A non-immigrant U.S. visa is issued as a stamp (pictured) in your passport by a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States. A visa stamp indicates that you are eligible for entry and reentry to the United States in the immigration category indicated (F-1, J-1, H-1B, TN, etc). Most visa stamps are for multiple entries. Canadians are the only exception; Canadians need to enter the U.S. in the proper visa status with their paperwork, but do not need to visit a U.S. consulate to obtain a visa stamp.
1. Determine which visa status is most appropriate for your program in the U.S. by consulting the different categories at the left. Your purpose in the U.S. (to study, to work, to visit) is what will determine your status. If you have any questions in making this determination, contact ISSS.
2. Once you've determined the visa status, fill out the proper paperwork and submit all required documents to ISSS by the requested date.
3. ISSS will process your documents and contact you if anything is missing or more information is needed. Once you receive and review all the documents sent to you from ISSS you can make an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, if applicable.
4. Once you receive your passport and visa from the U.S. Consulate, you can plan to enter the U.S.
5. Enter the U.S. in your proper visa status within the allotted time frame to begin your program (see documents from ISSS). Enter with your passport and visa, SEVIS Fee payment receipt, and proper document issued by ISSS (your I-20 or DS-2019).
6. Check-in with ISSS upon arrival (mandatory).
7. Alert ISSS of any changes in your program.
Updated January 2010