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Why do you need a visa?

The visa stamp is a document issued by the US Department of State that grants you entry into the United States as a non-immigrant student.

Please visit our web page about Visa Stamp versus Visa Status to better understand the important difference between the two.

Remember, you will not be able to enter the US on an expired visa (an exception to that rule is Automatic Revalidation).

Please note that you should not plan on entering the US in a different visa category such as Tourist (B-2) with the intention to study or start a degree program.

Steps to getting your Visa:

  1. Determine Your Visa Type

    As a non-immigrant student requesting permission to enter the United States you will most likely be applying for an F-1 student visa.

    In some cases students partnering in a formal exchange program will be applying for a J-1 student visa.

    A quick and easy way to determine what visa you will be applying for is to look at the document sent to you by Indiana University’s Office of International Admissions.  If the document you received is an I-20 you will be applying for an F-1 student visa.  If Indiana University (or other sponsoring agency such as Fulbright, IIE, ISEP, Muskie or your home government) sent you a DS-2019 you will be applying for a J-1 student visa.

  2. Pay the SEVIS Fee

    Information for F-1 Student SEVIS fee payment

  3. Locate US Embassy & Schedule a Visa Appointment

    Locate a US Embassy in your home country by using this website.

    Once the Embassy is located, please contact them directly and set up an appointment.  You are strongly encouraged to set this appointment up as soon as possible because the wait time for an appointment and visa approval varies (please use this website to acquire approximations on visa wait times: Visa Wait Times).

  4. Documents you will need for your visa interview

    1. I-20 or DS-2019
    2. Valid Passport
    3. SEVIS Payment Receipt
    4. Visa Application Forms (available online: DS-156 E-Form)
    5. Current financial documentation: documents indicating the source(s) and amount(s) of financial support for your study in the current academic year.  This must match the information listed on your I-20.
    6. Please check with the US Embassy where your appointment is being held if they require any additional documents besides the ones listed above.
  5. Prepare for Your Interview

    Applying for a US visa is similar to applying for benefits from any government—a lot of preparation and patience is required.  The tips below are intended as a general guide:

    Obtaining a Visa (USICE site)

    NAFSA 10 Points to Remember