo. Print the receipt.
  • Western Union. View the complete instructions. Complete Form I-901 online and print a copy of the payment coupon you receive. After three business days, check your payment status and print your receipt.
  • Check or money order. To pay by check or money order, you'll need to include a paper Form I-901 or a copy of the coupon for Form I-901 after completing it online. View more information about paying by check or money order in FAQs provided by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

Remember to retain a copy of your I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt. You must take it to your visa interview.

Note: Students with a country of citizenship or country of birth of Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, or Nigeria will need to pay the SEVIS fee using Western Union or by check or money order.

3. Secure a United States Visa
Visit the U.S. Embassy site to locate the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and to view specific instructions about applying for a nonimmigrant student visa (F-1 visa). At the visa interview, you will need to present:

  • DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application receipt. You should complete and submit the application prior to your appointment.
  • Your passport
  • Form I-20 issued by Knox College
  • One passport-sized photo
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • Visa application (MRV) fee payment receipt number (visit your embassy or consulate website for more information)
  • Letter of admission to Knox College
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Proof of financial support for your studies at Knox College
  • Proof of your intention to depart the United States after the completion of your studies
  • Other documents are detailed on the U.S. embassy or consulate website.

View additional information about the visa application process.

If you are a citizen of Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, or a British subject in the Bahamian, Cayman, or Turks and Caicos Islands, you will not need a U.S. visa to enter the country. However, you will need to present the SEVIS fee payment receipt at the U.S. port of entry and apply for F-1 status there.

Please note that F-1 student visas cannot be issued more than 120 days prior to the program start date found in section 5, page 1 of Form I-20. Students admitted to Knox College should not enter the country on a tourist visa (B-1/B-2 visa) unless you have discussed this with the Office of International Student Services. Students who enter the country on a tourist visa may not be able to enroll in their intended term.

F-1 Students transferring from a U.S. institution

If you are an F-1 student transferring to Knox from a high school, college, or university in the U.S., please ask a Designated School Official (DSO) at your previous school to help you complete the SEVIS record transfer form and transfer your SEVIS record to Knox. Once completed, please submit this form through your applicant portal. Knox will then issue you a "Transfer Pending" Form I-20 and send it to you by mail. Once you have completed immigration document registration and updated your U.S. address with the Office of International Student Services, you will be issued a new I-20 for "Continued Attendance" at the beginning of your first term at Knox. If your F-1 visa is still valid, you may continue using this visa. If your F-1 visa is expired, you should apply for a new visa using your Knox College I-20.

Change of Status

If you are currently in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status and will change to F-1 within the U.S., you must file Form I-539, your original Form I-20, and other required documentation with USCIS. Students are strongly advised to consult with the Office of International Student Services if considering a change of status application, and to provide a copy of the entire application to the Office of International Student Services prior to submitting it to USCIS. View information about Form I-539.

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Printed on Sunday, July 14, 2024