Steps For Applying For Your Visa
F-1 Student visas and J-1 Exchange visas are classified as non-immigrant visas. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, "A nonimmigrant visa (NIV) is issued to a person with permanent residence outside the United States, but wishes to be in the U.S. on a temporary basis for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study, as examples." If you wish to wish to come to KSU on an F-1 or J-1 visa and have received a Form I-20 or DS-2019 from our institution, you may apply for the F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
First Steps for Applying for your F-1 or J-1 Visa
- Find your nearest US Embassy or Consulate by going to: www.usembassy.gov or www.ustraveldocs.com.
- By looking at their web pages, phoning or visiting, find out EXACTLY what your embassy requires for you to get your visa (though the requirements are fairly universal, there may be slight deviations from country to country) and how to schedule an appointment.
- Schedule an appointment with your local embassy. Many embassies will allow you to schedule an interview time online, so be sure to check for that option.
- Pay SEVIS fees associated with your visa at www.FMJfee.com. Maintain your receipt. For more information about the SEVIS fee, see below.
SEVIS I-901 Fee
You must have a complete and accurate Form I-20 or DS-2019 to complete the Form I-901 online and to pay the SEVIS Fee. Ensure a printer is connected and working before continuing.
You must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee to the U.S. government at www.FMJfee.com prior to your visa interview. Take a receipt copy to your visa appointment interview.
USCIS has released a tutorial on how to pay the SEVIS fees. You are strongly encouraged to review the tutorial before paying the fees. You will need your SEVIS ID#, located in the upper left corner of your I-20 or upper right corner of your DS-2019 starting with N00…. F-1 applicants will need the school code: ATL214F00582000. J-1 applicants will need the Program Code: P-1-05857. Please keep in mind that you should allow at least 3 business days for the SEVIS fee to process.
For students from most countries, the SEVIS fees can be paid via the internet. Please note that there are five countries that can only pay this fee by Western Union: Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Gambia. View Instructions for Western Union.
Preparation is Everything!
An interview is REQUIRED. Two short minutes…
Be ready to answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- How long do you plan to stay?
- What will you do in the USA?
- Why do you want to perform this activity in the U.S. instead of your own country?
- What will you do when you are finished with your program? *Remember that you are applying for a non-immigrant visa for a temporary stay in the U.S.
- How will you pay?
Students: Be sure you can explain your major, the program at KSU, and KSU itself.
Scholars: Be sure you can explain your program activities, your KSU host department, and KSU itself.
Be ready to explain ties to home country and your plans to use your U.S. education in your home country.
When filling out the visa application, ensure that it is complete and accurate. If a question does not apply to your situation, write in N/A (not applicable). This tells the officer that you have read the question, but that it does not apply your situation.
Translations are needed with any documents not in English.
Bring to Your Visa Interview
Below is a list of suggested documents. All of the documents are not necessarily required, and bringing them does not guarantee visa issuance. Please be sure to review the embassy or consulate's website for their specific requirements.
- I-20 or DS-2019 signed by the school & the student or exchange visitor
- Acceptance/Welcome/Offer letter to Kennesaw State University
- SEVIS I-901 Fee paid receipt
- Passport valid for at least 12 months
- One 2x2 passport photo per person applying
- Completed visa applications with barcode (if applicable, DS-160, DS-158, DS-156 or, DS-157)
- For a Machine Readable Visa, you have to pay for the application fee. The fee varies per consulate. You can sometimes pay at a bank, through a third party, or usually always at the consulate. You need the paid receipt for interview.
- Proof of funding, including sponsor Affidavits of Support, if applicable
- Evidence of ties to your home country. This can include:
- Financial ties such as a current local bank account statement (showing the balance & when established), or investments in the home country
- Family owned business or proof a family business being relinquished to you in the future
- Proof of continued university study or employment upon return after your program in the US
- Ownership of a residence in home country (a deed or lease)
- Employment or employment opportunities, such as an employer's confirmation to return to employment position after graduation, offers of employment in home country upon graduation, or statistics on projected position availability in field of study in home country
- Any other document mentioned on your consular website not listed here
If you have dependents who will accompany you, also bring:
- Birth & marriage certificates
- Application materials & fees for dependents
- Financial documents showing enough to cover dependents expenses
At the Interview
Remove documents from envelopes and place them in a flat folder, grouped according to their purpose so that you can access them quickly during your interview. Dress well, speak clearly, look the interviewer in the eye and answer all questions specifically. Be prepared to present your own case and information since it is possible your family or friends may not be permitted to accompany you for the interview.
Be prepared to speak English - Though your interview will most likely take place in your home country, do not expect the interview to be conducted in your native language. Be prepared to speak English. Interviews can make you nervous, especially if they are not in your native language, so be sure to practice ahead of time with a native speaker or friend who is proficient in English. Remember that the interview is very short and it is important that you be able to say what you need to without forgetting or stumbling on words.
Be Concise - As mentioned above, you only have a limited amount of time to make your case. Remember that the embassy or consulate gets a huge amount of applications and are under heavy time pressure. You may only have 2 to 5 minutes with the officer. This is a situation where first impressions are crucial. Keep your answers short and to the point, and do not waste time on insignificant details or stories. Have all documents easily accessible. You will want to make a favorable impression in the first minute or two of the interview, since the Consular official is under time pressure to conduct a short and efficient interview. Show a positive attitude and do not argue with the Consular official.
Tips from the U.S. Embassies
Many U.S. embassies have created videos about the visa application process. We have included some below for you to use as a starting point. Please keep in mind that some of the information may be specific to a particular embassy or country, might not be about F-1 or J-1 visas specifically, and that requirements may change over time. ALWAYS review the official website for the embassy you plan to visit for your interview for up-to-date information.
General Visa Process Overview
- U.S. Embassy in Argentina in Spanish
- U.S. Embassy in Brazil in Portuguese
- U.S. Embassy in Egypt in English with Arabic subtitles
DS-160 Application Information
- U.S. Embassy in Colombia in Spanish
- U.S. Embassy in Ghana in English
- U.S. Embassy in Japan in Japanese with English subtitles
Visa Interview Information
If Your Visa Is Denied
Be polite - you may be very upset and frustrated, but argument will work against you. Remember, you will have to deal with this person again, so do your best not to give him or her a bad impression.
Ask the consular officer to give you a written explanation of your denial. He or she is required to do so upon request.
You are legally allowed to reapply within a twelve-month period of your first denial. When reapplying, make sure to carefully put together your case, add new evidence and make sure that you are able to discount the reasons of your first denial.
F-1 students, if you need to defer your admission and I-20 to another semester in order to allow time to apply again for the visa, please view below.Deferring Admissions
If Your Visa Is Approved
Congratulations! We look forward to meeting you soon! We've included some important information about your initial status I-20 or DS-2019 and visa to help you arrive and settle in the U.S.
A very helpful F-1 student travel website is The Department of Homeland Security.
Ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months past your planned entry date to the U.S.
If you are abroad, you may NOT enter the U.S. earlier than 30 days before your program start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. You may NOT enter after your program start date. Carry all listed documents in hand with you through the US Port of Entry, including your visa and passport. Do not put it in your luggage.
Every F-1 student and J-1 exchange visitor must complete the SEVIS check-in process at the beginning of their first semester. Please contact the ISSSO if you have questions about how to check in.