Visas

Required documents/evidence 

  • I-20 (Degree Seeking or English Language Institute students)  or DS-2019 (Exchange Students)
  • Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses
  • Evidence of English ability sufficient for course of study
  • Evidence of intent to depart the U.S. after completion of studies
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months
  • Photograph (check with embassy for specific dimensions)
  • SEVIS Fee payment (I-901 fee) - Current SEVIS Fee Information

SEVIS I-901 fee 

WHAT IS THE SEVIS FEE?The SEVIS fee, implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is a fee intended to defray costs associated with the administration of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). This rule took effect on September 1, 2004. All NCC international students must pay this one-time fee and take receipt to your visa appointment.

WHO MUST PAY THE SEVIS FEE?

  1. Students seeking an F-1 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad for "initial" attendance at a U.S. school
  2. Students seeking a J-1 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad to commence participation in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program
  3. Persons applying for a change of status to F-1 or J-1
  4. Canadians exempt from the visa requirement who are seeking entry at a U.S. port of entry for "initial" attendance at a U.S. school or Exchange Visitor Program
  5. J-1 students applying for a change of program category within the U.S.
  6. J-1 students transferring from fee-exempt Federal Government sponsored programs (such as Fulbright) to other J-1 programs
  7. J-1 students transferring from reduced-fee J-1 programs to full-fee J-1 programs
  8. J-1 students applying for reinstatement
  9. F-1 students applying for reinstatement
  10. F-1 students who have been absent from the U.S. for more than five months and wish to reenter the U.S. to further study in the same course of study

HOW DO I PAY THE SEVIS FEE IF REQUIRED TO DO SO?
Those required to pay the fee must do one of the following:

  1. File Form I-901 (available at FMJfee.com), with DHS by mail along with a check, money order, or foreign draft drawn on a U.S. bank and payable in U.S. currency
  2. Electronic submission of Form I-901 to DHS using credit card or other electronic means of payment accepted by DHS (please visit: FMJfee.com for more information )
  3. Western Union Quick Pay. Click here for instructions.
  4. Any future DHS-approved payment services

Please note that affected persons must have a DHS fee receipt before applying for a visa or change of status.

Additional information on SEVIS I-901 Fee - Frequently Asked Questions.

WHO DOES NOT PAY THE SEVIS FEE?

  1. Persons with I-20s or DS-2019s issued prior to September 1, 2004
  2. F-2 and J-2 dependents of F-1 students and J-1 students and scholars
  3. F-1 students who are seeking an extension, transfer, change in educational level, or post-completion practical training (Optional Practical Training)
  4. J-1 students and J-1 scholars who are seeking an extension or transfer
  5. F-1 students, J-1 students and J-1 scholars who have previously paid the fee and are applying for a visa to return to the U.S. as continuing students in the same course of study
  6. F-1 students, J-1 students and J-1 scholars who have paid the fee but have been denied a visa who are reapplying for the same visa within 12 months
  7. Persons who have paid the SEVIS fee but have been denied a change of status to F-1 or J-1 and who are reapplying for the same status within 12 months after being granted a motion to reopen by immigration
  8. F-1 students who have been absent from the U.S. for more than five months due to participation in a school-approved study abroad program
  9. J-1 participants in fee-exempt Federal Government-sponsored programs (such as Fulbright)

10 points to remember when applying for a non-immigrant visa

1. Ties to Your Home Country

Under U.S. law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas, such as student visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. "Ties" to your home country are the things that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans and career prospects in your home country.

Each person's situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter which can guarantee visa issuance. If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was available but not with a specific intent to immigrate. If you overstayed your authorized stay in the United States previously, be prepared to explain what happened clearly and concisely, with documentation, if available.

2. English

Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview, but do NOT prepare speeches! If you are coming to the United States solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.

3. Speak for Yourself

Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there is case there are questions, for example about funding, they should wait in the waiting room.

4. Know the Program and How It Fits Your Career Plans

If you are not able to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the United States relates to your future professional career when you return home.

5. Be Brief

Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point.

6. Additional Documentation

It should be immediately clear to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time, if you are lucky.

7. Not All Countries are Equal

Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United States.

8. Employment

Your main purpose in coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.

9. Dependents Remaining at Home

If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.

10. Maintain a Positive Attitude

Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.

Additional information

  • Canadian citizens do not need to obtain a visa before entering the United States. Canadian citizens must simply show his/her I-20 or DS-2019 at the U.S. border, along with proof of Canadian citizenship. 
  • The J-1 visa sometimes carries a two-year home residency requirement. The visa holder with the home residency requirement must return to his or her home country for two years after completing the student or scholar program.
  • Plan to enter the U.S. on the F-1 or J-1 visa. Changing from B-2 (visitor) to F-1 or J-1 status in the U.S. can take several months. You may not work or be paid while waiting for the change in status. Sometimes this change of status request is denied. Those entering the U.S. on a visa waiver program cannot change status in the U.S.