Apply for F1/J1 Visa

Applying for an F1 or J1 Re-entry Visa Stamp (page in your passport)

International students and scholars must have a valid stamp (page) in their passport to be eligible for entry or re-entry to the United States (except for Canadians). It is not possible to get a US visa stamp (not even a renewal) within the US. Below some requirements and important issues involved with visa applications are outlined.  Please come to our drop-in advising hours to discuss the visa application process with an advisor.

  • Pay the SEVIS Fee

    Please check here to find out if you have to pay the SEVIS fee and how to pay it.

  • Complete DS-160 and make an Appointment at a US Consulate (Canadians do not have to do this)

    You will have to complete the DS-160 US visa application form and then you will have to make an appointment at the US consulate nearest to you. NOTE: Canadian citizens do not need to apply for the visa stamp but do have to prepare the other documents and ask for F1 status at the port of entry.  Please feel free to come into the ISSO walk in advising hours to discuss the visa interview process with an ISSO advisor.

  • Demonstrate "Non-Immigrant Intent"

    All applicants for an F or J visa are required to demonstrate their intent to return to their home country following the completion of their academic programs. There are several ways you can be prepared to support your intent to return home in your visa interview:
    — have a few sentences in mind that express how you intend to use your degree or research at home after your finish your program
    — bring copies of deeds to any property (land, house, apartment) that you or your family owns in your home country
    — bring bank statements of any accounts that you or your family maintain in your home country
    — if you have an employer who intends to employ you when you return home, bring a letter from that employer

  • Security Clearances

    Field of Study: If a visa applicant's area of study is on the US federal government’s “technology alert list,” the US consulate may complete a security clearance prior to granting the visa. This process may delay your visa application by anywhere from one to three months. There is no way to know for certain ahead of time whether you will be subject to this type of clearance. The current list is not published, but previously the types of fields that were on the list included conventional munitions, nuclear technology, rocket systems, chemical, biotechnology and biomedical engineering, remote sensing and imaging technologies, advanced computer and microelectronic technologies, materials engineering, information security, directed energy systems, sensors technology, marine technology, robotics, and urban planning. If you are currently in one of these related fields, it would be advisable to get a letter from a professor on your committee which describes briefly and in layman's terms the specific area of your research. This letter will not deter a security clearance, but it may expedite the clearance.

    Country of Citizenship, Nationality or Birth: A security clearance may also be required by the US consulate if a visa applicant is born in or is a citizen or national of certain countries. The list of countries is not published, but appears to include the following:

    Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and the territories of Gaza and West Bank.

    Delay of More than One Month: If you have applied for a visa and you have been waiting for more than one month for the results of a security advisory opinion, pleasecontact the ISSO to inform us of the delay.

  • Documents Required for the Visa Application

    We are here to help you in whatever ways we are able. If you do plan to travel out of the US and are going to need to apply for a visa, feel free to come to the ISSO to discuss the documents you need to have with you:
    — valid passport
    — valid I-20 for F1, DS-2019 for J1
    — If you are a newly admitted student to Cornell, bring your admissions letter from Cornell to your visa interview
    — If you are an F1 student on OPT after graduating, also bring your OPT card (or receipt notice for your OPT application) and job offer letter
    — SEVIS fee receipt
    — recent financial support documents
    — proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript). Newly admitted students do NOT need this. You can obtain a certificate of enrollment from the registrar’s office or you can download the certificate from the registrar's web site.
    — for F or J status, be sure to include documents in support of your "non-immigrant intent" as described above.
    — employment offer letter if you are an academic staff member at Cornell
    — Also please contact the specific US Consulate you will visit to determine if they require additional documentation including the visa application form, which is available on the state department website or on the consulate web site.

  • Applying for a US visa in Canada

    You may visit a US consulate in Canada to apply for a US visa, as explained here.