You must have a valid passport to obtain a visa for the United States, and you must maintain a valid passport throughout your entire stay in the United States. Any time you travel to the United States, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date you enter the U.S.

If you are unable to obtain a passport, please submit a copy of your Travel Document (i.e. Refugee Travel Document, Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card). You may contact the Warren Wilson Global Engagement Office if you have questions about this.

Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019)

This is proof that you are entering the U.S. as a student or exchange visitor. Please keep this with your passport. You will need to show it at your visa interview and every time you enter the U.S. as an F-1 student. You are required to keep all original copies of form I-20/DS-2019 throughout your stay as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor, longer if you exit and return to the U.S. in any capacity other than as a tourist.

Applying for an F-1 or J-1 Visa

Applicants for non-immigrant visas usually apply in person at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country of permanent residence. If you cannot apply for your visa from your home country, please contact your International Student Advisor.

Information about U.S. visa application procedures and requirements may be obtained through the U.S. State Department Visa Services website.

Required Documentation

  • Certificate of Eligibility
    • For the "F" applicant, a Form I-20
    • For the "J” applicant a Form DS-2019
  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160
  • A passport valid for at least six months after the Program Start Date on your I-20 or DS-2019
  • A digital photo that fulfills the digital photo requirements
  • Proof of payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee (see below) and any other related visa application fee; these fees must be paid in advance of your visa appointment.

Visa applicants should also be prepared to provide the following:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from previously attended institutions
  • Scores from standardized tests required by the institution (TOEFL, SAT)
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to meet educational expenses

Arrival and Departure Record (I-94)

To access your I-94, complete the online form at  The I-94 shows that you have been legally admitted to the U.S. If you need to apply for an extension, change of status, practical training or other regulatory changes, you must submit your I-94 to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The BICE uses the admission number to keep track of your U.S. arrivals and departures.