Applying for a Visa

All non-immigrant visitors are required to have a valid visa in their passports to be allowed entry into the U.S. Visas cannot be obtained within the U.S. For general information about getting a visa, see the Department of State website. For a printable version of materials the IC recommends for your visa interview, please see: Recomended Documentation for Renewing/Extending Your Visa.

F-1 and J-1 Visas

Getting an F-1 or J-1 entry visa involves three main steps:

  1. Obtaining or having a valid I-20 [F-1] or DS-2019 [J-1] from UC Irvine.
  2. Paying the SEVIS Fee, if applicable.
  3. Making a visa appointment and going to an interview at a U.S. consulate/embassy.

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a visa to enter the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1, but must still pay the SEVIS fee and present their valid visa document [I-20 or DS-2019] at the U.S. Port of Entry.

Visa Appointments

Read the U.S. Department of State web site for more information about the visa application process.

Visa Wait Times

Since visa appointments are limited and visa processing times can be lengthy, you should make your appointment as early as possible. Consulates will generally accept appointments up to 120 days prior to the start of your studies. There may be long waiting periods for apppointments, especially during May through August. However, consulates will give priority to F-1 and J-1 student applicants, if requested.

Visa Interviews

When you go for your visa interview, in general you will need:

  • Passport [valid for at least six months into the future]
  • Certificate of Eligibility I-20 [F-1] or DS-2019 [J-1]
  • UCI Acceptance Letter or UC Irvine Appointment Letter
  • Evidence of your financial support
  • Visa application forms and fees
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt [F-1 and J-1 only]

For more information about visa appllications, fees, or additional required documentation, it is best to check the consulate website for detailed instructions.

Security Clearances

In some cases the consulate may require a security clearance on your visa application. Your visa may be approved, but cannot be issued until the security check is cleared. It is common for the security clearance to take a couple of weeks and up to a couple of months. If you are subject to a security clearance that will cause a delay in your arrival,  please inform the IC by emailing so that we can advise you about your delayed arrival.


Travel Signature

Request Process


Tuesday, Wednesday,Thursday
9 - 11 a.m.
International Center

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Every Friday 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Counseling Center, Student Services I


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