The Student Visa Process

When you are admitted, the University of Rhode Island will generate a form, called Form I-20 (for the F-1 student visa) or the DS-2019 form (for the J-1 visa). You will use your form to schedule a visa interview at the United States embassy or consulate in your country.

Receive Your I-20 or DS-2019 Form

Undergraduate Students

In order to receive the Form I-20 or DS-2019, you will need to provide the following information and documents:

  • Certificate of Financial Responsibility, a PDF of a recent bank statement, or government issued financial guarantee. To receive the I-20, your document must prove that you possess funds for the first year of study, and that the funds for subsequent years will be available. For J-1 visa students, the documentation must show enough funding to cover the duration of the document. For example, if financial documentation is only demonstrated for one year, then the DS-2019 can only be issued for one year.
  • A copy of the biographical page on your passport.
  • A mailing address and telephone number.

Graduate Students

You will need to provide the following information and documents:

  • Certificate of Financial Responsibility or a PDF of a bank statement that is valid within 30 days of issuance. If you were offered an assistantship, please submit the assistantship contract as financial proof.
  • A copy of the biographical page on your passport and those of any dependents who will be joining you in the US.
  • Your full home country address
  • A copy of your URI admission e-mail. You can just forward this to us.

Pay Your SEVIS Fee and Schedule Your Visa Interview

All new international students will need to pay the SEVIS fee and schedule a visa interview. After receiving your I-20 or DS-2019 form, be sure to:

  • Read and confirm the information appearing on the form. If you find errors, please e-mail the Office of International Students and Scholars to request a new document before going to your appointment.
  • Sign and date the form, at the bottom of page 1. Read the DHS instructions on page 2. This page explains your legal responsibilities as an F-1 or J-1 recipient.
  • Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • Find the nearest U.S. Embassy or consular post that has jurisdiction over your visa application and request a visa interview.
  • Examine your passport before going to your visa appointment. The passport must be valid for at least six months into the future.


Do not attempt to enter the US more than 30 days prior to the program start date noted on the I-20 or DS-2019 form.

Visa Interview

The appointment will be in English, not in your native language. Be prepared to demonstrate that you are entering the US with the sole intent of obtaining a degree or participating in training. Be prepared to demonstrate that you have strong ties in your home country, and that you intend to return home. Do not enter the US on a B-1/B-2 visa with the expectation to change to an F-1 or J-1 once in the U.S.

Documents You Must Take to the Visa Interview

  • Two passport-size photos
  • I-20 or DS-2019 form from URI
  • Receipt of SEVIS I-901 payment
  • Letter of admission to URI
  • Financial sponsorship letter (if sponsored by U.S. government agency, own government, other agency)
  • Bank statement in your name, letters of credit, proof of anticipated assets if your support is from personal and/or family funds

Documents Required at the Point of Entry (airport, border)

  • Passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019 form
  • Letter of academic admission
  • Proof of financial responsibility
  • Upon arrival, a US Customs and Border Protection Officer will review all your documents and ask you specific questions regarding your stay in the US.

Your passport will be stamped with the notation F-1 or J-1 and duration of stay (D/S). Your two index fingers will be scanned by an inkless device and a photograph of your face will be taken.

Report to Office of International Student and Scholars

The University of Rhode Island must report your arrival to the Department of Homeland Security. Report to the Office of International Student and Scholars within 10 days of your arrival in the United States and bring your passport and your I-20 or DS-2019, and proof of health insurance for the J-1 visa, when making your first visit.

We’re here to help

Office of International Students and Scholars
Office Hours:

Monday – Friday
8:30am – 4:30pm Eastern Time

International Center, 3rd FL
37 Lower College Road
Kingston, RI, 02881
Phone: 401.874.2395

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