How to Apply for Your Student Visa
Once you have verified the information on your Form I-20 (F visa) or Form DS-2019 (J visa) is accurate, follow the steps below to obtain the F-1 or J-1 visa stamp as soon as possible.
Pay the SEVIS Fee
Please go to https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/ to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee. You must pay the fee and obtain a receipt before you can apply for the visa. You can pay the fee (currently $200 for F-1 students and $180 for J-1 students) online by credit card at the website above. Additional payment options (paper form & check, payment through Western Union) may be available. More information about these options is available: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/.
About the SEVIS fee: The SEVIS fee is required to be paid by all F-1 and J-1 vusa students and scholars. It is only paid once per program (any program extensions or transfers do not require the fee to be repaid).
Make a Visa Appointment
You should make an appointment to attend a visa interview at the nearest US Consulate or Embassy. It is recommended that you try to apply within your country of citizenship or permanent residence, but not required. Please check with the specific embassy or consulate that you will apply at for their procedures and policies. You can find a list of US Consulate and Embassy locations here: http://www.usembassy.gov/. You can also see the current visa appointment wait times and processing times here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-res...
Attend a Visa Appointment
After scheduling your appointment, follow all instructions given by the embassy/consulate and bring any requested documents with you to the appointment. Included with your I-20 or DS-2019 is a list of points to remember while applying for the visa. Be sure to read these tips to help you prepare for your visa appointment.
After your appointment, the processing time for your visa may vary. Contact your host school at UC Merced if you are concerned about receiving your visa in time to travel.