Applying for a Visa

A visa is a stamp, which is placed in your passport. Having a visa allows you to travel to a port of entry and request permission to enter the United States. Unless you are a citizen of Canada or the Bahamas*, you will need a visa to enter the United States as an F-1 or J-1 student. There are several steps to apply for a visa.

Step One: Pay SEVIS fee

Step Two: Submit a visa application

Step Three: Make a visa interview appointment

*Process for Canadian and Bahamian citizens


Step One: Pay SEVIS Fee

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal SEVIS Fee is generally a one-time fee and is required to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa.  Proof of fee payment must be presented at the visa interview and/or the port of entry.

  • F-2 and J-2 dependents DO NOT have to pay a separate SEVIS Fee.

  • Pay your SEVIS fee at least three days before your visa interview, or before traveling the United States.

  • The SEVIS fee is not refundable.

  • Print your receipt.

How to pay the SEVIS Fee

You will need the following information to pay the fee:

  • SEVIS SCHOOL CODE: NOL214F10519000


  • SEVIS ID number (e.g. N00*******), which is printed at the top of the I-20 or DS-2019 form.

You can pay the SEVIS Fee using one of three payment methods:

  1. By credit card online at

  2. Payment via Western Union:

    • Fill out the Form I-901 online at . A payment coupon will be generated.

    • Print a copy of the payment coupon and take it to your local Western Union.

    • Fill out the Quick Collect/Quick Pay Form according to the information found at the bottom of the printed coupon. Example below:
      Company Name (or Code City): SEVISFEE
      Account Number: Coupon Number (ex: 010222013872390)
      Amount: $350 for F-1 students and $220 for J-1 students (as of 2022; check for current rates).

    • Present the coupon and your payment to the Western Union Agent for processing.

    • Payment will be linked to your Form I-901 and your online payment confirmation will be available immediately at .

  3. Payment by mail. We do not recommend paying by mail due to delays.

Step Two: Submit visa application

Once you have received your I-20 or DS-2019 and paid your SEVIS fee, you may apply for a visa. The visa application is called a DS-160.

The visa application asks for a U.S. Point of Contact and an Intended Address. As a new international student, you may use the University of Tennessee’s information to answer these questions.

U.S. Point of Contact:

Name: William Vittetoe

Relationship to you: Designated School Official

Address: Center for Global Engagement, 1620 Melrose Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996

Phone Number: 865-974-3177

Email Address:

Intended Address:

Address: Center for Global Engagement, 1620 Melrose Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37920

Step Three: Make an appointment for a visa interview

After submitting your visa application, find the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country at U.S. Embassy Locations. Although you may generally apply for a visa at any location, it may be more difficult to receive a visa outside of your home country.

You can check visa wait times online . If you live in a large country with multiple U.S. consulates, you can check the appointment times at different locations. Sometimes, you can apply for an expedited appointment if your program begins in less than 60 days. To apply for an expedited appointment, you will first have to schedule the soonest appointment available.

Here are tips for the visa interview:

Process for Canadian and Bahamian Citizens

Citizens of Canada of the Bahamas do not need to submit a visa application or apply for a visa. Instead, they must follow these steps to enter the United States in F-1 or J-1 status:

  1. Obtain an I-20 or DS-2019 form from UTK.

  2. Pay your SEVIS fee at least three days prior to entering the United States.

  3. When entering the U.S. by land or air, present your I-20/DS-2019 form, SEVIS fee receipt, and passport to the border control officer.

Renewing Your Visa

The amount of time for which your visa stamp is valid will depend on your citizenship and the location of the embassy/consulate you choose to apply. Therefore, your visa might be issued for a shorter period than the total length of your program. Your status, which is the official length of your stay, is determined by your latest Form I-20 and it is independent of your stamp expiration date. In other words, unless you have plans to travel outside the U.S., you do not need to renew your visa.

However, if your visa stamp expires and you wish to travel, you will need to renew it in order to reenter the United States. To do so, you will follow the same application process you did the first time, which is explained above, and you may only do so at a U.S. embassy/consulate outside of the United States.

If you are unsure of which embassy/consulate you should apply in, check the list of U.S. embassies or consult with your assigned advisor. When doing so, please take into consideration processing and waiting times, as well as how those would fit within your travel itinerary.