Applying for a Visa (Scholars)

Complete the following steps to apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate

Application Process

On this page:

Before You Begin 

You do not need to apply for a visa if you

  • are a national of Canada or Bermuda. You are exempt from the requirement of obtaining a visa in your passport but you do need a COE.
     
  • already have an unexpired entry visa in the same classification that was issued for a previous employer or institution. You may use your unexpired visa to enter the United States in conjunction with Columbia documentation related to your visa classification.
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How to Apply

Steps to apply for a Visa for scholars
Step 1

Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160)

Complete the State Department's  Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160) which is the first step in making your visa appointment. Read more about the DS-160 application here.

How to apply for a visa online
Step 2

Make your visa appointment

Go to the link for the embassy or consulate where you will apply for a visa to learn about scheduling a visa appointment, procedures and requirements specific to its location.

Step 3

Prepare and complete your required documents

Prepare your documents and pay any required fees.

  1. Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of travel to the U.S..)
  2. DS-160 confirmation page with your application ID number on it
  3. Valid DS-2019
  4. SEVIS Fee Receipt
  5. Proof of Columbia Affiliation
  6. Financial documentation
  7. DS-7002 (only if you are a coming to Columbia under a J-1 Student Intern Category)

    Additional documents if your spouse or children will be applying for a J-2 dependent visa
     
  8. Dependent's COE (J-2 form DS-2019)
  9. Dependent's proof of relationship (marriage or birth certificate)
  10. Copy of your visa page in passport, only if you're already in the U.S. before your dependent joins you
  11. Copy of your I-94 arrival/departure record, only if you're already in the U.S. before your dependent joins you
  1. Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of travel to the U.S..)
  2. DS-160 confirmation page with your application ID number on it
  3. I-797 Approval Notice of Columbia's H-1B/O-1 petition
  4. Copy of your I-129 petition, including sponsor letter from your hiring department

    Additional documents if your spouse or children will be applying for an H-4 / O-3 dependent visa
     
  5. Dependent's proof of relationship (marriage or birth certificate)
  6. Copy of your visa page in passport (only if you're already in the U.S. before your dependent joins you)
  7. Copy of your I-94 arrival/departure record (only if you're already in the U.S. before your dependent joins you)
 
  1. Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of travel to the U.S..)
  2. DS-160 confirmation page with your application ID number on it
  3. LCA (Labor Condition Application that we filed with the Department of Labor as evidence of your being paid the prevailing wage
  4. Sponsor letter from your hiring department
  5. Educational credentials
  6. I-797 Approval Notice (only if an E-3 petition was filed with USCIS. Not common)
  7. Copy of your E-2 I-129 petition if filed with USCIS (not common).

    Additional documents if your spouse or children will be applying for an E-3 dependent visa
     
  8. Dependent's proof of relationship (marriage or birth certificate)
  9. Copy of your visa page in passport (only if you're already in the U.S. before your dependent joins you)
  10. Copy of your I-94 arrival/departure record (only if you're already in the U.S. before your dependent joins you)
Step 4

Learn what to expect at the visa appointment

Interviews are very short, so it’s important to use the limited time to clearly explain your purpose for going to the United States.

Most nonimmigrant visas (except H-1B and O-1) require you to establish that you are going to the U.S. only for a temporary purpose, and do not intend to stay permanently. 

You need to show

  • that you will keep a residence abroad and expect to return there
  • personal, professional, and financial ties to your home country

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, the consular officer will let you know if further processing is necessary for your application.

Review the Department of State's (DOS) web information on further administrative processing. If your visa processing is delayed, it is important to notify both your academic department and our office.

Step 5

Receive and review your entry visa

Interviews are very short, so it’s important to use the limited time to clearly explain your purpose for going to the United States for a temporary time and your plans after you complete your program.

J Scholars and Student Interns: Your original DS-2019 should be returned to you. You will need to have it with you to show when you arrive at a U.S. port of entry.