F-1 or J-1 Visa Application Process

Before applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa, note that visa application procedures vary greatly from country to country, and within countries. Be certain to check with the Embassy or Consulate at which you intend to apply for your visa for complete details.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the Internet-based system which tracks and monitors non-immigrant students (F and M visas) and exchange visitors (J visa) and their dependents.

As part of the visa application process, you are required to pay a $200 USD F-1 and a $180 USD J-1 SEVIS registration fee.  This fee is in addition to any other visa application fees required in your home country.  You are strongly advised to pay the SEVIS fee online.  The online payment site also provides information on alternate methods of payment.

Be certain to print your payment receipt before you log off your computer.  Be aware that there may be a delay before the receipt prints.  It is essential that you take this receipt with you to the Embassy when you apply for your 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.

Application Process

  1. Contact your local US Embassy or Consulate to determine the exact application procedures and timeline for obtaining your student visa.  Apply for your visa as early as allowed. Be aware that some US Embassies and Consulates process visa applications via mail; others use a drop-off/pick-up system, and some require a personal interview.
  2. The basic F-1 visa application form is a DS-160 , available electronically from your local US Embassy website.
  3. In addition to the application form, be prepared to provide the following:
    • proof of your ties with your home country
    • your valid passport
    • proof of sufficient funds for your stay in the United States
    • application documents
    • proof of payment of the SEVIS fee (also known as an I-901 fee)
    • the I-20 form (for F-1 visa) or the DS-2019 form (for J-1 visa) issued by Illinois Wesleyan University. Make certain that you have signed and dated the form.
    • photographs, as directed by the US Embassy/Consulate