In order to obtain a student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted at a school in the United States. Once you have been accepted, the school will forward you a form called the I-20 or I-20M, which must be presented at the time of the visa interview.
When you have been accepted by a US college or university, have received your I-20 form and have secured the necessary funding for your studies, you are ready to apply for a student visa. You cannot apply for your visa more than 120 days and cannot enter the US more than 30 days before 1st date of classes stated on your I-20 form.
- You first must pay a SEVIS fee. The SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System) I-901 fee is mandated by Congress to support the automated system that keeps track of students and exchange visitors to ensure that they maintain their lawful status in the United States.
The SEVIS fee is $200 for students (F/M) and $180 for exchange visitors (J1). Applicants required to pay the SEVIS fee will also have to complete Form I-901. Applicants should bring their SEVIS fee receipt to their visa interview. For instructions on how to pay the SEVIS fee, click here. For general information regarding the SEVIS fee, please refer to the SEVIS website.
Please note: Any applicant appearing for his or her interview who has not paid the SEVIS fee will not be permitted to interview and will be asked to return to the Consulate at a later time with proof that the fee has been paid.
- Next, click here to go to our online application and appointment website. Note: You should have your passport, previous visa information (if applicable), and any other documents relevant to your intended travel to the United States ready and available for your reference before you start the application process. Also, be sure to select “Harare, Zimbabwe” as the location where you will be submitting your application.
- Once you are on our application and scheduling website, select the “DS-160 Electronic Visa Application Form” tab.
- The first page of the application contains instructions. Once you have read through the instructions, click “Start Application” on the bottom of the page.
- Be sure to select “Harare, Zimbabwe” as the location where you will be submitting your application.
- Enter the information requested into the appropriate spaces on the application. Be sure to answer all questions and to save your work often by using the red “Save” button on the bottom of the page. Your application will “time out” and all information will be lost if there is no activity within 20 minutes.
Click the little blue circle with an “i” for instructions on any of the individual boxes.
- Your answers must be in English and must use English characters. If a particular question does not apply to your circumstances, do not leave it blank – Please write “N/A,” or “Not applicable.”
- The “Upload Photo Page” denotes the end, save your application. be sure to bring a 5 cm x 5 cm passport photograph with a white background to your visa interview.
- After the upload photo page, click “Review” on the red, bottom right tab at the bottom. Review the following pages to ensure the accuracy of the information.
The final review page should display the location information, “Harare, Zimbabwe.”
- If all the information is correct, click the “Sign and Submit” red tab on the right.
- Read through the information on the signature page, and enter your passport number and the graphic code displayed. Click the blue “Sign and Submit Application” tab at the bottom.
- Click the red “Confirmation” tab.
- Print the Confirmation Page, which displays your application barcode. You will need this barcode to apply for an interview.
Schedule an Appointment
- If a link (tab) for “Schedule an Appointment” does not appear on the confirmation page, you will have to go to our appointment website yourself.
- From the appointment website, select “Schedule an Appointment.”
- Enter the barcode from the Application Confirmation Page, printed out in Step 14. You will not be able to schedule an appointment without this barcode.
- Choose the date and time of your interview and enter the requested information. Print the NIV Appointment Confirmation Page. You will be required to present this page, along with your Application Confirmation Page (Step 14), at the U.S. Embassy on the day of your interview.
For student visas, you must bring:
- Your SEVIS fee receipt.
- Your Computerized SEVIS 1-20 form sent to you from the college or university (NB: all details on the I-20 must be correct, must match your passport, and the first day of classes must not have passed.)
- Proof of finances for your entire period of study and proof of availability of funds for first year. Such proof can include recent bank statements, a letter from your sponsor or scholarship source, a letter from the school stating your financial aid or scholarship offer.
- Originals of your academic qualifications: “O” level and “A” level certificates for undergraduates, diplomas or university degrees for graduate students.
- One front-facing photograph, color, 5cm by 5cm. (Note: Do not use photobooths as they do not produce clear photographs.)
- Your current passport , valid for another calendar year.
- If available and relevant, copies of your score reports from your SAT, GRE, GMAT and/or TOEFL or other standardized American entrance examinations.
- Each individual applicant applying for a visa is required to pay a non-refundable fee in U.S. dollars only at the Embassy.
Be prepared to have a conversation with the Consular Officer before your visa is processed. You must demonstrate to the Consular Officer that you are a serious student. They may want to know about your plans for study, how and why you chose your college/university, the appropriateness of your qualifications to attend that school, what degree and field of study you plan to pursue, and how you will use your degree once you return to Zimbabwe. You will need to establish Zimbabwe as your country of permanent future residence by demonstrating your ties to family and work in Zimbabwe, as a student visa is only intended for your period of study and does not permit you to seek employment in the United States. Note that being accepted to a college or university is in no way a guarantee of being granted a visa.
Detailed information about how to qualify for a student visa can be found here: Visa – Study & Exchange