Apply for a U.S. Visa

As visa processes are specific to each consular offices, and are subject to change, it is important to consult with the website of the consulate or embassy you will visit. You can find a U.S. consulate or embassy here. You must apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa well in advance of your program, as it can take several weeks, and sometimes longer, to obtain. To review visa appointment wait times, visit

While most international students attend Notre Dame on an F-1 visa, a J-1 visa is also available for some graduate and non-degree seeking students. More information about both visa types can be found here.

Before you begin the F-1 or J-1 student visa application process, you must complete the following steps.

Review and Sign Your Form I-20 or DS-2019

ISSA will issue a visa eligibility document to each student studying in F-1 or J-1 status.

  • F-1 students will be issued a Form I-20.
  • J-1 Exchange Visitor Students will be issued a Form DS-2019.

Instructions for requesting the I-20 or DS-2019 from ISSA can be found here

Once ISSA has issued a Form I-20 or DS-2019 for your program at Notre Dame, it will be emailed to you. Though this visa eligibility document has been issued by Notre Dame, it is produced by Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and captures important information about your Notre Dame program, including your SEVIS record number (which starts with an N), and verifies your eligibility for an F-1 or J-1 visa.

Review the information on your I-20 or DS-2019, including your program start date, to ensure it is accurate before signing.

If you have family members traveling with you in F-2 or J-2 dependent status, each dependent will have their own Form I-20 or DS-2019. Those will be mailed out with your documents. 

Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee and Print Receipt

All new students coming in F-1 or J-1 status must pay a one-time SEVIS I-901 fee prior to applying for a visa:

  • the F-1 SEVIS fee is $350
  • the J-1 SEVIS fee is $220

Though each dependent is issued their own SEVIS number, there is no SEVIS I-901 fee for dependents. 

We recommend waiting until the visa appointment has been scheduled and is within two weeks of the payment date. 

Once you have paid the fee, print off the receipt, as that must be presented during your visa interview and at the U.S. port of entry. If you will transfer to Notre Dame with the same SEVIS number but need to apply for a new visa, you can use the receipt from your original SEVIS fee payment.

If you are a citizen of Canada, you will not need a U.S. visa to enter the country; however, you will need to present the SEVIS fee payment receipt at the U.S. port of entry. 

Complete the DS-160 Online Visa Application

All students applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa must first complete the DS-160 online visa application. For an overview of the online application process, watch here (starting at :40). Once you have completed the DS-160 application, you will be directed to schedule an interview appointment. 

The DS-160 asks about your contact at the University of Notre Dame. While graduate students can choose your departmental advisor's information, all students can use the advisor's name listed on your Form I-20 or DS-2019 with this contact information: 

International Student & Scholar Affairs 
105 Main Building
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Phone: (574) 631-1138
Fax: (574) 631-5711

Additional information requested, like code for field of study, your SEVIS number, and the University's school or program code, can be found on your Form I-20 or DS-2019: 

School code: found under School Information (I-20)

SEVIS ID: starts with the letter N, and is in the top left corner of the Form I-20 and the top right corner of the DS-2019. 

The Department of State also has a FAQ page here, which addresses both content and technical questions. 

Once you have completed the DS-160, print off the DS-160 barcode page to take to the visa appointment. You will now schedule your visa interview appointment by visiting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will be interviewed.

It is important to visit the appropriate site directly for country-specific instructions, as each location may have a different status. If there are no visa appointments currently available, you will need to keep checking the location site for more appointments to open. As noted above, it is important to continue to monitor the appointment sites for open appointments, and there are limitations on applying for an expedited appointment.

Special Note about applying outside of your country of citizenship: Generally, first time F-1 and J-1 student visa applicants must apply in their country of citizenship, but exceptions do exist. It is your responsibility as the applicant to reach out to embassies or consulates you want to apply at for more information about whether they allow third country applicants to apply for a visa there. This availability varies by country. 

Prepare for the Visa Interview

At the visa interview, you will need to present:

  • the DS-160 non-immigrant visa application receipt;
  • your valid passport, with at least six months validity remaining after your program start date;
  • a Form I-20 or DS-2019 issued by the University of Notre Dame;
  • passport-sized photos;
  • a SEVIS fee payment receipt;
  • the visa application (MRV) fee payment receipt number (visit your embassy’s or consulate’s website for more information); the MRV fee is $160 for the F-1 and J-1 visas
  • letter of admission from the University of Notre Dame;
  • proof of English language proficiency;
  • proof of financial support for your studies at Notre Dame;
  • proof of your intention to depart the United States after the completion of your studies; and
  • other documents detailed on that U.S. embassy or consulate’s website.

Special Notes for Students: 

ISSA is receiving many requests for assistance with emergency visa appointments. Please note that you cannot apply for an emergency visa appointment until you are within 2-4 weeks of your program start date (varies by consulate), and you often only have one opportunity to apply for an emergency visa appointment. Your I-20/DS-2019 and admission letter are sufficient to apply, once you are within the eligible timeline, but this does not guarantee an appointment or approval by the consular officer. Ultimately, all consular timelines and processes are established by the U.S. Department of State, and we must abide by their timelines. 
  • You may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to your program start date, as indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019. If you try to enter more than 30 days prior, you may be denied entry and are responsible for all costs associated with the denial.
  • You may not enter the U.S. after your program start date. If you have not entered the U.S. by your program start date, please contact ISSA to discuss changing your start date.
  • Students admitted to the University of Notre Dame should not enter the country on visitor visas (B-1/B-2 visas).  
  • The expiration date on your visa may not match the program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019. If your visa expires during your program, you do not need to renew it until you depart the U.S. and need to reenter. 
  • Ultimately, the U.S. Department of State grants the visa, and the U.S. Custom and Border Protection authorizes entry to the U.S.  

Special Note for F-2 and J-2 Dependents: 

Each visa applicant must complete and submit their own DS-160 and pay a visa application fee prior to the interview.