Obtaining a New Visa

The visa is a permit that allows a foreign national to apply for entry into the United States. The U.S. embassy or consulate will put the F-1 or J-1 visa in your passport after you present your I-20/DS-2019, financial documentation, and other required documents at the visa interview.  Visa issuance is always at the discretion of the visa officer, and so cannot be guaranteed.

It is not necessary to maintain a valid F-1/J-1 visa once you have entered the U.S. However, you must have a valid F-1/J-1 visa for reentry if you plan to leave the U.S. and return for the continuation of your program. If your visa will expire before you plan to reenter the U.S., or if the number of entries permitted will all be used, you will need to apply for a new visa before reentering the United States.

SEVIS I-901 Fee 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a one-time Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee for students and scholars beginning a new F-1 or J-1 program. You must pay this fee prior to applying for your F-1 or J-1 visa. Most F-1 non-immigrants must pay a fee of $200. Most J-1 exchange visitors must pay a fee of $180. 

For a list of people who must pay the SEVIS fee, visit SEVIS Fee for F-1 Students & J-1 Exchange Visitors. If you are a citizen of Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, or a British subject in the Bahamian, Cayman, or Turks and Caicos Islands, you will not need a U.S. visa to enter the country; however, you will need to present the SEVIS fee payment receipt at the U.S. port of entry. 

How do I pay the SEVIS fee? 

  • Complete Form I-901 online and submit payment using a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card at https://www.fmjfee.com. Print the receipt.
  • Pay via Western Union in your home country. For complete instructions, visit: www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/wu_instr.htm. After three business days, check your payment status at www.fmjfee.com/ and print your receipt.
  • You must take the I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt to the U.S. consulate or embassy for your visa interview. 

Apply for a New F-1 or J-1 Visa:

A new F-1/J-1 visa cannot be obtained within the U.S. and generally should be obtained within the applicant’s country of citizenship or nationality. Individuals who apply for a visa as a “third country national” in a country that is not their own may experience additional problems or delays which they might not experience if applying from their home country.

Due to heightened U.S. security, a visa application may take several weeks, or even months to process, so you should make an appointment as soon as possible. In addition, you are advised to contact the U.S. consulate or embassy where you intend to apply for a visa, in advance, to ask about the specific procedures and requirements at that location.

To apply for a new visa:

Visit usembassy.state.gov to locate the nearest American embassy or consulate and for specific instructions about applying for a nonimmigrant student visa (F-1 or J-1 visa) or scholar visa (J-1 visa) in that country. At the visa interview, you will need to present:

  • DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application receipt. You should complete and submit the application at ceac.state.gov/genniv/ prior to your appointment;
  • Your passport;
  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 issued by the University of Notre Dame;
  • One passport-sized photo;
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt;
  • Visa application (MRV) fee payment receipt  number (visit your embassy’s or consulate’s website for more information);
  • STUDENTS:  Verification of Enrollment, which shows enrollment for past and present full-time or part-time attendance at the University of Notre Dame; a Verification of Advanced Registration, which shows the total credit hours after the student has “advance” registered for the upcoming semester; and an Official Transcript, which will show that the student is making progress toward the completion of his/her degree and a record of his/her historical and present classes. The request forms for these documents can be obtained from the Registrar’s Office in 300 Grace Hall.
  • STUDENTS:  Proof of English language proficiency;
  • STUDENTS:  Proof of financial support for your studies at Notre Dame;
  • SCHOLARS:  Offer letter from university department.  For continuing scholars, obtain new letter confirming continued employment;
  • SCHOLARS:  Proof of funding for remainder of program, if not paid directly by Notre Dame;
  • Proof of your intention to depart the United States after the completion of your program; and
  • Other documents detailed on the U.S. embassy’s or consulate’s website (including an unexpired Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and employment letter for F-1 graduates who are currently engaged in Optional Practical Training, or an employment authorization letter from ISSA for J-1 visa holders who have graduated and are currently engaged in Academic Training).
For additional information about the visa application process, visit travel.gov.  Please note that securing a visa may take longer depending on your country of origin and your program of study.  Everyone is subject to a security check in the visa application process. Please refer to the Security Checks page for more information. 

Valid Visas in Expired Passports:

If you have a valid visa in an expired passport and have been issued a new passport without a visa, you may continue to use the visa in your old/expired passport until the visa is no longer valid (as long as the nationality in your new passport is the same as the nationality in your old passport). Students and scholars whose passports will expire during their programs should contact their embassies in the U.S. far in advance (about 7-8 months) for passport renewal procedures.


F-1/J-1 Change of Status Applicants MUST have an F-1/J-1 Visa for Reentry into the U.S.:

Changing your visa status within the US does not result in a new visa stamp.  The next time you depart the US (apart from certain short-term travel to Canada or Mexico) you must obtain a new visa to match the new status. Failure to obtain the appropriate visa after a change to F-1/J-1 status will likely result in a denial at the U.S. Port of Entry, even if you have a valid passport and I-20/DS-2019.
For additional details, please consult with ISSA or visit the U.S. State Department’s website.

Updated 03/2018