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Student/Exchange Visitor/Au Pair Visas

Student/Exchange Visitor/Au Pair (F/J/M) Visas

Applicants who wish to attend a university or other academic institution require a student visa (category F or M) or an exchange-visitor visa (category J).  This applies to all students, university and vocational, as well as to children wishing to study at primary and secondary schools. 

The J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) provides opportunities for nearly 300,000 foreign visitors a year to experience the United States, its society and culture and connect with Americans.  Through one of fifteen different types of J-1 Visa exchange programs, EVP participants may teach, study, conduct research, share their specialized skills, or receive on-the-job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years.  These programs are sponsored by over 1,450 for-profit, non-profit, or federal, state, or local government entities designated by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). 

EVP participants are students, professionals, entrepreneurs, and leaders eager to hone their skills, strengthen their English abilities, connect with Americans, and learn more about the United States.  All J-1 Visa exchanges include a cross-cultural component to their programs which gives participants the opportunity to engage more broadly with Americans and share their own cultures with their U.S. host communities.  They return home eager to stay connected, to expand their networks, and to explore future exchange opportunities as “citizen ambassadors.” 

All persons going as an au pair require an exchange-visitor visa (category J).

YOU SHOULD NOT BUY NON-REFUNDABLE PLANE TICKETS UNTIL YOU HAVE RECEIVED YOUR VISA. PROCESSING DELAYS OCASIONALLY OCCUR AND THE EMBASSY CANNOT GUARANTEE NEXT DAY VISA ISSUANCE. 

Student/Exchange Visitor/Au Pair (F/J/M) Visa Checklist

You should read the below information carefully to make sure you are prepared for your appointment.  If you are missing required documentation it could delay the processing time for your visa. 

All applicants for U.S. visas are asked to please provide a certified, English translation of any foreign language document that they plan to present in support of a visa application at the time of their interview.  Failure to provide English translations may delay the processing of your visa application.    

Please bring the following documents with you to your scheduled appointment:

Valid Passport: The United States has an agreement with Iceland automatically extending the validity of a passport for six months past the passport's expiration date.  Therefore, your passport need remain valid only for the duration of your stay in the United States.   You must also bring any old passports that contain valid or expired U.S. visas.      

One Photograph:  Color photo for each applicant, measuring 5x5 cm, taken within the past six months, against a white background where you are facing the camera directly, and the face should be 25 to 35 mm from top of head to chin.  The Embassy will reject any photographs that do not meet the specified requirements.  Please note that Icelandic style passport photos, 4.5x3.5cm, are not accepted.  You can find more information on photograph requirements at the Department of State website.    

$160 Application Fee:  PAYABLE IN CASH ONLY with either U.S. dollars or Icelandic kronur. Credit cards and debit cards are not accepted for the visa fee. Please note that this fee is non-refundable and will not be returned to you if your application is denied.

DS-160 Application Form: Each applicant needs his or her own DS-160 form, including minor children.  This form can only be completed online.  Once the form is completed you must print the confirmation page and bring it with you to your visa appointment.   Press this link for the DS-160 Non-immigrant visa electronic application.  Allow yourself 45 to 60 minutes to complete the form.

You can watch an animated video detailing the nonimmigrant visa application process here  

Detailed instructions and frequently asked questions about the DS-160 can be found here.    

DS-2019 Form:  For J visa applicants only.  You must bring the original form, which includes a valid signature from the school official.  All family members applying for J2 status require their own DS-2019 form. 

I-20 Form:  For F and M visa applicants only.  You must bring the original form, which includes a valid signature from the school official.  All family members applying for F2 or M2 status require their own I-20 form.

DS-7002:  For trainee or intern J visa applicants only.  This form must be submitted in addition to the DS-2019 form.  The form must be original and include a valid signature from the sponsoring organization.

SEVIS Payment:  Proof of payment of SEVIS fee, which is required for anyone entering the United States on a student visa.  Check with your school administrator if you are unsure if you have paid the fee.  Payments can be made online at the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service website.  You need your I-20 or DS-2019 form in front of you to complete the payment process.

Children/Spouses:  Original or certified copy of your marriage certificate if your F2/J2/M2 spouse is applying.  Original or certified copy of birth certificate for each minor child applying. 

Proof of Funds:  Original copies of loan papers (e.g., LIN) or bank statements which indicate a balance, scholarship letters, or other proof of how you will pay for your education in the United States.

Optional Practical Training:  For F and M applicants only.  If you are applying for OPT you must bring your I-20 form annotated and approved for OPT participation by your school official. 

Court and Police Records:  If you have been arrested or convicted of any offense you must provide an original police record, copies of court records which explain the nature of the offense.  Please note that even your record has been expunged or you have received a pardon for a past offense you will still need to provide supporting documentation in order to conclude visa processing.  Note:  If you have never been arrested or convicted you do not need to bring a police record.

Envelope:  If you prefer to have your passport and visa returned to you by mail please bring with you a self addressed, pre-paid envelope to your visa interview.  We will mail your passport to you when we have finished processing your visa.

Book Your Appointment:  After you have completed your DS-160 form and gathered all required documents it is time to BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT.  You must schedule your appointment online.  Each person 14 years of age and older needs his/her own appointment.  You need your passport and confirmation page from the DS-160 application form in front of you when you complete the online booking form.   

YOU SHOULD NOT BUY NON-REFUNDABLE PLANE TICKETS UNTIL YOU HAVE RECEIVED YOUR VISA. PROCESSING DELAYS OCCASIONALLY OCCUR AND THE EMBASSY CANNOT GUARANTEE NEXT DAY ISSUANCE.

At the Interview

Please show up five minutes in advance of your scheduled interview time to allow yourself time to get through security.  Phones and other electronic equipment are not allowed into the Embassy.  The entire interview process generally takes between 20 and 40 minutes.  You are welcome to bring reading material with you to pass the time while you are waiting for your interview.