University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

New Students

Obtain a New Visa
  • Canadian citizens do not require an entry visa.
  • If you are currently in the United States in F-1 or J-1 visa status and plan to remain in that same visa status, see the Visa Transfers page for instructions on how to transfer your F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record to the University of Minnesota.

How to Obtain a New Visa

There are two main categories of visas given to international students: F-1 and J-1. Most international students in the U.S. hold an F-1 visa. If you received an I-20 document from the UMN, you will apply for an F-1 visa. If you received a DS-2019, you will apply for a J-1 visa. Once you have your visa documents, you will want to do all of the following items.

1. Review the Information on your I-20/DS-2019 and Sign the Bottom

Review the spelling and order of your name on the visa document, and confirm that it exactly matches how your legal name is written at the bottom of the identity page in your passport (the page that has your picture).

It is essential that your information is printed identically on all of your immigration documents (I-20/DS-2019, passport, and visa), and you should always write it the same way when completing your visa application and any other forms.

If there is a mistake or the name on your I-20/DS-2019 does not match your name in your passport, contact the office or agency that issued your document (see the list below for the correct contact).

If all of the information is correct, sign and date your name on the bottom of your I-20/DS-2019. Additionally, if you have an I-20 and are younger than 18 years old, your parents/guardians must also sign your document.

2. Pay the SEVIS Fee

New students must pay the SEVIS fee before applying for an entry visa or entering the United States. This fee is charged by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and it is not administered by UMN. You cannot pay the fee until you have your I-20 or DS-2019 document in your possession. To pay the fee, visit

3. Complete the Visa Application Form and Schedule Your Visa Interview Appointment

You should plan to apply for a visa at the U.S. embassy/consulate that is closest to where you live. You can find the official list at This website also includes specific instructions for scheduling an appointment.

We recommend scheduling your appointment as soon as possible after you receive your I-20/DS-2019. To learn the estimated visa wait time for obtaining a visa at your local embassy, visit

When completing the visa application, write your legal name exactly as it is printed in your passport and provide complete and truthful information throughout the application. If you do not have housing reserved in the U.S. but you are asked to provide an address in the U.S. where you will stay, you can use ISSS's address (301 19th Ave South, Suite 190, Humphrey School, Minneapolis, MN 55455).

4. Prepare Documents For Your Visa Interview

Follow the instructions from the Embassy regarding what to take to the appointment. Typically, you will be asked to provide the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019 document
  • Admission letter (or print out of electronic admission notification)
  • Documented proof of financial support for, at least, one year (scholarship or assistantship letter, bank statement, etc.)
  • Receipt of SEVIS fee payment
  • Visa application forms (available from the U.S. embassy/consulate)
  • Any documents requested by embassy/consulate

5. Prepare for Your Visa Interview

The visa interview will be a very brief meeting with a consular officer. Be prepared to explain why you want to study at UMN, how you are planning to pay for your stay, and what your plans might be after you graduate. Always answer truthfully! If you have questions or concerns before the visa interview, we recommend that you contact the EducationUSA office closest to you .

Once you receive your visa, check the accuracy of the information on it. Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate if you find a mistake.

Additional Information

Questions About Your Documents

If you have any questions about your DS-2019 or I-20, or if you need to change any information on your documents, contact the office or agency that issued it.

I-20s are issued by the following:

  • Undergraduate Students:
  • Graduate School Students:
  • Professional Degree Students: Your college admissions office


  • Issued by the University of Minnesota:
  • Issued by a different J-1 program (for example, Fulbright): Your placement office

Visa Denials

If your visa is denied, ask the consular official to provide a written explanation of the denial, and then contact ISSS for assistance. Email and write “Visa Denial” in the subject line.

Administrative Processing and Security Clearance Checks

Some visa applicants are subject to additional screening that will delay the issuance of the visa. This is NOT a denial. Most applicants who are subject to administrative processing or a security clearance check will receive a visa within one to two months. It can, sometimes, take longer.

You cannot prevent additional screening or security clearance, and ISSS or your department cannot intervene to speed up the process.

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens can enter the United States in student status without obtaining an F-1 or J-1 having an entry visa in their passport. However, Canadian citizens must obtain an I-20 or DS-2019 and pay the SEVIS fee before entering the United States.

Upon entry, you must present to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, admission letter, proof of financial support for at least one year, and receipt of SEVIS fee payment.

If you are a Canadian citizen who is currently in the United States in F-1 or J-1 visa status and plan to remain in that same visa status, you must transfer your F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record to the UMN.