Helpful Tips for Applying for U.S. Visa

Here we provide some tips that may be helpful as you are applying for your initial visa to come to the U.S., or for a visa renewal during your program at Rice. Even though each case is as unique as the applicant is, here are the general requirements that everyone must follow:

1) Payment of the SEVIS fee (One-time fee for initial F-1 and J-1 visas only, you do not need to pay this fee again when renewing your visa)
2) Completion of DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form
3) Payment of the visa fee (for some countries an additional Visa Reciprocity Fee may also be required)
4) Scheduling an appointment for an interview
5) Attending the interview (please see helpful videos below)
*You may be eligible for a Visa Interview Waiver Program if you previously received a U.S. visa, which is either still valid or expired within the last 48 months, and now you are applying for the same purpose of travel.

We recommend you visit the website of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you wish to apply for your visa to find out the full requirements and forms.

Tip #1: FAQs for the DS-160

Who is my point of contact?

F-1/J-1 Students should use the name of the OISS advisor that issued your I-20/DS-2019, and the following address:
Rice University Office of International Students & Scholars
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005

J-1 Scholars should use the name and contact information from their host department.

What should I enter as the U.S. address?

If you don't know your U.S. address, use the address you will use when you first arrive in the U.S., which might be a temporary address like a hotel or friend.

Where is the code for field of study on the F-1 I-20?

For F-1 students, the field of study code is located in the "Program of Study" section of the I-20, under "Major 1".

Where is the school code?

For F-1 Students, the school code is located in the "School Information" section of the I-20, under "School Code and Approval Date." It begins with letters HOU.

For J-1 Students and Scholars, the school code is located in section 2 of the DS-2019, on the right hand side. It begins with the letter P.

Is a DS-160 required for visa renewals?

Yes, a new DS-160 is needed for each new visa application, including renewals.

For additional FAQs, please see

Tip #2: Interview

Interviews are too short as consular officers have a very short time for each applicant. Come to the interview well prepared.

• Prove you developed social, economic, educational or business ties to your home country.
• Tell the truth.
• Be confident.
• Relax and be calm.
• Be open and honest.

Making a misrepresentation of any type or providing fake documents to consular officer is against the law. Not being truthful may result in a lifetime ban on getting a U.S. visa of any type.

Tip #3: Proof of Intent

When applying for a student visa, be ready to prove these three things:

1) You intend to go to the U.S. to study and complete the program of study.
2) You have a credible plan to pay for your study program.
3) You intend to return to your home country after you finish your studies.

For more information on visa denials based on inability to prove appropriate intent, please see

Tip #4: Documents

The required documentation depends on your situation, as each case is unique. Check the website of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate you plan to visit for their list of required and/or recommended documentation.

• Bring the documents that you think support the purpose of your visa application.
• If someone else is paying for your study, bring those documents and it will satisfy the visa requirements.

The consular officer may not ask for any documents at all. They may try to get the relevant information from you during the very short interview. However, it is always a good idea to have all the relevant documents with you, in case they are requested. Show your efforts and that you came well prepared!

Tip #5: Social Media

You are currently required to report all social media accounts used within the last five years on the visa application form. Please be mindful of your social media content. For more information, please see

Administrative Processing

At the end of the visa appointment, only two outcomes are possible: the consular officer will either issue or refuse the visa. Sometimes the consular officer may determine that additional information is required before the visa can be issued and the application must go through further administrative processing. If administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform you about it at the end of the interview. Although your visa application will be refused at that time, you may be determined to qualify for the visa once the case-specific administrative processing is completed. Therefore, in the case of administrative processing, a visa refusal may not be the final answer. The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. For more information, please see the U.S. Department of State's webpage on administrative processing.

Video Guide to Consular Processing – Nonimmigrant Visas

U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the globe have produced short informational videos to help prepare people for the nonimmigrant visa application process. To find out what the process can be like, check out these links below!

These videos talk specifically about temporary intent:

Check out these links for information just for students: