The ISSO typically assists students who need F-1 or J-1 visa sponsorship after they have already secured admission to the university. If you are a newly admitted international student for the upcoming term, this section of our website and the sub-links in the lefthand side bar will help you navigate the following processes: getting an I-20 from UNC Charlotte, paying the SEVIS I-901 fee, and securing an F-1 visa. You can read a short overview of each of these pre-departure steps below:
You can pay the SEVIS fee online or by mail. We recommend paying online, because it is the fastest method. It can be paid by you or by a third party, from inside or outside the United States. No matter which method you choose, your payment must be accompanied by Form I-901. Remember that paying the SEVIS fee is only the first step of the visa application process, so get it done as soon as possible.
After you have your I-20 or DS-2019 and have paid your SEVIS fee, contact the U.S. embassy (or more accurately, visit their website) nearest you as soon as possible to set up an appointment. The online form used to request an appointment is called a DS-160 -- you'll need to complete that too. Additionally, when scheduling your visa appointment, you may need to pay visa issuance fees--these are different from the SEVIS I-901 fee. It's important to do these steps as soon as you can because the wait time for an appointment and for visa issuance varies. To see how long this process takes in your country, read the Department of State’s visa wait time information.
It’s best to apply for the F-1/J-1 visa in your home country. If you are not sure which embassy you should contact, see this list of U.S. embassies.
After you've completed the DS-160 and scheduled your F-1/J-1 visa appointment, when you arrive at the U.S. embassy or consulate, you will be required to show a number of documents, including:
- I-20 (or DS-2019, for J-1s)
- Valid passport
- A SEVIS payment receipt printed from your online payment confirmation
- Visa application forms
- Current financial documentation that lists the sources and amounts of financial support you have secured for the current or upcoming academic year. It must match the information listed on your I-20.
The embassy’s website will outline other specific documents that you should bring. For information and tips about the visa interview itself, read over this resource of trusted visa interview tips.