Get Your I-20 & Apply for a Visa
Nearly all international students will need a student visa to study at UWM. After you are admitted to UWM, we will issue you an I-20 or DS-2019, US government documents necessary for your student visa application. Your I-20/DS-2019 indicates the school you are attending, level of education, area of study, expected graduation date, and information on how you will finance your education.
Our office must have the following documentation in order to issue your I-20 or DS-2019:
If this is your first time studying in the US, or you have returned to your home country for more than five months after studying in the US, you will not need to transfer your SEVIS record.
SEVIS Fee Payment
If you will be an F-1 or J-1 student for the first time, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee before your visa interview. When paying your SEVIS fee, please have your I-20 on-hand. Complete the I-901 form online, enter your credit card information and submit the form electronically. Print out a receipt and then call the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your country to make an appointment for your visa interview.
Please note, sometimes students who are not new students will still need to pay the SEVIS fee. Who does and does not need to pay the SEVIS fee?
If applying for an F-1 or J-1 student visa for the first time, you must have a personal interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This interview will most likely be conducted in English and will last about one or two minutes. You must be prepared because this interview will determine whether or not you are granted a visa.
2. that you have the financial resources to study for at least one year in the U.S.
3. that you have strong ties to your home country
4. that you will be returning to your home country after you have completed your studies
For a list of documents you will need to bring to your visa interview, please visit the U.S. Department of State website on Student Visas.
- DO NOT wait until the last minute! Apply for your F-1 or J-1 student visa as soon as possible. It can take several weeks to get a visa appointment, depending on which country you live in.
- When filling out forms, always refer to the information as it is stated on your I-20/DS-2019 (e.g., the spelling of your name).
How to Prepare and Organize Materials for Your Visa Interview
- Dress neatly and/or professionally.
- Be prepared to inform the U.S. Consulate official about your educational goals. The official may want to know your major and why you chose it, what is important about that specific major to your future career opportunities, your graduate school plans, and why having a degree from abroad, specifically UWM, will enhance your education.
- Be prepared to inform the official about where and how you learned English and/or why you wish to study at a U.S. university