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Immigration and Visas

Unless you currently hold another immigration status that permits you to study in the United States, you will need to apply for either an F-1 or J-1 visa before beginning your program at DU. International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will issue the appropriate certificate of eligibility document to you shortly after your application for admission is approved and all the requested documents have been received. You will need to present the certificate of eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) at a U.S. consulate or embassy when applying for a U.S. visa.

Acquiring F-1 or J-1 Status

The process of acquiring F-1 or J-1 status begins with the issuance of a certificate of eligibility from a school or program, which outlines your program of study. The process ends with your entry into the United States using the appropriate immigration documents.

  • Apply for admission to an academic or exchange program
  • Receive I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) Certification of Eligibility
  • Pay the SEVIS fee
  • Make a visa appointment at a U.S. consular office or embassy
  • Enter the United States in the appropriate immigration status

Paying the SEVIS Fee

Once you receive your I-20 or DS-2019, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee online at When making the payment, you will need to enter your family name, your date of birth, and your SEVIS ID number, which is printed in the upper right hand corner of your I-20 or DS-2019. You should print a copy of form I-901, which confirms payment of the SEVIS fee. You will need to bring form I-901 with you to your visa appointment.

Applying for a U.S. Visa

After paying the SEVIS fee, you will need to contact a U.S. consular office or embassy to schedule a visa appointment. Scheduling practices vary among offices, so visit the embassy's website to learn how to make an appointment. In general, you should allow several weeks to schedule an appointment and complete the visa application process, especially if your major field of study or country of citizenship requires additional security checks. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends students apply for a visa at a consulate or embassy in their home country.

Visa applicants typically are required to have a face-to-face interview with a consular officer. The interviews are often very short and you will not have much time to respond to the officer's questions. Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare for your interview. 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Non-immigrant Visa

Change of Immigration Status

If you are currently in the United States in an immigration status that does not permit you to pursue an academic program, you will need to change to F-1 or J-1 status. Generally, you may change your status either by submitting a petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or by applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa abroad. For more information, please review our Change of Status information page.