How to Apply for F1 Visa After I-20 Start Date

Students trying to get an F-1 visa interview at a U.S. Embassy can sometimes find themselves unable to get an appointment until the very last minute.

If this is you, this might mean that your departure to the U.S. will be delayed past the start date on your I-20.

So you then contact your school in the U.S. to find out if they will accept your late arrival.  Often times, the answer is “no,” which brings you even more disappointment and frustration.

The school is actually trying to make a decision with your best interest in mind.  So let’s take a look at the reasons that a school might not accept your late arrival.

  1. All schools have a policy of when new class schedules can be created or added – usually no later than the first week of class.  If you arrive later, you would not be able to register for classes.  That might force you to have to return home.
  2. Schools have specialized orientation for international students, and these sessions are required.  If you don’t attend these sessions you will miss out on information that is critical to your success in college.
  3. Many schools have placement tests that are required for all new students and these tests are typically given the week before classes begin.
  4. International students who have not been to the U.S. and are not familiar with the education system, not to mention learning in a foreign language, face many difficulties in their adjustment to the new environment.  If you arrive even just one or two days late, you will miss out on a lot of class lecture material and assignments.  It is difficult for even U.S. students who arrive late to catch up with all the homework.  A student in this situation often ends up failing a number of their classes.  The result?  Thousands of wasted dollars for you and your family.
  5. There may be a number of other reasons, such as no available housing, or other reasons you might not know about.

Available Options

So if you face the situation where you cannot get a visa interview in a timely manner, you should go ahead and contact the U.S. school and ask about their policy for late arrivals.  If you are a graduate student, the school’s policies might be more flexible.

If you have already met the school’s English proficiency requirements, and have some familiarity with the U.S. education system, then you might be able to convince them to allow you to arrive a few days late.

If the school agrees to this, ask them to write a brief letter for your embassy interview.

The letter should indicate the latest date that the school will accept your arrival.  And the school should preferably send the letter directly to you which you will take to the visa interview.  If the Embassy decides to grant you a student visa but questions your start date, you will be able to show them the school letter.

If the situation looks like it won’t work out, then it is better for you to delay until the beginning of the next available start date (usually the beginning of the next semester or quarter).  Contact the school and ask for a “deferred” I-20 for the next start date.

This will give you adequate time to make an appointment at a later date for a visa interview.

Even if they don’t express it, school officials know that this is a difficult situation for you.  Many of us were students in a foreign country ourselves and have had similar frustrating experiences.  Don’t give up!  Just be sure to respect the school’s rules and you will have a better chance at achieving your goals.

Daniel Whitmer is the Director of International and Multicultural Student Affairs at Vincennes University.  VU is a two-year residential state college in Southwest Indiana that specializes in associate/transfer degrees.  It is a great school to start your college degree at while saving money on tuition.  More info on the web at http://www.vinu.edu/international or by email: [email protected]

22 Comments

  1. momomdou on January 14, 2017 at 7:51 PM

    hi.please help me.i have an interview appointment just after 3days of my classes.this was due to political instability in my home country.even if defer my i20 to the following semester,there is high probability that i might not join.what do you think i will do ?

  2. pavan darshan on January 8, 2016 at 2:51 AM

    hii,i have attended f1 visa interview on 6th january 2016 and was refused under section 214(b) at US consulate chennai.Then i have immediately reapplied and booked my visa slot on 21st january 2016 at US consulate kolkata as it is the first availabe appointment date.The problem is that my program start date is january 19th,and i asked my college officials whether they will allow the late entry and they replied that i should defer my admission to the next semester.I am trying to convince the school officials to allow my late entry.If they grant me permission for the late arrival then i would get the letter of permission from my college and if they have not agreed for the late arrival then i would be deferring my admission to the later semester.my question is that if i have applied for deferment of my admission to later semester should i wait for the new i20 or can i still attend the visa interview which is on 21st of this month with the present i20 as i have already booked my visa slot.then what are the chances of me getting the visa.
    waiting for your reply as early as possible.thank u

    • Raghuram Sukumar on January 8, 2016 at 8:32 AM

      It maybe better to wait for new I-20. One student recently went to visa for the second time for the same university, since he deferred the admit.

  3. UMAR HUSSEIN ABDALLAH on July 4, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    when do you normally pick international student from the airport?

  4. gina on November 4, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    my I20 in my previous school expired on November 2, 2010. I submitted all admission requirements to my new school on the same date – Nov. 2. I was informed that I will start school by Spring 2011 since Fall 2010 has already started. my question is, should they give an I20 which will start or be valid from November 3, 2010 onwards? because the school officer told me that they will issue the new I20 effective date is Feb 15 – spring sem starts. i'm concerned that this will create a problem because of the gap (Novemebr 3 – February 14). thanks in advance for your opinion.

  5. saimanneh on August 24, 2010 at 7:19 AM

    hi HSB

    thanks for the reply, this site is the gateway to USA.

    I HAVE ONE MORE QUESTION, I AM APPLYING FOR SPRING 2010. BY THE END OF SEPTEMBER I WILL BE ABLE TO GET MY 1-20 AND ALL NECESSARY DOCUMENTS I MEAN BANK STATEMENTS AND AFFIDAVITS. CAN I APPLY IN OCTOBER AS THE COUSE WIL BE STARTING SOMEWHERE EARLY JANUARY. OR IS THAT TOO EARLY FOR SPRING.

    THANKS

  6. Haseeb Malik on August 24, 2010 at 5:49 AM

    this blog is helpful but i havent had any replies to my questions so far. I havent found similar questions so y dont ppl reply?

  7. simu on August 24, 2010 at 2:20 AM

    hi

    HSB, if i am a hepatitis B+ will the foreign government give me visa and let me to go there???

  8. saimanneh on August 20, 2010 at 2:12 AM

    hi guys can some one help and answer this for me. HOW MANY SPONSORS CAN ONE HAVE FOR F-1 VISA AND HOW MANY NAMES SHOULD APPEAR ON THE I-20, WHAT OF IF THE SECOND SPONSOR`S NAME DONT APPEAR ON THE I-20, WILL THIS AFFECT U WHEN APPLYING FOR A VISA. THANKS

    • HSB on August 20, 2010 at 9:27 AM

      You will not have any problem, ff second sponsor's name in not on I-20. You will need affidavit from each sponsor.

  9. C JAY on August 16, 2010 at 4:02 AM

    I have been learning a lot of things from your blog.

    I am in a college L- 200 now and i got admission from one of the USA.universities a transfer student and received my I-20. Can the V.O asked me why i am leaving my current school to continue in USA?

    It is also very easily for transfer student transferring to USA Universities to get Visa in the USA EMBASSY.

    Pls help me with this questions and if you know more about question to ask transfer student pls kindly help me.

    Thanks.

  10. jaya krishna on August 15, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    hi to all , iam going to visa interview for second time .can any one tell what are the additional questions VO can ask like what are the changes u made like that.please tell the answers also

  11. JAYA KRISHNA on August 15, 2010 at 4:49 AM

    good evening every one my visa is rejeceted,iam going second time for my visa interview second time what are new questions they can ask and wat answers should i tell.

  12. Pooja on August 15, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    Hi,

    I've written my GRE & TOEFL, and got my scores also, my acad's is 65% with no backlogs & I've also given National Level 3 paper presentations, 1 poster presentation, & stood 2 position in c programming, organised a technical state level students contest. I've applied for the 4 Universities (NYIT, Monmouth University, Virginia International University, & University of Bridgeport) can any of you tell me which universities will send me i20 & how long will it take to receive my i20. And among the above which is the good University I've to get admitted when i get my i20.

    • shiva prasad on October 9, 2010 at 4:42 AM

      It takes minimum 1 month for getting I20

  13. kishore on August 13, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    hi everyone, i have given GRE in aug 4th 2011 and waiting to give TOEFL september first week and i am going to apply for spring 2011 to USA, so can u please let me know when it will be the best time to have a visa interview? and should i be hurry with booking the date for visa interview from now?

  14. Amanjit Singh Khanna on August 13, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    Hi,

    I had appeared for my visa interview on 19th July 2010 with enough time in hand for the visa to be issued.I till date havent received my visa .

    My orientation in the university begins on 22nd August.I have contacted my school about the possibility of my late arrival.They said that I could report till the second week of September.

    I wanted to know whether written communication of the same(the college accepting me later in september) was required? I asked my school to provide me with a letter but they said that they dont write letters of such nature.

    Is this going to be a problem at the port of entry if I arrive later than the date mentioned on my I-20, even after being given permission by my school.

    Please advise.

    Thank you

    Amanjit Singh Khanna

  15. Seema Singh on August 13, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Well you can collect your passport from VFS office in your city by hand just take your HDFC receipt with you and your passport.you can track the status of your passport whether it has reached VFS office or not. once it is there u can collect it from monday to friday between 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM.hope this info will help you…:)

  16. Seema Singh on August 13, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    There are many universities which have their deadlines in FEB.so immediately after giving exam go ahead in preparing your documents so that u can have everything in your hand till JAN.I got late due to lack of information and missed many universities.gud luck…:)

  17. Haseeb Malik on August 13, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    Hi. My situation is similar. I had interview on 8th August , which I had scheduled in June. My start date (reporting date) is 30 Aug on the i20 but orientation date is 23 August. Vo informed me that visa woukd take 3-8 weeks and nothing could be done to expedite the process. Im hoping that it would come inside 3 weeks to have a chance . I tried contacting the school and they did reply however they just told me standard process for cheking in which starts 19th August! Lets see what happens. Should I ask the consulate to expedite the process and mention my starting date?

  18. Rohit Gupta on August 13, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    hii….i hv the same problem….i am also goin for GRE in the mid of Nov…plz let me know addmission procedure for fall 2011..??

  19. Ajinkya Patil on August 13, 2010 at 6:58 AM

    still i have not given the entrance of GRE and TOFEL. and i have blocked the date in November.. so when the addmission procedure starts for the fall 2011.. plz tell me about this as soon as possible HSB..

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