Pre-Arrival Information

Obtaining a Visa

In order for you to enter the United States, it will be necessary for you to obtain a visa from a US Embassy or Consulate. In most cases, you must obtain the visa at the US Embassy or consulate in your home country. Click here to find the closest US Embassy or Consulate.

Please note: if you arrive with a B1/B2 “tourist” visa, you will not be able to register for classes! This page will discuss the process for obtaining an F1 “Student” visa.

In many cases, it will be necessary to make an appointment for a visa interview. Please contact the consular section of the US Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply.

IMPORTANT! Before you go to the embassy or consulate  IMPORTANT!

Effective September 1, 2004, you will have to pay a US$ 200.00 SEVIS fee before you can get an F1, J1, or M1 visa. You can pay the fee by mail, or online. The Department of Homeland Security has a website to help you understand this fee. Click here to go to the DHS website.

Instructions on how to pay the SEVIS fee:

  • Fill out the form I-901. There are two ways to do this:
    • Fill out the I-901 and pay online with a major credit card. Click here to fill out and pay online. You will be able to print out an I-901 receipt immediately, and the DHS will mail you a printed receipt.


    • Print, fill out, and mail the form I-901 with a check or money order payable to "I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee". Click here to get the pdf form.
      • Mail the I-901 and check or money order to:

I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee

P.O. Box 970020

St. Louis, MO 63197-0020


Courier the Form I-901 and payment to:

I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee

1005 Convention Plaza

St. Louis, MO 63101

      • The DHS will mail you a printed receipt once it is received. Please be advised that it may take up to four weeks to receive your receipt by mail.

You will not be able to obtain your visa unless you have the I-901 SEVIS Fee receipt with you!!!

When you arrive at the embassy,

You will need to have several things with you:

  • A completed application for non-immigrant visa (form DS-0156). Please note: some US Embassies and Consulates require additional or supplementary application forms. Please check with the US Embassy or Consulate you plan to visit. Also, Even though form DS-0156 is available in other languages, we suggest that you use the ENGLISH version of the form. After all, you will be studying in English!
  • Your I-20 form from Georgia Perimeter College
  • Your letter of admission to Georgia Perimeter College
  • Your I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • Financial certificates, bank letters, proof of financial support for your studies in the United States
  • Evidence that you intend to return to your home country following your studies in the United States. Appropriate evidence could include offers of employment following your studies, marriage certificate showing that you are leaving a husband or wife behind, land or property deeds showing that you own property in your home country.

Here are some links to some information that may be helpful for you in obtaining a visa

US Embassies Abroad 
Visa Process Guide 
Special Visa Processing for citizens of North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan,.Iran, Iraq, and Libya 
Fees for Visa Services 
Visa Photo Requirements 
Visa Denials           
Visas for Third Country Nationals in  Canada or Mexico 
HS Special Notice 

Special information for citizens of Canada and the Bahamas

If you will be arriving in the United States directly from Canada or the Bahamas, it is not necessary to obtain an F1 visa prior to arrival. However, you must present your I-20 to the immigration officer at the US port of entry, whether you arrive by sea, air or from Canada by automobile. Do not leave the border area/port of entry until the immigration official has marked your I-20, and you have obtained an I-94 card which has been annotated with:

“F1 D/S”

Transferring to another school

It is very important that you attend the school that issued you the I-20 form. BEFORE YOU GO TO THE EMBASSY OR CONSULATE, MAKE CERTAIN THAT YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHICH SCHOOL YOU WILL ATTEND IN THE US! The embassy will print the name of that school on your visa, and you will be required to present the I-20 from that school to immigration on arrival to the US.

If you arrive in the United States on GPC’s I-20, you will be required to attend at least one semester full-time at GPC before you will be allowed to transfer to another school. There will be no exceptions to this rule.

Conversely, If you arrive on another school’s I-20, you will not be able to transfer to GPC until you have completed at least one academic term at the school which issued your I-20

Making your Travel Plans

Please note: F1 students may arrive in the United States NO MORE THAN 30 DAYS before the date listed in section 5 of your I-20 form. Please keep this in mind as you make your travel plans.

We suggest you plan to arrive as early as possible, so that you will have time to locate appropriate housing and transportation, open a bank account, take any required placement tests, and attend required orientation sessions at Georgia Perimeter College.


We also suggest you contact a reputable travel agent specializing in international travel. There are several international travel agencies that specialize in student travel, and may often give discounts to you.