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Applying for Your Visa

All nonimmigrant foreign visitors are required to have to a visa stamp in their passports to enter the United States. You need to schedule an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad to obtain your visa. Visas cannot be issued in the United States. General information about getting a visa can be found on Department of State web site.
 

F-1 and J-1 Visas

To apply for F-1 or J-1 visa involves the following steps:

  • Receiving your acceptance letter from SIUE
  • Obtaining your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) from SIUE
  • Paying the SEVIS Fee
  • Scheduling a visa appointment and going to an interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy
     

Paying the SEVIS Fee

SEVIS is a U.S. government system that manages data and application processes for nonimmigrants on F-1 or J-1 visas. To obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa you are required to pay a one-time SEVIS fee. Additional visa fees may be required at a U.S. consulate or embassy. F-2 and J-2 dependent family members are not required to pay the SEVIS fee. Fee payment instructions can be found on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

Online Fee payment can be made at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

  • Complete the online SEVIS I-901 form
  • Type in your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Enter the SEVIS ID number from your I-20 or DS-2019 (N000XXXXXXXX)
  • Print a copy of the online payment receipt

By mail payment instructions can be found on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.
 

Visa Appointments

Read the U.S. Department of State web site for more information about the visa application process.
 

Visa Wait Times

You can schedule your appointment up to 120 days prior to your program start date. Visa appointments are limited and visa processing times can take several months. However, consulates will give priority to F-1 and J-1 student applicants.
 

General Documents that are required for a Visa Interview

  • Passport (valid at least six months into the future)
  • Certificate of Eligibility I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1)
  • Proof of admission to SIUE or an invitation letter
  • Evidence of financial support for one academic year
  • Visa application forms and fees
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt (F-1 and J-1 only)

Some consulates may require additional documentation, so check the consulate web site for visa application instructions. Visa application forms and fees can be also be found on the consulate website.
 

Security Clearances

In some cases the consulate may require a security clearance on your visa application. Your visa may be approved, but cannot be issued until the security checked is cleared. It is common for the security clearance to take a couple of weeks to a couple of months.