Visa Acquisition

The Form DS-2019 is the document that allows scholars to apply for a J-1 visa.  Although citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program are eligible to enter the U.S. as tourists without a visa, students and visiting scholars must enter the U.S. with a student or an exchange visitor visa. Do NOT enter the U.S. on a tourist visa or without a visa.  You will not be able to change your status within the U.S. and will be required to leave the U.S. in order to reenter in a proper student/exchange visitor status.


If you don’t have a passport, obtain one from your government now. The expiration date on your passport must be at least 6 months in the future when you enter the United States.

SEVIS Form DS-2019

Review all information on your DS-2019. Your name and date of birth should be exactly the same as it is on your passport. If any of the information on your DS-2019 is incorrect, contact the International Students and Scholars Office at Clark University immediately. An amended DS-2019 will be issued if necessary. Sign the DS-2019 at the bottom of page 1 where indicated. If you are bringing dependents with you, they will need a DS-2019 as well.*


Pay the SEVIS fee so that you are eligible to apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa. You can pay the SEVIS fee online.

US Consulate

Procedures and processing times can vary depending on which US Consulate serves your area. Citizens from Canada and Bermuda may not need a visa. Complete the DS-160 Form (visa application).

Special procedures are in place for citizens of North Korea, Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

Visa interview

Documents for your visa interview

  • Passport
  • Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Form DS-2019
  • Proof of SEVIS fee payment
  • Clark U. Admission/Appointment letter
  • Original documents proving funding as it is reflected on your DS-2019
  • Documents that demonstrate that you intend to return home after completion of your program

Things to prove at your visa interview

  • In addition to showing the US Consular Officer your required J-1 visa application documents, be prepared to answer questions such as “Why do you want to study/work in this field?” Or “Why did you choose Clark University?”  Your application is likely to be denied if the consular officer suspects that you have accepted the invitation to come at Clark University but do not intend to work or study here.
  • It is imperative that you can prove that you have been granted or have available sufficient funds to cover expenses.  The consular officer must be assured that you have adequate funding for the duration of your stay in the U.S.  Bring all scholarship/appointment letters, bank statements, or affidavits of support.
  • Be prepared to explain your plans to return to your home country at the end of your J-1 program.

Things to remember

  • Consular Officers have absolute authority to grant or deny visas and their decisions cannot be overturned. If denied, you can re-apply for the visa if you can provide additional supporting documents.
  • Many visas are denied due to “immigrant intent”. If you have relatives living in the U.S., the consular officer may believe that your intention is to remain permanently in the US.
  • Your visa may be denied if you appear to be unclear about your academic goals or about how you will put your skills to work in your home country.
  • Biometrics will be collected when you apply for a US visa.


If you have informed us that you have a spouse or children who will stay in the US with you, a DS-2019 will be included in your packet for each of them. Make sure the information on the DS-2019 for each dependent is correct. Sign each DS-2019 where indicated.

**Citizens of Bermuda and Canada

Obtaining a J-1 visa is optional for citizens of Bermuda and Canada.  However, you are still required to prove entitlement to the visa.  The ISSO will issue you a DS-2019, and you are still required to pay the SEVIS fee.

If you have questions about the 2-year home residency requirement, also known as 212(e), please contact our office, your J-1 Program Sponsor, or the U.S. Consulate.

Entering the United States

You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the start of your program as indicated in section 3 of your Form DS-2019. Have all the documents required for your visa interview readily accessible when you travel. Do not pack them in your checked baggage. You will need to show these documents at the US point of entry. Answer all questions posed by the officer calmly. When the officer is confident that you are admissible, your passport will be stamped to indicate “J-1, D/S.” Make sure you have all of your documents before you leave the inspection area.

Bring your visa, passport, DS-2019 and I-94 information to the International Students and Scholars Office within one week of arriving at Clark University. The ISSO is located on the Clark University campus on the second floor of Corner House (at the corner of Woodland and Charlotte streets). Office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone: 508-793-7362. Email: or