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F-1 & J-1 Student Visa

student visa

J-1 Visa

You are eligible for a J-1 Visa if you fulfill the following criteria:

  • You will be financed directly or indirectly by the U.S. government, the government of their home country, or supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds (scholarships, assistantships, or fellowships);
  • You are participating in an exchange agreement or program;
  • You are pursuing academic training in a non-degree program. The maximum duration of a non-degree program is 24 months.

 

F-1 Visa

You are eligible for an F-1 via if you fulfill the following criteria:

  • You want to study at the University of Cincinnati as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student.
  • You will be paying for most of your education through personal or family funds.

Visa Application

Before you can apply for a visa, you must fulfill a series of requirements, which are detailed in the Requirements tab. For more information on your visa application, please view our Visa Application page. It will give you valuable information on applying for a visa and preparing for your visa interview.


Visa Denial

Always remember that visa approval is at the discretion of Consular Officers viewing visa applications at U.S. embassies and consulates. This means that even if you are accepted to a program and have received your I-20 or DS-2019, the Consular Officers decide if you receive the J-1 visa. 

The majority of UC students and scholars will be successful in obtaining their visas. Despite this, a small number may have their visa applications denied. The most common reasons for visa denial are:

  • failure to prove sufficient ties to your home country, or
  • failure to provide sufficient evidence of financial support.

The visa officer must verbally inform you of the reason for the visa denial. If your visa is denied, please send an e-mail message to international.students@uc.edu and provide the date and location of your visa interview, and details regarding the reason given by the visa officer for the denial. You should also notify us if you are subject to a security check and the check will not be completed in time to arrive.


F-1 Students Transferring to UC

You must notify your international student services office at your current school of your intent to transfer. You must tell them that you intend to transfer to the University of Cincinnati and what date you wish to be released from their sponsorship. Once you notify them of your intent, they will go into the SEVIS system and release you for transfer to UC. Tell the office that we are listed in SEVIS as:

  • University of Cincinnati-University of Cincinnati (if admitted to our main campus),
  • University of Cincinnati-UC Blue Ash College (if admitted to our Blue Ash branch campus), or
  • University of Cincinnati-UC Clermont College (if admitted to our Clermont branch campus).

Once the release date is reached, your I-20 for study at the University of Cincinnati can be issued. You should go to iBearcatsGlobal to complete our F-1 SEVIS Transfer In Request eForm found in the "Admission and Orientation" section. You will be required to scan and upload copies of your passport, I-20’s, I-94 card and visa.

ELS students will need to list Lauren Steinmann (email lsteinmann@els.edu) as the current school advisor.

Requirements Before You Apply for a Visa

Whether you currently hold an F-1 or J-1 visa, or are planning to apply for one to come to the U.S. to study, there are several procedures that you need to follow in order to be issued your I-20 or DS-2019 form and apply for a visa. Follow this guide to make your transition to UC go as smoothly as possible.


number 1

Apply to Program

If you are an undergraduate student, please view the International Admissions page for more information on how to apply to your preferred academic program.

If you are a graduate student, please refer to the Graduate School's website for more information. Generally, the application for graduate degree programs is done through the department in which you are interested. You should look at the department's admission criteria and direct any admission-related questions to them.

 

number 2

Confirm Your Admission

All students, regardless of immigration status or intent, must confirm admission.

If you are an undergraduate student, we suggest that you attempt to confirm on-line at the undergraduate admissions web site. This will require a $100 fee to be put on your credit card. You will also need your student ID number to confirm.

If you are a graduate student, your admitting department will have provided you with instructions on what you have to do in order to confirm your admission and if a confirmation fee is required.

 

number 3

Submit Proof of Financial Support

Before you can be issued a Certificate of Eligibility for a student visa (I-20 or DS-2019), you must first complete UC's Financial Certification Form. When documenting financial support you must demonstrate that you have financial support for all years of study it will take to complete your degree.

On average, an Associate degree takes two years to complete, a Masters degree takes three years, a Bachelors degree takes five years, and a Doctoral degree is completed in six years, unless noted otherwise. Also, some programs, such as the one year MBA program or the three year masters program in Architecture, have different lengths. Check the estimated annual expenses for your college, level, and program to determine the amount you have to certify.

If a spouse, parent or any other person will be providing room and boarding, please complete the Financial Certification Form and have it signed and notarized.

There is no deadline for submitting financial certification forms to UC International Services, but you will not be issued a Certificate of Eligibility until they are properly received. You should submit your financial documents as soon as possible, but no sooner than 6 months prior to your start date at UC.

 

number4

Provide Documentation for Dependents (if applicable)

You must notify UC International Services of any accompanying dependents in F-2 or J-2 status and provide biographical information (e.g., full name, address, country of birth, etc.) and immigration information (e.g., passport information, visa information, etc.) regarding those dependents using the UC International Services Add a New Dependent eForm found at https://ibearcatsglobal.uc.edu. Each dependent will then receive his/her own I-20 or DS-2019 to apply for the appropriate visa.

You also need to show an additional $4,000 per year for a spouse and $2,000 for each child. This is in addition to what you need to show to meet your own expenses. 

 

number 5

Receive I-20 or DS-2019

We recommend that you have your I-20 or DS-2019 sent by express mail, since regular mail overseas takes 4- 6 weeks. To request express mail service, you need to go to study.eshipglobal.com. We have discounted express mail rates negotiated for UC students & scholars with DHL and FedEx, but you must use the eshipglobal service. Do not go through the DHL or FedEx websites directly.

You will need your UC ID number, mailing address, email address, phone number and a credit card (Visa, Mastercard or Discover cards only) to set up a user account. Our office will be notified once you have requested a shipment. If you experience any difficulty, please use the "Help" link in the site for step by step instructions. If you have additional questions, please email support@eshipglobal.com.

You will receive periodic updates on the status of your I-20 or DS-2019 via your UC email, which is given to you after you confirm your admission. You will receive an email from us indicating what documents, if any, are missing. When your I-20 / DS-2019 has been mailed, we will tell you via email and to what address it was mailed.

 

number 6

Pay SEVIS Fee

Prior to applying for your visa, you must pay a SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This fee is $200 for F-1 visas and $180 for J-1 visas. The SEVIS fee can be paid by credit card over the internet, or by check or money order via mail. If your visa has been denied, you do not need to pay the fee again if you re-apply for the same visa within 12 months. See more on the Fees & Forms tab.

I-20 for F-1 Students

When you are accepted into the University of Cincinnati, the International Office will issue you the Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – For Academic and Language Students." A student and the student’s dependents must have a Form I-20 to apply for a student visa, to enter the United States and apply for benefits.

 

DS-2019 for J-1 Students

The Form DS-2019 or "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status" is the basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. UC International issues this form to prospective exchange visitors. You must receive a DS-2019 before you can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for the J-1 visa.

Financial Certification Form

Before you can be issued a Certificate of Eligibility for a student visa (I-20 or DS-2019), you must first complete UC's Financial Certification Form. When documenting financial support you must demonstrate that you have financial support for all years of study it will take to complete your degree.

If a spouse, parent or any other person will be providing room and boarding, please complete the Financial Certification Form and have it signed and notarized.

There is no deadline for submitting financial certification forms to UC International Services, but you will not be issued a Certificate of Eligibility until they are received. You should submit your financial documents as soon as possible, but no sooner than 6 months prior to your start date at UC.


SEVIS Fee

Prior to applying for your visa you must pay a $200 SEVIS fee (if F-1) or $180 SEVIS fee (if J-1) to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The SEVIS fee can be paid by credit card over the internet, by check, or by money order by mail. Please read all instructions fully before attempting to pay the fee. If your visa is denied, you do not need to pay the fee again if you re-apply for the same visa within 12 months of the denial.

Students and scholars from Canada and Bermuda do not have to apply for a visa. You will show SEVIS fee payment verification along with your I-20 or DS-2019 to an immigration inspector at the port of entry.

In order to complete form I-901, you must have a Form I-20 or DS-2019 and the University of Cincinnati's School Code. Our school codes are:

  • CLE214F10355000 for F-1 Students (I-20’s) and
  • P-1-00733 for J-1 Students & Scholars (DS-2019)


You will be required to pay the SEVIS fee if:

  • You are seeking an F-1 or J-1 visa for initial attendance at a university or initial participation in an exchange program. The fee must be paid before applying for the visa.
  • You will enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status, but are not required to have a visa. The fee must be paid before you apply for admission to the U.S.
  • You are applying for a change of status to F-1 or J-1. The fee must be paid before you submit your change of status application.

The fee is NOT required:

  • For F-2 or J-2 dependents.
  • For J-1 participants in an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.
  • If you are transferring to another school, program, or program category.
  • If you are requesting an extension.
  • If you paid the fee, your application for a visa was denied and, within 12 months of the denial, you re-apply for the same status.


Payment Options

Payment of the SEVIS fee is not limited to you. DHS will allow someone else to pay the SEVIS fee for you. The fee must be paid at least three business days prior to the scheduled date of your interview in order for the payment information to show up on the SEVIS system. You should bring your I-901 receipt with you to your visa interview. The paper receipt can be used as verification in place of the internet verification.



If Admitted to More than One School

If you have been accepted to more than one institution and paid the fee using the SEVIS ID number of another institution, but you wish to attend UC, you will not have to pay the fee again. Bring the I-20 or DS-2019 of both the schools to the consulate or port-of-entry and tell the officer you will be a student or scholar at the University of Cincinnati.


Questions?

Please contact UC International at 513-556-4278 or international.students@uc.edu if you have any questions about your I-20 or DS-2019. For additional details on SEVIS and the SEVIS fee, access the SEVIS web site at: http://www.ice.gov/sevis

Employment

It’s essential to remember that F-1 visas are intended for full-time students and are not designed as work visas. With this in mind, international students are able to work 20 hours a week on campus when school is in session and full-time while school is in recess, but you need to seek approval first.

Additionally, F-1 visa holders are eligible to apply for permission to work off campus for up to 12 months. This permission is called Optional Practical Training (OPT) and allows F-1 students to train, and thus work, in a field that is related to their field of study. For more information, be sure to contact an international student advisor at your school, but OPT is traditionally used in the following situations:

  • part-time work during the F-1 student’s studies,
  • full-time work during periods of recess, or
  • after graduation in a field related to the program of study.

If you do want to work on your F-1 visa, please review the information in our Employment & Taxes section and provide all the necessary documentation.

Home Residency Requirement

The two-year home country residence requirement is one of the most important special characteristics of exchange visitor status and should be thoroughly understood by all J-1 participants. As an exchange visitor, you may not be eligible to obtain permanent resident, H temporary worker or trainee, or L intra-company transferee status in the U.S. until you have resided and been physically present in your country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for a minimum of two years following your departure from the United States. You are also not permitted to change to another nonimmigrant status in the United States.

These restrictions apply in any of the following cases:

  • When your participation in your U.S. program was financed in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the U.S. government or by the government of your home country.
  • When, at the time of admission or acquisition of exchange visitor status, you had skills or knowledge that the U.S. Department of State deemed necessary to your country under the Exchange Visitor Skills List.
  • You came to the United States or acquired exchange visitor status in order to receive graduate medical education or training.


Government Financing

"Financed directly" means financed in whole or part by the United States Government or your home government with funds contributed directly to you in connection with an exchange visitor program.

"Financed indirectly" means:

  1. financed by an international organization with funds contributed by either the United States or your home government for use in financing international educational and cultural exchange, or
  2. financed by an organization or institution with funds made available by either the United States or your home government for the purpose of furthering international educational and cultural exchange.


Exchange Visitor Skills List

You are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement if your knowledge and skills are determined necessary to your country. The official list of fields by country is available on the Exchange Visitor Skills List. You are subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement only if participation in an exchange program began after your field of study appeared on the skills list.


Waiving the Home Residency Requirement

Exchange visitors who are subject to, but do not wish to comply with the home residency requirement may apply for a waiver under any one of the five applicable grounds provided by the United States immigration law. These applicable ground include the following:

  1. "No Objection" statement from the home government
    The exchange visitor’s government must state that it has no objection to the exchange visitor not returning to the home country to satisfy the two-year foreign residence requirement and remaining in the U.S. if he or she chooses to do so.
  2. Request by an interested (U.S.) Government Agency
    If an exchange visitor is working on a project for, or of interest to, a U.S. Federal Government Agency, and that agency has determined that the visitor’s continued stay in the United States is vital to one of its programs, a waiver may be granted if the exchange visitor’s continued stay in the United States is in the public interest.
  3. Persecution
    If the exchange visitor believes that he or she will be persecuted upon return to the home country due to race, religion, or political opinion, he or she can apply for a waiver.
  4. Exceptional hardship to a United States citizen (or permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor
    If the exchange visitor can demonstrate that his or her departure from the United States would cause extreme hardship to his or her United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child, he or she may apply for a waiver. (Please note that mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish exceptional hardship.)
  5. Request by a designated State Department of Health or its equivalent
    The law permits only medical doctors to apply for a waiver on this basis. Foreign medical graduates may apply for a waiver if they 
    1. have an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area, and 
    2. agree to begin employment at the facility within 90 days of receiving such waiver, and
    3. sign a contract to continue to work at the health care facility for a total of 40 hours per week and not less than three years. 


online_form

Filling out the Waiver Application

  • Complete the Online J Visa Waiver Recommendation ApplicationForm DS-3035. No other version (download or paper) of the DS-3035 will be accepted. 
  • Upon completing the Form DS-3035 online, your information will be downloaded into a barcode and you will be issued immediately a waiver case file number and further instructions. 
  • Once you have completed this online form, print the form in black and white only. 
  • Mail in your DS-3035 Application with barcode and payment as explained below. 


Payment & Mailing

  • Your payment must be made using a cashier's check or money order. 
  • The payment must be in U.S. dollars from a U.S. bank. 
  • The cost for the application is $215, made payable to the U.S. Department of State. 
  • On the check or money order, please write your full name, date of birth, and Social Security Number (if applicable).

You will mail the print-out of your completed online DS-3035, two self-addressed stamped legal-size envelopes and your check or money order for $215 to

Postal Service
U.S. Department of State
Waiver Review Division
P.O. Box 952137
St. Louis, MO 63195-2137

Courier Service
U.S. Department of State
Waiver Review Division
(Box 952137)
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101-1200

Your application must be sent to the lock-box address at the Waiver Review Division. If you fax or mail your application to the Waiver Review Division, it will NOT be processed.

 

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Sending Documents & Checking Status

It is your responsibility to submit all requested documents and ensure that required documents are sent on your behalf by third parties. The Waiver Review Division will not follow up on documents that have not been received. It is your responsibility to ensure that your file is complete.

Once you have your waiver case number, check on the status of your application by visiting the J Visa Waiver Status Check website. If you notice an error, contact Public Inquiries at (202) 663-1225.

Some documents, such as

  • "No Objection" statement from EV's home government, 
  • "Interested Government Agency" request, 
  • Conrad request letter from a state public health department, or 
  • CIS' finding of exceptional hardship or persecution (on Form I-613)

will be submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division by the responsible third party.

However, you, the waiver applicant, must initiate the process by requesting such documents directly from the responsible third party or by applying directly with these other agencies. And, if the third party agrees, your other required documents, such as your DS-2019 or IAP-66, may be forwarded to the Waiver Review Division through the third party.

 

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Receiving Recommendation

At the conclusion of the review process, the Waiver Review Division will forward its recommendation directly to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security. You will receive a copy of that recommendation at the address you listed on your Form DS-3035, or the most current address we have if you reported a change of address.

Any time you change your address, please notify the waiver review division of that change. If we do not have your most current address, we may not be able to contact you for additional information, or you may not receive the results of your waiver request.

Please do not fax or contact the Waiver Review Division directly regarding your waiver case. The Division does not have the manpower to respond to such inquiries. You should contact the Public Inquires Division at (202) 663-1225.

USCIS has the responsibility for making the final determination on your waiver request. USCIS will notify you directly whether your waiver application is denied or approved.