The Center for International Education at Juniata College has prepared the following information about visa requirements for students visiting the United States. The process of applying for and obtaining a visa can be complicated, and this information should help you. Please send us an email message for help or to ask for more information.
- Visa Requirements for Visiting Students
- Types of Student Visas
- What You Need to Send to Juniata College
- Applying for Your Visa
- Entering the United States
- You Have Arrived!
Visa Requirements for International Students
In most cases citizens of other countries will need a visa to enter the United States to study. You may refer to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement web site for more information about student and exchange visitors to the United States.
Types of Student Visas
In order to study in the United States, you will need to obtain one of the following:
A visa for people who want to study at a U.S. college or university. This visa is usually given to students whose primary purpose is to obtain a degree or to study English as a Second Language.
A visa for people who will be participating in an exchange visitor program in the U.S. This visa is usually given to students or scholars who are participating on an exchange program or who intend to study in a non-degree program.
What You Need to Send to Juniata College
To apply for your visa you will need to have a Form I-20 (if applying for an F-1 visa) or a Form DS-2019 (if applying for a J-1 visa). Either an I-20 or a DS-2019 form will be sent to you by Juniata College. These forms contain your personal information such as name, date of birth, address, the area of study and level of education you will pursue in the United States, and also the estimated cost of the program. It is important that you read the I-20 or DS-2019 form carefully as you are required to sign that you understand your rights and responsibilities specific to the kind of visa you will hold. In order for Juniata College to send you an I-20 or a DS-2019 form, you will need to send the following documents to the Center for International Education at Juniata College:
- Photocopy of the passport photo page - This is usually the first page of your passport and carries your photo and personal information such as Name, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, etc.
- Visa Information Form - The information in this form will be used by the Center for International Education at Juniata College to prepare your immigration documents. Download the Visa Information Form.
- Proof of financial support - Persons applying for a student visa must provide appropriate documentation to show that they will have sufficient financial support during their period of stay in the United States. Students should submit an International Student Certification of Finances form which is to be certified by a bank or financial institution. Additional documentation can include a certified bank statement of account or an official letter from a bank. Letters of employment and other evidence of sources of income and assets may be helpful, but are not necessary. The documents should clearly show that the student has sufficient funds to meet all financial needs for the full period of study at Juniata (including the costs of tuition, fees, room and board, travel, health insurance, and personal expenses). If sponsored by someone else (such as a parent, family member, government agency, or other individual or organization), a bank statement and an original letter from the sponsor (in English or with a certified translation) are necessary. The letter should state the sponsor's willingness to support the student for the period of study and give the specific amount, in U.S. Dollars. See a sample Affidavit of Support.
The Center for International Education at Juniata College will issue an I-20 or a DS-2019 form within a week of receiving all of the above documents. When you receive your I-20 or DS-2019, please check that all the information on the form is correct. Please contact the Center for International Education if any of the information on the form is incorrect.
Applying for Your Visa At the US Embassy or Consulate
After you have received your I-20 or DS-2019 and verified the information, you can proceed to apply for a visa at a US consulate or embassy closest to you. To learn more about the visa application process and its requirements, and to locate your nearest US consulate or embassy, please visit the official visa information web site of the US Department of State.
Depending on the visa application process specific to your country, you may be required to schedule a personal interview with a consular officer. You may be denied a visa if the consular officer believes you do not intend to return to your home country. US Immigration Laws require that people who apply for non-immigrant visas provide evidence that they don’t intend to immigrate to the United States.
In order to support your request for a visa you will need:
- An I-797 Form Confirming the Payment of I-901 Remittance Fee for Certain F, J, and M Non-immigrant Visas
The remittance fee of $200 for an F nonimmigrant and $180 for a J exchange visitor has been established to support the Student Exchange and Visitor Information System, SEVIS, which collects and stores data on persons who enter the US on non-immigrant visas. The remittance fees must be paid prior to applying for a J-1 or F-1 Visa or prior to requesting any changes in visa status. It may be paid by mail or via the internet. In order to submit the payment you have to fill out the I-901 Form. Note that the fee is non-refundable and a failure to submit documents with correct information will result in return of the forms and delay in processing.
You can fill in the Form I-901 online at www.fmjfee.com and pay with a credit or debit card (card must be a Visa, MasterCard or American Express.)
After the payment has been received, you will be sent an I-797 Form and a confirmation of payment. You will get a paper receipt in the mail for all payments. You can also print a paper receipt immediately if you file online.
If you do not have internet access or a credit or debit card, you can send a paper version of the I-901 form by mail.
When using a paper form, please print clearly. The only acceptable forms of payment by mail are checks or money orders. DO NOT MAIL CASH. All checks and money orders must be made in U.S. dollars and drawn on a bank located in the United States. Make the check payable to the “I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee.” Also, write your last name (surname or family name), SEVIS identification number and date of birth on the check. The SEVIS Identification number can be found in the top right corner of your I-20 or DS-2019; it is a long number starting with the letter “N.”
Mail the form along with a check or money order to:
I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
P.O. Box 970020
St. Louis, MO 63197-0020
Or by courier (to expedite delivery to SEVP) the form and the payment to:
I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
1005 Convention Plaza
St.Louis, MO 63101
Other acceptable payment methods include:
By Western Union Quick Pay Service - Nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors in more than 130 countries will be able to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee locally using the Western Union Quick Pay™ service. If you choose this payment option, do not file the Form I-901 online.
This initiative allows Western Union to collect the SEVIS I-901 fee, in local currency, along with the needed Form I-901 data and electronically transmit the payment and data to SEVIS. The properly completed Western Union receipt serves as immediate proof-of-payment for a visa interview at a U.S. consulate and for admission at a U.S. port of entry. This option is available in any country where Western Union offers its Quick Pay service.
The instructions along with a completed sample of the Western Union form can be found on the SEVIS FEE web site.
After receiving your I-797 Form you should take it to the consulate or embassy nearest to you along with the following immigration documents in order to apply for your US visa:
- Online Immigration Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) - The Online Immigration Visa Electronic Application is a fully integrated online application form that is used to collect the necessary application information from a person seeking a nonimmigrant visa for temporary travel to the United States. Form DS-160 is submitted electronically to the Department of State website via the Internet. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa. After you have completed the DS-160, you must print and keep the DS-160 barcode page. (You will not need to print the full application.) and visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply for additional country-specific instructions. More information about the DS-160 online process can be found here.
- Visa Processing application fee - This information is available on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you are applying.
- An Acceptance Letter - sent to you by Juniata College.
- An I-20 or a DS-2019 Form
- Financial Verification Documents - These documents are proof of your ability to cover the costs of education and living expenses during your period of stay in the United States. They can include bank statements and other verifications of sources of income, or letters of support from your sponsor or scholarship organization. You may use the same financial support documents that you have already sent to Juniata College.
- A Passport - The passport must be valid at least six months into the future at all times while you are staying in the United States.
- Recent Passport Photograph - One (1) 2x2 photograph. View the required photo format here.
- Proof of residence outside the U.S. - This document should confirm that the student resides at an address outside the US to which he/she intends to return after completing the temporary period of study (usually the family's home address.)
Except under unusual circumstances, the U.S. consular official will review the above documents and evidence presented and will issue a visa within a few hours or days of the submission of the application. After approving the visa application, the consular officer places a visa in the applicant's passport, noting the period of its validity and the number of entries allowed.
Entering the United States
On the Airplane
Before entering the United States, usually during the flight, you will be given the I-94 Form—the Arrival/Departure Record. Present the following to the immigration inspector at the port of entry:
- filled-out I-94 Form
- visa (for initial entries, the name of the school on the F-1 visa must match the name of the school on form I-20)
- I-20 or DS-2019 Form
- evidence of financial support
- Acceptance Letter
You should keep these documents in your carry-on baggage. You should also carry the name and contact information for the Designated School Official or Responsible Officer at Juniata College. This is usually someone who works in the Center for International Education.
At the Port of Entry
After reviewing your documents and finding them satisfactory, the immigration inspector will then attach your I-94 to your passport. The I-94 is a very important document and will include the date, place of entry, a unique eleven digit admission number, and the notation “D/S” (the period of admission known as "Duration of Status" which is the approval of your status as an F-1 or J-1 student). Non-immigrant visitors holding visas are asked to scan two index fingerprints and to stand for a digital photograph at the inspection counter as part of the US-VISIT system, a comprehensive entry-exit registration system at all international ports of entry in the United States.
Secondary Inspection Requirements
If the inspector has a question or you do not have all of the required documents and information, you may be directed to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information. Verifications are done apart from the primary inspection lines so that an individual case will not cause delays for other arriving passengers.
You Have Arrived! Welcome to Juniata!
The Center for International Education will make copies of your I-20 or DS-2019 form, passport, I-94 card and visa during orientation. This information will also be saved in the U.S. government database, The Student Exchange and Visitor Information System – SEVIS. The College will need to report whether you have arrived at the school and have enrolled.