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Preparing for your J-1 Visa Application

This information is for exchange visitors who plan to enter the United States for the first time as an exchange student, visiting professor or research scholar. For information on how to apply for an exchange visitor visa, please contact the International Student Office or refer to the U.S. Department of State website.

Important Numbers
SEVIS ID: listed on the upper right corner of your DS-2019
SVA's Program Number: P-1-26541

U.S. Entry Timeline

New exchange visitors who are entering the U.S. for the first time on an J-1 visa can only enter the country 30 days prior to the start of the program.  (This 30-day rule does not apply to returning exchange visitors who already have a valid J-1 visa.)  Exchange visitors must also depart the U.S. within 30 days upon completing the program.

Fall 2019 semester
Students may enter the U.S. beginning August 4, 2019 and should arrive no later than the start of classes on September 3, 2019. Attendance at orientation during the week of August 25 is required.

Spring 2020 semester
Exchange students may enter the U.S. beginning December 14, 2019 and should arrive no later than the start of classes on January 13, 2020.

Note for Canadian citizens

Canadian citizens are required to obtain J-1 status in order to legally study in the U.S. but do not need to apply for the visa stamp at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.   In order to obtain J-1 status, you must show the DS-2019 form issued by SVA, proof of SEVIS fee payment and supporting financial documentation to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry when you enter the U.S.  Do not enter the U.S. as a visitor, the Visa Waiver Program or as a B-1/B-2 Visitor because full-time study is prohibited under the visitor visa status.

Skip to Step 5: Pay the $220 SEVIS fee.

Step 1: Contact your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy

A list of U.S. Consulates and Embassies is available at

Step 2: Schedule your interview appointment

After you receive the DS-2019 from SVA, schedule an interview appointment at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy in your home country.  The J-1 student visa can be issued up to 120 days before the program start date, but please do not schedule an appointment until you receive the DS-2019.

Step 3: Complete the following forms

Fill out the DS-160 Online Application Form.

Step 4: Pay the visa application fee

Follow the instructions on your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate's website to pay the $160 visa application fee.

Step 5: Pay the $220 SEVIS fee (Only for initial visa requests)

You will need to pay the $220 SEVIS fee if you are applying for a J-1 exchange visitor visa for the first time.

You do not need to pay the $220 SEVIS fee if you are transferring your DS-2019 sponsorship from another SEVIS approved institution in the U.S, applying for a J-2 dependent visa, or have paid this fee and been denied a visa within the last twelve months.

Note: the SEVIS I-901 fee for J-1 exchange visitors increased from $180 to $220 on Monday, June 24, 2019. For more information, please see

To Pay Online: 
Note: It is strongly recommended that you pay your SEVIS fee online and not by mail.

Access the Form I-901 online at:

Enter SVA's Program Number: P-1-26541. Your SEVIS ID Number starts with an N and is listed on the top of your DS-2019.

Complete the form online and supply the credit card information. You may use credit cards that were issued in the U.S. or in your country. Be sure to write your name exactly how it appears on your DS-2019 form.

Print a copy of the online receipt.

You must bring the receipt of the SEVIS fee payment to the interview.

Step 6: List of Documents to prepare for the interview
  • Passport valid for at least six months
  • Certificate of Eligibility, Form DS-2019 (You must sign the form on page 1)
  • SVA's letter of admission
  • Completed visa application form (DS-160 online)
  • Two 2" x 2" photographs in the specified format (See the website)
  • A receipt of the visa application fee payment
  • A receipt for the SEVIS fee payment.  Print the payment confirmation screen upon payment.  A paper receipt will not be mailed.
  • Financial evidence of sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses. You must bring the original and sufficient letter/statement from you or your sponsor’s bank.
  • Any information to prove that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the U.S. This may include proof that your family members live in your home country, or that you have a job to return to or other ties to your community.
Step 7: The visa interview

The visa stamp will be affixed to your passport after a short interview.

If your visa is delayed or denied
If you visa application is denied, please contact the International Student Office immediately and email us a copy of the denial letter.  The most common reasons for visa denial are failure to prove sufficient ties to your home country or the lack of sufficient proof of financial support.

Please remember to carry your DS-2019 form with a valid passport and J-1 visa when entering the U.S.

International Student Profile

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