Apply for Visa

Determine the type of Visa you need
Most Montclair State University students apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa. F-1 students are those who have been admitted into a full-time degree program, and J-1 students are those that come to the University on an exchange program either for one or two semesters. If you received an I-20 from the University, you will apply for an F-1 visa. If you received a DS-2019 you will apply for a J-1 visa.


Deciding between Multiple Schools
Some students might have I-20s or DS-2019s issued by different schools. You will have to decide which school you will be attending and only then apply for a visa. Once you have made the decision and applied for your visa, return any unused I-20s or DS-2019s to the school that issued them. If you are not going to attend Montclair State University inform International Services by email at intserv@mail.montclair.edu


Pay the SEVIS Fee
The SEVIS fee, also known as the Federal SEVIS I-901 fee, is a mandatory fee that must be paid by students and exchange visitors before applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa. This fee is charged by the Department of Homeland Security. Keep in mind that you will not be able to pay the fee until you have your I-20 or DS-2019 in your possession. Proof of payment must be presented at the visa interview. The fee is $200 for F-1 visa and $180 for J-1 visa. The fee can be paid by credit card, Western Union Quick Pay, or by mail. However we do not recommend paying the fee by mail as it may take as long as four weeks from the day you mail in the fee to the day that you receive the required receipt. To pay the fee online follow these instructions:

  • Visit http://www.fmjfee.com
  • Complete the form I-901, answering all questions. Be sure that you enter your personal information exactly as it appears on the I-20 or DS-2019
    • Montclair State University School Code is NEW214F01039000 if you have an I-20
    • Montclair State University Program number is F105419 if you have a DS-2019
    • The SEVIS ID number is printed at the top right of the I-20 or DS-2019 above the bar code and starts with the letter ‘N’
  • Once you have paid using a credit card print out the receipt. Do not exit the receipt page until you have printed the receipt. You will not be able to return to the receipt page


Apply for Visa

Appointments are required for all nonimmigrant visa applications. Visit http://www.usembassy.gov/ to locate the Embassy or Consulate near you and follow the instructions for scheduling an appointment. Keep in mind that waiting times for an appointment can be lengthy so apply for the appointment as soon as possible after receiving your visa documents.


Prepare Documents for your Visa Interview
All visa applicants must provide the following documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of the interview:

  • Valid passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Admission letter from Montclair State University
  • Receipt of SEVIS fee payment
  • Documented proof of financial support
  • Visa application forms (available at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website)
  • Test scores and academic records
  • Additional documents required by the Embassy or Consulate


Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa to enter the United States. However they must obtain an I-20 or DS-2019 and pay the SEVIS fee before entering the United States. The following documents must be presented to the customs officer at the either the border or the airport:

  • Valid passport
  • Admission letter from Montclair State University
  • Receipt of SEVIS fee payment
  • Documented proof of financial support

Note: Permanent residents of Canada are required to obtain a visa before entering the United States. Follow the instructions in the section ‘Apply for Visa’.


Dependents
Your spouse and children under 21 years old are eligible to accompany you to the United States with a dependent visa (F-2 or J-2). You must request a dependent I-20 or DS-2019 for each of your eligible dependents. A dependent I-20 or DS-2019 may be issued when the student’s initial I-20 or DS-2019 is prepared, or after the student has entered the United States and started the program of study. Each dependent needs to obtain a F-2 or J-2 visa before entering the United States. For more information contact International Services at intserv@mail.montclair.edu

Note: F-2 spouses of F-1 students are not allowed to work in the United States and are not allowed to study at a University or other post-secondary institutions. F-2 children may study full-time up to high school level. If they wish to continue their studies at an University or post-secondary institution then they must first apply for a change of immigration status to F-1.


Points to remember for your Visa Interview
Please consider the suggestions below for your visa interview:

  • TIES TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY. Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, such as student visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. "Ties" to your home country are the things that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans and career prospects in your home country. Each person's situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter, which can guarantee visa issuance. If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was available but not with a specific intent to immigrate. If you overstayed your authorized stay in the U.S. previously, be prepared to explain what happened clearly and concisely, with documentation if available. Respond honestly and clearly to all questions that you are asked.
  • ENGLISH. Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview, but do NOT prepare speeches! If you are coming to the United States solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.
  • SPEAK FOR YOURSELF. Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there in case there are questions, for example about funding, they should wait in the waiting room.
  • KNOW THE PROGRAM AND HOW IT FITS YOUR CAREER PLANS. If you are not able to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career when you return home.
  • BE BRIEF. Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point.
  • ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION. It should be immediately clear to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time, if you're lucky.
  • NOT ALL COUNTRIES ARE EQUAL. Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the US as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the U.S.
  • EMPLOYMENT. Your main purpose in coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the U.S. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the U.S. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.
  • DEPENDENTS REMAINING AT HOME. If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.
  • MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing. 

Source: The above information has been taken from the NAFSA: Association of International Educators, website: www.nafsa.org. NAFSA would like to credit Gerald A. Wunsch, Esq. and Martha Wailes for their contributions to this document. NAFSA also appreciates the input of the U.S. Department of State.


Visa Delay or Denial
Some students may encounter delays in visa issuance due to security clearance checks. This is NOT a visa denial. You cannot prevent a security clearance check, nor can International Services intervene to speed up the process.

If you are denied a visa ask the consular officer to provide you with a written explanation of the denial and contact International Services at intserv@mail.montclair.edu and write ‘visa problem’ and your full name in the subject line. In your email, include the location of the consular post, date of the consular interview and the reason for denial. International Services cannot intervene if a visa is denied.


Deferring your Studies
If you will not enroll at Montclair State University for the semester you were issued the I-20 and wish to defer your admission:

  • Contact the admission office to defer your admission.

Undergraduate students email msuadm@mail.montclair.edu
Graduate students email graduate.school@montclair.edu

  • Return the I-20 to International Services. Failure to do so will result in future I-20 not being issued.
  • Contact International Services at intserv@mail.montclair.edu to obtain an another I-20