Visa Application Process
When applying for a nonimmigrant visa to come to the United States, you must schedule an appointment with the US Consulate or Embassy having jurisdiction over your residence or physical presence. You will need to pay the appropriate application fee(s), prepare your documentation and materials, and complete a short personal interview with a consular officer. Besides the application form, the specific documents needed will depend on your requested visa category to show that you are eligible. Some applicants may need to provide additional information about their financial ability to support their activities in the United States and their plans to return home. It is recommended that you apply in your home country, as those officers will be aware of any regional documentation practices and other considerations.
The visa application process can take considerable time! Potential delays include limited availability for appointment scheduling, incomplete documentation, administrative processing requirements, and the need to reapply after an initial visa denial. Whenever possible, applicants are recommended to begin the visa application process at least 2-3 months in advance of their intended travel. If you need to request specific documentation from the University before applying for the visa, work with your department as early as possible to allow for in-house processing.
Scheduling the Visa Appointment
The US Department of State is responsible for all visa applications. To start the process, you will need to complete the DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form. You will be asked to provide information from your passport, your previous US travel history, and details related to your intended activities in the United States. If you are applying for a UR-sponsored visa category, you will need specific documentation from the University to complete this form, such as the F-1 I-20, J-1 DS-2019, or H-1B I-129 & I-797. A digital photograph must be uploaded with the application as well. Once you have completed the DS-160 online, you will be able to pay the required application fee and contact your local US Consulate to schedule the appointment. As a reminder to F-1 and J-1 applicants, you will also need to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee before scheduling your visa interview.
Preparing for the Interview
The visa interview is typically very short, often as little as 2-3 minutes! It is helpful to have your documentation organized in advance, though the consular officers commonly ask for only certain documents and may not review all that you have prepared. For a detailed list of documents that may be needed during your visa appointment, please consult our list of Visa Categories.
The consular officer will use the interview to determine if you are eligible for the visa category you have requested. For applicants required to demonstrate Nonimmigrant Intent, the officer will also consider whether you have sufficient ties to your home country to suggest that you will return home after completing your program or planned activities in the United States. You will be notified at the end of the interview whether the visa is approved or denied. In some cases, the visa may be approved subject to Administrative Processing, which can delay the visa issuance for several weeks. For more information, please visit our page on Visa Decisions.