Visas and Immigration

Visas and Immigration

Understanding your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20)

Government approved U.S. Educational institutions such as HOFT Institute issue the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20). The I-20 confirms that a student has been accepted to a full-time study program and that the student has demonstrated that he or she has sufficient funds to reside and study in the U.S.

  • Once a student has received their I-20, he or she is eligible to apply for a F-1 student visa at a U.S embassy or consulate abroad.
  • Any dependents that travel with the student will each need their own individual I-20 in order to apply for a F-2 visa (dependent status).
  • To create an I-20, we enter student and dependent information into a U.S. Government database, the “Student and Exchange Visitor Information System” (SEVIS). SEVIS processes the information and produces the I-20. A Designated School Official (DSO) prints and signs the I-20, and arranges delivery to the student.

How to Pay the Required SEVIS fee

Any student beginning a new program in the U.S is required to pay a one-time SEVIS fee prior to obtaining a F-1 Student Visa. ONLY the student is required to pay the SEVIS fee, not the dependent(s).

HOFT does not receive any part of the SEVIS fee. The US government receives all proceeds. If you have any questions about the SEVIS fee, you’ll find the most current information on the SEVIS website:

There are three ways to pay the SEVIS fee:

  1. Online
    • The online Form I-901 is available at
    • Follow the steps to Submit Form I-901 and Fee Payment using the information listed on your Form I-20.
  2. By Western Union
  3. By Mail

After you have paid your SEVIS fee and have a copy of your payment receipt, you are ready to apply for your F-1 Student Visa. Check the status of your payment or print a duplicate copy of the receipt by visiting

Applying for your F-1 Student Visa

IMPORTANT: The order of the steps you must follow to obtain your visa and how you complete the steps will depend on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to which you apply. U.S. Embassies and Consulates may require additional documentation. Check with the U.S Embassy or Consulate with which you make an interview appointment. Confirm which documents they require you to bring. Please contact the Embassy directly or visit the following website to fully understand what your U.S. Embassy requires of you:

All students applying for a F-1 Student Visa must complete the following steps. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY!

  1. Complete the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160). Print the application form confirmation page.
  2. Upload a photo on the Form DS-160. Read and follow all photo requirements.
  3. Contact the U.S embassy to which you are applying for your visa to schedule a visa interview. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location and visa category, so it is best to apply for your visa as early as possible.
  4. You may be required to pay the non-refundable visa application fee prior to your interview.
  5. Once your visa is approved, you may be required to pay a visa issuance fee. It is best to ask the U.S. Embassy to which you apply for specific information and guidelines about any fees.

Preparing for your Visa Interview

  • Bring the following items to your visa interview:
    • Your Passport
    • Form DS-160 Confirmation Page
    • Form I-20
    • Application Fee Payment Receipt (if you required to pay before your interview)
    • Official Acceptance Letter from HOFT
    • SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
    • Evidence of Financial Support (bank statement and sponsor letter)
  • During Your Interview:
    • A consular officer will ask you several questions to determine whether you are qualified to received a F-1 Student Visa.
    • Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans may be taken at this time as part of your application process.
  • After your interview:
    • The consular officer will inform you if further processing or additional documents are needed prior to your Visa approval or denial.

We cannot and do not guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or purchase your airline ticket until you have been approved for your visa.

HOFT Institute ESL Program

2400 Pearl Street Austin TX 78705
1-512-472-6996 |