Visa information

US student visa information

Once you have been accepted on a program and paid your deposit, James Madison University will issue an I-20 from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can then apply for a visa to study in the USA.

James Madison University is authorized under Federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students. Your I-20 form is issued by the University and is valid for the entire duration of your studies.

Contact the nearest US Embassy or Consulate in your country to find out what the procedure is for applying for a student visa. You may need an appointment, or walk-in hours may be available.

The following information is adapted from the US Department of State:

1. What is a visa?

A visa is a large sticker in your passport that allows a foreign citizen to travel to a US port-of entry and request permission from the US immigration officer to enter the United States. It does not guarantee entry into the US.

2. What type of visa do I need to become an academic student in the United States?

Most non-US citizens who wish to study in the United States will seek an F-1 (non-immigrant) student visa, but there are other visa types that are sometimes authorized for those who study in the US. The F-1, or Student Visa is the most common for those who wish to engage in academic studies in the United States. It is for people who want to study at an accredited USA university or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute.

3. When should I apply for a visa?

It is best to apply early for the visa to make sure that there is sufficient time for visa processing. We recommend that all students apply for their visa as soon as they have all the required documentation. In most countries, you will not be able to schedule the visa appointment until you have the I-20 form. Notify us directly once your visa status is known. Please tell your Student Enrollment Adviser when you have made an appointment, and notify them of the outcome of that appointment.

4. How do I apply for a visa in my country?

In order to apply for a visa at a US embassy or consulate in your country, you must first have an I-20 document issued by James Madison University. You will need the SEVIS number from your I-20 to schedule your visa appointment.

JMU will provide you with the appropriate SEVIS-generated form only when you have been academically admitted to the International Study Center, and your deposit payment has been received.

You then need to make an appointment for your visa interview.

Most of the procedures and requirements for applying for a student visa are standardized but some vary from country to country. For example, how to pay the visa application processing fee and how to make an appointment for an interview. Visit the website of the Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to learn more.

5. Preparing for the visa interview

Prior to meeting with US Embassy officials you will need to pay a $100 SEVIS fee to the US government, and a visa processing fee (the procedure will differ from one US Embassy/Consulate to another). You should also make sure you have all the documentation you will need when you go for the interview:

  • your passport
  • the visa-qualifying document (I-20 form)
  • documentation of your financial ability to support yourself*
  • proof that you have ties to your home country
  • proof of payment of the SEVIS and visa fees
  • a completed visa application form (follow Department of State procedures carefully to ensure you complete it correctly)

*A bank statement or bank letter verifying your or your sponsor's financial ability to cover your expenses should be provided. The bank statement cannot be a copy; it must be original (per immigration law). The bank statement must be notarized and no older than six months. We advise you to have an original letter (affidavit of support) from your parents/guardian, financial sponsor or other source of support claiming financial responsibility for you as a student. This affidavit must be notarized.

If you are self-sponsored, no affidavit is required. In the case of government-sponsored students, the Financial Guarantee serves as both the bank statement and the affidavit.

You will receive further information when you receive your I-20.
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