Applying for a Visa

This section outlines the visa application process when a new international student or scholar comes to Harvard University or its affiliated hospitals from outside the United States using a visa sponsored by the Harvard International Office (HIO). This section also provides an overview of what to expect when requesting a visa document, applying for a visa in a U.S. embassy or consulate, and finally, entering the United States. All students, scholars and their accompanying family members, except for Canadian citizens, are required to have both a visa document from the HIO and a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate in order to enter the United States. Canadian citizens only need a visa document and do not need a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate.

The Visa Application

Before entering the United States, you must have a passport issued by your government. You will also need to apply for an U.S. entry visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate to enter the United States. Canadian citizens are not required to have U.S. visas, but must have visa documents. The visa application will require, among other things, a visa document (Form I-20 or DS-2019) from Harvard and documents showing your financial support while at Harvard.

It is recommended that you allow yourself ample time to obtain the appropriate visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has indicated that the process of issuing visas to some individuals might be longer due to security clearances. Please check with the U.S. embassy or consulate at which you will apply for your visa its specific processing time. Please note that you must complete Form DS-160 when applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S. For more information regarding frequently asked questions about the DS-160, click here.

After you receive your passport with your visa and your Form I-20 or DS-2019 or I-797 (H-1B or O-1 approval notice), please check to make sure that all the information printed on the visa is correct. If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport or is incorrect, please contact the Nonimmigrant Visa section of the U.S. embassy or consulate that issued you the visa.