Most students coming to the United States to study in either F-1 or J-1 status must apply for a student visa. The visa is a stamp in the passport that permits an individual to apply for entry at a U.S. port of entry. The visa only needs to be valid at the time you are entering the U.S.; it does not need to be valid for the entire duration of your studies.

Applying for a Visa Stamp

Visa processing times may vary depending on the country and the time of year. To find processing times at the consulate/embassy at which you will be applying, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Prior to applying for the visa, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Pay the SEVIS Fee
  2. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to schedule a visa appointment; to find the nearest embassy, please refer to the State Department website

If you are in the process of obtaining your F-1 or J-1 visa, the following websites may be of help to you as you prepare for your visit to a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Visa Exceptions

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda

If you are a citizen of either Canada or Bermuda, you do not need an F-1 or J-1 visa stamp to enter the U.S.; however, you are required to carry the following documents when entering in student status:

  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Proof of SEVIS fee (I-901) payment
  • Valid passport

Be sure to also have your Illinois Tech (Chicago-Kent College of Law/Institute of Design) admission letter.

Canadian-landed immigrants need to apply for the F-1 or J-1 visa at the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy.