Applying for Your Student Visa

Visa and admissions processing 

CWRU admission sent you an admission letter with instructions for the CWRU new student portal [English only].

Proof of Financial Support and Receiving Your Eligibility Certificate

Upon accepting your admission to Case Western Reserve University, and in order to apply for your non-immigrant visa, you will need to send the Office of International Student Services a letter from your bank, sponsor, or agency demonstrating your ability to support your expenses for one full year while studying at CWRU.

The required tuition and living expenses are published every year. Please check for the latest information:

Examples of accepted documents are notarized bank letters, certificates or statements or certified affidavits of support. Please ensure that conversions to U.S. Dollars appear on each document, and that they include English translations.  If CWRU is funding your studies, your academic department will forward this information directly.  If you have previously studied at an educational institution in the United States, your SEVIS record may also need to be transferred from your previous school, in which case you also need to provide a transfer release form (f).

After receiving this documentation, the Office of International Student Services will issue and mail you a certificate of eligibility (Form I-20 or DS-2019), which you must then take, along with your passport, to the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate and apply for your student visa.

The Visa Interview Process

Make an appointment for your visa interview at the nearest U.S Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible because lengthy delays may occur as background checks are performed prior to your appointment.

Every prospective student whose initial Form I-20 has been issued on or after September 1, 2004, must pay the $200 SEVIS I-901 Fee prior to the visa interview. For complete information regarding SEVIS fee payment, please visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

You will need to bring the following with you when you go for your interview:

  • SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Valid passport and any previous passports you have held which are still in your possession
  • A recent passport-size photograph of yourself taken on plain white background. Face must be thumb size, full face, without glasses or head covering.
  • Original CWRU I-20 Form
  • Transcript for all classes taken in the United States
  • Fully completed and signed application forms DS-156 and DS-158. Males between 16 – 45 years must also complete DS-157, “Supplemental Non-Immigrant Visa Application.”
  • Evidence documenting that sufficient funds are, or will be, available to defray all expenses during the entire period of anticipated study and that you have enough readily available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study.
  • Other documentation may also be requested
F-1 Students Transferring to CWRU from another U.S. Educational Institution

An international student who intends to study at Case Western Reserve University will be considered a “Transfer Student” if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are currently studying at a U.S. institution, and you will transfer to CWRU to continue your studies.
  • You have completed a program at a U.S. institution and will begin a new program at CWRU.
  • You have completed a program and you are currently pursuing Optional Practical Training but will begin a new academic program at CWRU upon completion of OPT.
  • You will not spend 5 consecutive months outside of the United States between programs.

If any time spent outside the United States between programs will be greater than 5 consecutive months you will instead require an Initial status I-20. If this is the case, we still ask that you submit a Transfer Release Form to your International Student Advisor so that we can confirm your status. Every international F-1 student studying in the United States has a SEVIS record and SEVIS ID. If you wish to transfer to CWRU, then you must notify your International Student Advisor of your intent to transfer so that he or she may release your SEVIS record to Case Western Reserve University.

Students who are in the United States and who have no intention of traveling outside the United States prior to their enrollment at CWRU can receive their new documents when they arrive on campus and complete the transfer process (provided that all proof of financial information has been received).

A non F-1 status person currently living in the United States but planning to enter CWRU as an F-1

Students who have been awarded a scholarship, assistantship, fellowship, or those who wish to work on-campus must change to F-1 status. Please consult an adviser for more information.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators offers the following tips when applying for a student visa:

Ties to Your Home Country

Under U.S. law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants unless they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. “Ties” to your home country are the things that bind you to your hometown, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. You may be asked about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country. Each person’s situation is different, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate or letter that can guarantee visa issuance.


Anticipate that the visa interview, should there be one, will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview. Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular official will want to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.


Know the academic program to which you have been admitted and how it fits into your career plans. If you are not able to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the U.S. consular official that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should be able to explain how studying in the United States relates to your future professional career when you return home.

Be Concise

Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer’s questions short and to the point.

Supplemental Information

It should be clear at a glance to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time at best.

Not All Countries Are the Same

Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United States

Financial Documentation

If you are receiving funding from CWRU, your home university, your employer, or from the government, be prepared to present the appropriate letters or documents which verify this funding. If your financial support is coming from personal or family funds, bank statements alone are seldom considered credible enough evidence to demonstrate sufficient finances. Only when coupled with highly credible documentation which can substantiate the source (such as job contracts, letters from an employer, tax documents, pay stubs, or deposit slips) will a bank statement be accepted. Bank statements are most credible if they are a series of reliable computer-generated ordinary monthly bank account statements.


Your main purpose for coming to the United States is to study, not for the chance of work before or after graduation. While many students may work part-time during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States.

Dependents Remaining at Home

If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family members will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support them, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.

Maintain a Positive Attitude

Do not engage the consular official in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and obtain in writing, an explanation of the reason you were denied.

Special Note for Canadian Citizens

Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain a U.S. visa to enter the United States. However, an officer of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will inspect your papers either at a pre-inspection site in Canada or upon entry to the U.S. You must have with you proof of Canadian citizenship, proof of admission to CWRU, your CWRU Certificate of Eligibility (I-20), and proof of financial support that corresponds to the information on your I-20. It is essential that you enter the U.S. in the appropriate status, so be sure to have complete documentation with you.