Students and Exchange Visitors

Once you have been accepted by the school or program sponsor and you have been issued the I-20/DS-2019, you may schedule an appointment to apply for the visa.

There is no visa expedite service available. However, student visa appointments are separate from the other appointments and are given priority when scheduling.

If your application is successful, the visa will take 5 – 7 workdays to process at the end of which, the passport will be handed to the courier service for delivery. A further 2 days should be allowed for delivery. As soon as the courier company takes delivery of your passport, they will send you an email with a tracking number. You may use that number to track the delivery online here.

Spouses and/or children who will remain in the United States for the same period of time as the F-1/J-1 visa holder or plan to make frequent visits should apply for the appropriate dependent visa. If they intend to only visit as a tourist, they may be eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program or apply for a tourist (B-2) visa.

The holder of a J or F visa may enter the United States up to 30 days before the start of the program as indicated on the DS-2019 or I-20A-B/M-N. If you wish to enter earlier, you will be required to apply for a B-2 visa and apply to the office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for an adjustment of status prior to commencing your studies or program.

The holder of an J-1 visa my remain in the United States for up to 30 days at the end of the program; an F-1 visa holder, 60 days.

The 30 days is for travel in the United States and preparation for departure. If you leave the during this time you cannot return using your F-1 or J-1 visa. You will be required to apply for readmission under the Visa Waiver Program, if qualified, or apply for a B-2 visa. Please note that the final determination on a person’s eligibility for admission rests with U.S. immigration at the Port of Entry.

F-1 students can accept up to 20 hours per week on-campus employment in term-time, and full time in vacations (if you’ll be continuing your course next term). After a year, you can apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to work off-campus. M-1 students may only accept employment in connection with Practical Training at the end of the course and with the approval of USCIS.