How to Get a Visa

  • Step 1: Pay the SEVIS Fee

    Frequently Asked Questions about the SEVIS Fee

    All accepted international students and scholars applying for an F or J visa will become part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) when an I-20 or DS-2019 is created for you. SEVIS is a national tracking/monitoring system that will allow the U.S. government to monitor and track various events during your program of study. Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Office of International Education handles all SEVIS records for all international students and scholars. We are required to report your U.S.A. address, registration of classes, and any changes within your program at IUP. For more information, see Study in the States.

    As of September 1, 2004, all F, M, and J visa applicants must complete Form I-901 and pay a SEVIS fee, $200 for F Visa and $180 for J Visa, to the Department of Homeland Security before applying for a new visa. Take the receipt to your interview. Dependents and spouses are not required to pay. The purpose of the fee is to cover the costs of administering and maintaining SEVIS. If you have questions, please visit the Student and Exchange Visitor Program fee processing website for information on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website; call (from overseas) 011+ 785-330-1048; or e-mail

    By Internet

    Go to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program fee processing website and complete Form I-901 and make a payment via credit card. A receipt can be printed immediately. Do not forget to print a copy. It will take approximately three days for payment to be processed. Please allow plenty of time for this to clear before your visa interview.

    By Mail

    Form I-901 (print from website above) can be completed and mailed with payment to:

    I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
    1005 Convention Plaza
    St. Louis, MO 63101

    Western Union Quick Pay

    To find the Western Union closest to you, see Western Union’s Global Payment Solutions. If this is available in your country, print forms and instructions from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, bring them to a local Western Union, and request and complete a blue form.

    Students from these countries must pay by Western Union, check, or money order only: Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Kenya.
    Because of fraudulent I-901 fee charge-back practices in certain countries, SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) is currently unable to accept credit card payments made on behalf of students from the following countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Kenya. If you attempt to pay by credit card and are from one of these countries, your payment will not be processed. Contact the I-901 Helpline (314-418-8833) for assistance.

    Please make checks and money orders payable to I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee. Be sure to write your SEVIS ID on the check. Payment may be made by credit card, check, or money order in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank. We highly encourage you to use a credit card whenever possible, as it will generate the receipt you need quicker. A receipt will be given within three weeks. To expedite the process, the student or exchange visitor also has the option to use a courier to receive the I-797 receipt. The courier option is available at an additional cost of $35 and is a flat rate, so that the cost of the delivery does not depend on the country where the applicant is located. Once the fee is paid, keep your receipt of payment for visa interview. If your visa is denied, the SEVIS fee is valid for 12 months when reapplying for a visa. All initial attendance F, M, and J applicants must pay this fee before applying for a visa.

    Step 2: Make Visa Appointment

    Visa Wait Times 

    Plan as well in advance as possible. Contact your local embassy or consulate for an appointment. To find your closest U.S. Embassy, go to the list of embassies on the U.S. Department of State website. Visit your embassy or consulate’s website for specific application procedures. IUP does not have any power to influence your consular officials, so please do not ask us to call or fax letters to your consulate or embassy. Please use the IUP letters in your acceptance packet.

    As a student, you will be applying for an F-1 (I-20) or J-1 (DS-2019) visa. U.S. law states that F and J visas are given to persons who intend to remain in the U.S. temporarily and their primary purpose is for academics. Do not use Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s immigration document to obtain a visa if you do not plan to attend IUP. We will not transfer you to another institution during your first semester in the U.S.

    Step 3: Prepare for a Visa Appointment

    Prepare for a Visa Appointment

    What you will need to obtain a student visa:

    • I-20 or DS-2019
    • SEVIS fee receipt (see more explanation below)
    • Online Non-Immigrant Visa application DS-160. See your embassy website for more details and exceptions. Electronically submitting your DS-160 online application is only the first step in the visa application process. Once you have electronically submitted your DS-160 online application, you must contact your embassy or consulate at which you wish to apply to confirm whether you need to be interviewed by a consular officer and to schedule an interview.
    • Visa fee of $160
    • One passport photo (2" x 2")
    • Valid passport
    • Financial support letters and blank statements
    • IUP acceptance letter
    • IUP consular letter
    • Other documents as required by U.S. Embassy or consulate (TOEFL, GMAT, GRE scores, or transcripts from previous institutions are usually required)

    Note: To assist you with getting a U.S. driver’s license, identification card, and Social Security number in the U.S., make sure the date of birth, spelling, and order of names are the same on visa, I-20 or DS-2019, and I-94.

    Visa Interview Tips

    • Show all document listed above.
    • Be prepared to explain that you intend to return to your country and only remain in the U.S. temporarily.
    • Use documents from a family business, property, or bank statement to show ties to your country. Showing ties in the U.S. is not helpful.
    • Be prepared to explain your academic goals and planned course of study and why it is important for you to study in the U.S. as opposed to your country. Bring copies or official scores from standardized tests required for admission and transcripts from previous institutions. If you will be returning to a job in your country, a letter from your place of work would be helpful.
    • Be prepared to explain how you will be financially supported while in the U.S with documentation. You are required to show financial proof when applying to IUP. You should be able to show bank statements or letters from sponsors that match information on your I-20 or DS-2019. Bring deeds, tax returns, pay stubs—the more documents showing financial support, the better.
    • If your family is applying for F-2 visas, you will be asked to show proof of relationship to his/her spouse and/or children. It is preferable that families apply for visas at the same time.
    • 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Non-immigrant Visa


    If you have an F-1 or J-1 visa and have dependents who will accompany you to IUP:

    • Please e-mail or fax a copy of their passports, including: family name, first name, date of birth, country of birth, and relationship to you. Send this information to or fax 724-357-2514 so we may issue an I-20/DS-2019 for dependents.
    • Additional costs must be included on your I-20/DS-2019. The amounts for a nine-month period is $5,000 for spouse and $3,000 for each child. You will need to provide documentation for these additional funds if your current financial statement doesn't include this.
    • Please be sure to bring with you to IUP the English translation of the following documents for each child, or your child will have difficulty enrolling in school:
      • Birth certificate
      • Immunization records

    Step 4: Visa Approval or Denial

    You may check your visa application status by going to Visa Application Status Tracker.


    If your visa is denied, you can apply again within the same year. If you decide to defer until the next semester, notify the Office of International Education in writing as soon as possible. Your SEVIS fee is valid for twelve months.


    Please make plans for your housing and transportation.

    Step 5: What to Expect When You Enter the U.S.?