Obtaining F-1 or J-1 Status

Visa application processing times vary from several days to several months. The processing time for your application will depend on a number of factors, including your country of citizenship, your major field of study, and the state of diplomatic relations between your government and the United States. You should contact the embassy where you plan to renew your visa to ask about specific application requirements. A complete list of U.S. embassies and consulates can be found on the Department of State website.

  • Deposit for a program at DU

    You must apply to a program at DU and be accepted. Then, you must accept the admission and pay a deposit (if your program has an admissions deposit). You will work directly with the college or academic unit you are seeking admission to for this process.

  • What Visa Status Should I Apply For?


    Most students at the University of Denver are here in F-1 student status. Use the chart below to help determine which status you should request:

      F-1 J-1
    Funding Requirements 

    There are no requirements for the source of funds. 

     A substantial portion of funds (at least 50%) must be from an organization such as an employer, government, or the University of Denver.
    On-Campus Employment Options Part time (up to 20 hours a week). No special permissions required. Part time (up to 20 hours a week). Must have J-1 On-Campus Work Authorization.
    Off-Campus Practical Training Options Curricular Practical Training (CPT): Paid, off-campus internship during study.
    Optional Practical Training (OPT): Employment in field of study after graduation up to 12 months.
    OPT Extension for STEM Majors : 24-month extension of OPT.
    Academic Training: Off-campus internship or employment in field of study before or after graduation.
    Dependents Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible for employment but may study part-time. Dependent children may be enrolled full-time in primary or secondary school. Dependents in J-1 status may study full or part-time and may apply for permission to work full or part-time after arrival in the United States.
    Grace Period 60 day grace period to depart the United States after completion of program or OPT. 30 day grace period to depart the United States after completion of program or Academic Training.
    Home Country Residency  There are no home country residency
    requirements following study.
    Some J-1 scholars and their dependents may be subject to the Two-Year Home Country
    Residence Requirement, 212(e).





  • Request Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019)

    A Certificate of Eligibility is the document that allows you to apply for a visa, to enter the U.S. with that visa, and to show evidence of your F-1 or J-1 status after your arrival in the United States.

    For F-1 students, the Certificate of Eligibility is Form I-20. For J-1 students, the Certificate of Eligibility is Form DS-2019.

    To request a Certificate of Eligibility from the University of Denver, all students must submit copies of the following documents. Typically these documents will be uploaded through the admission portal and should not be sent directly to ISSS.


    Once ISSS has generated the Certificate of Eligibility, you will receive separate email confirmations to your personal and du.edu email accounts. You will be given instructions on how to access to the ISSS Portal to download and print out the document.

    The Certificate of Eligibility will list your SEVIS ID which is necessary to have before you can complete the next step.

  • Proof of Funding

    Before ISSS can issue an immigration document, students must provide documentation that they have sufficient funds to cover the estimated costs of their program including tuition, living expenses and health insurance. Similar documentation will be required for their visa interview.

    F-1 students must show sufficient funds to cover estimated expenses for one academic year (3 quarters/2 semesters) unless the program of study is shorter.

    J-1 students must show sufficient funds to cover estimated expenses for the entire length of their program.

    2024-2025 Chart of Expenses (for students starting in Fall 2024, Winter 2025, Spring 2025, Summer 2025)

    2023-2024 Chart of Expenses (for students starting in Summer 2024)

    All documents must be:

    • Dated within the past 6 months
    • In English, or accompanied by a certified English translation
    • Official, including at minimum the name, seal, and address of the organization.
      • Letters must also include a signature from an official at the issuing organization.
    • Only the current/closing balance listed on the document will be used

    Any combination of the following is usually acceptable as proof of finances:

    • Bank Statement: A bank statement that includes the name of the financial institution, the account holder's name, the type of account (checking, savings, deposit, etc.), the available balance, and the currency.
    • Sponsor Letter: A detailed letter from a sponsor stating the exact dollar amount being provided, what the funding is meant to cover (tuition, living expenses, health insurance, etc.), and the dates the funding will be provided for. The letter must include the name of the university, the program, and the degree level.
    • University of Denver Award: An admission letter from the University of Denver that details any scholarship, funding, stipend, or tuition waiver awards.
    • Education Loan: A detailed letter from the lender that includes your name, the approved amount of the loan, and period of time for which the loan is available.


    Proof of Funding FAQs

    Can I subtract my scholarship award from the required funding?

    Scholarships, graduate assistantships, stipends, and tuition waivers awarded by the University of Denver all count toward your required funding.

    Can I use bank documents belonging to a parent/sibling/friend/etc.? 

    Yes. That person will need to complete the 'Family or Private Sponsor' section of the Financial Verification Form, attesting that they guarantee you access to the funding shown on the bank statement.

    Can I submit multiple different bank documents?


    Will I have to submit new financial documentation every year?

    No. ISSS is only required to verify finances at the beginning of a new academic program However, if you have a significant change in the source of funding, it is best for ISSS to update the I-20.

    If someone else is paying for my health insurance or living expenses, do I have to show proof of funding for those costs?

    Yes. You can use the bank documents belonging to the person paying for your health insurance or living expenses to show funding.

  • Pay the SEVIS Fee

    All incoming F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors are required to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security uses this fee to cover the costs of operating the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and ensuring compliance to its requirements by individuals, schools, and exchange visitor program sponsors.

    NOTE: Citizens of Canada are still required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee even though they do not need a apply for US entry visa.

    Exemptions from I-901 Fee

    The fee is paid only once per SEVIS ID. Current F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors who are in-status and continuing their studies or transferring their SEVIS Record to another institution do not need to pay the fee again.

    J-1 exchange visitors whose DS-2019s are issued by the U.S. government are exempt.

    F-2 and J-2 dependents do not pay the fee.

    Pay SEVIS Fee

  • Apply for a US Visa

    After paying the SEVIS fee, you will need to contact a U.S. consular office or embassy to schedule a visa appointment to obtain the F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport.*

    Scheduling practices vary among offices, so visit the specific consular post's website to learn how to make an appointment. You can also check the Visa Wait Times calculator or review the Global Visa Wait Times chart to see how long it will take to get an appointment. Keep in mind that F visas for new students cannot be issued more than 365 days before the program start date listed on Form I-20.

    In general, you should allow several weeks to schedule an appointment and complete the visa application process, especially if your major field of study or country of citizenship requires additional security checks. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends students apply for a visa at a consulate or embassy in their home country.

    Visa applicants typically are required to have a face-to-face interview with a consular officer. The interviews are often very short and you will not have much time to respond to the officer's questions. Here are a few resources to help you prepare for your interview:


    * Citizens of Canada do not need to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa stamp.

  • Request entry to US

    Once you have your visa, you can travel to the U.S. and request to enter at a Port of Entry. Detailed information on this process can be found on the New Students page of this website under 'At the Port of Entry'.

    New F-1 and J-1 students cannot enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date printed on their Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. The Form I-20 lists the Earliest Admission Date in the Program of Study section.

Change of Status Info

Most students must be in F-1 or J-1 status to study at DU. Certain other immigration statuses, such as J-2, H-4, and R-2, permit students to study in the United States as well. However, these immigration statuses are often only valid until the age of 21 for children of the principal student, scholar, or employee. You may wish to discuss your options for changing your immigration status with an international student advisor after you are admitted to the University.

If you are in the United States and have a non-immigrant status other than F-1 or J-1 that allows full-time study, you may remain in that status or you may obtain F-1 or J-1 status to study full-time at DU.

If you are in the United States in a non-immigrant status that does not allow full-time study such as B-2 or F-2, you are required to obtain F-1 or J-1 status to study full-time at DU. F-2 visa holders are permitted to study on a part time basis (less than 8 credits per quarter at the graduate level).

We recommend that you contact an international student advisor to discuss your situation. Email or Advising

  • Options for Changing Status

    There are two ways to obtain F-1 or J-1 status to study full-time at DU after you have been admitted to a full-time program and have qualified for Form I-20 or DS-2019:

    There are many factors to consider when deciding which option is best for you and an international student advisor can help you decide.

    Apply Abroad

    You may leave the United States and apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. This process is not considered a "change of status" for immigration purposes, but it does have the effect of acquiring a different immigration status for you. 

    Applying for a U.S. visa gives you more control over changing your immigration status, but requires a trip outside the United States, which may be costly. If you are already planning a trip to your home country, and visa processing times there are not lengthy, applying for a U.S. visa there may be the best option for you.


    • It is faster than changing status in the U.S.; and
    • You will obtain both the entry visa and the status.


    • There is a possibility of visa processing delay; and
    • The expense of travel.


    Apply in the United States

    Submit an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status (see eligibility and restrictions below).


    You may be able to change status to an F-1 Student or J-1 Exchange Visitor after qualifying for an I-20 or DS-2019 from DU if:

    • You are maintaining your current non-immigrant status and can maintain it until 30 days before the reporting date on the I-20 or DS-2019 and USCIS issues a receipt notice for the application;
    • Your current status allows a change of status. See below for restrictions.


    You generally cannot change status if:

    • Your period of authorized stay has expired or will expire more than 30 days before the reporting date on the I-20 or DS-2019;
    • You have otherwise violated the conditions of your current status.


    Individuals in J status who are subject to the two-year home-country residence requirement can only change status in the U.S. to A or G status. Persons admitted under the Visa Waiver Program (W/T or W/B on the I-94) cannot change status in the U.S. Persons who hold C, D, or K status cannot change status in the U.S.A vocational student in M status cannot change to F status.



    • You can stay in the U.S. while the application is processed; and
    • The cost is lower than traveling.



    • Processing can take 6-18 months and sometimes longer
    • Depending on your current status, you may not be able to begin your full-time studies or accept employment such as a research or teaching assistantship or on-campus job until the change of status is approved;
    • If you leave the U.S. while the application is pending, it is cancelled and you can only reenter in F-1 or J-1 status by following Option 1 above;
    • You will not receive a U.S. entry visa for the new status and you will have to apply for it the next time you travel abroad (exception: travel to some contiguous territories for 30 days or less); and
    • If the application to change status to F-1 is denied and your current immigration status has expired, you must leave the U.S. quickly and follow Option 1 above.

Application Process for Change of Status From UCIS

Please note that ISSS advisors are not immigration attorneys and cannot provide legal advice regarding your immigration status. Recent changes to government policy have increased the complexity of the change of status process as well as the negative impact of losing status. Due to this, it is highly recommended that a student seek assistance from a qualified immigration attorney before filing any application, such as a change of status, with USCIS.

If you have determined that you are eligible for a change of status and you have received an I-20 or DS-2019 from DU for a change of status, follow the USCIS instructions for filing Form I-539.