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Visa Requirements

Applying for your visa is one of the most important parts of your journey to starting your studies in the U.S. The process may seem overwhelming but we're here to help you!

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Applying for a Student Visa

If you wish to study in the U.S. you must have a valid student visa. The U.S. Embassy issues student visas for full time study on the understanding that you have sufficient funds for study and living expenses for the duration of your stay in the U.S. There are regulations that must be met before a student visa can be issued and these vary from country to country. Information about how to apply for your student visa can be obtained from your Education Recruiter or the nearest U.S. Embassy in your country. If you’ve applied to UMass Dartmouth GSP with the help of an agent, they will gladly assist you with the visa application steps. Similarly, GSP staff members are here to help you with Skype training to help you through the visa application process.

5 step process to visa approval

  1. Obtain your passport from your government. Your passport must be valid at least 6 months in the future at all times.

  2. Now that you’ve paid your deposit, make sure to submit your official required documents to clear any remaining conditions in your Letter of Offer. Once all conditions are met, documents received, and payment is made, your I-20 will be processed and we will send the University’s official acceptance letter and I-20 via email and post the originals to you. An I-20 is the document along with the official letter of acceptance from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth that is used to obtain your visa.

  3. Using the SEVIS number (which is on your I-20) you can then book your visa interview via your country's U.S. Embassy website. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa interview early.

  4. Pay the one-time SEVIS fee. Please refer to the SEVIS fee website at www.fmjfee.com for guidance on paying the fee. The earlier you start the visa process the less you have to worry about obtaining a visa appointment. Make use of the time while you wait for your visa appointment by reviewing pre-arrival information as well as submitting all required information for the enrollment process.

  5. Attend your visa interview and remember to bring all your ORIGINAL/OFFICIAL documents sent to you from GSP with you to the appointment.

For more helpful information and answers to Frequently Asked Questions related to applying for a student visa, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Steps for enrollment/required forms

While waiting for your visa to be approved, be sure to submit all information and forms required for the enrollment process.

  1. Notify us of your visa appointment date and status
    Once you have received your I-20 and booked your visa interview date, please email our staff to notify us of the appointment, and also keep us updated once you receive your visa. Please do not wait until receiving your visa to submit housing/health forms!

    Please note official application materials (if only photocopies were submitted) are required for enrollment, please send these to our Admissions Office upon receipt of your visa. You will not be able to enroll until all original documents have been received.

  2. Book your accommodation/submit a housing contract
    If you are planning on living on-campus during your studies (which we strongly recommend), it is important that you submit a Housing Contract as soon as possible (do not wait until you have received your visa confirmation, as it may be too late to secure a room at that time!).

    If you are planning on living off-campus, please let us know as soon as possible. Be sure to research transportation options before securing a lease for an off-campus apartment as public transportation is limited in the local area. Difficulty with transportation can have a significant impact on students during their first semester and very often can contribute to poor performance in the classroom. We do highly recommend that students live on-campus so that they can easily access campus resources as well as GSP resources.

    Please note: For graduate students, we recommend that you do NOT select a meal plan option until arriving on campus, so that you can sample the dining options available before committing to a contract option. Meal plans cannot be cancelled once you submit a contract, and changes are only allowed during the first week in September (no changes allowed in second semester). Additionally, graduate housing includes kitchen space for cooking meals from home.

  3. Complete your immunization requirements and submit your Health Forms
    All students attending school in Massachusetts must be in compliance with the state’s immunization requirements prior to enrollment. It is important that you visit your health care provider and complete any of the immunizations you don’t already have, and submit a copy of the UMass Dartmouth Health Forms along with your immunization history, at least four weeks prior to enrollment. It is important that you collect this information early; this way, if there is additional documentation required from your doctor, you can gather that information while still in your home country where your doctor can be easily accessed.

  4. Book your flights to arrive in Boston, MA
    All GSP students must arrive to campus on or before the official check-in day in order to check-in with the GSP staff, prior to orientation and enrollment. Please book your flights as soon as possible, and submit a copy of your flight itinerary once your travel plans are confirmed. If you will need airport pickup services upon arrival to Boston Logan Airport, please complete the Arrival Confirmation Form as soon as you have booked your flights.

    Please note that both your I-20 and visa are needed at the point of entry in the U.S. It is important that you keep both of these documents safe at all times. While you should keep them safe, you will not want to pack them in your luggage, as you will not be able to access your checked luggage at the point of entry.

  5. Submit payment of your initial invoice
    Payment of your initial invoice is due within 14 days of receiving your F-1 visa, or at least two weeks prior to arrival, whichever is earlier. Click Here to submit payment online by credit card, or refer to your initial invoice for wire transfer details.