Step 1 – Organize Pre-Arrival Immigration Details

Obtaining an 1-20 or DS-2019

Individuals who come to the United States to study must apply for a student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.

  1. To apply for a student visa, you must first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant (F-1) Student Status (also known as a SEVIS I-20 Form) or a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status (also known as a SEVIS DS-2019 Form).
  2. In order to obtain a SEVIS I-20 Form or a SEVIS DS-2019 Form, you will need to be admitted to a program of study and submit bank documents showing you have the financial ability to cover your educational and living expenses. For information on admission to Valparaiso University, please visit the Future Students Page.
  3. Once you have received a SEVIS I-20 Form or a SEVIS DS-2019 Form from Valparaiso University, you will need to make an appointment with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate located in your home country.
    However, before you go to your visa application appointment, you must pay the SEVIS fee. See the details below.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Staff and faculty at Valparaiso University are only authorized to discuss admission status and I-20 details with the actual applicant or authorized agent. These details will not be given to any inquiring friends, family, or unauthorized agents.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires each student or exchange scholar issued an initial Form I-20 or DS-2019 to pay a fee before applying for a visa.  Click here to access the SEVIS fee website.

A fee of $350 (for F-1 students) or $220 (for J-1 students) must be paid at least three days before your visa interview, and you must bring the receipt with you to the interview. Please carefully read the instructions for fee payment. It is recommended that you pay the SEVIS fee using a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card because you will be able to print out an online receipt immediately. If you do not have one of these credit cards, try to find someone who does and who could pay for you. Then you can reimburse that individual.

Once the fee is paid, you may attend a visa interview at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Due to recent changes to visa processing and special clearances needed for some applicants, you are strongly encouraged to schedule your visa application appointment as early as possible.

When applying for your student visa, bring the following items:

  • A SEVIS I-20 Form (F-1) or a SEVIS DS-2019 Form (J-1) – issued by Valparaiso University – Read carefully through the information on the form. Provide both pages of the form and check to see that it has been signed by you and the appropriate school official in the correct places.
  • Proof of Adequate Financial Support – Bank documents showing you or your sponsor has the financial ability to cover your educational and living expenses during the period of your studies. Refer to your I-20 “Financials” section for estimates of the cost for 9 months (1 academic year) at Valpo.
  • Visa Application Procedure Here is a page with application information for those seeking an F-1/J-1 visa.  For more details on specific application rules which apply in your country, check with the embassy/consulate where you will apply.  Here is a list of U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
  • Passport – Valid for at least six months after your intended date of entry into the United States.
  • Photograph – One photograph taken according to the new photo requirements.
  • Processing Fee Proof – You must present proof of payment in the form of a receipt to show that you paid all applicable fees. Applicable fees may include the following: a SEVIS I-901 Fee; a Visa Application Fee; and a Visa Issuance Fee.  For applicable fees contact a U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you. For current information on the fees (visa issuance and/or visa application) that the U.S. charges for non-immigrant visas (F-1/F-2, J-1/J-2), you may refer to the Visa Reciprocity and Country Documents Finder.
  • Letter of admission from Valparaiso University.
  • Proof of your intention to depart the United States after the completion of your studies – Documents that show you have strong reasons to return home after studying. Documents might show evidence of home or business ownership, or a job that awaits you when you return, and/or strong family ties.
  • Proof of English language proficiency  take your TOEFL (or other acceptable English proficiency test) scores along just in case the interviewer wants to see them.

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