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J1 Exchange Student Visa Information

Students wearing orange and blue in Albertsons stadium

Students who are taking part in an official exchange between Boise State University and their home university usually study on a J1 exchange visa.

You will need a form called a DS-2019 to apply for your J1 visa. The DS-2019 will be issued by the International Admissions Office as part of your exchange student admission to Boise State University. The DS-2019 is a document that describes your exchange, including the length of the exchange, and what subject you’ll be studying while on the exchange.

For more information on the visa application process, please see the U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program page.

To obtain a DS-2019 you must show that you have the financial resources needed to complete your exchange. The amount required will depend on the nature of your exchange. Please contact the exchange office at your home university or the International Admissions Office for more information.

Visa Application Process

The easiest place to apply for your visa is at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country, or the country in which you are living.  You should contact the specific consular office where you intend to apply to inquire about specific local procedures.

We recommend that you apply for your visa as early as you can.  You can be issued a visa as much as 4 months before the semester starts.  Although the approximate visa application wait times are published at the U.S. State Department website, there can be delays. You can enter the U.S. 30 days before the start date on your DS-2019.

After you have received your DS-2019 from Boise State University, you’ll need to take the following steps:

  1. Pay the SEVIS fee. The SEVIS fee is charged by the U.S. government, and it is different from your visa application fee. Your DS-2019 lists your SEVIS ID number, which you’ll use to pay the fee. Print out and keep your SEVIS fee receipt.
  2. Complete the online visa application (DS-160 form) and pay the visa application fee. Print out and keep the DS-160 barcode page (you do not need to print the completed application).
  3. Make your visa appointment at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.

Visa Interview

Often applicants are very nervous about this part of the visa application process. However, if you remain calm, answer questions honestly, and bring all the required documents, the process can be very straightforward. The interviews are usually in English, and they do not last very long. We do not recommend that you bring another person to speak on your behalf. Digital finger print scans are usually taken during the visa interview.

The U.S. consular official makes the ultimate decision as to whether you will be granted a visa, and he or she will exercise a lot of discretion in the process. Make sure you contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate before your visa interview to make sure you are bringing all the required items. You must also be ready to show that you have a residence in your home country and plan to return home once your studies are completed.

What to Bring to Your Visa Appointment

When you go to the consulate to apply for your visa, we recommend that you bring the following items:

  • DS-2019 (remember to sign the bottom of the form)
  • Boise State University admission letter
  • Barcode page from your DS-160 visa application form
  • Passport – valid for at least six months
  • Approved photo
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Visa fee – or receipt of the fee payment, if you are required to pay it in advance
  • Financial support documents
  • Evidence that proves you will return to your country after finishing your studies in the U.S. This may include proof of property, family or other ties to your community. There are no exact documents to fulfill this requirement, since every person’s situation is different. Please look at the U.S. embassy or consulate website in case they have specific requirements for your country
  • Any other documents required by the U.S. embassy or consulate

Entering the U.S.

You can enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start date on your DS-2019. When you first enter the U.S. the immigration official may ask you some questions to make sure that you are planning to attend Boise State University as an exchange student. Although you have a J1 visa, the immigration official will do another check of all your documents so please make sure you put these items in your hand luggage so that you can easily present them:

  1. Your passport valid for at least six months
  2. Your original DS-2019
  3. Your J1 visa
  4. Evidence of financial support (the same documents you used for your visa)

You must enter the U.S. by the start date listed on your DS-2019, which is the first day of orientation. We recommend that you plan to arrive in Boise a few days before that date.

Leaving the U.S. When Your Program Has Finished

You can remain in the U.S. up to 30 days after your program end date on your DS-2019.