Visa Application

The following information can be found below:

Non-Immigrant Visa

In this section you can find information about F1 and J1 student visas. For detailed up-to-date governmental information and visa procedure, please visit. U.S. Department of State – Student Visa page.

Understanding Non-Immigrant Visas

Non-citizens coming to the United States for education will apply for a nonimmigrant class of visa. These visa types are issued for the express purpose of studying without the intention of permanently residing in the United States. Most full-time students will need an F-1 visa, which first requires admission to the university or language program and an I-20 Certification of Eligibility. The student may remain legally in the U.S. for the duration of the student’s full-time study.

Exchange students and those sponsored by a government, may receive a DS-2019 and apply for a J-1 visa rather than an F-1 visa.

Benefits of F-1 and J-1 Visa

  • You can enter the United States as a full-time academic or language student.
  • You can legally work part time on campus and full time on campus during scheduled school vacations.
  • You can travel in and out of the United States or remain here until the completion of your studies.
  • You can bring your dependents (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) to live with you.
  • You are eligible to apply for practical training employment as a part of your optional practical training (F-1 only).

Eligibility for an F-1 and J-1 VisaTo be eligible for an F-1 or J-1 visa, you must prove that:

  • You have been accepted for a full course of study by an educational institution approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The institution must send you an I-20 or DS-2019 in order for you to apply for the visa.
  • You are sufficiently proficient in English to pursue the intended course of study. You may be exempt from this requirement if you intend to come to the U.S. to participate exclusively in an English language-training program.
  • You have sufficient funds to cover the first year of study, and access to sufficient funds to cover subsequent years. J-1 students will often show governmental sponsorship rather than personal funds.
  • You have permanent residence in your home country, which you do not intend to abandon after completing your studies in the U.S.
  • You intend to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study. You may establish this by presenting evidence of economic, social and/or family ties in your homeland sufficient to induce you to leave the United States upon completion of studies.
  • Your proposed education in the United States would be useful in your homeland, and therefore prompt you to leave upon completion of studies.

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Visa Process

Once a student receives the Form I-20, the next step of the process is to apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. visas are issued only through U.S. embassies and consulates outside the United States. Individuals usually apply for visas in their home countries although it is often possible to apply in another country.

Collecting Documents

      • Form DS-160: 
This is an online visa application used by many U.S. embassies and consulates. Please review the U.S. Department of State information concerning the Form DS-160 for your visa application.
      • Visa Consular Fees: Each country consulate has its own instruction for the paying the visa consular fees. You can find these instructions on the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate you will visit.
      • Photograph: Photo is a vital part of the visa application. To learn more about the specific guidelines about the phitograph requirement please visit travel.state.gov visa photograph requirement page.

Paying the SEVIS Fee

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System): This system enables the U.S. Government to maintain updated information on F visa holders. For more information about SEVIS, please visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

  • SEVIS Fee for F Students: The Department of Homeland Security collects a congressionally mandated fee to cover the costs of updating SEVIS. The SEVIS fee for all new F-1 visa holders is $200 and for J-1 visa the fee is $180. Accompanying dependents do not pay the SEVIS fee.
  • Paying SEVIS Fee: The SEVIS fee must be paid by U.S. dollars. Those with credit cards and access to the Internet may pay the SEVIS fee on-line. Those without access to the Internet and credit cards may pay the SEVIS fee by a personal check, money order, or foreign draft drawn on a U.S. bank. The fee and the Form I-901 must be mailed to: I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee, 
P.O. Box 970020, 
St. Louis, MO 63197-0020
  • Evidence of the SEVIS fee payment in the form of a receipt or a payment verification print-out must be presented during a visa application interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

For more information about the SEVIS fee, please refer to the SEVIS website or contact the ISS.

Schedule an Appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate To schedule an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate please follow the instructions on the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate you will visit. Please also look at the required documents that you will need to carry in your specific visa category on this website. Preparing for your Visa Interview As you prepare for your visa interview, be prepared to address the following questions:

  • Prepare a one page only statement explaining why you chose the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to study. Explain what the academic advantages are for you by attending UALR. Describe your plans for your future career after you return home. Make sure you can tell the officer how your studies in the U.S. will help you with the job market in your home country.
  • Explain in detail to the officer that you will return to your home country and that you have no intention of abandoning your home residence. Since F-1 is a non-immigrant visa, the officer will only grant you a visa if he or she believes that you will return home after your studies.
  • Be able to show all finances that are available to you. We also encourage you to take additional financial documentation of personal funds (between $5,000- $10,000 USD) to your interview, which could assist in covering unexpected costs.
  • Bank statements should be on bank letterhead and be issued within the past 6 months. If you are using a bank account statement from someone other than yourself, also bring an affidavit of support form this sponsor.
  • The officer understands that you are coming to UALR to study English and will not be evaluating your English proficiency. Just do your best to communicate your future plans.
  • Visit StudyInTheStates.dhs.gov for additional assistance preparing for your visa interview.

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Visa Approval or Denial

If your visa is approved, congratulations! You are now permitted to enter the United States with your I-20 or DS-2019 up to 30 days before the program start date.

If your  situation changes and you can no longer attend UALR in the semester on your I-20 or DS-2019,  you can defer your admission and  your I-20 or DS-2019 (see below) and enter in a future semester. You can use this visa for a later date, as long as it does not exceed 5 months from the visa issue date.

If your visa application is denied, you should receive the reason of the denial. If there is time before your program start date, you can schedule another interview and present better documentation and information for a hopefully successful result. If you do not have time before the program start date, you should request a deferral of your admission and your I-20 or DS-2019. If you keep the same SEVIS number you are not required to pay a new SEVIS fee.

Requesting a Deferral

Defer your Admission

  • Contact your admission counselor with a written request for your admission to be deferred to the following semester
  • If approved, you will receive a new admission letter with new program start dates

Defer your I-20 or DS-2019

  • Contact your international student advisor with a written request for your I-20 or DS-2019 to be deferred to the following semester
  • Submit your request within 21 days after the program start date. If your deferral is handled in a timely manner, you will not be required to pay a new SEVIS fee or submit further documentation.

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