If you are not currently in F-1 or J-1 status, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee (pdf) in order to obtain a student visa, enter the US in student status or change to student status. Information on SEVIS fee payment will also be included with your document. General information can be found at SEVIS Fee FAQs.
Applying for a US Visa
If you are a new student coming to Carnegie Mellon from overseas you should use the Carnegie Mellon DS-2019 or I-20 to apply for an entry visa at the United States Embassy or Consulate nearest your place of residence. You will also need to bring proof of finances and evidence that you intend to return to your home country when you complete your studies (e.g. proof of property, family and/or job or job opportunity in your home country) with you to the Consulate and carry it with you when you travel to the US.
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require entry visas for study in the US but must present the I-20 or DS-2019 and financial information when entering the US. Landed immigrants from Canada must travel with a passport and obtain a US visa in order to enter the US.
Comprehensive information on applying for a US visa is available on the US Department of State website. In particular, you may wish to consult the visa wait times or the individual consular websites for post-specific visa application procedures.
In case of a denial, ask what the reason is and make sure it is given to you in writing before you leave the consulate. This way you can address the US Consulate concern(s) if and when you return for a second interview. Additionally, in case of a denial, contact Office of International Education for advice and new forms, if necessary, before returning to the US Consulate.
Some visa applicants may be subject to security clearance checks. These checks may take 30 to 45 days to be processed. If you are notified that your visa application will be delayed because of administrative processing or security clearance, please notify Office of International Education.
Security Clearances and Visa Delays
If your graduate field of study or research might be considered a "sensitive" field that has direct or indirect military application(s), you should understand the information related to the Technology Alert List ("TAL") IF you will be applying for a new visa at a US consulate overseas. Application of the TAL during the visa application process will lead to a security check and inherent delays in obtaining the US visa. However, not all visa applicants are subject to the TAL.
Planning for Your Travel
We advise that you do not purchase airline tickets or make other travel arrangements until you have secured your US visa.
Students and scholars in F-1 or J-1 status may enter the US no more than 30 days prior to the start date on the I-20 or DS-2019.
When you are traveling to the US, make sure you carry your original documents (passport, I-20/DS-2019, evidence of admission and financial resources) with you in your carry-on luggage.