Understanding F and J Visas

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) oversees the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

F-1 Student Visa & I-20

The F-1 visa is the most common student visa type and is issued to students who are admitted to a full-time academic or language program at a US institution. The Graduate Admissions (GA) Office issues Form I-20s, the official three-page document that is endorsed by a designated school official, to admitted students. Once students receive their Form I-20, they can apply for the F-1 visa at a US embassy/consulate in their home country. For questions regarding the I-20 issuance, please contact the GA Office.

J-1 Student Visa & DS-2019

The J-1 student visa is an exchange visitor visa issued to students at all academic levels. In order to apply for the J-1 student visa, students must first receive their DS-2019 from the Graduate Admissions (GA) office. The DS-2019 is a two-page form with a USC official’s signature on page 1. For questions regarding the DS-2019 issuance, please contact the GA Office.

F-2 and J-2 Dependents

Students who plan to have dependents (spouse and/or children only) accompany them during their studies must request dependent I-20/DS-2019 to the GA Office. Guidelines on how to request dependent I-20/DS-2019 are available on the Applying for F-2 Status page.

Other Non-immigrant Visa Types

It is possible to study in the United States (US) with other visa categories. The Student Exchange Visitors Programs (SEVP) provides a table of which non-immigrant visa types are able to participate in part-time or full-time studies in the US.