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Visa and Immigration Information

If you are a new international student and wish to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa stamp

Follow the steps below if you are applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa outside of the United States. Additional information can be found here. If you are currently inside the US, contact International Student & Scholar Services for a different set of instructions.

If you are planning to transfer to UMSL from a U.S. college or university

If you are transferring your SEVIS record from another U.S. institution, refer to the SEVIS Transfer Form for instructions. 

If you are in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa and wish to change to an F-1 visa

If you will not have an F-1 or J-1 visa, contact intadmission@umsl.edu to discuss your options.

1. Check your I-20 or DS-2019 to confirm that all information is correct

All of the biographical information in your documents must match, and your passport must be up-to-date. If there is a mistake on your I-20 or DS-2019, please contact UMSL Global immediately. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your arrival date.

2. Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee

This one-time fee is non-refundable and costs $350 for a F-1 visa ($220 for a J-1 visa). You can pay this fee online at http://www.fmjfee.com. Print the confirmation page once you have finished the application.

3. Make an Appointment for Your Visa Interview

You can schedule an appointment at a local U.S. consulate up to 120 prior to the start date of your program. To find the closes consulate or embassy, go to: US embassy 

Visa appointments are usually scheduled 30-45 days in advance. If you cannot find a visa appointment in this timeframe, you are welcome to e-mail the consulate to ask for expedited processing.

4. Complete the Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application

The DS-160 can be accessed at here. Pay special attention to the photo requirements listed on the website. Print the confirmation page once you have finished the application. As part of the process, you will pay a $160 NIV processing fee.  Follow the directions as provided.

5. Documents to Bring to your Visa Interview

  • I-20 (F-1 Visa) or DS-2019 (J-1 Visa)
  • Letter of admission provided by UMSL
  • Financial support documents (Current proof of support that would meet expenses for program duration as indicated on Form I-20 (i.e. bank statements, award letters or loan approval letters)
  • Passport valid for a minimum of six months into the future at the time of entry
  • Form DS-160 “Nonimmigrant Visa Application” available at your local US Embassy or Consulate's website. http://www.usembassy.gov/
  • Two photos (see requirements here)
  • Receipt for payment of SEVIS Fee

6. Pick-up your passsport and visa

Your visa will take a few days to process. When it is ready, your passport and I-20 (or DS-2019) will be returned to you. Keep these items together and present them when you enter the United States.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a federal database that schools use to issue I-20 and DS-2019 forms. In addition to the visa application fee, you must pay an I-901 SEVIS fee prior to applying for a visa.

You can pay the I-901 fee online at www.fmjfee.com. In some cases, students are required to pay through Western Union. The I-901 fee will provide more information on how to pay the fee.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the SEVIS fee, you can reach the I-901 Help Desk at +1-703-603-3400 or fmjfee.SEVIS@ice.dhs.gov.

Use the tips and suggestions below to prepare for the interview:

  • The interview will only be a few minutes.
  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • Demonstrate Strong Ties to Your Home Country
  • Be prepared to discuss how you will finance your studies.
  • Speak For Yourself and Plan To Answer Questions in English
  • Know Your Program of Study and Major
  • Know UMSL and Saint Louis
  • Know Your Career Plans and Intentions After Your Program Completes
  • Be Brief and Concise in your Answers
  • Maintain a Positive and Respectful Attitude


Visa Processing Times

Applicants for F-1 visas cannot apply more than 120 days before the start of their programs. Exchange visitors can apply for the J-1 at any time, but the visa cannot be issued more than 90 days before the program begins.

F-1 and J-1 visas are processed quickly in most cases; however, you should plan to apply 45-60 days prior to your departure for the US. Depending on your program of study, your application may require security checks that take longer to complete.

If your visa application is denied, the consulate must provide a written explanation, usually a generic response. Most denials are due to concerns about applicants violating visa conditions or staying in the U.S. indefinitely.

Denials are often not permanent, so you may reapply for an F-1 or J-1 visa with new evidence showing strong ties to your home country. If denied under INA Section 214(b), reapply by completing a new application, paying the fee, and scheduling a new interview without repaying the SEVIS fee. For denials under other sections of the INA, refer to your denial letter for specific restrictions.