Applying for an F-1/J-1 visa

This website has detailed information about how to obtain an initial F-1 or J-1 visa. If you are a continuing student or scholar at Georgia Tech, please see OIE's Renewing Visa website for Continuing Students and Scholars for information on renewing visas.

The U.S. Department of State's website provides detailed information explaining the requirements for applying for an F-1 visa or J-1 visa. You are eligible to apply for a visa up to 120 days before the Program Start Date listed on your I-20/DS-2019. Please note, wait times for visa appointments differ, so please plan accordingly based on the embassy or consulate where you will apply. You can find average visa wait times at the U.S. Department of State's website.

Note: You should not make your appointment with the U.S. embassy or consulate until after you have received your I-20 or DS-2019 from Georgia Tech.

Please note that citizens of Canada and Bermuda are not required to obtain F or J visas, but are required to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee. You will use the Georgia Tech issued I-20 or DS-2019 to enter the U.S., but citizens of Bermuda and Canada are not required to obtain a visa. You may be asked to show proof of having paid the SEVIS Fee at the U.S. port of entry.

Preparing for Your Appointment

You will be required to complete the following steps before your visa appointment:

1. Pay the I-901 “SEVIS Fee.” The easiest way to do this is through SEVP's I-901 SEVIS Fee page. See the I-901 FAQ for more information. To pay the I-901 fee, you will need your SEVIS Identification number (N000_ _ _ _ _ _ _) found at the top, right corner of your I-20 or DS-2019. Bring your payment receipt to your visa application appointment.
2. Complete the online Visa application (DS-160).

  • U.S. Point of Contact: The DS-160 form asks for you to provide a U.S. point of contact, which can be any individual in the U.S. who know you and can verify, if necessary, your identity. If you do not personally know anyone in the U.S., you may provide the GT Office of International Education contact information below:
    • List of the name of the DSO listed on your I-20/DS-2019 Form
    • 631 Cherry St., Savant Suite 211
    • Atlanta, GA 30332-0284
    • 404-894-7475

3. Pay the Visa Application Processing Fee. Students from certain countries will also have to pay a Visa Reciprocity Fee.

During Your Appointment

You will be required to bring the following items to the Embassy or Consulate for your appointment:

1. I-20 or DS-2019 from Georgia Tech
2. Passport (valid at least 6 months beyond your Program Start Date)
3. I-901 Fee payment receipt
4. Visa Application Fee
5. DS-160 confirmation receipt
6. Admission letter from Georgia Tech
7. Verification of financial resources (this should be the same documentation that you sent to Georgia Tech)
8. Proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS score, for example)

*ISSS suggests that graduate students and scholars come to the visa appointment with the following documents: a Curriculum Vitae (CV) with a complete list of publications, summary of research activities current and past, official academic records, and an abstract of thesis when applicable. 

** During the appointment, you should be prepared to discuss your purpose of being in the U.S. Simply handing a Consular Officer your documents will not suffice; you should be able to explain your goals and objectives of your time in the U.S.

After Your Appointment

Once your visa is issued, check to make sure that all of the information is correct. If the spelling of your name, your date of birth, or country of citizenship differs from your passport, you could experience delays entering the United States. Contact the embassy or consulate if you notice any errors on your visa.

Students may use the U.S. Department of State website to check their U.S. visa application status using an 'Immigrant Visa Case Number.'

Administrative Processing

Administrative processing may be required of an applicant for a variety of reasons: a "hit" during a name check; being a national of certain countries; studying/researching a field on the Technology Alert List (TAL); or based on the "intuition" of the interviewing consular.

Georgia Tech and the Office of International Education are not able to assist with any requests for consular posts to expedite the administrative processing of a visa application. Administrative processing can take anywhere from 2 weeks to several months.

Name check: every applicant for a visa must undergo a name check through the Consolidated Consular Database (CCD). If the applicant's name matches a name in the database noted as a "problem," administrative processing may be required.

Nationality: being a national of particular countries may also require administrative processing. National may mean the applicant has dual citizenship, was once a citizen of certain countries, or was born in one of those countries. The only way to avoid this is if the proof of renunciation of a particular citizenship is in writing.

Technology Alert List (TAL): many of the fields of study listed on the TAL are broadly stated, which results in a number of administrative processing cases. Detailed and concise explanations of the specific research that the applicant will engage in may decrease the need for administrative processing, if the research is clearly not of strategic importance.

Consular Officer Discretion: consular officers are asked to use their own impressions to request administrative processing if they are at all unsure of whether it is necessary or not.

Requesting a Dependent

New Students/Scholars/Student Interns: You will be able to request a dependent on your initial application to the school.

Continuing Students/Scholars/Student Interns: If you would like your spouse and/or children (under age 21) to join you in the U.S., you should submit the Student or Scholar Request for Dependent e-form in iStart.

Both new and continuing students and scholars will be required to verify that you have sufficient funds to cover your family's expenses for a minimum of one year.  The estimated cost of living for a spouse is $600 per month and $400 per child per month.  ISSS will provide you with the F-2 immigration form I-20 or J-2 immigration form DS-2019 when evidence of financial support is presented.

While ISSS issues the I-20s/DS-2019s to facilitate the F-2/J-2 visa application at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the decision to issue or deny visas is made solely by the consular officer.

Visiting Family Members or Friends

Georgia Tech is not inviting the individual to the U.S., you are! Therefore, the Office of International Education, Office of the Registrar, and Communications and Marketing are not able to provide invitation letters requesting visitor (B-1/B-2) visas for friends or family coming to visit you. Instead, you will provide an invitation letter and supporting documentation for your family member or friend to visit. For information about what you as the international student or scholar should provide for your family member or friend to be issued a visiting visa, please see our Friends and Family:Tourist Visa handout.