Visa Application Process


The Machine Readable Visa fee (MRV fee) is $160. Depending on your country's policy on fees for U.S. citizens, there may also be a reciprocity fee. If you are applying for a J-1 visa in the researcher, professor, student or specialist categories, you must also pay a SEVIS fee as part of the visa application process. J-2 dependents do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.

Processing Time

The time it takes to process your application depends on many factors, among them what type of visa, which consulate, and whether your application will be subject to a security clearance check. In general, most U.S. visas are approved and issued within a day or two, though some can take a little longer. Most security clearances are approved within two to four weeks.

Non-Immigrant Intent

J visa applicants must be able to prove non-immigrant intent to the U.S. consular officer. You need to be able to prove that you will be returning to your home country at the end of your J program. You can do this by showing evidence of strong family and economic ties to your home country. This is even more important if you are applying for a visa after you have graduated, and are working in the U.S. on post-graduation optional or STEM OPT.

Required Documents

Please double-check with the consulate where you will be applying to verify required application documents and procedures.

Non-immigrant visa applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation to the U.S. consulate abroad:

  • Valid passport
  • Current passport-size photographs
  • Valid SEVIS Form DS-2019 for J-1 visa applicants
  • Proof of payment of SEVIS fee. Payment is required if it is a first time J-1 visa application; J-1 visa renewal applications do not require repayment.
  • Proof of financial support
  • Proof of admission to program of study or appointment to program of research
  • Proof of non-immigrant intent (evidenced by strong ties to home country)
  • Non-immigrant visa application forms, available from the U.S. consulate

It is sometimes advisable for continuing students to submit copies of transcripts.