Visa Application

Video: Attending a Non-immigrant Visa Interview at the U.S. Embassy - US Embassy London

After receiving your Form I-20 or DS-2019, you may apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa through your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

It is better to apply for your visa in your home country, although if this is not possible, you may be able to apply in another country as well. You may not apply for your visa inside the United States.

You must apply for the visa using the I-20/DS-2019 issued for the school that you plan to attend.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are not required to apply for an F-1/J-1 visa through a U.S. consulate – instead you can present your I-20/DS-2019 to immigration officers when arriving at your port of entry, and they will assess whether you may enter as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor.

I received my I-20/DS-2019 – what do I do next?

-Check that the information on your form is accurate. Contact ISSS if you find errors.  If the field of study listed on your form does not match the name of your academic program, it is OK. The program names on the Form I-20/DS-2019 do not always match the UConn academic program names.   

- Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. This fee is $350 for F-1 visa applicants and $220 for J-1 visa applicants.  Many students can pay this fee by credit card online at If you are a citizen of or were born in the countries of Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or Gambia, you cannot pay online by credit card, but may pay by money order or through Western Union Quick Pay. Only F-1 or J-1 visa applicants pay this fee – it is not paid for accompanying F-2/J-2 dependents. Print your payment receipt, as this will be needed at your visa interview and for entry to the United States.

-Review the visa application instructions on the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will apply for the visa. Visit U.S. Travel Docs to find complete visa application instructions for the country where you live.  

-You will need information from your Form I-20/DS-2019 to complete the visa process. Your SEVIS Number is the number at the top of your Form that begins with the letter “N”, followed by a series of numbers.

-Complete the DS-160 online application form, and then schedule a visa appointment. When completing the DS-160, you will need to designate the purpose of your trip. If you received a Form I-20, your purpose is Academic or Language Student. If you received a Form DS-2019, your purpose is Exchange Visitor. You must also list a contact person in the United States. You may list the name of the Designated School Official (DSO) who issued your Form I-20, or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) who issued your Form DS-2019, and the ISSS address. Choose “School Official” as the relationship to you.

Sample DS-160

DS-160 Frequently Asked Questions

DS-160 Step by Step Guide

-Follow the consular instructions to schedule an appointment for your visa interview, and pay any visa fees. Visa application fees are paid in addition to the SEVIS I-901 fee. If you cannot secure an appointment early enough to arrive for your program start date, keep checking the website to see if any earlier appointments were cancelled. Check the embassy/consulate website to see if there is a process to request an expedited visa appointment. Usually this requires you to first book an appointment, and then follow steps to change the date of your appointment through an expedited visa appointment request. If you are unable to arrive by the start date of your program, you must defer your program start to a later semester, or cancel your attendance. 


The visa interview

Visit the U.S. embassy or consulate on the day of your appointment for your interview. Your visa interview helps the consular officer to determine if you are a bona fide student or exchange visitor, and whether you have sufficient ties to your home country. Your visa interview may happen very quickly.  All applicants should bring the following documents:

-Form I-20/DS-2019, signed by you and the University official who signed the form (the DSO or ARO)   

-Proof of I-901 SEVIS Fee Payment

-Valid passport. Passport should be valid at least 6 months beyond your planned arrival date to U.S.

-Financial documents (bank statement, Graduate Assistantship offer letter, scholarship letter)

-If you are financially sponsored by someone (like a parent), proof of your relationship to that person

-Academic documents that show scholastic preparation (test scores such as SAT, TOEFL, etc.)

-If bringing F-2/J-2 dependents: Marriage/birth certificate. Your dependents may apply for their visas with you, provided you have requested their I-20/DS-2019 Forms.

-Any other documents instructed by the U.S. embassy/consulate for your visa type.


Graduate students in research programs and visiting research scholars should also bring:

-Research/study plans with detailed information about your planned studies or research in the U.S. (if known). US Visa Information Service in China provides a sample research plan.pdf that you can adapt.

-A resume/CV in English

-A print out of your academic advisor's or faculty host's CV or webpage biography  

Administrative processing

Some visa applications may be selected for administrative processing, which means your application is refused, but the visa refusal may be overcome after a series of background security checks.  If your visa application is refused under administrative processing, your visa stamp will not be issued until you clear these checks. Graduate students in STEM fields may be especially vulnerable to administrative processing. Therefore, graduate students in STEM fields should apply for their visas as early as possible.

Administrative processing takes on average 60 days to complete, though it can often take longer. Students can check the status of their visa processing at this website. If your visa application is selected for administrative processing, and you are unable to arrive at UConn by your program start date, you may be required to defer your start in the program to a later term.

Unfortunately, the University cannot do anything to expedite the administrative processing.

My visa is delayed – What if I can’t arrive on time?

All students must arrive by the program start date listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019. If you are unable to arrive on time, please follow these instructions:

Undergraduate students: Contact ISSS, the undergraduate admission office and your orientation program as soon as possible. If your admission to UConn is cancelled, ISSS will cancel your Form I-20/DS-2019.  

Exchange students: Contact ISSS and your UConn Exchange Coordinator, Gabriella Pires Santoro.   

UCAELI students: Contact ISSS and UCAELI. It may be possible to defer your start to a later term.

Graduate students: Contact ISSS, your academic program, and The Graduate School as soon as possible. If your program allows you to defer your admission to a later semester, the program must inform The Graduate School of this decision as soon as possible. If your admission is deferred, ISSS will issue a new Form I-20/DS-2019 with your new program start date. If you choose instead to cancel your enrollment, you must notify ISSS, your program, and The Graduate School. Students who do not notify proper offices of your cancellation may be stuck with a fee bill for your courses, if your academic records are not properly updated.

Visiting Scholars: Contact your UConn hosting academic department to see if your start date can be changed. If approved, they will issue you a new offer/invitation letter, and request an updated Form DS-2019 on your behalf.