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Student visa eligibility

Once you have successfully completed your financial review, Ohio State will issue to you a Certificate of Eligibility (form I-20 for the F-1 Student Visa, or form DS-2019 for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa). You will need to present a valid I-20 or DS-2019 to the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country.

Once you receive your I-20 or DS-2019, you also will be required to pay a SEVIS fee as part of the visa application process. You will need to have the receipt from this fee payment when you visit the embassy to obtain your visa -- read more about that below.

Please keep copies of all financial documents to present to the U.S. consulate when applying for your visa.
If you are already in the United States and are uncertain of how to proceed, please contact Graduate and Professional Admissions. If you do not need an I-20 or DS-2019, state your status on the application.

Apply for your student visa

If you need a student visa (F-1 or J-1) to study at Ohio State and…

…you are currently attending an institution in the United States:

Your SEVIS International Student Transfer Form will be emailed to you prior to your Notice of Admission. You will receive your visa eligibility document—I-20 (for the F-1 visa) or DS-2019 (for the J-1 visa)—from Ohio State after your SEVIS record is released from your previous school. If you will be traveling outside the United States prior to the start of classes, you must contact the Office of International Affairs to receive your new document prior to re-entering the United States. If you are staying in the United States between programs, you may pick up your document when you attend check-in with OIA. Please follow the instructions on the SEVIS form to ensure you receive your visa eligibility document at the appropriate time. Read “Important visa issues” below.

…you are currently attending Ohio State in another program:

An OSU Level Change Form will be sent to our Office of International Affairs. You will receive your visa eligibility document—I-20 (for the F-1 visa) or DS-2019 (for the J-1 visa)—from Ohio State prior to the start of your new program. If you will be traveling outside the United States prior to the start of your new educational level, you must contact OIA to receive your new document prior to re-entering the United States. Please follow the instructions on the OSU Level Change Form to ensure you receive your visa eligibility document at the appropriate time. Read “Important visa issues” below.

…you are currently attending school outside the United States:

Your visa eligibility document—I-20 (for the F-1 visa) or DS-2019 (for the J-1 visa)—will be sent to you. You will need to make an appointment with the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy to apply for a visa. Read “Important visa issues” below.

To obtain a visa, take the following documents to a U.S. consulate:

  • passport (valid for at least six months into the future)
  • I-20 (for F-1 visa) or DS-2019 (for J-1 visa)
  • proof of financial support (private sponsor’s affidavit of support and bank statement, or support letter from academic department, or letter from sponsoring agency or government)
  • proof of additional funding for family members who will enter the U.S. on the F-2 or J-2 visa, and marriage or birth certificates of family members applying for the F-2 or J-2 visa (accompanying family members need their own I-20 or DS-2019 in order to get a visa and enter the U.S.)
  • receipt for payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee; for more information, visit oia.osu.edu and click on International Students and Scholars, then International Students, then Visa Information, then SEVIS Fee
  • your Ohio State notice of admission

Note for Canadian citizens: Canadian citizens do not need a U.S. visa. At the port of entry you will be asked to show your I-20 or DS-2019, Canadian passport, receipt of SEVIS payment, and proof of financial support. Please make sure your passport is correctly stampled with "F-1" or "J-1" and "D/S" upon entry.

Important visa issues

  • In addition to the documentation listed above, you will need to demonstrate to the U.S. consular officer that you have a home address which you do not intend to abandon, that you have substantial ties to your home country, and that you will return there when you’ve completed your studies.
  • The J-1 visa often has a two-year home residency requirement. This requirement means that the visa holder must return to his or her home country for two years after completing the exchange visitor program.
  • Plan to enter the U.S. on the F-1 or J-1 visa. Those entering the U.S. on the visa waiver program cannot change status in the U.S.
  • Apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa using the I-20 or DS-2019 for the university in which you intend to enroll. If you have been admitted and received an I-20 or DS-2019 from a university other than Ohio State, please be aware that if you apply for the visa and enter the U.S. on that school’s documents, you will be required to report to that school.

Information on U.S. consulate policies, procedures, requirements and visa wait times can be found at the U.S. Department of State website: travel.state.gov. Get more visa information: Office of International Affairs Visa Information page.