Getting Your Student Visa

The process for getting your student visa to study at Houghton is fairly straightforward and is detailed below.  All students should follow these instructions carefully.  Under no circumstances should you attempt to enter the US under a tourist visa.

NOTE FOR CANADIAN STUDENTS ONLY: The visa process is slightly different for Canadian students.  Please skip #5 (a passport visa is not required of Canadians) and take special note of the bulleted point at the bottom.

  1. Send in your enrollment deposit.  The deadline for this is May 1, and we can do nothing with your student visa until we receive your enrollment deposit.
  2. The Houghton College DSO will create, print, sign, and mail your I-20 via Federal Express.  NOTE: If you’d like your I-20 mailed to a different address from that which is listed on your Houghton College application, please email Kim Cockle with your correct address.
  3. Carefully review your I-20 to make sure all information (especially your name and date of birth) is correct and exactly matches that which is in your passport.
  4. Pay the I-901 Fee.  This one-time $200 fee is charged by the US government.  You can view a narrated video tutorial to learn more about how to pay this fee.
  5. Please visit to review your steps and complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160).  Print out the DS-160 barcode page and bring it with you to your embassy appointment. This form is required.
  6. Make an appointment at a US embassy abroad to interview for your visa.  Be sure to do this in a timely manner as some embassies require appointments to be made well in advance.  Please visit the US State Department website for a list of documents to bring to your interview and other important information.  At your interview the embassy official will grant you a US Passport Visa, which allows you to enter the US as an F-1 student.
  7. If you’ve not already done so, you should now begin making travel arrangements to Houghton.  Please note that no international students on F-1 visas are allowed to enter the US more than 30 days before your “program start date,” which will be listed on page 1 of your I-20 and is the same as the first day of classes at Houghton. Be sure to note the earliest time that you can arrive on campus and move into your campus housing.  Please view the academic year calendar to see when classes, breaks, etc. begin.
  8. When passing through US immigration at the airport be sure to have in hand your passport and I-20.  It may also be a good idea to have your Houghton College acceptance letter handy.
  • CANADIANS ONLY: Canadians students driving across the border must stop and walk into the immigration station at the border.  DO NOT simply drive through!  Be sure to have your passport, signed I-20, and proof of I-901 payment with you.  You must fill out an I-94 card at the border.  Students entering via a land crossing will receive a paper I-94 that will be stapled into your passport.