COVID-19 Updates:

F-1 & J-1 Students

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 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 Emily Bensman (email 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.

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.



Prior to applying for your visa you must pay a $350 SEVIS fee (if F-1) or $220 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.



Please contact UC International at 513-556-4278 or if you have any questions about your I-20 or DS-2019. For additional details on SEVIS and the SEVIS fee, go to the SEVIS website.



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:

The Waiver Application