Graduate Studies

The Immigration Process

Welcome to Western Illinois University!

As you begin your transitioning process to WIU and to the U.S. we would like to assist you as much as possible.

All international students, except Canadians*, must apply for a visa to study in the U.S.

Please review the following steps:

  1. Receive your official WIU acceptance letter and I-20.  Check your I-20 for accuracy, print and sign the form.
  2. Pay the SEVIS fee 
    1. Your SEVIS identification number is listed on your I-20 as well as WIU’s school codes: Macomb campus CHI214F0108100 OR Quad Cities campus: CHI214F01081001
    2. Payment video
    3. Pay the SEVIS fee online, by mail or at a  Western Union office 
  3. Complete the  Visa application
  4. Schedule a visa appointment at the  U.S. embassy or consulate

*Canadian citizens do not require a student visa; however, an I-20 and proof of SEVIS fee payment is required  as well as other documentation.


Completing the Visa Application (DS-160) 

Review the information on completing the application.

Point of contact: International Admissions, 1 University Circle, Sherman Hall 116, Macomb, IL 61455

DSO’s contact information: Dana Sistko, Immigration Specialist,, 309-298-1806


Visa Interview

Schedule it as early as possible to allow for processing times and take the following original documents to the appointment:

  • Passport (valid for at least six months into the future)
  • I-20  (printed and signed by the DSO and yourself) 
  • Proof of acceptance (WIU acceptance letter)
  • Proof of I-901 SEVIS Fee payment
  • Evidence of financial support that is greater or equal to the expenses listed on the I-20
  • Visa application (DS-160 barcode page)
  • Visa processing fee

It is recommended to check the consulate’s website for specific requirements.


Applying for a Visa

We know that applying for a visa is stressful. Below are a couple of tips to help you prepare.

Ties to Your Home Country

  • You must 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. For instance, a job in your home country, family, financial prospects, investments, etc.  
  • Be prepared to give an answer regarding your future career goals, family, etc. in your home country. Even if the officer does not ask, you may want to divulge this information.


  • Your interview will most likely be conducted in English. Do not prepare a speech, but feel comfortable talking in English. You may want to practice speaking with a native speaker to boost your confidence in speaking in English.

Speak for Yourself

  • Come to your interview alone. You need to speak for yourself, do not bring a family member to do so for you.

Know the Program and How It Fits Your Career Plans

  • Be ready to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your future career goals and future career when you return home.

First Impressions

  • Your interview will be short. What you say first and your first impression may decide whether you are approved or denied. It is best to keep your answers short, but precise.
  • What you wear is important. Consider the interview a formal event. Business attire is appropriate. First impressions can be crucial, since there will be little time to speak with the officer, who will often have only a few minutes to conduct the interview and make a decision


  • Bring the required documents that are easy to read and precise. Again, your appointment will only last a couple of minutes.


  • Be clear that you plan to return home at the end of your program. While you may be authorized to work while studying in the U.S., employment should not be your main focus.

Stay Positive

  • Do not argue with the consular officer. 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 try to get the reason in writing why you were denied.

Social Media

  • Be prepared to answer any questions related to any social media platforms you have used during the five years prior to your visa application.

Administrative Processing Delays

Past Visits to the United States

  • You may be asked to explain past visits and stays in the United States and/or any prior visa statuses held by you or your family members. Also, students who formerly held an employment-based immigration status or had Optional Practical Training (OPT) or STEM OPT might also need to explain the reasons for additional study in the United States instead of working at home.


Entering the U.S.

A visa does not guarantee entrance into the U.S. 

You must have your printed I-20 on hand when you enter the country; do not pack it in your checked suitcase.   The earliest you may arrive is 30 days prior to the start date listed on your I-20.   If you encounter an issue when entering, please contact the Office of Public Safety at 309-298-1949 who will contact the DSO/Immigration Specialist.

It is mandatory to check in with International Admissions and the Immigration Specialist at  orientation


Additional Visa Resources

Visa Appointment Wait Times:

Locate a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

Find an Education USA Advising Center:

Procedure for Applying for a Visa

A select list of videos available through U.S. Embassy websites.

Alphabetical by City

Amman, Jordan (3:52)
A step-by-step tutorial on how to navigate the online system for applying for a U.S. visa in Jordan.

Ankara, Turkey (2:35)
Attending an Immigrant Visa interview at the U.S. Embassy? This video highlights the steps and procedure.

Dubai, UAE (4:04)
This video explains what you should anticipate on the day of your interview for a Non-Immigrant Visa Interview at the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai, U.A.E.

Frankfurt, Germany (6:27)
How to apply for a United States student visa in Germany.

Hyderabad, India (5:06)
Prepare for your student visa interview. Our officers are here to answer some of your most asked questions about the F-1 Visa.

Kabul, Afghanistan (4:56)
Want to know what it is like to apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul? Check out this video to find out more!

Kobe, Japan (3:16)
This video will guide you through the interview procedures at the U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe, Japan, from your arrival at the Consulate to your interview.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (7:01)
A step-by-step video guide on how to apply for a nonimmigrant visa (business, travel, study, etc.) online and the interview process at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

New Delhi, India (4:29)
Learn about the U.S. Embassy's Student Visit Day and the visa interview process in India in this video.

London, U.K. (3:09)
What to expect when you attend the Embassy for a non-immigrant visa interview.

Seoul, South Korea (2:09)
Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Skill – this video gives an example of how to give more in-depth interview answers.

The information contained in this resource is designed to provide general information on matters of interest only and should not be construed as legal advice. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained in this resource has been obtained from reliable sources, NAFSA and the publishers disclaim any and all liability resulting from reliance upon this information, or from any errors contained herein. This publication does not substitute for the direct reading of applicable laws and government guidance, nor does it constitute legal advice, which can only be obtained from licensed attorneys. Laws and regulations are also interpreted by the government agencies that administer them; therefore, it is impossible to provide detailed, specific information and guidelines to meet every contingency.