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Visa FAQs

When and where do I apply for my visa?

  • Apply for visa at a U.S. consulate in your home country.
  • Some students may be able to apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate in a country other than your home country.  This is called a “third-country national (TCN)” application.  Not all U.S. consulates accept TCN applications, and this practice is not encouraged by the Department of State.  It can be risky to apply in a country other than your home country, and you may encounter greater processing delays.  You will not be able to re-enter the U.S. while your application is being adjudicated or if your application is denied.
  • Students are encouraged to return to their home country during long breaks (such as summer or winter) to apply for a new visa.

What financial documentation do I need to provide?

All students going through the visa process are required to submit documentation to prove sufficient financial resources for their first year of study at Georgia Southern, and potentially the source of funds for subsequent years.  This documentation MUST be submitted to the Office of International Programs and Services before a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 is issued.  For more information about specific financial requirements and documents, please visit our page, How to Apply for an I-20/DS-2019

Do I need to make an appointment at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy?

Yes.  The only exception made is for students traveling on Canadian or Bahamian passports.  Canadian and Bahamian citizens may apply for their F-1 visas at their Port of Entry to the United States.  Canadian citizens do not need to apply for J-1 visas for short-term study in the U.S.  All other document requirements remain the same and must be provided at the U.S. Border.

Can I transfer my F-1 status from another school?

Yes.  F-1 status can be transferred between institutions.  There are different instructions and deadlines for this process that you should be aware of.  Carefully read our instructions on transferring your F-1 status.

How can I pay the I-901 (SEVIS) fee?

After your form I-20 or form DS-2019 has been issued, we will send you an email message containing the information you will need to pay the I-901 (SEVIS) fee. This fee must be paid at least three days before your visa appointment, or entry to the U.S. if a visa is not required.  When paying the fee online, print at least two receipts.  Take the receipt (Form I-797) with you to your visa appointment and keep it permanently with your I-20 or DS-2019 forms.

Where can I find the forms I need to submit to Georgia Southern?

All forms can be found on the Applying for an 1-20/DS-2019 page.  Be sure to read all financial documentation instructions very carefully and ask for assistance if you are uncertain about the requirements.

I am a Canadian Citizen. Do I still need a J-1 visa and DS-2019?

Citizens of Canada do not need to apply for a J-1 visa. However, you will still need to have a DS-2019 issued to you by Georgia Southern University. You will need to take your DS-2019, proof of payment of the I-901 (SEVIS) fee, and financial documentation with you to the border or airport when you enter the United States.

Where do I send my documents?

Students seeking an F-1 visa should use the ISSS Portal to send their financial and SEVIS documentation to the Office of International Programs and Services.  Exchange students seeking a J-1 visa will also use the ISSS Portal to submit the required documentation as part of their entire exchange program application.  Instructions for this can be found on the Exchange Student Information page.

Can I participate in Georgia Southern study abroad/exchange programs as an International Student?

  • Students in valid F-1 or J-1 (except for current exchange students) status may participate in the study abroad and exchange programs offered at Georgia Southern.
  • If planning to participate on a study abroad, students in valid F-1/J-1 status should have:
    • A valid passport
    • Valid F-1/J-1 visa
    • Authorized travel signature that does not expire prior to returning to the U.S
  • Students should also carefully review the entry requirements for the country where you will study for citizens of your home country.  For example, if you are a Nigerian citizen who plans to study in France, your entry requirements may differ from U.S. citizen participants attending the program.  No matter what, be sure to consult with your International Student Advisor prior to studying abroad to see if and how these plans may affect your F-1 or J-1 status.

How can I invite my family members to visit me in the US?

During your studies at GS you may want to invite your parents or other family members to visit. Here are some suggestions to help them apply for a visitor’s visa (B-2) at a US consulate or embassy in their home country.

To facilitate their visa interview process you should do the following:

  • Write a letter of invitation. Include:
    • Purpose of the visit
    • Your relationship to the individuals
    • A statement of your status here
    • Itinerary details
    • The length of time they will be visiting (usually less than three months).
    • It is best to emphasize the temporary nature of the invitation and to demonstrate their intention to return to their home country following the visit. If you will provide their financial support while they are here, include that information as well.
  • Include an Enrollment Certification Letter (may be requested online from the Registrar’s Office) to confirm your student status. Graduate students who hold an RA/TA appointment may want to also attach a departmental funding letter.
  • If you are graduating and they are traveling to attend your commencement ceremony, provide fill out the graduation invitation letter request form.
  • For additional information about U.S. consulate/embassy locations and application procedures, review the U.S. Department of State visa information.

Providing your family members with this documentation may improve their chances of obtaining a visa; however, there is no guarantee a visa will be issued. The success of their request for a visa lies in their ability to prove that they have no intention of staying permanently in the U.S.

Please note that IPS advisers are unable to write letter of invitation for your family members.

What if I have issues re-entering the US?

If you have repeatedly had trouble entering the U.S., you may have a “flag” on your record. The reasons may vary, but you can ask to have the Department of Homeland Security review your record which may eliminate the problem. Request assistance here.

I still have questions.  Can I ask someone?

Of course!  First check the Study in the States website for your answers, and then contact us if you’d like.  Please contact our office at +1-912-478-0332.

The U.S. Department of State also provides easy access to U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions abroad that can provide up to date information on F-1 and J-1 visa requirements.

Last updated: 8/28/2015