Immigration Requirements

Information for J-Visa holders.

Before you leave your home country, make sure you understand what steps are necessary to make your move to Lenoir-Rhyne a smooth transition. 

If you have questions at any point, please contact Brittany Marinelli, assistant director of international education, at or 828.328.7375.

  • DS-2019

    Once we have admitted you to Lenoir-Rhyne, we will send you your DS-2019. Review your document. Check the spelling of your name, your date of birth, country of citizenship and dates of your program.

    If corrections are needed, please contact us via email at If everything is correct, sign your DS-2019 (at the bottom of the first page). Make sure to read the second page of your DS-2019 for important immigration requirements.

  • Applying for a Visa

    Once you have received your DS-2019, you must apply for a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. A visa is not required for Canadians.

    The U.S. embassy or consulate closest to your home will usually process your visa application. You can use the Study in the States website to assist with locating an embassy or consulate.

  • Visa Timing and Fee

    Check the embassy’s processing speed and familiarize yourself with their procedures to ensure your visa will arrive on time. Most embassies or consulates have specific hours to review non-immigrant visa applications. 

    Applicants generally apply online, but you must go to the embassy/consulate for an interview. Remember that the embassy/consulate will close for both U.S. and local holidays. 

    Most U.S. universities begin their academic year in August, so this is a very busy month at the embassy or consulate. Plan ahead so you can arrive at Lenoir-Rhyne in time for orientation and class.

  • SEVIS and MRV Fees

    As a J-1 exchange visitor visa applicant, you must pay the SEVIS (I-901) fee prior to going to the U.S. embassy or consulate for the visa interview. 

    The fee may be paid on the Homeland Security website. You should print the receipt and bring it to the consulate interview as proof of payment in order to be qualified for the J-1 visa.

    All students and scholars are required to pay an additional non-refundable machine-readable visa (MRV) fee before making an appointment for a visa (this is in addition to the SEVIS fee). See the State Department and Study in the States websites.

  • Visa Appointment at U.S. Embassy or Consulate

    It is crucial that you take all the required documents with you for your visa appointment. If you do not, you may be required to return later, which can delay your visa for several weeks.

    What to Bring

    • An unexpired valid passport and all previously issued passports
    • The receipt of SEVIS I-901 fee payment
    • The DS-2019 form provided by LR or your sponsoring agency
    • A letter of admission from LR
    • Your valid passport, with at least six months validity on it from the date you will enter the U.S.
    • A copy of TOEFL, IELTS or other English assessment score (if you are a non-native English speaker)
    • Proof of finances documents
    • Passport-sized photographs for your visa (see requirements).
    • Previous school transcripts, diplomas or records (if requested)
    • Proof of ties to your home country. The J-1 visas is a non-immigrant visa, which means you must be able to show you will return to your home country upon completion of your program of study at LR. Visit the embassy website where you will apply for the visa for information on what documentation will show your ties to your home country.
  • U.S. Embassy or Consulate Interview

    You will be required to speak with a consular official who reviews many visa applications every day. The officer will quickly review your documents and ask about your program at LR. 

    Since you are applying for a non-immigrant visa, the officer will require documentation of proof of intent to return to your home country. 

    The officer will then give you instructions about when to return to pick up your documents and your visa or when to expect them in the mail. If the officer feels additional information is required, you will be issued a request to submit additional information. If you receive it, please provide a copy of this request for information to

  • Review Your Visa

    Make sure that the following information is correct:

    1. Your first, middle and last name is spelled correctly
    2. Your date of birth (DOB) is correct in the mm/dd/yyyy format
    3. Your visa type is F-1 or J-1, depending on your status

    You cannot apply for or obtain a visa in the U.S. If you enter the U.S. and your information is incorrect you will need to exit the U.S., apply for a new visa and reenter with the correct visa. 

    If your visa is not correct it will affect your ability to obtain a driver’s license and/or a social security number.

  • Do Not Enter the U.S. on a Tourist Visa

    You should not enter the U.S. as a tourist using a B-l/B-2 visa or using the WT-Visa Waiver Process. You are intending to be a student or scholar, so you should not apply for nor enter the country with an existing tourist visa. You may encounter immigration problems if you enter the U.S. using an inappropriate visa. 

    Do not worry if you already have a tourist visa in your passport, this will not prevent you from getting a student visa. You cannot attend LR if you enter the U.S. on a tourist visa without taking steps to correct your entry record.