Type of Visa
The type of visa that you apply for will depend on your course of study while attending UWG. Students will apply for an F-1 or a J-1 type of visa. Check your immigration packet you received to know which type of visa you should apply for. It is very important that you apply for the correct visa to ensure there are no delays in receiving your visa. You cannot enter into the United States until you receive a United States visa.
- You will apply for an F-1 visa if you will be studying at the University of West Georgia AND obtaining a degree from UWG.
- You will apply for a J-1 visa if you will be studying at the University of West Georgia for a year or semester and NOT obtaining a degree from UWG. (study abroad or exchange programs)
Your visa will be a sticker in your passport that looks similar to the example below:
If you have any questions, or do not understand which visa you should apply for, contact the International Student Admissions & Programs office BEFORE you continue.
F-1 Visa Type
If you will be obtaining your degree from the University of West Georgia, you will apply for a F-type visa as you will be traveling to the United States to attend a university. Students cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or with a Visitor Pass (B-visa). These visas are generally for shorts periods of travel inside the United States and do not allow for study leading to a U.S. conferred degree or certificate.
Apply to a SEVP Approved School
Students need to apply and be accepted by the University of West Georgia.
Before your I-20 can be sent, you must complete the Financial Certificate and Verification form. You can find a copy of this form on the Forms page.
Pay SEVIS Fee and Receive Your I-20
Once you’re accepted, you will be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee in order to be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Then, your school will provide you with a Form I-20. This form will be presented to the consular officer when you attend your F-1 visa interview. If your spouse and/or children plan to reside in the USA with you while you study, they will be required to have individual Form I-20s, but they will not need to be enrolled in the SEVIS.
Complete the Visa Application
Applying for the F-1 student visa may vary depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate you are dealing with. You will be required to pay a non-refundable visa application fee. There is an online visa application available, which allows you to complete and print the Form DS-160 to take to your F-1 visa interview.
Schedule and Prepare for Your Interview
You can schedule your F-1 visa interview with the U.S. embassy or consulate. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. An F-1 student visa for the USA can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your course of study start date. You will only be able to enter the US with an F-1 visa 30 days before your start date.
The following documents are required for your F-1 visa interview:
- A valid passport
- The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
- The application fee payment receipt
- A passport photo
- A Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status (Form 1-20)
- Proof of financial support
- Acceptance letter to UWG
Additional documents may be requested to prove your eligibility for the F-1 student visa, including academic transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates. Test scores such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, or GMAT may also be requested, as well as proof of your intent to depart the U.S. after your program is complete and proof of your financial stability.
Attend Your F-1 Visa Interview
Your F-1 visa interview will determine whether you are qualified to receive an F-1 student visa for the USA. Assuming that you have prepared the appropriate documents and meet all of the F-1 visa requirements, your visa will be approved at the discretion of the consular officer.
You may be required to pay a visa issuance fee. Digital fingerprint scans will be taken for records. Your passport will be taken so that you can get your visa and you will be informed when you can get it back, either by pick-up or in the mail.
Check out our list of questions that you could be asked during your F-1 Visa interview
Keep in mind that visa issuance is not guaranteed. Never make final travel plans until you have your visa approved. If your visa is denied, you will be given a reason based on the section of law which applies to your ineligibility. Filing a waiver of ineligibility is possible in some cases.
J-1 Visa Type
As a non-US citizen, you will generally need a visa to enter the United States. The J-1 exchange visitor visa allows participants to come to the United States for a temporary stay. You will apply for this type of visa if you are studying at the University of West Georgia for a semester or year, but not obtaining a degree from the University of West Georgia (example: study abroad program).
Find a J Sponsor
The best way to find your J sponsor at UWG is to talk to your Study Abroad department at your current university. You will need to apply and be accepted by the University of West Georgia before you can obtain your visa.
Apply for the DS-2019
Once you have applied and been approved by the University of West Georgia, the next step is to submit the DS-2019 Form, also known as the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchanger Visitor (J-1) Status”. This form is the official documents used by the US Department of State that will permit you to get an interview with the U.S. embassy or consulate. If you will be accompanied by your spouse or child(ren), they will also be given a separate DS-2019 form. This two-page form is issued by your designed sponsoring organization and will include a description of the exchange program, including the start and end date, as well as the cost of the program (with a breakdown on financial support).
Pay SEVIS Fees
You will be required to pay a SEVIS I-901 fee to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as part of your J-1 visa application - or this fee may already be part of your program fees to your sponsoring organization. It’s important to check with your sponsor to confirm whether it will be paid by you, or for you. If the sponsor pays the SEVIS fee on your behalf, be sure to get a receipt confirming payment.
Another fee you will be required to pay is the Nonimmigrant Visa Application Processing Fee, which is $160 and can be paid by visiting the Department of State’s Fee for Visa Services. Those participants who are part of a program with the U.S. Government, Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), or a U.S. Government funded educational and cultural exchange program are exempt from the Nonimmigrant Visa Application Processing Fee as part of their J-1 visa application.
Interview with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
In order to have your J-1 visa application accepted, you will need to have final approval by a consular officer at a US embassy or consulate. Depending on where you are located, waiting times to get an appointment can vary so it’s important to schedule early to ensure that you have sufficient time before your program begins.
If you will be traveling with a spouse and/or child, you can schedule an appointment for those family members who will be accompanying you. At the interview, you will be asked about the program, your intentions after the program, how you plan to cover your expenses, etc. It is important to stress that your intention is to complete the program and return to your home country upon termination. Be prepared to show your binding ties to your home country and bring any documentation that can further show your ties back home.
When applying for a J1 visa, you will need to submit the following documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate:
- DS-2019 Form: Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status
- Form DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application
- A passport valid for travel to the U.S with validity six months after the intended period of stay in the US
- One 2x2 photograph
It’s important to check with your particular embassy or consulate to confirm the necessary documents when applying for a J-1 visa. How to apply for a J-1 visa will be determined based on your embassy or consulate, as well as your personal situation, so it’s important to make sure you’ve read about what you need to do prior and during your interview.
Other Visa Types
The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying. When you apply at a U.S embassy or consulate, a consular officer will determine based on laws, whether you are eligible to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate.
Find a list of all of the different visa types here.