How to Apply

Before You Apply

Student Visa (F-1/M-1)

Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) approved school. Visit the Department of Homeland Security Study in the States web page to search for SEVP certified schools. The school and type of study program you choose will determine if you need an F or an M visa.

When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. Make sure you pay the correct fee for the visa class you will apply for. We can not process your visa application until you have paid the correct SEVIS fee.

The U.S. school will provide you with a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1/M-1) Student Status For Academic and Language Students (Form I-20). You will need to present the Form I-20 to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study they may be able to do so with an F-2 or an M-2 visa. They must be registered in the SEVIS and each of them must obtain an individual Form I-20, but they do not pay any additional SEVIS fee.

Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1)

Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a J-1 visa, you must first apply for and be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization. Visit the Department of State J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website to learn about program requirements, regulations, and more.

When you are accepted into the exchange visitor program you plan to participate in, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Most J-1 Exchange Visitors must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. If you must pay the fee, make sure you pay the correct fee for the visa class you will apply for. We can not process your visa application until you have paid the correct SEVIS fee.

After your program sponsor enters your information in the SEVIS system, a SEVIS-generated Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019) is provided to you. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study they can do so with a J-2 visa.  All exchange visitors, including their spouses and minor children, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Each person receives a separate Form DS-2019.

Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

In addition to the Form DS 2019, participants in the J-1 Trainee and Intern categories require Form DS-7002 (PDF 91KB). You can visit the State Departments J-1 visa web page to learn more about the Trainee and Intern programs.

 

Application Process

Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States, unless exempt by country-specific agreements. At this time, Nigerien passports are NOT exempt from this requirement.

Your passport must also have at least one full blank page where a visa may be placed.

Complete the online nonimmigrant visa application, Form DS-160.

Important! Be careful to complete the DS-160 correctly and accurately.

Please note that you must answer EVERY question on the application forms. If the answer to a question is “none,” please enter “none.” Do not leave any answers blank.

Incomplete or incorrect forms may result in delays in processing visa applications.

Print and keep the DS-160 confirmation sheet. You will need this paper when you come to the embassy for your visa interview.

All Student Visa (F-1/M-1) and Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1) applicants should collect the following:

  • Your passport;
  • The DS-160 confirmation page;
  • A 2 inch by 2 inch (5 cm x 5 cm) color photo not older than 6 months (click here for more detailed photo requirements).

Additional Forms and Documents – Student Visa Applicants (F1/M1)

All Student Visa (F-1/M-1) applicants should collect the following:

  • The original Form I-20—a photocopy is NOT acceptable;
  • The original Form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt—a photocopy is NOT acceptable.

Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified for a visa. For example, additional requested documents may include, but are not limited to, evidence of your academic preparation, such as:

  • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you have attended;
  • Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
  • Language skills necessary for your planned studies;
  • How you will pay all educational, living, and travel costs;
  • Your intent to depart the United States after completing your studies.

Additional Documents – Exchange Visitor Visa Applicants:

  • The original form DS-2019—a photocopy is NOT acceptable;
  • The original form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt—a photocopy is NOT acceptable. If your SEVIS fee is included in your program fees, your sponsor should provide you with the receipt;
  • The original DS-7002, only if you are participating in the J-1 Trainee or Intern categories.

Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include, but are not limited to, evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip;
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip;
  • Language skills necessary for your planned studies;
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your program is complete.

To schedule an appointment for a non-immigrant visa (NIV) interview, please consult the Embassy’s online NIV Appointment System. Please have your DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form Confirmation Number handy. It is located on your DS-160 confirmation page, in bold print.

Bring the completed DS-160 confirmation sheet, the form I-20 (F-1 and M-1) or form DS2019 (J-1), the SEVIS fee receipt, the form DS-7002 if needed for your program, a 2 inch by 2 inch (5 cm x 5 cm) color photo not older than 6 months (click here for more detailed photo requirements), and a valid passport with you to your scheduled interview appointment. Do not submit any additional supporting documents until the consular officer requests them.

Due to our security regulations, you will also need a second photo ID (not your passport) to enter the Embassy.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken just before your interview, but this may vary in some circumstances.

On the day of your interview you must pay a nonrefundable visa application fees. The fee for F and J nonimmigrant visas is $160 as of June 2017.

For some visa classes and nationalities, additional issuance fees may apply. Current information on all types of non-immigrant visa fees can be found here.

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

If you are issued the visa, the consular officer will give you a date and time to return to collect your passport and visa.