Visa application procedures vary greatly from country to country, and within countries. Some US Embassies and Consulates process visa applications via mail; others use a drop-off/pick-up system, and some require a personal interview. Be certain to check with the Embassy or Consulate at which you intend to apply for your visa for complete details.

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Step 1: Contact us to get started. To secure a visa at your country to come to the United States, you need to send some documents to

Step 2: Contact your local US Embassy or Consulate to determine the exact procedures and timelines for obtaining an F-1 or J-1 visa.The US State Department website provides a list of US Embassies and Consulates, as well as information on average visa processing times. Note, however, that this information may not be up to date.

Step 3. Complete the DS-160 electronic application. To complete this form, you will need the following items:
  1. Your passport
  2. Your I-20 (for an F-1 visa) or DS-2019 (for a J-1 visa)
  3. Application documents
  4. Dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States, if you have previously travelled to the United States
  5. A digital photo for electronic upload: detailed photo requirements can be found at
  6. You may be required to provide information about your current and previous education and work history
Please note that the DS-160 must be completed in English.You can find answers to frequently asked questions that are available at

Step 4:
Once you have electronically submitted your DS-160, you will likely need to schedule an interview and the nearest Embassy or Consulate. Information on how to schedule an interview and submit additional documents can be found on the Embassy/Consulate website.

Step 5:
Complete Form I-901 and pay the appropriate fee (sometimes called the SEVIS fee). For an F-1 Visa, the fee is $200USD, and for a J-1 visa, the fee is $180USD. In order to complete Form I-901, you will need your I-20 or DS-2019. There is a video tutorial on how to complete the Form I-901 available at You can access the Form I-901 and pay the fee online at If you choose to pay the fee by check, money order, or Western Union Quick Pay, you must print the Form I‐901 payment coupon when you complete the form online. Applicants from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Kenya must pay the SEVIS Fee by mail. Once you have paid your SEVIS fee, you will need to print confirmation of the payment (click the Check I-901 Status / Print Payment Confirmation link).

Step 6:
For your visit to the Embassy/Consulate, you should be prepared to provide the following:
● Your valid passport
● Your I-20 or DS-2019: make sure you have signed and dated the bottom of the form
● Proof of your ties to your home country
● Proof of funds for support for your stay in the United States
● Confirmation that you have paid your SEVIS fee
● Payment for the visa application fee: please note that the visa application fee is different—and separate—from the SEVIS fee