Applying for F-1 or J-1 Visa

F-1 students (degree-seeking and non-degree visiting students)

Once you are admitted to the College of Charleston, you will receive a packet that contains your immigration form I-20.  You will need this form to apply for your F-1 Non-Immigrant Student visa at the nearest US consulate.

J-1 students (students on exchange programs)

Once you are admitted to the College of Charleston, you will receive a packet that contains your form DS-2019.  You will need this form to apply for your J-1 Non-Immigrant Student visa at the nearest US consulate.

For both F-1 and J-1 Applicants

STEP 1: Pay the Student/Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) Processing Fee
The U.S. Department of Homeland requires that all F-1 and J-1 non-immigrants seeking initial attendance visas from a U.S. Embassy to pay a processing fee of $350 for F-1 students and $220 for J-1 students. For details regarding these fees please visit the I-901 Fee Processing Website.
STEP 2:  Make a visa interview appointment
Once you have paid the SEVIS processing fee, you will need to make an appointment for a visa interview. Student visa applicants are required to appear in person at the US Embassy in their home country. Click here for a full list of US Embassies. In some circumstances, it may be possible to apply in another country, but students will have ask the specific Embassy or Consulate.
The wait time to receive a visa appointment will vary by location; therefore we strongly recommend that students apply early. Click here to view the current visa wait time at your local consulate. Please note that the US Embassy or Consulate cannot issue a visa more than 120 days before the program start date listed on your DS-2019 or I-20. However, they may allow you to schedule an appointment before 120 days.
Do not make a visa appointment prior to getting your I-20 or DS-2019 form and paying the SEVIS fee.
For additional information on how to apply for your visa, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s Student Visa page.
STEP 3: Interview process
What You Should Bring to Your Visa Interview:
  •       Form DS-160 confirmation page (Online Non-Immigrant Visa Application)
  •       Official acceptance letter from the College of Charleston
  •       SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
  •       Your I-20 or DS-2019
  •       Passport valid for at least 6 months in the future
  •       Proof of financial support
The visa officer at the embassy or consulate in your home country may request additional application materials. We recommend that you contact the Embassy or Consulate prior to your interview to ensure that you have all the required documentation for your visa.
Please note that this is primarily an interview and not a document review. You should be prepared to answer these sorts of questions:
  • Why do you want to study at the College of Charleston?
  • What you plan to study?
  • How will you use your education when you return to your home country?
  • What are your plans after finishing the degree?
  • Who is (financially) sponsoring your education?
The questions above are meant to give you an idea about what you may be asked and may differ from your actual interview. You should be able to respond to these sorts of questions in a few sentences. You may want to practice your responses in English with family and friends until you become comfortable.