Office of International Affairs International Student & Scholar ServicesVisa Process

The Student Visa Process

Most foreign visitors who come to the United States are required to get a visa before coming to enter the country.  A visa is issued by a United States consulate overseas.  To enter in a student status, the prospective student applies for either an F-1, or a J-1 Student visa. 

Texas Tech University will send you either a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status, or a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, when you are admitted to a program.  The I-20 or DS-2019 is used in applying for a visa.  In addition, students are usually required to show the letter of admission from the University, documentation of financial support for at least the first year of school, documentation of a permanent residence outside the United States which the student does not intend to abandon and to which the student intends to return after the period of study in the U.S., and evidence of English language ability.   Applicants for initial F-1 and J-1 visas also must provide evidence of payment to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of a SEVIS Fee.

The student submits the passport, I-20 or DS-2019, supporting documents, evidence of payment of the SEVIS Fee, pictures, fees and U.S. Department of State (DOS) visa application form DS-156 (available from the consulate) to the consulate.  Additional DOS forms may also be required.  The student must verify with the local consulate what procedures must be followed because documentation requirements and procedures may vary from one consulate to another.  In-person interviews are required.  The DOS provides information on many consular posts at  General information on visas is available from DOS at

Visas are usually issued up to 120 days before the program beginning date shown on the I-20 or DS-2019, but students cannot enter the United States more than 30 days before the reporting date.  When approved, the consular officer will place a visa foil in the passport of the student showing the period of validity and number of entries allowed.  The visa is usually annotated with the name of the school that the student will attend and may have other annotations. 

Using the passport, visa, and I-20 or DS-2019, the student can apply for admission upon arrival at the United States port-of-entry.  Financial and other supporting documents may also be required.  The officer will return the I-20 or the DS-2019, as appropriate, to the student along with an I-94 departure record stamped with the date of arrival and marked “F-1" or “J-1", as appropriate, and “D/S”.

The student and their dependents must present the passport, visa, I-94 and I-20 or DS-2019 to the Office of International Affairs within 15 days of entry into the United States.

Rev: 7/2007

Texas Tech University Office of International Affairs, MS 5004, 742-2974, fax 742-1286