First, you will need to obtain (1) a passport from your country of citizenship. Next, you’ll use (2) the SEVIS DS-2019 that has been mailed to you by Allegheny College to obtain (3) a J-1 visa at the appropriate U.S. Consulate in your home country. Please make sure you have the latest information on visa applications (see section B(4) below).
Passports provide proof of citizenship and are issued by the appropriate government ministry in a person’s home country;
passports enable people to travel internationally and to re-enter their home country. In place of
passports, some people hold a certificate of identity. For students, it is best that passports have an expiration date at least six months after the amount of time required to complete the course of study in the United States (this time period is also known as the “duration of status” in the United States). However, students whose passports will expire before their course of study is complete in the U.S. will have to renew their passport either in their home country or at the embassy of their home country(typically)in Washington, D.C. This should be done several months before the passport expires.
(2) SEVIS Form DS-2019 (for J1 visas)
The DS-2019 is the form that certifies your eligibility to apply for a J-1 visa and to obtain exchange visitor status. You may be a J-1 exchange student, professor, specialist or researcher at Allegheny. Each of these categories of exchange visitors carries a J-1 visa designation, even though the categories describe different exchange program activities.
You will be issued a DS-2019 by Allegheny College’s International Office. As soon as you receive your DS-2019, verify that the following information on the DS-2019 is valid and correct:
a. the spelling of your name: make sure that it is in the same form and spelling as on your passport;
b. the date and country of birth, exchange visitor category, reporting date, completion date, financial information. Exchange visitors who do not have a specific starting time in the US e.g., first day of orientation, first day of classes, may arrive up to 30 days after the start date of their program, ONLY if the program sponsor at Allegheny has worked this out with you!!;
c. the college’s “Responsible Officer” or “Alternate Responsible Officer” has signed the DS-2019 (at Allegheny, it is Jenny Kawata or Joshua Whitson).Please also make sure that you have FORM I-901 with the all the correct information attached to your DS-
2019. More on the I-901 below in (b) GETTING YOUR VISA.
The DS-2019 is one of the documents necessary to obtain the J-1 visa stamp at the U.S. Consulate, and to enter the U.S. You will also need it to leave and re-enter the U.S., as well as to prove your legal status in the country. When your application to obtain a J-1 visa has been approved by the U.S. Consulate, the DS-2019 will be placed in a sealed envelope by the consular officials and returned to you. When you arrive at the U.S. port-of-entry, the envelope will be opened and the DS-2019 will be processed (see below). Item #3 of the DS-2019 indicates the date by which J-1 students are required to enter the U.S.; make sure you enter the U.S. by that date!
(3) U.S. Visa Stamp
In order to enter the United States, exchange visitors who have been nominated to participate in an exchange program are required to apply for and obtain a J-1 non-immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate/embassy in their home country. The J-1 visa is stamped or otherwise affixed in your passport (see more information on obtaining the visa below). The visa DOES NOT determine how long you are allowed to stay in the U.S.; the J-1 visa indicates only the time period during which you are allowed to enter the U.S. as a J-1 exchange visitor. It is the DS-2019 that provides the basis for your length of stay, and the I-94 that confirms your status once you enter the U.S. (for more information about the I-94, see section “C. Arriving in the U.S” below)