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Apply for an Entry Visa

To start a new job at Cornell, most international faculty and staff need an entry visa. This entry visa stamp makes you eligible to enter and reenter the United States. If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need an entry visa.  

  • Before you apply for an entry visa, you should have done the following: 
  • Received your visa eligibility documents (DS-2019, I-797, or TN letter) from Cornell. 
  • J-1 only: Obtained health insurance for you and your family members, if they will accompany you to the United States. Find out more.
  • Paid your SEVIS fee if you are a J-1 exchange visitor. 

Steps to obtain your entry visa

  1. Set Up Interview
  2. Show Intent
  3. Gather Docs
  4. Attend Interview
  5. Receive Visa

1 Make your visa interview appointment. 

Find the U.S. consulate or embassy where you will apply for a visa, then follow the links on that embassy’s website to learn more about scheduling a visa appointment and relevant requirements. Some locations might require additional documentation. 

Although Canadians do not need an entry visa, U.S. consulates in Canada will issue visas for other foreign nationals. 

Prepare to demonstrate “nonimmigrant intent.” 

If you are applying for a J-1 exchange visitor visa, you will need to demonstrate your intent to return to your home country after your appointment at Cornell ends.  

Here are some tips for ways to show you intend to return home: 

  • Prepare a few sentences that explain how you will use your Cornell research at home. 
  • Bring copies of deeds to any property (land, house, apartment) that you own in your home country.  
  • Bring bank statements of any accounts you maintain in your home country.  
  • If you have an employer planning to employ you when you return, bring a letter from the employer stating an intention to hire you. 

I’m applying for an H-1B visa. Do I need these materials?

No. H-1Bs are allowed to have the intent to immigrate to the United States, so it is not necessary for you to prove ties to your home country. 

3 Gather your documents. 

Have these documents ready for the visa interview: 

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of first travel to U.S. 
  • Immigration status form: DS-2019 (J-1), I-797 (H-1B and 0-1), TN letter (Canadians and Mexicans), or ETA 9035 (E-3 Australians). 
  • Your invitation or appointment letter from Cornell University 
  • Proof of financial support, if some or all of your funding is from sources other than your job at Cornell 
  • J-1 only: SEVIS fee receipt 
  • J-1 only: Documents showing nonimmigrant intent 
  • Any additional documentation requested by your U.S. consulate or embassy 

What documents do my dependents need to bring to the interview? 

  • Your spouse and/or children will need to bring the following additional documents to the visa interview: 
  • Valid passport 
  • DS-2019 (J-2) or I-797 (H-4) form 
  • Proof of relationship to you (marriage certificate, birth certificate, or adoption papers)  

4 Attend your visa interview. 

Be prepared to be interviewed in English. Answer all questions honestly and briefly. 

5 Receive and review the entry visa in your passport.  

Once your application for a visa is approved, the consular officer will place a visa sticker or stamp in your passport. Make sure that all the information on it is correct. Fix any errors before you leave for the United States! 

Go to the United States government’s U.S. visa FAQs for further information on visas, including how to read and understand one.   

Next Up: Visa Delays