Student Visa Application Process

The process of becoming an F-1 or J-1 student occurs in the following steps:

  1. Receive the F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 from the USC Graduate & International Admissions (GIA) Office.

  2. Every international student or exchange visitor who wishes to begin an “initial” program of study or research is required to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The SEVIS fee must be paid with information from the USC I-20/DS-2019. Print the fee payment receipt to present at visa interview at a U.S. embassy/consulate and at the U.S. Port of Entry.

  3. Complete the DS-160 online visa application*

    • Use only the “BACK” and “NEXT” buttons that are part of the application and not the web browser's back and next arrows
    • Be as completely accurate as possible with any questions asked and DO NOT submit the application until it is complete
    • At the end of the online application, print the confirmation page with barcode that is required for all phases of the interview
    • The U.S. Department of State provides additional guidance on completing the DS-160
  4. Schedule and complete visa interview at a U.S. embassy/consulate*

  5. Arrive at a U.S. airport and clear customs at a U.S. Port of Entry with the following documents:

    • Original I-20/DS-2019
    • F-1/J-1 student visa stamp in passport*
    • Valid passport
    • Financial documents consistent with I-20/DS-2019

*Canadian students are exempt from obtaining an F-1/J-1 visa as they do not need an F-1/J-1 visa stamp in passport to enter the U.S. in international student status.

Please note: In order to obtain the most current and accurate information on visa application and interview process, international students should review the website for the U.S. consulate/embassy where they will schedule the visa interview.