Center for Academic & Global Engagement International Student Services

Visa and Immigration

Determine the type of visa you need: The majority of USD students should apply for an F-1 student visa; undergraduate exchange students are the only ones who apply for a J-1 visa. If you received an I-20 from USD, you will apply for an F-1 visa. If you received a DS-2019 from USD, you will apply for a J-1 visa.

Most new students must pay the SEVIS fee before applying for an entry visa or entering the U.S. To learn more about this fee which is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, please visit the Department of Homeland Security website.

Locate the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country and schedule an appointment for your visa interview. For more information, visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

All visa applicants must provide the following documents to the U.S. embassy or consulate at the time of application:
  • Valid passport I-20 or DS-2019
  • Documented proof of financial support for at least one year
  • Proof of SEVIS Fee payment (receipt)
  • Visa application forms (available from the U.S. embassy/consulate)
  • Any other documents required by your embassy/consulate\

Practice for your visa interview: The U.S. Consular Officer conducting your interview will assume that you plan to immigrate to the U.S. permanently unless you prove otherwise. You need to prove you will only study temporarily in the U.S. and will return home after your studies are complete. Be prepared to answer the following confidently and clearly in English:

  • Your area of study
  • Your reason of wanting to study in the U.S.
  • Proof of financial ability and how you are able to cover all your expenses for one year
  • Your reasons for returning home after you complete your studies (strong ties to your home country). This could be for: family; Job waiting for your return; Property Ownership, Specific future educational, employment or career goals that will be carried out in your home country. 

**Note: If your visa is denied, ask your consular official to provide a written explanation of the denial.

For more information on how to prepare for your visa interview, please visit the following resources: