This website has detailed information about getting an initial F-1 or J-1 visa. Continuing students or scholars should see OIE's Renewing Visa website for Continuing Students and Scholars for information on renewing visas.
The U.S. State Department’s website has detailed information explaining the requirements for applying for an F-1 visa or J-1 visa. You are eligible to apply for a visa up to 120 days before the Program Start Date listed on your I-20/DS-2019. Please note, wait times for visa appointments differ, so please plan accordingly based on the embassy or consulate where you will apply. You can find average visa wait times at the State Department's website.
Note: You should not make your appointment with the U.S. embassy or consulate until after you have received your I-20 or DS-2019 from Georgia Tech.
Preparing for Your Appointment
You will be required to complete the following steps before your visa appointment:
1. Pay the I-901 “SEVIS Fee.” The easiest way to do this is through www.fmjfee.com, but you can do so by mail as well- see the I-901 FAQ for more information. To pay the I-901 fee, you will need your SEVIS Identification number (N000_ _ _ _ _ _ _) found at the top, right corner of your I-20 or DS-2019. Make sure to bring your payment receipt to your visa application appointment.
2. Complete the online Visa application (DS-160).
3. Pay the Visa Application Processing Fee. Students from certain countries will also have to pay a Visa Reciprocity Fee.
*ISSS suggests that graduate students and scholars come to the visa appointment with the following documents: a CV with a complete list of publications, summary of research activities current and past, official academic records, and an abstract of thesis when applicable.
During Your Appointment
You will be required to bring the following items to the Embassy or Consulate for your appointment:
1. I-20/DS-2019 from Georgia Tech
2. Passport (valid at least 6 months beyond your Program Start Date)
3. I-901 Fee payment receipt
4. Visa Application Fee
5. DS-160 confirmation receipt
6. Admission letter from Georgia Tech
7. Verification of financial resources (this should be the same documentation that you sent to Georgia Tech)
8. Proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS score, for example)
*During the appointment, you should be prepared to discuss your purpose of being in the U.S. Simply handing a Consular Officer your documents will not suffice; you should be able to explain your goals and objectives of your time in the U.S.
After Your Appointment
Once your visa is issued, check to make sure that all of the information is correct. If the spelling of your name, your date of birth, or country of citizenship differs from your passport, you could experience delays entering the United States. Contact the embassy or consulate if you notice any errors on your visa.
Students may use the U.S. Department of State website to check their U.S. visa application status using an 'Immigrant Visa Case Number.'
Administrative processing may be required of an applicant for a variety of reasons: a "hit" during a name check; being a national of certain countries; studying/researching a field on the Technology Alert List (TAL); or based on the "intuition" of the interviewing consular.
Georgia Tech and the Office of International Education are not able to assist with any process expeditions. Administrative processing can take anywhere from 2 weeks to several months.
Name check: every applicant for a visa must undergo a name check through the Consolidated Consular Database (CCD). If the applicant's name matches a name in the database noted as a "problem," administrative processing may be required.
Nationality: being a national of particular countries may also require administrative procesing. National may mean the applicant has dual citizenship, was once a citizen of certain countries, or was born in one of those countries. The only way to avoid this is if proof of renunciation of a particular citizenship is in writing.
Technology Alert List (TAL): many of the fields of study listed on the TAL are broadly stated, which results in a number of administrative processing cases. Detailed and concise explanations of the specific research that the applicant will engage in may decrease the need for administrative processing, if the research is clearly not of strategic importance.
Institution: consular officers are asked to use their own impressions to request administrative processing if they are at all unsure of whether it is necessary or not.
Change of Status From F-1
F students interested in changing to a status other than F2, J1 or J2 should consult an immigration attorney. OIE does not have the expertise to advise students on other statuses.
However, it is important that students notify OIE when they change immigration status or would like to abandon their F status while a change of status application is pending.
Login to iStart and review the information in the Change of Status from F1/F2 e-form.
If the change of status has been approved or you would like to abandon your F-1 status while an application is pending, complete the e-form. In the e-form, upload proof of your pending/approved change of status. Examples include:
paper I-94 card issued by Customs and Border Protection along with the corresponding entry visa
electronic I-94 card along with the corresponding entry visa
I-797 notice of action containing the I-94 card issued by USCIS
front and back of the U.S. permanent residency card (green card)
U.S passport or naturalization documents
An International Student Advisor will review your request within 5 business days and either terminate or complete your SEVIS record depending on your individual situation and remove your F-1 status from the Georgia Tech information system.
Important Reminders for All Students with Terminated/Completed F-1 SEVIS Records Due to a Change of Status:
Not eligible for F-1 benefits such as on-campus work benefit or off-campus work authorization (OPT or CPT).
No longer automatically enrolled in Georgia Tech's international student health insurance plan.
Are responsible for providing the Registrar's Office with proof of the change of status.
If employed on-campus, are responsible for providing Human Resources with proof of the approved/pending change of status to update their tax and employment documentation.
Important: It is possible to possess an approved change of status application but the change of status is not yet effective (i.e. an H1B application approved in May but an effective date of October 1st). If a change in employment occurs between the approval notice date and effective date (i.e. discontinuation of employment by H1B sponsor), students must contact the OIE immediately to prevent the termination of their F1 status.
Additional Considerations for Students with Pending U.S Permanent Residency Applications and Requesting a Termination of Their F-1 Status:
Consult an immigration attorney before choosing to terminate F-1 status prior to receiving legal permanent residency.
Will require a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS in order to be employed.
OIE will no longer be able to make updates to your student visa status
If the permanent residency application is denied, you will be considered to be out of status (that is, unlawfully in the U.S.)