Applications for an F-1 or J-1 visa must go through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please visit Travel.State.gov to learn about the visa application process. Consult the website of the embassy/consulate where you plan to go for your visa interview for information about scheduling an appointment and for a complete listing of the documents you should bring. At minimum, you will be asked to show:
Original I-20 or DS-2019
Official acceptance letter
Receipt for payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee
Proof of financial support
These documents will also be needed when traveling to the U.S. Please keep them accessible in your carry-on luggage along with documents such as any correspondence from the Illinois State University Office of Admissions or Office of International Studies and Programs.
If your visa application is approved, the visa will be printed in your passport. Typically, the embassy/consulate will mail your passport back to you, but some may require you to come in person to pick up your passport. If you are subject to a security background check, there may be a three to six week delay before your visa can be issued.