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Visa Information for International Students

F-1 Student Visa

This page provides information on how to obtain an F-1 student visa. Visit this page to learn how to apply for a Lesley degree program, and our International Student Exchange page if you plan to study here as an exchange student.

I-20s are issued for students who intend to study from inside the US for the dates listed on the I-20. International students are required to maintain full-time status (12 credits for undergraduates and 9 credits for graduates) throughout their academic program, with only “one” on-line program per semester in fulfilling such requirement.

Once you're accepted into your program, our team will contact you with guidance on how to apply for an F-1 student visa, in five easy steps:

  • Step 1: Complete an Immigration and Financial Declaration Form

    The Immigration and Financial Declaration Form asks for proof that you have the funds to pay tuition, fees, and living expenses for one year of your education, or for the period of residency or exchange program. Contact International Student Services (ISS) at for an international student “Estimate of Expenses” specific to your program. This will allow you to attach the appropriate financial documentation with your Immigration Financial Declaration Form. Although ISS is legally required to see the above financial documentation, including living expenses, your Lesley bill will be for actual educational related costs, not living. Scroll down on this page of the Lesley site to the “Financial Aid, Bills & Payments” section for more billing related information. Note that tuition and fees are increased every spring.

    Once you submit the completed Immigration and Financial Declaration Form, it will take our office 7-14 business days to process and email you the Form I-20 with instructions on how to apply for the F-1 visa stamp. You will only be able to pay the SEVIS Fee and apply for the F-1 visa, AFTER receiving the I-20.

    The B-1/B-2 or WB/WT tourist or business statuses do NOT permit study in the US. If you are currently in the US and have questions if your current non-immigrant status permits study, contact immediately, and we will assist with the most appropriate visa strategy.

  • Step 2: Pay the $350 I-901 SEVIS fee

    The Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the database where your I-20 is created. You must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee when a new SEVIS record is created for you. Pay the fee online at least 3 days before your visa interview. Print out a copy of your receipt.

  • Step 3: Schedule an F-1 Student Visa appointment

    Book your appointment for an F-1 Student Visa at the closest U.S. embassy or consulate.

    Complete form DS-160 and pay $160 to make your appointment. Print out the DS-160 confirmation page and your $160 payment receipt.

  • Step 4: Have your visa interview

    Take these items to your visa appointment:

    • Your Lesley I-20
    • DS-160 confirmation page and payment receipt
    • Passport
    • 2 passport-sized photos
    • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
    • Letter of acceptance from Lesley University
    • Proof of financial support

    Your interview will be brief, and in English. It's important to establish "non-immigrant intent" in your interview—this means that you have clear plans to return to your home country after you complete your academic program. If your visa is denied, politely ask for a written explanation. Email us at for help.

  • Step 5: Enter the U.S. up to 30 days before your program starts

    Enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date indicated in the "Program of Study" section on the first page of your I-20.

    Carry your I-20 and passport with you in your carry-on luggage. Show your F-1 visa and your I-20 to the border agent when you enter the U.S. The border agent may ask to see your Lesley acceptance letter and your proof of finances, too, so keep those handy.

International Students Transferring in from another School

Complete this Immigration and Financial Declaration Form (IFDF) if you are transferring to Lesley University from another institution in the U.S.

You will need to ask your current international student advisor to transfer your SEVIS record to Lesley University.  The Immigration and Financial Declaration From (IFDF) will provide instructions.  Once we have received your IFDF, and your previous school has transferred your record to us, we will create your new Transfer I-20 and issue it to you.

Low-Residency Students

The Low-Residency Form I-20 is only issued for a period of 7-21 days as these programs do NOT allow F-1 students to study from within the US. Student enters the US with a new low-residency I-20 each year, then returns to home country to continue studies remotely.

B-1/B-2 or WB/WT tourist or business statuses do not allow any study from within the US, even for low-residency programs. Also, please note that Low-Residency programs do not offer enough consecutive physical presence in the US for the student to gain F-1 related employment benefits, such as Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). Any Low Residency internship or practicum program requirement is expected to be fulfilled in the student’s home country.

If you’re enrolled in a low-residency graduate program, you’ll need to apply for a new I-20, pay a new $350 SEVIS fee, and obtain a new F-1 Student Visa before each residency.

At least three months before each time you come to the U.S. for your residency:

  1. Complete the Immigration and Financial Declaration Form for Low-Residency Students.
  2. Pay the $350 SEVIS fee online. (This is only paid AFTER you’re issued the I-20 as you need the I-20 SEVIS #)
  3. Obtain a new F-1 Student Visa

Incoming Exchange Students

Visit our International Student Exchange page for information on how to apply for a semester or year of study with us. 

Contact International Student Services