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How to Apply for a Visa
Procedure for Applying for an Initial Visa:
- Request a Status Document from Oregon State University (OSU). J-1 Exchange Visitors will require a form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) status. H-1B employees will require an I-797 Approval Notice form. These forms indicate that you are being invited to enter the United States as a visiting scholar, student or employee at OSU. You will need to work with OSU Admissions or your sponsoring department to apply for these documents.
- If you will be in the US on J-1 status you will need to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee, please see this link http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm for additional information. You will need your DS-2019 before you can pay your SEVIS fee. Take your SEVIS receipt to your visa appointment.
- Schedule a visa interview at a US Consulate office.
- Please refer to your local US Consulate office's Web site for a list of documents they will require. Though all US Consulates are governed by the same general guidelines, each US Consulate has its own procedures for applying for a visa and processing times vary.
Scholar's dependents will need to apply for dependent visas. Dependents will have to present all of the documents required for the scholar's visa, as well as proof of marriage for the spouse and proof of parenthood for children. Any child who is 21 years of age or older cannot enter the United States on a dependent visa.
Note: Canadian citizens do not need a passport (although recommended) and do not need a visa to enter the United States, but do need to show proof of status to be admitted into the US. Applying for an initial visa is only necessary if the scholar is outside of the US. Scholars who are currently in the US and have applied for a change of status or transfer of status do not need to leave the US for the sole purpose of applying for a visa abroad.
Though all US Consulates are governed by the same general guidelines, each US Consulate has its own procedures for applying for a visa and processing times vary. The scholar should check the Consulate's Web site at which he/she will apply for their specific application procedures.
International visitors who travel outside of the US must have a valid visa (for their current non-immigrant status) in order to re-enter the US. If a scholar's visa will expire prior to re-entering the U.S., or if the scholar has used all entries permitted by the visa, the scholar will need to apply for a new visa while outside of the U.S.
Scholars who are currently in the US and have a valid status document (DS-2019, I-797 Approval Notice, etc) do not need to have a valid visa stamp in their passport. The sole purpose of the visa is for authorization to re-enter the US after traveling abroad. A valid status document is the only authorization necessary for an international visitor to legally remain in the US after being legally admitted (with a visa which has since expired). International visitors should not leave the US for the sole purpose of applying for a visa abroad.
Procedures for applying for a visa renewal are similar to procedures for applying for an initial visa. Though all US Consulates are governed by the same general guidelines, each US Consulate has its own procedures for applying for a visa and processing times vary. The scholar should check the Consulate's Web site at which he/she will apply for their specific application procedures.
- Timing considerations
Some US Consulates have backlogs for visa interview appointments. International Student & Faculty Services (ISFS) highly recommends scheduling your visa interview as soon as possible to avoid having to wait for an interview appointment. US Consulates usually have instructions for booking interview appointments on their web site.
- Applying outside your country of residence
If you intend to apply for a J-1 or H-1B visa in a country other than your country of citizenship, ISFS highly recommends checking the US Consulate's web site to verify that they will issue J-1 or H-1B visas for Third Country Nationals. Recent changes in visa issuance have led some countries to change their policies regarding issuing visas to Third Country Nationals. Learn more on the US-Visa website.
- Visa Delays & Security Clearance
Be aware, if you are in a research field that may be considered of US national security interest, you may face serious delays receiving a visa while a background check is being conducted. It is impossible to predict how long a background check might take (one week to 6 months), and it is not possible for any agency to intervene to expedite the background check. Read more about visa delays & security clearances here.
You will need to be prepared to present the following documents to the immigration officials at the United States port of entry (POE) into the U.S., be prepared to present the following items to immigration officials:
- Valid passport (valid for at least six months)
- Visa Stamp
- Status Document (DS-2019, I-20 or I-797 Approval Notice)
- Financial Documentation of the source & dollar amount of your funding.