If you are not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, upon receipt of your I-20 or DS-2019 from the University, you must apply for a visa at the United States Embassy or Consulate closest to your place of residence. For information on requirements, visit usembassy.gov.
If you are a degree seeking student, you must obtain the F-1 student visa. If you are a visiting or exchange student, you must obtain the J-1 exchange visitor visa.
F-1 and J-1 students are required to pay a one-time, non-refundable I-901 SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee prior to the visa appointment. The fee is payable at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website, fmjfee.com.
All visa applicants must have a personal interview. Based on your country, it may take time to be assigned an interview date. Plan ahead and begin your visa process at least two months in advance of your start date at Southeast.
Visas cannot be issued more than 90 days prior to the program start date on your I-20 or DS-2019.
Contact the U.S. Consulate with questions regarding your visa application.
To secure a visa, you need to provide various documents:
- Letter of acceptance to Southeast
- Signed I-20 or DS-2019
- Valid passport for at least 6 months after the proposed date of entry into the United States
- Completed visa application Form DS-160. Visa application requires (1) 2-inch x 2-inch photograph
- Proof / receipt to show payment of the visa application fee
- Proof / receipt of SEVIS support fee (I-901) payment
- Financial proof for the period of time specified on your I-20 or DS-2019
You may need to provide other documents including but not limited to:
- Evidence of language proficiency
- Previous academic records
- Financial evidence of sufficient funds, such as a sponsor’s bank statement and/or salary information
- Scholarship award letter(s)
- Evidence of strong ties to your home country
- For applicants with dependents: proof of relationship to spouse and/or children, such as marriage and birth certificates
Be prepared to answer questions at your visa interview related to:
- Your major/program of study
- Your decision to choose Southeast
- Sources of money
- Your intent to return to your home country after completing your studies
- You need to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country (i.e., job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc.). The interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country.
- It is also important to maintain a positive attitude during your interview.
If the consular officers find you ineligible for a visa:
- They must return all documents to you
- They must give you written reasons for the denial
- You may secure additional documentation as needed and then reapply
- If you are approved, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org and then celebrate!