Visa Application

As an exchange visitor, you’ll need a J-1 visa to enter the United States. To obtain a J-1 visa you must visit a US Embassy or Consulate. It is not possible to obtain a visa from within the United States. It is important to note that US Embassies have different visa application procedures for scheduling a visa appointment and may include unique document requirements. For more information, visit the US Department of State’s website for J-1 Visa Application Instructions.

  1. Receive the J-1 DS-2019 from USC
  2. Pay mandatory SEVIS I-901 Fee
    • Every exchange visitor who wishes to begin an “initial” program of study or research is required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
    • Scholar will need information from their DS-2019 when paying the fee
    • Print the fee payment receipt to present at the visa interview and at the US Port of Entry
  3. Complete the DS-160 visa application*
    • Use only the “BACK” and “NEXT” buttons that are part of the application and not the web browser’s back and next arrows
    • Be as accurate as possible with any questions asked and DO NOT submit the application until it is complete
    • At the end of the online application, print the confirmation page with barcode that is required for all phases of the interview
    •  The US Department of State provides additional guidance on completing the DS-160
  4. Schedule and complete visa interview at a US embassy/consulate*
    • To obtain the most current and accurate information on the visa application and interview process, international students should review the website for the US consulate/embassy where they will schedule the visa interview
  5. Arrive at a US airport and clear customs at a US Port of Entry with the following documents:
    • Original DS-2019
    • Valid passport
    • J-1 visa stamp in passport*
    • SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
    • Financial documents consistent with DS-2019

*Citizens of Canada and certain island countries are exempt from obtaining a J-1 visa as they do not need a J-1 visa stamp to enter the US as J-1

Travel Note

J-1 visa holders may enter the US 30 days prior to their DS-2019 start date. If you plan to arrive late, you may enter no more than 15 days from your DS-2019 start date. After 15 days, you will need an amended DS-2019 from OIS. Please review the Delayed Arrivals and Cancellations section of the OIS J-1 webpage for more information.

Visa Interview Tips