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Applying for U.S. Visa

Presentation on how to obtain U.S. Visa

Visa Interview

Things to do before your visa interview


Things to do during your visa interview:

What to expect during the interview:


Things to do after your visa interview:

Visa Classification

The following are the visa types most commonly encountered when meeting students or prospective students. The different types of visas provide varying opportunities and restrictions.

F-1 (Student Visa). The immigration regulations governing students on this type of visa require that the student be enrolled as a full-time student seeking a specific degree or certificate. These students are not eligible for employment during the first 9 months in the United States . After the first 9 months, permission for employment off-campus can only be requested by OIE on behalf of the student. Permission is based on economic need. Employment on-campus must be approved by the OIE administrator. The form used to obtain an F-1 visa is Form I-20. Authorization to issue I-20 forms comes from the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

F-2 (Spouse or child of F-1 student). An F-2's spouse can take courses part time but are not allowed to work. To be a full-time student, the F-2 must change to F-1 status. Children may attend elementary/high school but must change to F-1 status before attending a university or college.

J-1 (Exchange Visa). This visa type encompasses scholars, research assistants, professors, trainees and people with special skills as well as degree seeking students. These students are all sponsored either by the U.S. or foreign governmental agencies or institutions. Any change in the student's status at the University such as a change in major, leave from school, or extension of expected length of degree program must be approved by the sponsor. Students on J-1 visas have flexibility in planning their schedules and work as long as their education is completed according to the agreement with the sponsor. The form used to obtain a J-1 visa is an DS-2019. Authorization to issue DS-2019 comes from the U.S. Department of State.

J-2 (Spouse or child of J-1)J-2's can enroll in courses (either part-time or full-time) and are allowed to work.


Visa vs. Status

A "U.S. visa" is an entry document issued to a foreign national by the U.S. Department of State at a diplomatic visa-issuing post abroad (embassy or consulate office). This document, which is placed in the person's passport, gives the individual consideration for admittance to the U.S. However, possession of a valid visa does not guarantee permission to enter the country. The determination of admissibility is left to the discretion of the examining immigration officer at the port of entry. 

When someone is legally admitted to the country, they acquire a "status". This term refers to the condition of legal presence within the country, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service regulates it. Just like visas, there are many categories of status, which are defined by non-immigrant classification designations. Generally speaking, the type, or classification, of visa used for entry into the country will determine the person's status. Form I-94, created at the time of entry, will indicate the designated status as well as the expiration date of that status. Form I-94 contains an admission number that can be found by simply going to the following website 

A student under F-1 or J-1 status may legally remain in the country for "duration of status", which will be indicated as "D/S" on their I-94. This means that as long as the person is doing what the regulations specify they need to do to maintain their F-1 or J-1 status, then they have status until they are done with their specified academic program, plus an additional allowable period (60-days for F-1; 30 days for J-1) to prepare for departure from the country. Other status types, such as B-2 (tourist), will have a specific expiration date for their status, and they must depart the country by the specified date or face possible legal consequences, including potential deportation and/or being barred from future admittance to the U.S. 

It is sometimes possible to change from one status to another while inside the U.S. by making application to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. A change of status from within the country, however, does not change the visa. Therefore, traveling out of the country after changing status necessitates acquiring a new visa of the class corresponding to the new status to use for reentry, if retaining that status designation upon return to the U.S. is desired. Similarly, it may also be possible to obtain a different status by simply reentering the country using a visa type corresponding to the category of intended status.