Center for International Programs

International Student Services

Applying for Your F-1 Student Visa (or J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa)

Paperwork and Processes
Fees and procedures for the visa application vary from country to country and even from consulate to consulate within the same country. While there are general requirements that all applicants for visas must meet, each consulate will have its own particular way of doing things. You should check with your local consulate to find out what specific processes or paperwork they require. The basic paperwork that you will need for your visa application to attend Saint Joseph’s includes:

Students in India can refer to the Website for US VFS, which has information specific to the consulates in India about applying for a student visa. For general information in the rest of the world, you can visit the government website United States Visas or the U.S. State Department’s Travel Website. You can also check visa appointment and visa processing wait times at your local consulate online.

The Visa Interview
When you go for your visa interview, you need to be clear and concise as to your academic and professional goals and how studying in the United States at Saint Joseph’s will help you attain those goals. Consular officials are expected to meet with many, many visa candidates and have to form quick impressions about you from a few short minutes. Be prepared to speak for yourself, in English, and address questions like why you have chosen your particular field of study, why you want to study at Saint Joseph’s, and what you will do with your education once you’re done.

The two most difficult tasks for a student visa applicant are proving your ability to fund your education, and proving that you do not intend to remain in the United States permanently after receiving your degree. You must document how you and/or your family/sponsor will continue to afford all of your tuition costs, fees and living expenses for the entire duration of your program. While students can work on-campus part-time while they study, an on-campus job will not finance the majority of your expenses

To prove ties to your home country and your intent not to remain permanently in the United States, focus on things like close ties to family members at home, family obligations, membership in social or religious organizations, real estate or investments owned by you or your family, a specific job prospect waiting for you, and how your US education will help your professional career at home

For more suggestions see NAFSA: Association of International Educators’ 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa.

Visa Approval – Confirm Your Enrollment
Once you receive your visa for Saint Joseph’s University, you should inform us immediately that you will be studying here. Graduate students can return the Graduate Student Enrollment Confirmation Form that was included in your acceptance packet to Graduate Admissions. College of Professional and Liberal Studies  students should inform the PLS’s Director of Admissions of your plans to enroll at Saint Joseph’s.

Undergraduate Day students must return the Enrollment Confirmation Form that was included with your acceptance notification plus the appropriate deposit (if you have not done so already). This is due by May 1st for students beginning in the fall semester so you should not wait until you receive your visa to deposit. Plus, the sooner you send in your deposit the sooner you reserve your space in the Freshman Class and the better your chances of getting your choice of on-campus housing.  You can email the CIP office to let us know when you receive your visa.

Visa Refusal – Defer Your Enrollment
Unfortunately, getting a U.S. visa is not a sure thing even if you feel you meet all of the requirements. If your visa is denied, ask politely for a written explanation as to why this decision was made. Many times this will just be a photocopied paper with boxes checked but it can help you prepare better if you plan to apply again later for a visa. If you have any questions interpreting the information you can always contact CIP.

As mentioned above it is usually because of a doubt about financing or your intent to return home. You can contact CIP or the appropriate admissions office to defer your acceptance to the next SJU semester. You will also have to send updated financial support information so that we can issue a new I-20. It is best to do this as soon as possible so that we can issue you an I-20 with the same SEVIS number, keeping the payment of your SEVIS Fee on the same record.