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Getting a Visa and Traveling to the United States

If you are coming to Tulane University from outside the U.S., you will need to have a F-1 student visa or J-1 exchange visitor visa to enter the U.S. You cannot study full-time at the university on either a B-2 tourist visa or the visa waiver program.

Visa procedures vary from one consulate or embassy to another, so it is very important that you check the website of the U.S. consulate or embassy in your country for specific instructions.

Three main phases are involved in the visa application process:

  1. Gain admission to Tulane
  2. Receive the immigration document
  3. Apply for a visa

Once you have gained admission and received your immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019), you can apply for a U.S. Visa.

Standard items required for the visa application:

  • A current passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the U.S.;
  • A form I-20 for the F-1 visa or a DS-2019 for the J-1 visa;
  • Evidence of financial support for the period of time and the amount indicated on the I-20 or DS-2019 form;
  • An application Form DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application is available on the State Department website;
  • Proof of SEVIS fee payment (if you are from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon or Kenya you will need to remit payment by cashier's check, money order or Western Union transfer);
  • A receipt for visa processing fee (see the website for the U.S. Consulate in your country for specific instructions on paying this fee.)
  • One 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained on the State Department website.

Delays in Visa Issuance- Administrative Processing

Third Country Nationals - Applying for a Visa Outside Your Country of Citizenship

As a general rule, OISS strongly encourages students and scholars to obtain or renew their visa in their country of citizenship. While it is possible to apply for a U.S. visa in a country other than the country from which you hold your passport, it may often be more difficult or time consuming, mostly because a consular officer must evaluate the applicant's ties to a residence abroad (if applying for a visa which requires proving an unabandoned residence abroad), and consular officers in the country of an applicant's residence are in a better position to evaluate the applicant's ties to that country. The Consular Officer has the discretion to reject applications by persons who are physically present in but not residents of the consular district.

If you are planning on doing this, it is your responsibility to do the research and contact the embassy/consulate that you plan to visit in order to find out whether or not you are eligible to apply for a visa at that location.

For more information about applying for a visa in Canada or Mexico you can visit the U.S. Department of State's website.

You should also be prepared to provide:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended;
  • Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.;
  • Financial evidence that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring income tax documents and original bankbooks and/or statements. If you or your sponsor own a business, please bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements;
  • Proof that you have a residence abroad that you have no intention of abandoning.
  • Any additional evidence that may be requested from the specific U.S. Consulate where you will request the visa. (You should reach out by email or phone or check their website for more information.)

A short interview will be required. 

If you are looking for some interview tips you can visit the resources below:

NAFSA's 10 Points to Remember when Applying for a Student Visa   


Study in the States: Preparing for your Visa Appointment   


After You Apply for a Visa:

  • The consular officer will place a visa in your passport.
  • If you receive a multiple-entry visa, you may use it to reenter the United States up to the date of the visa’s expiration as long as you have a valid I-20 or DS-2019. If this is your first time attending school in the U.S., your student visa must list Tulane University as the school that you will be attending.
  • You can enter the U .S. no more than 30 days before the beginning of the program.

If you encounter any problems obtaining your visa, contact Office of International Students and Scholars, (504) 865-5208 or