Exchange Students and Scholars: J-1 Visa Information

New Students

One of the best places to begin when speaking about the J-1 visa is with the Department of State here. One of your first questions may be “What is the difference between a J-1 and F-1 student visa?" That and more answers are contained on the FAQ page.

For now, we have some basics to get you started:

Under the J-1 category your application process will follow one of two paths. You will be applying through the Bellarmine Bilateral Exchange Program (institutions with whom BU has a bilateral exchange agreement) or the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), which is an educational community consisting of 328 colleges and universities around the world. Please note: Even when attending Bellarmine, BU International Student and Scholar Services does not issue your DS-2019 when you apply through ISEP. All visa issues are controlled directly through that program. To apply for either program, click below:

Getting Your Visa

Once you receive your DS-2019 from BU, you must apply for your J-1 visa from your local U.S. embassy/consulate. When applying for a J-1 visa, there are a number of steps you will have to complete. The first step is to pay your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee (check here for current fee). Make sure your current passport is valid for at least 6 months after your interview.

  1. Go to the SEVIS fee processing site.
  2. Complete Form I-901 online (be sure to insert your name exactly as it appears on your DS-2019) and supply the necessary MasterCard, Visa, or American Express credit card information.
  3. Print a copy of the online receipt.
  4. We suggest that you keep a copy of your receipt with your other important immigration documents.

You can also pay by mail or Western Union Quick Pay. Check the FORMS page for instructions for this payment type. Pay your SEVIS fee at least three business days before your interview date so the they can see your application in the SEVIS system. Remember to take your receipt (I-797) to the visa interview. Keep it with you for entry into the United States.

Check with the local U.S. Embassy/Consulate for interview costs (separate from the SEVIS fee) and time lag for the appointment. At the interview they will be interested in:

  • Proof of a permanent residence abroad (i.e., in your home country) that you have no intention of abandoning;
  • Strong economic, social, and family ties to your home country;
  • The usefulness of your experience in the U.S. to your home country;
  • Adequate financial resources to support yourself and any accompanying family members;
  • Adequate knowledge of English.

Bring all your documents with you for entry into the United States. It is best to be prepared for any questions you may be asked.

All international students are required to maintain insurance coverage while in the United States. At Bellarmine, we have added the cost of that insurance into the fees for attendance.

When at Bellarmine

You will have been in contact with BU Admissions and International Services prior to your arrival. Once you arrive all your remaining questions will be answered during International Orientation.

Remember, you are responsible for maintaining your visa status. To ensure that, please make sure you schedule an individual appointment with the RO or SRO so they may update your SEVIS record. Failure to update the record will cause your visa/DS-2019 to automatically cancel in the system.

In addition, review and remember the program end date reflected on your DS-2019. You are required to leave the United States 30 days after that date. Any requests for extension must be made prior to the expiration date.