Photo Photo Photo
  Immigration Information - Obtaining a Visa

Obtaining a U.S. Visa

Due to heightened security and more careful scrutiny of visa applications by the U.S. Department of State, it is taking longer for students to obtain their U.S. visas. Therefore, it is very important that you apply to Norfolk State University at least four months prior to the semester you wish to start and make certain all documents are submitted so that you may receive your I-20 form or DS-2019 in a timely manner. It may also help to include an email address for faster correspondence.

What American Consulates Look for When Issuing Visas

American consulates abroad are looking for the following in determining whether to issue a student visa:

Evidence of Residence Abroad
Student has a permanent residence abroad,
Student has no intention of abandoning that residence, and
Student intends to depart from the United States upon completion of the course of study.
Evidence of English Proficiency
Consul may require TOEFL test scores, or some other verification that student has demonstrated English proficiency (IELTS, SAT scores, etc.), and/or
Consul may conduct the visa interview in English.
Evidence of Financial Backing
Evidence must be provided that student has "sufficient funds to cover expenses."
This can be documented with a copy of the affidavit of support and copies of financial documents submitted to the university prior to receiving the I-20.
Educational Qualifications - Consul must make certain the applicant is qualified to pursue the desired course of study, that the transcripts submitted were not forged or altered, and that the applicant has successfully completed a course of study equivalent to that normally required of an American student seeking enrollment at the same level.
Relationship of Education or Training Sought to Existence for Ties Abroad - Consul requires evidence that the student's proposed education or training will be useful in his or her homeland.

How to Renew Your Visa

My visa stamp in my passport is about to expire. Do I need a new one ?

If you are not planning to travel outside the U.S., you do not need a new visa. The visa that is stamped in your passport is for entry purposes only. Once you are in the U.S., your I-20 or DS-2019 and I-94 card become the active documents that permit you to remain in the U.S. You are allowed to stay for “Duration of Status” (the period of time you remain a student in good standing.) The date noted on your I-20 or DS-2019 as the expected completion date of your studies is the expiration date of your F-1 or J-1 status. This date can be extended through the Office of International Student Services if necessary.

Where do I apply for a new visa?

You can apply for a visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country when you go home for a visit. It is important to realize that some consulates require an appointment. Additionally, significant delays of three to four months are not uncommon. Background checks can cause more delays and be triggered by an arrest, coursework that appears in your transcript, or simply by your country of citizenship. If your visa will be expired at the time you wish to re-enter the U.S., check with the consulate or embassy to determine how long it is currently taking to process new visas by visiting the Department of State website.

What do I need to take to the Consulate in order to apply for a new visa?

Passport valid for at least six months after the proposed date of (re)entry into the U.S.
A current SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019, with PDSO signature and signed for travel.
A letter of good standing from the DSO.
A copy of your transcript, available from the Registrar’s Office.
Proof of financial support.

You should be able to verify your ability to cover the amount indicated on your I-20 form. You will be asked to provide an affidavit of support, bank statements, a research/teaching assistantship verification letter, and/or a scholarship/grant verification letter.
Proof of ties to your home country. - This is a nonspecific item, but since you are applying for a non-immigrant visa, you may need to show that you intend to remain a permanent resident of your home country. You can bring a letter offering you a job in your home country, letters from family or friends, evidence of ownership of property in home country, or copies of bank statements from a bank in your home country to the Consulate as proof that you have stronger ties to your home country than the United States.

Two completed Nonimmigrant Visa Application Forms (Form DS-156 and Form DS-158)
At least one standard passport photograph, and The Application and Issuance Fee. There is a standard $100 visa application fee for all applicants plus an issuance fee, in some countries.

Check with the Department of State to determine if you will be charged an issuance fee, also called a Visa Reciprocity Fee.

May I apply for a new visa within the United States?

Under most circumstances and especially after September 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. consulates will not issue new visas for non-immigrants. You must travel outside the country for a renewal.

Applying for a new visa in a third country

You may be eligible to apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in a third country such as Canada or Mexico. To enter a third country, however, you may need an entry visa. Please inquire with their consulate by phone or via email whether a visa is required.

Canada: (213) 346-2771 Web: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/index.asp 
Mexico: (202) 736-1000 Web: http://mexico.visahq.com/ 

Please keep in mind that as of April 1, 2002, F and J students and scholars from all countries who go to Canada, Mexico, or any other third country post to apply for a new visa are not allowed to re-enter the U.S. on an expired visa stamp if the new visa is not approved at the U.S. Consulate. If the application for the visa is denied, the student or scholar would, in most cases, need to depart directly to their home country to apply for a new visa to re-enter the U.S.
Additionally, students who are subject to background checks must remain in the third country until the background check is completed and the visa is approved before being allowed to re-enter the U.S. Background checks can take up to three months.

Special instructions for Visa application in Mexico or Canada:

Effective November 1, 2002, the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico only processes F-1 visas for continuing students in full-time degree programs who can demonstrate that their F-1 visa was issued in their home country .
Please note that embassies and consulates along the U.S. border can no longer accept applications from non-resident TCNs who are nationals of the six countries currently designated as state sponsors of terrorism.

For more information, please see the Notice: Special Visa Processing Procedures Pursuant to Section 306 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002.
You must make an appointment for an interview in order to apply for a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Consular Border Post in Canada or Mexico.

For more information, visit the Department of State website.