All internationals are required to have a U.S. visa stamp for entrance to the U.S.* A U.S. visa stamp can only be issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad and cannot be issued or renewed from within the U.S. Once inside the U.S. a visa stamp may expire and an international may remain in the U.S. as long as their immigration documents are valid into the future (for example: I-20 or DS-2019). U.S. Visa Stamps serve no specific function once inside the U.S. and they do not provide proof of work eligibility.
Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a U.S. visa stamp for entrance to the U.S. Canadian citizens are however required to enter the U.S. in the appropriate immigration status (F-1, J-1, etc.). Canadian citizens should bring all required documentation with them to the border crossing (either at the airport or the land border crossing) and be sure to clearly present the documentation to the immigration officer to ensure that you are not admitted to tourist or visitor status. B1/B2 visitor visa regulations prohibit study and employment. Canadian “Landed Immigrants” are required to obtain a U.S. visa stamp for entrance to the U.S.
Visa Application Process
For accurate and complete details regarding the visa application process and to schedule your visa interview please see the U.S. Department of State website.
Locating your local U.S. Embassy/Consulate
Please see The U.S. Department of State website for a directory of local consulate websites: http://www.usembassy.gov. Please be sure to review the website of your specific local U.S. Embassy/Consulate because directions are often country and site specific.
Necessary Documents for your Visa Interview
- Passport (valid at least six months into the future)
- Certificate of Eligibility (for F-1 your I-20, for J-1 your DS-2019)
- Documentation of your Financial Support (Hopkins letter of departmental funding, bank statements, etc)
- Proof of Admission to Hopkins (students) or your Appointment Letter from Hopkins (scholars)
- SEVIS Fee Receipt (F-1 & J-1 only)
- All applicable visa application forms and fees
- Any other documents required by your local U.S. Consulate
Visa Wait Times
Visa appointment wait times vary significantly depending on the country of application and the time of year (the Christmas holidays and May, June and July can be busy times of year). For an estimate of current processing times at your local U.S. Consulate please see the U.S. State Department Visa Wait Times. We strongly encourage applicants to apply as early as possible. U.S. Consulates may only accept appointments up to 120 days prior to your scheduled start date (as indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019).
For some visa applicants additional security checks may need to be performed prior to a visa being issued. These security checks are often referred to as “Special Administrative Processing”. These are done for a variety of different reasons including your country of citizenship, field of study/research, having a name similar to that of an individual in a U.S. criminal database. It is important to understand that additional processing is not a visa denial it is a delay. Most processing will be completed within 60 days. Once this “Special Admnistrative Processing” has been initiated by the U.S. Consulate it cannot be stopped until it has been completed in Washington D.C. and no inquiries may be made on your behalf until 60 days have passed from the initiation of the processing. For additional information please see the U.S. State Department website on Administrative Processing.
Tip for Obtaining a Non-Immigrant Visa
Please remember that an F-1 and J-1 visa are non-immigrant visas, meaning that persons applying for these types of visas must demonstrate that they do not have the intention to immigrate to the U.S. It is important that in an interview you are prepared to discuss your future life plans that include your return to your home country.
What to do if your visa application is denied
Remain calm and ask for the reason for the denial in writing. Once you have received the denial take some time to write down as much about the interview as you can remember (i.e. the questions you were asked, the answers you provided and any supporting documentation that you provided to the consulate). Email this visa interview summary to an advisor at the OIS and we will review your denial and advise you on a path forward. You may reapply for your visa again, but it is not advisable to do so until/unless you can provide new and compelling information. An overview of information about visa denials can be found here.