Applying for a J-1 visa

If Northeastern is sponsoring your J-1 visa, the Office of Global Services will be in touch to process your DS-2019.

If Northeastern is not the organization sponsoring your visa (Fulbright or Science Without Borders, for example), then your exchange organization will prepare your DS-2019 and send it to you. With the DS-2019, you may start the visa application process:

Remember that the DS-2019 does not guarantee a USA exchange visa. At your interview, you will be asked about your study plans, ties to your home country, future career objectives, and how you will fund your education in the USA.

Proof of assessment

A nonimmigrant visa is the proof of assessment conducted by the officials at the USA Embassy or USA Consulate that certifies a person may seek admission to the USA for a specific purpose. Therefore, you will need to submit certain required documents at the USA Embassy or USA Consulate to explain the purpose of your visit to the USA. Your Certificate of Eligibility document (DS-2019) is necessary to obtain a nonimmigrant (J-1) student visa to attend Northeastern University. Do not enter the USA in visitor status (B-1, B-2, WT, or WB). If you enter the USA on a tourist visa or on a Visa Waiver Program, you will be required to leave the USA in order to re-enter on a proper student visa. For detailed information please refer to the website.

Obtaining a visa

If you are intending to attend Northeastern University, then you will need to use Northeastern’s DS-2019 to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee and apply for a student visa. To obtain a student visa, the applicant must submit a valid DS-2019 form issued by Northeastern to the USA Embassy or USA Consulate in his/her country. Students are encouraged to apply for their visa as soon as they receive the DS-2019 to provide ample time for visa processing. Once students have received their J visa, they are permitted to enter the USA 30 days in advance of the report date if they wish. In most countries, student visa applicants must appear in person for an interview. However, each USA Embassy and USA Consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas, thus students should consult the embassy websites or call for specific application instructions. For the current listings of USA Embassies and USA Consulates abroad, we recommend the following web link from the USA Department of State.  Visit the USA Department of State website for the latest information on visa processing, required material, visa applications and processing times.

NOTE: No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore, it is recommended that final travel plans or the purchase of nonrefundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued. After the visa is granted and processed, check your passport to be sure you received a J-1 visa stamp and that any dependents received J-2 visa stamps. Also, be certain that the original DS-2019 was returned to you, as you must have the original with you when you arrive to the USA. Sometimes, the document is returned to you in a sealed envelope (in this case, do not open the envelope), which must be presented to the immigration inspector when you arrive.

Necessary documents

In general, international students may apply for a J-1 visa by presenting the following documents to the USA Embassy or USA Consulate:

  1. Certificate of Eligibility for nonimmigrant visa (DS-2019) issued by Northeastern University. Your assigned Student and Exchange Visitor Information System identification number is in the upper right corner of the page. Check to see that all information is correct. NOTE: The spelling of your name and your date of birth must be exactly the same as what appears in your passport. Read the regulations governing J visa status on page 2 and sign and date the bottom of the page. Please read and sign the DS-2019 prior to presentation at the USA Embassy or USA Consulate.
  2. Valid passport. Passport must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the USA.
  3. Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition (if applicable) and living expenses during the period you intend to study. At a minimum, you must prove you have sufficient funds for the length of your intended period of study as reflected on your DS-2019. If you have more than one source of funding, please provide the required documentation corresponding to each source listed on the DS-2019 e.g.: personal or family funds, sponsorship letter, Northeastern award or scholarship letter, etc.
  4. Proof of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System I-901 fee payment – see additional information below.
  5. Admission letter from Northeastern University.
  6. Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application Form (DS-160). Visit the USA Department of State site for Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions. 
  7. One photograph, please read detailed information on photo requirements. 
  8. Visa application fee: Check with the consulate for the fee amount and how it must be paid. This is separate from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee.

All applicants should be prepared to provide additional information, such as transcripts and diplomas from previously attended institutions, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, or documents which demonstrate the applicant intends to return home after his/her studies, etc.

Canadian citizens

Canadian citizens do not need a J-1 student visa, but they must have a DS-2019 and pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee before entering the USA. Upon the receipt of the DS-2019 from Northeastern, Canadian students may enter the USA by presenting the DS-2019, valid passport, the admission letter from Northeastern, evidence of financial support, and proof of Student and Exchange Visitor Information System I-901 fee payment. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee cannot be paid at the port of entry.

Admission to the USA

According to immigration regulations, J-1 student visa holders can seek admission to the USA up to 30 days prior to a program’s report date as shown on the DS-2019. At the USA port of entry, you will be required to present your valid passport and the DS-2019 form to a representative of USA Customs and Border Protection. After reviewing all of required documents, a Customs and Border Protection officer will stamp your passport if admission is granted. An admission stamp will show the date of admission and class (J-1) of admission, and the duration of your stay. In most cases, the officer notes “Duration of Status” on the stamp. This means you are allowed to stay in the USA for the length of time indicated on your DS-2019 form, so long as you are maintaining full-time enrollment at the school that issued your DS-2019 form. Be sure that your passport is properly stamped before exiting the inspection area at a USA port of entry. For detailed information, please visit USA Custom and Borders Protection.

Reporting to Northeastern

International students should arrive on campus no later than the program’s report date and report in person to the Office of Global Services during scheduled international student check-in. Completing international student check-in is essential for compliance with university policies and federal government requirements. Failure to register with the Office of Global Services in a timely manner may result in the loss of your lawful J-1 status.

Health insurance requirement

J exchange visitors are required to meet the health insurance requirements set forth in regulations issued by the Department of State:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in case of death in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses in the amount of $50,000 associated with the medical evacuation of the J exchange visitor to his or her home country
  • A deductible amount not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

As a J exchange visitor, health insurance that satisfies the above-mentioned requirements is mandatory and must be maintained throughout the duration of your program. The Northeastern Student Health Insurance Plan satisfies these requirements.

Residency requirement

A J exchange visitor may be subject to the “Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.” If the exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement, he or she cannot change his/her status to that of H, L, K, or immigrant lawful permanent resident until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two years or received a waiver of that requirement. To become subject to this requirement, one of the following criteria is met:

  • If you are financed in whole or in part by an agency of the USA government or by your home country’s government
  • If your field of study is listed on a special “Skills List” designated by the Exchange Visitor Program