Visa Information


Your Form DS-2019 ("Certificate of Eligibility") is one of your most important immigration documents.  It shows that you are eligible to apply for a student (J-1) visa to come to the United States as a student.

During the application process, we collect all  documents that we need to issue your Form DS-2019. As soon as you are admitted, International Programs & Initiatives will generate the DS-2019. 

International Programs & Initiatives will mail your official letter of admission, DS-2019, and additional information about preparing to attend UAF, as well as information regarding the visa application process to your home university coordinator. You will need the information printed on your DS-2019 to pay your SEVIS fee and schedule your visa interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (special instructions for Canadian students).  

You will need your Form DS-2019 for your visa interview and to enter the United States.  Shoud you change your mind after you have applied for and received your student visa, before arriving in the U.S., you are required to obtain a new J-1 visa for the school you wish to attend.

Your DS-2019 is extremely important - it's a document that you should save forever, as the information contained in it about your time in the United States could affect eligibility for future U.S. immigration benefits.

PLEASE NOTE: We cannot scan and e-mail your DS-2019 to you, as this has been identified as a potential security risk by the U.S. governmental agencies that oversee immigration and national security. Also, you must have your original DS-2019 with you when you attend your visa interview.

SEVIS Information

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS is an acronym for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, and is a database used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to track and monitor information about students and exchange visitors who are in the United States.  UAF International Programs & Initiatives reports a variety of information to SEVIS, such as your address, your program of study, and your work authorization, among other things.  

The SEVIS database itself is managed by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which is part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforment (ICE).  

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal SEVIS Fee took effect on September 1, 2004. The SEVIS fee is generally a one-time fee of $200.00.  It is required for those who are applying for an F-1, J-1 or M-1 visa based on an I-20 issued for "initial attendance" or a DS-2019 issued to "begin a new program."

Proof of SEVIS payment must be presented at the visa interview.

Important Points to Remember


  • You will need information from your Form DS-2019 to pay your SEVIS fee.
  • The SEVIS fee must be paid at least three business days before the visa interview, unless you have a printed receipt from an Internet payment. 
  • Take copy of receipt to visa interview.
  • The SEVIS fee cannot be paid at the embassy or consulate, or at the U.S. Border.

A visa will not be issued unless the visa officer can verify that the SEVIS fee payment has been made; however, you may schedule your visa interview prior to paying the SEVIS fee.

The SEVIS fee is not refundable, with one exception. If your visa application is denied, and you decide to re-apply for the same type of visa at a later date, you will not be asked to make a second SEVIS fee payment as long as your visa application is made within 12 months of the initial denial. Exception: if you are denied a visa and do not wish to reapply, or if your visa application is denied a second time, you may request a refund.

Who Must Pay the SEVIS Fee? (Click to Expand)

How to Pay the SEVIS Fee (Click to Expand)

Visa Interview

The information below is meant to help take some of the mystery out of the visa interview process. Once you receive your DS-2019, you can schedule your visa interview.

We recommend you visit the "Helpful Links" below. The first one will take you to a website that lists U.S. Embassies and Consulates. You will want to find the one that has jurisdiction over your area of residence, as that is where you will go for your visa interview. Check the embassy or consulate website, as embassies and consulates can vary in their processes and requirements. The second link will direct you to wait times for your requested visa status at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The third link provides an overview of student visas.

Helpful Links

U.S. Department of State - Embassy and Consulate Locations

Visa Wait Times - for Interview Appointments and Processing

U.S. Department of State: Student Visas

Scheduling a Visa Interview

You will need to apply for a J-1 (Exchange visitors) visa, unless you are a Canadian citizen. Canadians are not required to obtain U.S. visas before entering the U.S. in any U..S. immigration status.  A listing of U.S. embassies and consulates is included in the "Helpful Links" section above.

  • You may schedule your visa appointment as soon as your DS-2019 is issued.  
  • You are required to pay the $200 SEVIS fee NO LATER than three days before your visa appointment.

Please refer to the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa for the application process and current visa application fees as these may vary from office to office.

  • Currently, all visa applicants are required to have a personal appointment and interview. Depending on the embassy or consulate where you apply, you may be able to schedule this appointment in advance. You will need to complete and submit Form DS-160, which should be available from the embassy or consulate and online.
  • During the application process, you may be digitally photographed and fingerprinted. 
  • Disregard all references to Form DS-7002 (Training/Internship Placement Plan) as it does not apply to you. 

Tips for a Successful Student Visa Interview

Note for Canadian Citizens!

Canadians are NOT currently required to have a U.S. visa to enter the U.S. as students. However, you are required to pay the $200 SEVIS fee at least three days before you enter the U.S. You will need to present your DS-2019 and your Canadian passport to the immigration inspector as you enter the U.S. You may also be requested to present original evidence that you are able to pay for your U.S. education and for your living expenses. Evidence of your financial ability might include: bank statements; affidavits of support, with documentation of your sponsor’s financial ability to support you; scholarship letters; or graduate assistantship offers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

A Message for Students Planning to Study in the United States from David Donahue

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, U.S. Department of State

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