A U.S. nonimmigrant visa is issued as a sticker in your passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the United States.

This visa gives you permission to apply for entry to the United States for a temporary period in a specific visa status.  There are many different classifications of non-immigrant visas. Only some allow for full-time study.  See Study in the States for an overview of student options.

Types of Visas

Some visas allow a visitor to study or work while others do not. If you are entering the U.S. to participate in a program of study, then you will likely apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa. If you are entering the U.S. to work, then you might be seeking a J-1, H-1B or TN visa status. Most visas are issued for multiple entries and can be used for reentry while you are participating in your program in the United States.

Citizens of Bermuda and Canada

Citizens of Bermuda and Canada are an exception to the visa requirement. Students holding citizenship from either of these two countries do not need to visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a visa prior to entry into the United States. Instead, they must present their visa-related paperwork (Form I-20 or DS-2019, for example), valid passport and any additional related documents (SEVIS fee receipt, financial statements, contracts, acceptance letters, etc.) at the U.S. port of entry. The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer will review your documents, update your I-94 arrival record, and usually stamp your passport indicating the status in which you have been allowed to enter the United States.

Visa Application Steps

ISSS will email students who have been admitted and submitted a deposit for their program about four months before their program start date. For students who deposit within four months of their program start, ISSS will email you within 10 business days of completing the deposit step. The ISSS email will include instructions for how to proceed.  

If you are applying for a new visa to enter the United States on Middlebury-sponsored documents, you will follow a process as outlined below. 

  1. Most international students obtain an F-1 student visa. Exchange students, students joining us through a sponsored-program, or students receiving substantial funding from their governments often require J-1 visas. Use the links on the left side of this page to learn about the F-1 and J-1 visas.
  2. After ISSS sends the initial email, you will receive instructions to fill out the proper form(s) on the ISSS website and submit all required documents to ISSS within the requested timeframe. 
    • Usual documentation includes: 
      • Passport valid for at least 6 months after you plan to enter the U.S.
      • Financial document(s) dated within 6 months of the start of your program.  Must show enough funding to cover tuition, living expenses, and associated costs for one year.  Funds must be available and easily accessible, such as in a checking or savings bank account; investments, assets, or mutual funds cannot be used.  Additional details will be provided in the initial email from ISSS.
      • Signed Financial Sponsor Letter The bank account holder (the person whose name is on the financial document(s) provided) must submit a signed letter, written in English, declaring that they will be responsible for costs associated with your studies at Middlebury.
  3. ISSS will process your documents and contact you if more information is needed.
  4. Once everything is in order, ISSS will provide you with an I-20 or DS-2019 document via email. 
  5. After you receive the I-20/DS-209, you will receive instructions to pay the I-901 fee (government fee for F & J visa holders) and make an appointment at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, if applicable. 
    • Research the visa appointment wait time at your local U.S. embassy/consulate.  Embassies/consulates continually add new availability and appointment times, so check back regularly.
    • Some embassies/consulates have expedited appointments.  Check your local U.S. embassy/consulate for detailed visa application information and options.
  6. After you receive your passport and visa, you may travel to the U.S. to request entry.
  7. Enter the U.S. in your proper visa status within the allowable time frame to begin your program. ISSS will provide guidance about this when ISSS issues your I-20/DS-2019.
  8. To enter, you will need a valid passport and visa (if applicable), SEVIS Fee payment receipt, and your I-20 or DS-2019.
  9. Check-in with ISSS upon arrival (mandatory).  ISSS will provide instructions via email regarding our check-in procedures.

Students Maintaining F/J status and Renewing a Visa

Students who already hold F-1 or J-1 status intending to begin a program at Middlebury or are a continuing Middlebury student or scholar needing to renew a visa, please use the links on the left side of this page to learn about these processes for F-1 and J-1 visas.

Students in Non-degree Programs

Students participating in non-degree programs need to complete a specific visa process. Please contact isss@middlebury.edu if you have questions.

If you are attending a non-degree program that is offered at the Institute (such as CLS-Custom Language Services), please contact ISSS for more information about the type of visa you will need for your intended program of study. 

Special Note about Visitor Visa Waiver, B-1, or B-2 Status

Full-time study is not permitted in the B-1 (business) or B-2 (visitor) visa or in the visa waiver program. The B visa does permit visitors to the U.S. to take short-term classes that are not the primary purpose of the visitor’s presence in the U.S. If your program will be full-time, you will need to obtain an F-1 student visa or a visa that allows full-time study. Send questions about visas to isss@middlebury.edu.

Updated on 04/11/2024

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