Immigration Information

Determine the Type of Visa You Need to Enter the U.S.

F-1 Visa

Most students admitted to JSU should apply for an F-1 student visa. If you receive an I-20 document from JSU, then you will apply for an F-1 visa.

J-1 Visa

J-1 students are usually in formal exchange programs or receiving most or all of their funding from their home government, a U.S. government agency, or JSU. If you receive a DS-2019 document from the university or another U.S. agency, then you will apply for a J-1 student visa. 

If you think you have received the wrong type of visa document, please contact the office of the International House and Programs. Do NOT enter the United States as a visitor (B1/B2 or visa waiver). Individuals with these immigration statuses are not eligible to register for an academic course of study.

Immigration Terminology

A visa is an entry document. It is an endorsement in a passport that indicates that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country.

The Form I-20 is the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. This document is for academic and language students. The Form I-20 (or simply I-20) is an important document that you should keep safe. There will be a number of instances where you will need it such as applying for a visa, entering the U.S., and obtaining official documents. 

The Form DS-2019 is the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. The Form DS-2019 (or simply DS-2019) is an important document that you should keep safe. There will be a number of instances where you will need it such as applying for a visa, entering the U.S., and obtaining official documents.

Steps We Suggest You Take to Obtain a Visa:

1. Pay the SEVIS Fee

New students will need to pay the SEVIS fee before applying for an entry visa or entering the United States. This fee is charged by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and it is not administered by JSU. The fee cannot be paid prior to the issuance of the I-20 or DS-2019. In order to pay the fee, please go to the I-901 fee website. There is a helpful video tutorial if you need additional help.

2. Locate the Nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Your Home Country

You can find more information about embassies and consulates at the website or the State Department website.

3. Schedule Your Visa Appointment 

Your local embassy or consulate will have specific instructions for scheduling and for making appointments. Waiting times for an appointment can be lengthy (up to several weeks or longer) especially during the busy summer months. Schedule your appointment as soon as possible after receiving your visa documents.

4. Prepare for Your Interview

All visa applicants must provide the following documents to the U.S. embassy or consulate at the time of their application.

  • Valid passport
  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019
  • Admission letter
  • Proof of financial support for one year
  • Receipt of payment of the SEVIS fee
  • Visa application forms
  • Any other documents requested by the specific embassy or consulate

5. If you have dependents:

Your spouse and children under age 21 are eligible to accompany you to the U.S. with a dependent visa (F-2 or J-2). You must request a dependent I-20 or DS-2019 document for each eligible dependent. Dependents are not required to pay for the SEVIS fee. F-2 visa holders are not permitted to work in the U.S. Also, they cannot study full-time at a university or other post-secondary institution.

6. If Your Visa is Denied

If you visa is denied, then ask the consular office to provide a written explanation of the denial. Next, contact our office (International House and Programs) for assistance. Email the details of the denial and the denial reason to Please include in the subject line the title “Visa Denial"