Step 6: Obtain the F-1/J-1 Visa Stamp
All students requesting admission to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status are required to have a visa stamp in their passport, except for Canadian and Bermudian citizens who are exempt from this requirement. Applicants for F and J visas may require an appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The visa cannot be issued more than 120 days prior to the program start date as listed on the Form I-20 or DS-2019. Note: Some students may be eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement, which is up to the discretion of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Check the U.S. Department of State website for a list of U.S. Embassies. Visit the website of the embassy or consulate where you plan to apply for your visa (or contact them directly via phone or email) if you have questions about current procedures, required documents, how to make an appointment, and operating hours. Based on conditions at each U.S. consular post, some embassies/consulates may have limited non-immigrant visa services, or could at times be closed.
Visa wait times for an appointment interview may be several weeks. Security clearances may be necessary for some applicants and those procedures have recently been adding 6-8 weeks to normal processing times. Please plan to apply early. For tips on applying for a U.S. visa, see this resource.
Please review to ensure the accuracy and completeness of your documents before presenting them to a consular officer. Thorough scrutiny of documentation can be expected.
If denied a visa, make a request to receive the reason for denial in writing from the consular officer and please provide this documentation to ISSS.