Visa Application Process

Congratulations on your admission to Bowling Green State University!

There are two things you should do to increase your chances of a favorable decision on your visa application: first, have all the required documentation; second, be prepared.

Steps to obtain your Visa

Most of the procedures and requirements for applying for the F-1/J-1 visas are standardized for all U.S. Embassies/Consulates abroad. However, some procedures can be specific for the particular country. For detailed information on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s requirements and procedures in the country where you are planning to apply for a visa, please visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you. This website also provides information on how long it takes to have the interview and get a visa. If you cannot find answers to your questions about visas at the embassy website, you may contact the EducationUSA advising center nearest you.

When you receive from the University a form I-20 (if you are applying for an F-1 visa), or a form DS-2019 (if you are applying for a J-1 visa), you need to check the following:

  • Is your name spelled correctly and in the same form as it appears in your passport?
  • Is the other information correct - date and country of birth, degree program, reporting date, completion date, financial information?
  • Is it signed by a college official?
  • Has the reporting date ("student must report no later than") passed? Note: The form I-20/DS-2019 cannot be used after the reporting date.

Please read instructions on page 2 of the form and sign the page 1. Signing the form means that you understand the main regulations of the visa status that you need to follow once you are in the United States.

If you are an undergraduate, click here for important information about your Form I-20.

If you are a graduate, click here for important information about your Form I-20.

Among the things you will need to do is to pay the SEVIS Fee. Information on paying the SEVIS fee and confirming that your payment has been received can be found at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm. You will need to pay a visa processing fee and make an appointment for the visa interview in accordance with the requirements of the particular U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the country where you are located. You should also make sure you have all the documentation you will need when you go for the interview, including the visa-qualifying document (I-20 or DS-2019), financial support documents, proof of payment of the SEVIS and visa fees, and a completed visa application form. Ensure that you complete the visa application correctly by following the Department of State website procedures carefully.

Be prepared for the interview!

Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point. Written documents you are presenting must be concise, easily read and evaluated. Remember that the interview takes only a few minutes; the officer must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions he/she forms during the first minute of the interview.

The Consular Officer must be satisfied on three counts:

First, are your ties to home so strong that you will not want to remain permanently in the United States?

  • Laws generally state that you must demonstrate sufficient economic, family, and social ties to your place of residence to ensure that your stay in the U.S. will be temporary.
    • Economic ties: These include your family's economic position, property you may own or stand to inherit, your own economic potential when you come home with a U.S. education, as well as evidence of your career planning and your knowledge of the local employment scene.
    • Family and social ties: How many close family members live in your home country, compared to those living in the States? What community or school activities have you participated in that demonstrate a sincere connection to your town or country? What leadership, sports, and other roles have distinguished you as a person who wants to come home and contribute your part?
Second, are you a bona fide student?
 
The officer will ask about your educational background and plans in order to assess how likely you are to enroll and remain in college until graduation. Be prepared to discuss the reasons you chose a particular college, your anticipated major, and your career plans. Bring school transcripts, national examination results, and SAT or TOEFL scores (if these tests were required by your college) and anything else that demonstrates your academic commitment.
 
Third, is your sponsor financially capable?
 
Visa requirements differ from country to country, but generally the consular officer wants to see assurances that you will not drop out of school or take a job illegally. How can you show that your sponsor is able to finance your education?

Your chances are improved if your parents are sponsoring your education. If anyone other than your parents is sponsoring you, you should explain your special relationship with this person, who may be committing tens of thousands of dollars to your education.

Provide solid evidence of your sponsor's finances. This assures the Consular Officer that adequate funds will be available throughout your college program. If your sponsor's income is from several different sources (such as salary, contracts or consulting fees, a farm, rental property, investments), have the sponsor write a letter listing and documenting each source of income.

Below is some useful information concerning the visa application process "IF"

Most students enter the United States on an F-1 (student) visa to be enrolled in a full-time degree program. To be eligible for this visa, they must obtain a Form I-20 “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status” issued by the University where they plan to study. Dependents of an F-1 visa holder are classified as F-2. Spouses in F-2 status may not accept employment in the U.S. or be full time students. Part-time study is allowed but only as avocational or recreational in nature. F-2 children are allowed to study in elementary and secondary schools.

Some students enter the U.S. on a J-1 “Exchange Visitor” visa. This visa is for people who are participating in an Exchange Visitor Program administered by the U.S. Department of State for the purpose of educational and cultural exchange. Participants of this program (such as Reciprocity students) must have the form DS-2019 “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status” issued by the program sponsor in order to apply for a J-1 visa. Dependents of a J-1 visa holder are classified as J-2. These individuals may study and are eligible to work upon obtaining employment authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

International Student Services will mail you the form I-20 (for F-1 visa) or DS-2019 (for J-1 visa) after you have been admitted to the university and submitted the required evidence of financial support. The Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019) must be presented together with your unexpired passport and evidence of financial support as well as other required documents at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy when you apply for an F-1 student or a J-1 student visa.

If you are now studying at a U.S. university and planning to study at the Bowling Green State University, you must be in valid F-1 status to be eligible for transfer. Upon your admission to Bowling Green State University, you will receive a letter from International Student Services explaining the transfer procedure and listing documents that must be submitted to International Student Services before the form I-20 “Transfer Pending” will be issued and sent to you.

Upon arrival to Bowling Green, you must come to International Student Services with your immigration documents and the I-20 “Transfer Pending” to complete your transfer and receive a new I-20 “Transfer Completed” verifying your valid F-1 status as a student at Bowling Green State University.

Please remember that your transfer should be completed no later than within two weeks of the starting semester. Failure to do so results in the violation of your nonimmigrant status.

If you plan to leave the U.S. before attending Bowling Green State University, please be sure to get the Form I-20 “Transfer Pending” before your re-entry so that you may use this form to re-enter the U.S. or to apply for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy, if necessary.

Note: If you are out of status, you need to discuss reinstatement to valid status with International Student Services.

The University does not require you to change your status to F-1 or J-1 student status to be enrolled. However, if you are in F-2 status, immigration regulations require that you change your status to F-1 before enrolling in a university. If you want to change from your present status to student or exchange visitor visa status, please contact International Student Services.

If your application is denied, the Consular Officer is required to give you an explanation in writing. You do have the right to apply a second time, but if you reapply, make sure to prepare much more carefully. The Consular Officer will want to see fresh evidence sufficient to overcome the reasons for the first denial.

If you have been issued a visa to enter the United States, you will not be allowed to enter the country more than 30 days before the start of your program.

U.S. immigration law governs the entry of all visitors to the United States, including students and exchange visitors. It details what they are authorized to do during their stay in the country. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the agency responsible for ensuring that these visitors comply with U.S. law and regulations. When you arrive in the United States, you come under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, and one of the three units within DHS responsible for non-U.S. citizens: the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection; the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau.

On your plane to the U.S. or when you arrive in the U.S., you will receive a Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record). Please safeguard this form; it contains the official record of your admission, your nonimmigrant status and the period of authorized stay in the United States. For more information about arriving in the U.S., see

"Arriving at a U.S. Port of Entry --- What a Student can Expect," (for F-1/J-1) 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Web site


After you arrive in Bowling Green, you are required to attend the International Student Services' Orientation Session where immigration rules will be discussed and handouts on maintaining valid status will be provided to you. You may also schedule a meeting with International Student Services to discuss any questions or concerns you have about immigration regulations and requirements.