Services for International Students and Scholars

J-1 Visa Application Process

A nonimmigrant visa is the proof of assessment conducted by the officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that certifies a person may seek admission to the U.S. for a specific purpose. Therefore, you will need to submit certain required documents at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to explain the purpose of your visit to the U.S. Your Certificate of Eligibility document (DS-2019) is necessary to obtain a nonimmigrant (J-1) student visa to attend Northeastern University. Do not enter the United States in Visitor status (B-1, B-2, WT, or WB). If you enter the U.S. on a tourist visa or on Visa Waiver Program you will be required to leave the U.S. in order to re-enter on a proper student visa. For detailed information please refer to the website:

No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore, it is recommended that final travel plans or the purchase of nonrefundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued. After the visa is granted and processed, check your passport to be sure you received a J-1 visa stamp, and that any dependents received J-2 visa stamps. Also, be certain that the original DS-2019 was returned to you, as you must have the original with you when you arrive to the United States. Sometimes, the document is returned to you in a sealed envelope (in this case, do not open the envelope), which must be presented to the immigration inspector when you arrive.

Obtaining a visa

If you are intending to attend Northeastern University, then you will need to use Northeastern’s DS-2019 to pay the SEVIS fee and apply for a student visa. To obtain a student visa, the applicant must submit a valid DS-2019 form issued by Northeastern to the U.S Embassy or Consulate in his/her country. Students are encouraged to apply for their visa as soon as they receive the DS-2019 to provide ample time for visa processing. Once students have received their J visa, they are permitted to enter the U.S. 30 days in advance of the report date if they wish. In most countries, student visa applicants must appear in person for interview. However, each U.S. Embassy and Consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas, thus students should consult Embassy websites or call for specific application instructions. For the current listings of U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad, we recommend the following web link from the U.S. Department of State (DoS): For the latest information on visa processing, required material, visa applications and processing times please visit the following website:

Necessary Documents

In general, international students may apply for a J-1 visa by presenting the following documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

  1. Certificate of Eligibility for nonimmigrant visa (DS-2019) issued by Northeastern University. Your assigned SEVIS ID number is in the upper right corner of page
    • Check to see that all information is correct. (Please note: the spelling of your name and your date of birth must be exactly the same as what appears in your passport). Read the regulations governing J visa status on page 2 and sign and date the bottom of page
    • 1. Read and sign the DS-2019 prior to presentation at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  2. Valid passport (passport must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the United States.)
  3. Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition (if applicable) and living expenses during the period you intend to study. At a minimum, you must prove that you have sufficient funds for the length of your intended period of study as reflected on your DS-2019. If you have more than one source of funding, please provide the required documentation corresponding to each source listed on the DS-2019 (e.g.: personal or family funds, sponsorship letter, Northeastern award or scholarship letter, etc.)
  4. Proof of the SEVIS I-901 fee payment (see additional information below)
  5. Admission letter from Northeastern University
  6. Complete Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (Form DS-160). Access the online DS-160 form: and Frequently Asked Questions:
  7. One photograph, the detailed information is available at
  8. Visa Application Fee: Check with the Consulate for the fee amount and how it must be paid, or visit the website (This is separate from the SEVIS fee.)
    All applicants should be prepared to provide additional information, such as transcripts and diplomas from previously attended institutions, TOEFL and SAT scores, or documents which demonstrate that the applicant intends to return home after his/her studies, etc.


A SEVIS fee receipt must be included with most visa applications. Those seeking a J-1 visa are subject to a SEVIS fee of $180. For detailed information, please refer to the website Students should also be prepared to present this payment receipt at the U.S. port-of-entry. Canadian citizens must also pay the SEVIS fee before entering the U.S. J-2 dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS fee. The SEVIS fee cannot be processed at the U.S. consulate or U.S. ports-of-entry. (SEVIS I-901 FAQs:

Accompanying family members (J-2 visa holders)

Spouse and/or children (under age 21) will receive his /her own SEVIS-generated DS-2019, with his/her own SEVIS ID number. The J-2 visa may be obtained by presenting to a U.S. consulate the dependent’s DS-2019 form and proof of adequate funding for support of the family member. Proof of marriage for spouse and a birth certificate for each child may be requested for J-2 visa applicants. You are also required to complete a separate visa application form for each child, even if they are included on a parent’s passport. It is preferred that families apply for J-1 and J-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring copies of the student visa holder’s passport with the J-1 visa stamp, and his/her DS-2019 along with all other required documents.

Canadian citizens

do not need a J-1 student visa, but they must have a DS-2019 and pay the SEVIS fee before entering the U.S. Upon the receipt of the DS-2019 from Northeastern, Canadian students may enter the U.S. by presenting the DS-2019, valid passport, the admission letter from Northeastern, evidence of financial support, and proof of SEVIS I-901 fee payment. The SEVIS fee cannot be paid at the port of entry.

Admission to the United States

According to immigration regulations, J-1 student visa holders can seek admission to the U.S. up to 30 days prior to a program’s report date as shown on the DS-2019. At the U.S. port of entry, you will be required to present your valid passport and the DS-2019 Form to a representative of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). After reviewing all of required documents a CBP officer will stamp your passport if admission is granted. An admission stamp will show the date of admission and class (J-1) of admission, and the duration of your stay. In most cases, the officer notes “D/S” (i.e. “Duration of Status”) on the stamp. This means that you are allowed to stay in the U.S. for the length of time indicated on your DS-2019 Form, so long as you are maintaining full-time enrollment at the school that issued your DS-2019 Form. Be sure that your passport is properly stamped before exiting the inspection area at U.S. Port of Entry. For detailed information please visit U.S. Custom and Borders Protection at

Reporting to Northeastern and the OGS

International students should arrive on campus no later than the program’s report date and report in person to the Office of Global Services (OGS) during scheduled International Student Check-in. Completing International Student Check-in is essential for compliance with University policies and federal government requirements. Failure to register with the OGS in a timely manner may result in the loss of your lawful J-1 status.

Health insurance requirement for J Exchange visitors

J Exchange Visitors are required to meet the health insurance requirements set forth in regulations issued by the Department of State:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
  • Repatriation of remains in case of death in the amount of $25,000;
  • Expenses in the amount of $50,000 associated with the medical evacuation of the J Exchange Visitor to his or her home country;
  • A deductible amount not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

As a J Exchange Visitor, health insurance that satisfies the above-mentioned requirements is mandatory and must be maintained throughout the duration of your program. The Northeastern Student Health Insurance plan satisfies these requirements.

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

A J Exchange Visitor may be subject to the “Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.” ( If the exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement, he or she cannot change his/her status to that of H, L, K, or immigrant lawful permanent resident (LPR) until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two years or received a waiver of that requirement. To become subject to this requirement, one of the following criteria is met:

What is the exchange visitor (J-1) visa and what are the categories?

An exchange visitor (J) is a non-immigrant visa category for individuals that have been approved to participate in the U.S. in exchange visitor programs.

To see a list of the exchange visitor categories and programs, please visit the U.S. Department of State here:

How long will it take for me to receive my J-1 visa?

It is important to note that interview and processing times for the J-1 visa can be different depending on the country from where you are applying. You can check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for estimated interview wait times and for further information regarding visa processing times.

Please check here at

Remember if you are starting a new program on a J-1 visa, you are not permitted to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date of your program.

What is the SEVIS fee?

The I-901 SEVIS fee is a government administrative fee required for most visa applications for students and exchange visitors. The SEVIS fee must be paid before your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You should be prepared to bring your I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt to your interview at the embassy or consulate. For more information about the SEVIS fee, please see

How much do I have to pay for the SEVIS fee?

For exchange visitors (J-1), the I-901 SEVIS fee is $180. You will need the SEVIS number on your DS-2019 in order to pay the fee. The fee can be paid on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) SEVIS I-901 Fee Processing website –

Is it possible for me to apply for a J-1 visa inside of the U.S.?

You will need to apply for the exchange visitor J-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. To search for an Embassy or Consulate near you, please check here:

How much will I have to show in funding for one year, if I am bringing my spouse and child?

If you will have dependents accompany you during your study in the U.S., you will need to show proof of additional funding on your financial documents. For your spouse: add $10,000 to the estimated expenses for your program of study. For your child/children: add $6,000 per person to the estimated expenses for your program of study.

Can I bring family members as dependents who are not a spouse or children?

The J-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that is issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate only for spouses and children. This would include unmarried children under the age of 21.

Can I transfer to Northeastern as a J-1 student?

You may be eligible to obtain a Northeastern DS-2019 as a transfer student; however, the U.S. institution from where you are transferring out has to process your transfer request before the completion date of your current program at that institution. The area of study for your transfer program at Northeastern must be the same as your area of study at your current institution. You will need to work with your current institution’s international student office in order to follow the transfer out process and you will also need to work with Northeastern’s Office of Global Services for the transfer-in process.