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International Student Office

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F1/J1 Visa Information

Applying for a Student F-1/J-1 Visa

Like all countries in the world, the United States has laws and regulations governing international visitors who are temporarily within its borders. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administer the immigration regulations. International students are those who already have, or will be applying for, a temporary United States Visa (most commonly the F-1 or J-1 Visa) to study in the United States. Therefore, it is important for you to understand the immigration rules as they apply to your student status. The government does not consider ignorance of the law a legitimate reason for failing to obey it.


Be sure to apply for a passport in your home country with first and last names that match exactly the first and last names on the education documents you will submit to WKU. Most passports are good for a limited period of time. Your passport must be valid at all times while you are in the United States. It is your responsibility to apply for the passport and to remember when it will expire and contact the nearest consulate or embassy of your country in the United States to renew it. Visit this directory of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. if you need to locate your home country's embassy/consulate to renew your passport.


When WKU accepts you for full time study or an exchange program of study, we will enter your information into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and send you a SEVIS I-20 form (for F-1 Students) or SEVIS DS-2019 form (for J-1 Students) as proof of acceptance. You will use your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 to apply for an F-1/J-1 Visa and you MUST pay the SEVIS fee at www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/ using a valid credit card BEFORE you present the following documents to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country to apply for the F-1/J-1 Student Visa:

  1. Valid Passport (for at least 6 months)
  2. Original letter of acceptance/admission from WKU
  3. Valid SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 form issued by WKU
  4. Original copies of all financial documents [such as bank statement(s)]
  5. Proof of ties to your home country (such as a job, ownership of a property, etc.)
  6. Copies of all transcripts
  7. Copies of the TOEFL or IELTS and GRE (if any)
  8. Copy of your SEVIS fee payment receipt (see PDF file)

When you submit all items above to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to apply for the F-1 or J-1 Student Visa, the Embassy will verify your information in the SEVIS system and decide whether to issue a Visa to you.

If You Are Denied A Student Visa

Please visit the U.S. Department of State Web site to learn more about the Visa denial.

After You Are Granted a Student Visa

The U.S. Embassy/Consulate will add a Visa sticker with your photo in your passport for permission to enter the United States for a specific purpose and period of time. Students are usually given an F-1 or J-1 Visa. J-1 Visas are given to researchers, scholars, and students. After having the Visa sticker in your passport, you must have the following documents to enter the U.S.:

  1. Valid Passport (for at least 6 months) with a valid F-1 or J-1 Visa
  2. Original letter of acceptance/admission from WKU
  3. Valid SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 form issued by WKU

After Your Arrival to the United States

When you arrive at a United States airport, you will be asked to complete a form called I-94, also called the Arrival/Departure Record of Stay Permit. It is a small white card. This form is very important since it officially determines how long an international student can remain in the U.S. Students on the F-1 and J-1 Visas usually have their I-94 stamped "D/S" (Duration of Status), which means you can remain in this country for the length of time required to complete your studies as long as you follow all the regulations of the Student Visa. The 11-digit number written on your I-94 is your DHS-USCIS admission number, which is used by the USCIS to monitor your entry into and departure from the U.S.(see PDF file )

For more information about your entry procedure to the United States, please visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 Last Modified 9/17/13