UCI International Center

Applying for a Visa

Section 1

All non-immigrant visitors are required to have a valid visa in their passports to request 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.

F-1 and J-1 Visas

Applying for a F-1 or J-1 visa involves three main steps:

  1. Having a valid I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) visa document 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, some consulates will give priority to F-1 and J-1 student applicants, if requested.

Recommended Documents When Applying for a Visa

Visa StatusRecommended Documents
F-1/J-1 Student Passport (valid for at least six months into the future), 2 Recent Passport Photos (2"x2" inches), I-20/DS-2019 Visa Document, Admissions Letter (new students only), Proof of Enrollment and Official Transcripts (continuing students), Proof of Maintaining Close Ties to Home Country, Visa Application Fees, Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment, Current Financial Documents
J-1 Scholar Passport (valid for at least six months into the future), 2 Recent Passport Photos (2"x2" inches), DS-2019 Visa Document, Invitation/Appointment, Proof of Maintaining Close Ties to Home Country, Visa Application Fees, Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment, Current Financial Documents
H-1B Passport (valid for at least six months into the future), 2 Recent Passport Photos (2"x2" inches), Original Form I-797, Photocopies of Approved LCA and Form I-129, Department Letter of Employment/Appointment, Previously Issued H-1B Approvals, Proof of U.S. Health Insurance, Proof of Maintaining Close Ties to Home Country, Visa Application Fees, Current Financial Documents
F-2 Dependent Passport (valid for at least six months into the future), 2 Recent Passport Photos (2"x2" inches), I-20 Visa Document, Admissions Letter (new students only), Proof of Enrollment and Official Transcripts (of primary F-1 student), Proof of Maintaining Close Ties to Home Country, Visa Application Fees, Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment (of primary F-1 student), Current Financial Documents, UCI Acceptance Letter (for new students only) or Proof of Enrollment (for continuing students), Marriage Certificate (for spouse)
J-2 Dependent Passport (valid for at least six months into the future), 2 Recent Passport Photos (2"x2" inches), DS-2019 Visa Document, Admissions Letter (for students only), Proof of Enrollment and Official Transcripts (of primary J-1 student), Proof of Maintaining Close Ties to Home Country, Visa Application Fees, Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment (of primary J-1 student), Current Financial Documents, UCI Acceptance Letter (for new students only) or Proof of Enrollment (for continuing students), Marriage Certificate (for spouse)
H-4 Dependent Passport (valid for at least six months into the future), 2 Recent Passport Photos (2"x2" inches), Original Form I-797, Proof of Maintaining Close Ties to Home Country, Visa Application Fees, Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment, Current Financial Documents, Marriage Certificate (for spouse)

For more information about visa applications, 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. 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 internationalcenter@uci.edu so that we can advise you about your delayed arrival.

Automatic Visa Revalidation

"Automatic Revalidation" allows F, J, H, or O status holders under certain circumstances to re-enter the U.S. with an expired U.S. visa stamp in their valid passport after visiting Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for less than 30 days.

Re-Entry to the United States Using Automatic Visa Revalidation

For travel to Mexico, Canada, or adjacent islands* you may be able to re-enter the U.S. if your U.S. visa is expired or if your U.S. visa category has changed. This is called "automatic visa revalidation". The U.S. visa in your passport is considered valid and in current status for you to return to the U.S. To use automatic visa revalidation the requirements listed below must be met:

  • Valid I-94, Do not turn it in to officials or the airline staff when you leave the U.S.
  • Signed I-20 or DS-2019 for travel, or H-1B Approval Notice
  • Travel must be less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands
  • Have maintained and intend to maintain non-immigrant status
  • Has not applied for a new visa during trip
  • Has never had a visa cancelled under INA 222[g]
  • You are not an inadmissible as nonimmigrant under INA 212

*Adjacent Islands: Saint Pierre, Miquelon, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea [Cuba is not included]. You must verify entry requirements to Mexico and Canada by contacting the Mexican Consulate or the Canadian Consulate.

Citizens of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, or Syria cannot use “Automatic Visa Revalidation", determination is made by the U.S. Department of State.