Applying for a visa
In most cases, a citizen of a foreign country must first obtain a visa in their passport prior to entering the U.S. Which visa you get, and the process for obtaining that visa, depends on your personal situation, location, and planned activities for the duration of your stay. The U.S. Department of State oversees visa issuance at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and provides general information on visas for study & exchange and visas for employment on their website.
For students, exchange visitors, and employees seeking sponsorship at UIC, the first step in applying for a visa is to obtain initial immigration documents from OIS. Once you have obtained your initial immigration documents from OIS, you can take the next step of applying for a visa with your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Current members of the UIC international community that need to renew a visa to facilitate international travel may also find this information helpful.
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Steps to apply for or renew a U.S. visa Heading link
Click your intended visa status below to see the general steps to apply.
J-1 EV Students and Scholars
Steps to apply for or renew a J-1 visa
- J-1 Students and Exchange Students: Obtain admission to a UIC program of study. Learn more.
J-1 Research Scholars, Professors, Short-Term Scholars and Student Interns: Complete the DS-2019 Applicant form via your UIC Host Department.
- Obtain your UIC Form DS-2019 from OIS. Degree-seeking and Exchange students will receive a Form DS-2019 once they have been admitted to UIC. Scholars and Student Interns will receive their DS-2019 form after review/approval of documentation from the UIC Host Department. Current “Active” students and scholars, who are planning to renew their visa, should confirm that their Form DS-2019 is up-to-date and has a travel signature that will be less than six months old on their planned date of return to the U.S.
- Visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you. The exact process you must follow to obtain or renew your visa will depend on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate you utilize. Each location’s website will have guidance on the required documents, applicable fees, and current appointment and processing wait times. It is strongly encouraged that you utilize an embassy or consulate in your home country if at all possible. Find your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee, if applicable. If you will apply for a J-1 visa using an initial Form DS-2019, you must pay the SEVIS fee prior to making your appointment. If you are a current student or scholar in active J-1 status, you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again for a visa renewal.
- Complete Form DS-160. This is the U.S. Department of State’s visa application form. Access the online Form DS-160.
- Return to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website to pay visa processing fees and make an interview appointment, if needed. You will need to pay a visa processing fee (sometimes called the MRV fee) to the U.S. Department of State. Your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website will have details on the amount of that fee and acceptable forms of payment. You will also find information on their website as to whether or not you need to be present for a visa interview and how to schedule that appointment if needed.
- Attend your visa interview appointment, if needed. Again, not all visa applicants will need to attend an in-person interview. Please check your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website for details. Students who need to be present for an in-person interview can prepare by reviewing NAFSA’s Ten Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa.
- Track your visa application and communicate with OIS. Your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate will give you options to track your visa application. OIS does not have any additional information on the status of your visa application. However, if you encounter any issues with your visa application, such as a denial or an administrative processing delay, please let an OIS advisor know so that we may support you as best we can.
- Obtain and review your visa. When your visa is issued, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will tell you how to collect it. As soon as possible, review your visa stamp for accuracy and reach out to OIS if you have any questions.
Basic document requirements for a J-1 visa application
- Passport. Valid for six months into the future.
- Form DS-2019. If you are applying for a renewal of your J-1 visa stamp, your Form DS-2019 should also have a travel signature that is less than six months old.
- Form DS-7002 (Student Intern category only). Please ensure you have the final signed copy from OIS that is stapled to your Form DS-2019.
- UIC admission letter or proof of enrollment (degree-seeking and exchange students only). Newly-admitted students should carry a UIC admission letter. Continuing students should carry proof of full-time enrollment.
- UIC offer or invitation letter (Scholars and Student Interns only). Initial or continuing scholars and Student Interns should carry a UIC offer or invitation letter with them to confirm affiliation with UIC.
- Evidence of financial support. These are the financial documents you submitted to obtain your Form DS-2019 from OIS. Learn more about J-1 Exchange Visitor funding requirements here.
- I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt. This is only needed if you are applying for a new J-1 visa using an initial Form DS-2019. Download your SEVIS fee receipt.
- Form DS-160 confirmation page and visa processing fee receipts. Please consult your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website for details on paying the visa processing fee.
The documents listed above are those that are generally required for a J-1 visa application. You should consult with your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to confirm which documents you will need to present for your visa application or renewal process.