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Applying for a Visa

After paying the I-901 SEVIS Fee and getting a receipt, you must apply for a visa at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you come to the United States. Applicants for student visas usually apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country of his or her permanent residence. 

To receive a visa, you will have to participate in an in-person interview. During your visa interview, 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. The consular officer will determine if you qualify to receive a visa and which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel.

A visa does not guarantee entrance to the United States; it only permits you to arrive and seek permission to enter the country. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the U.S. port of entry has the final authority to admit entry into the country.

The following pages will assist with this process:

Please click here for the list of websites for U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

Also visit tips to remember when applying for a nonimmigrant visa.

You may need to submit the following documents/evidence along with other documents with your visa application:

  • Original I-20 or DS-2019
  • SEVIS Fee payment proof – SEVIS Fee Information
  • 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 program
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your entry date to the U.S.
  • Photograph (check with embassy for specific dimensions)

Additional Information

  • Citizens of Bermuda and Canadian do not need to obtain a visa before entering the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. A citizen from either country simply shows his or her I-20 or DS-2019 at the U.S. border, along with proof of citizenship. Upon entrance into the U.S., either student should make sure to have his or her I-20 or DS-2019 properly processed and to receive an I-94 card. Without the I-94 card, students may not be able to fully check-in at WVU.
  • 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.
  • If your visa is still valid, you will not need to renew your visa regardless of the length of time outside the U.S.