• 02.09.2016

A citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Below are more information about the F-1 Visa and J-1 Visa.

F-1 Visa

After receiving acceptance by GCU, you will be officially enrolled into the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and are required to pay a one-time application fee. After all fees are paid and your account is in good standing, what is called an “I-20” form will be provided by your institution or educational program. This form will allow you to schedule an interview appointment with a local US embassy or consulate to be granted an F1 visa and officially become an international student.


In order to qualify, applicants need to satisfy and prove several strict criteria during an F1 visa interview, including the following:

Foreign Residence

  • F-1 applicants must have a foreign residence and must intend to return there upon the completion of their studies.

Sponsoring Institution

  • While on your F-1 visa, you may only study at the academic institution through which the visa was granted.

Financial Support

  • Applicants must demonstrate sufficient financial support. F1 visa holders must be equipped to cover their living and study expenses while in the US, as legal employment opportunities will be limited.

Ties to Home Country

All applicants must demonstrate that they have strong ties to their home country. Strong ties consist of, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A job offer letter upon completion of studies
  • Assets (i.e., house, land, vehicle, etc.)
  • Bank accounts
  • Family

Where to Apply for Your F1 Visa

Student visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. This will normally be your home country — the country in which you live. Find a U.S. Embassy or Consulate here

Items to Provide With Your Application

Although the process may vary or require additional steps, depending on your country and embassy or consulate, you will need the following when applying for your student visa:

Application Fee

  • You will have to pay a non-refundable application fee. This means that if your visa does not get approved, you will not get your money back.

Form DS-160

  • All applicants will need to complete and submit DS-160 , the online application for a non-immigrant visa.

Form DS-157

  • A DS-157 form for all males aged 16-45.

Valid Passport

A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.

Photo- You can upload a digital photo that is:

  • In color
  • Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm and 35 mm) or 50% and 69% of the image's total height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
  • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
  • Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
  • With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
  • Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis

J-1 Visa

J-1 nonimmigrants are sponsored by an exchange program that is designated as such by the U.S. Department of State. The J-1 classification (exchange visitors) is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training. These programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science. 

Required Documentation

  • Submit a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, which GCU will provide. The Responsible Officer (RO) that will assist in this process. Please contact the Office of Admissions for help.
  • After obtaining the Form DS-2019, apply for a J-1 visa through the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate. An interview date and time will also be set up.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.
  • Submit one (1) 2x2 photograph.

For the detailed process visit the Department of State J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program site