Visa Stamp

Visa processing times vary widely depending on the country and time of year, and some applications may undergo a rigid and time-consuming background check. If you are subject to a background check, there is little Northwestern can do to speed up the process. Therefore, we suggest scheduling your appointment as soon as you receive your I-20 or DS-2019, no sooner.

U.S. consulates and embassies will issue F-1 and J-1 visa stamps no earlier than 120 days prior to the start date listed on the I-20 or DS-2019. Once you receive your visa, you may enter the US no earlier than 30 days prior to the program start date.

The following items are required in support of your application for an F-1 or J-1 visa:

  • Non-Immigrant visa application DS-160 (
  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019 from Northwestern.
  • Valid passport.
  • At least two passport-style photographs, taken recently. See embassy web site for specifications
  • Proof that you have permanent residence outside the U.S.
  • Current and original financial documentation.
  • A copy of the marriage certificate and/or birth certificate if your spouse and/or child are applying for the F-2/J-2 separately.
Additional Information:
  • Anyone admitted to multiple schools must decide which school to attend before applying for a visa stamp.
  • Visa processing may vary depending on the location of the U.S. consulate or embassy. For information specific to the consulate or embassy nearest to you, visit the U.S. Consulates and Embassies Abroad website.
  • Many consulates and embassies provide on-line appointment scheduling check the aforementioned website for more information.

Visa Resources:

Consular Resources:

Note: Canadian citizens do not need an F-1 or J-1 visa stamp to enter the United States.

Visa Delay

Processing times and delays vary by U.S. Consulate/Embassy. A vast majority of visas are issued within days of a visa interview/appointment. Anyone applying for a visa may be subjected to an administrative processinig delay or background check that may take several weeks. The IO Can Help - If an administrative delay or background check postpones your intended arrival, please contact your IO Advisor.