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Most students coming to the United States to study in either F-1 or J-1 status must apply for a student visa. The visa is a stamp in the passport that permits an individual to apply for entry at the U.S. Port of Entry. The visa only needs to be valid at the time you are entering the U.S.; it does not need to be valid for the entire duration of your studies.

Applying for a Visa

Visa processing times may vary depending on the country and the time of year. To find processing times at the consulate/embassy at which you will be applying, please click here.

Prior to applying for the visa, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Pay the SEVIS Fee.
  2. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to schedule a visa appointment. To find the nearest embassy, please refer to

If you are in the process of obtaining your F-1 or J-1 visa, the following websites may be of help to you as you prepare for your visit to the U.S. embassy or consulate.

Click here to view tips and videos on how to prepare yourself for the visa process. 

Visa Exceptions

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda 

If you are a citizen of either Canada or Bermuda, you do not need an F-1 or J-1 visa stamp to enter the U.S.; however, you are required to carry the following documents when entering in student status:

  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Proof of SEVIS fee (I-901) payment
  • Valid passport

Be sure to also have your Illinois Tech (Chicago-Kent College of Law/Institute of Design) admission letter.

Canadian landed immigrants need to apply for the F-1 or J-1 visa at the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy.