As an international student, you may need a student visa for full-time study at the University of Chicago. The university sponsors full-time students in F-1 or J-1 student visa status. On the page below, you will find information about applying for F/J sponsorship from the University of Chicago and what to expect as you move through the process. We've also prepared an International Student Checklist to guide you through the steps you'll need to take.
Admitted Student Webinars
The Office of International Affairs will hold a series of webinars from April - August 2023 dedicated to providing information and resources for incoming international students to the University of Chicago. Registration links can be found here.
- Requesting the I-20 or DS-2019
- Applying for the student visa
- Arrival to the US and the OIA Check In Process
- Frequently Asked Questions
- OIA Contact Information
To apply for an F-1/J-1 visa, you will first need a document showing you are eligible – this document is generally referred to as the “certificate of eligibility”. For F-1 students, the certificate of eligibility document is called an I-20. For J-1 students, it’s referred to a DS-2019. To request the I-20 or DS-2019 from OIA, you’ll first need to complete our Initial I-20/DS-2019 Request form. A link to this request and detailed instructions will be emailed to you by your admitting department after you accept their offer of admission. Students beginning a program in the Autumn Quarter will generally receive this information in April or May.
While you await further instructions from your department, OIA recommends reviewing the following information:
SEVIS Transfers - If you currently hold an active F-1 or J-1 status sponsored by a different institution (including English language study during the summer), you may be able to transfer your existing SEVIS record to UChicago. Learn more about the SEVIS Transfer IN process and eligibility requirements.
Changing from one UChicago program to another (Change of Education Level): If you are a current UChicago student in F-1 status and will begin a new UChicago program, you will need a new I-20 with updated program information, also known as a "Change of Education Level I-20". You may request the new I-20 by following the same procedures as newly admitted students. With that, please also consider the following:
- OIA cannot issue the change of level I-20 until you complete your current program.
- If you have plans to work off-campus between UChicago programs, please reach out to your OIA advisor to discuss your work authorization options.
- If you are a UChicago student in J-1 status and transitioning to a new UChicago program, please reach out to your OIA advisor to discuss how to obtain a new DS-2019.
Change of Status (COS) - If you are already in the U.S. in a different status (e.g. H-1B, H-4, L-2, A-2, etc) and you are going to change to F-1 or J-1, you may have the option to change your status in the U.S.
- Studying under a different status - If you are currently in the U.S. under a different status that allows study (such as H-1B, H-4, L-1B, L-2, TN, etc.) please review this information about attending UChicago in your current immigration status. If you are going to apply for F-1 or J-1 sponsorship through the University, review the information above to learn about how to request your I-20/DS-2019. If you are already in F-1/J-1 student status sponsored by another school and plan to transfer your SEVIS record to UChicago, please review this SEVIS Transfer information.
If your visa will be sponsored by IIE / Fulbright or LASPAU you do not need to complete OIA’s I-20 / DS-2019 Request or submit a Check In form.
If you have any questions for OIA, please reach out to our Sr. International Student Advisor, Kayla Smith at klsmith5@UCHICAGO.EDU.
Once you receive your I-20 or DS-2019 from OIA, you’re ready to request the student visa sticker. This process will include the following steps:
Students who receive an initial I-20 or DS-2019 from OIA must pay a SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and retain proof (e.g. payment receipt) that the fee has been paid to present at the time of visa appointment and/or arrival in the U.S. The SEVIS fee is separate from the visa application fee you will pay to the embassy or consulate to receive your F-1/J-1 visa.
- SEVIS Transfers: Students who successfully transfer their F-1 status to UChicago are not required to pay the SEVIS fee again, however you must receive your UChicago I-20 before classes begin.
If you requested an I-20, you may apply for an F-1 visa up to 120-days prior to the "Program Start-Date" listed on your I-20. If you requested a DS-2019, you may apply for a J-1 visa as soon as you have your DS-2019 (even if that is earlier than 120-days before the program start-date).
- Canadian Citizens: Canadian citizens (holding a Canadian passport) are not required to apply for the student visa sticker, however, they must still pay the SEVIS fee and present a valid I-20 or DS-2019 when requesting entry to the United States.
- SEVIS Transfers: Students who successfully transfer their F-1 status to UChicago may continue to use their F-1 visa sticker to request entry to the US as long as it is valid (unexpired) at the time of entry. It is OK if your old school's name is on your visa.
Once you’ve received your student visa sticker, it’s time to plan for your arrival. Review the resources below to help you prepare:
How long does it take to get my I-20 or DS-2019 once I submit the request?
If your request is complete and correct, your I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued within 3 weeks.
When will the I-20/DS-2019 Request become available?
Your admissions department will notify you when the I-20/DS-2019 Request is available for your program. Typically in mid-April/early May.
My I-20/DS-2019 Request has been submitted and is in process; when will I get my I-20/DS-2019?
Once requested, your I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued within 3 weeks. Once issued, you will receive an email notification with your SEVIS ID#, the University of Chicago's SEVIS School codes, and how to pay the SEVIS Fee and schedule your visa appointment. Students who request J-1 status will need the original DS-2019 for the visa appointment and for entry into the U.S.
I am currently studying in F-1/J-1 status in the U.S. and want to transfer my SEVIS status to UChicago. How does that work?
If your current I-20 or OPT end date will be within 5 months of the UChicago quarter start date, you may be eligible to transfer your SEVIS record to UChicago. You can read the complete process and instructions for transferring your status on our website.
How can I get a receipt to show I paid the SEVIS fee?
You can print a receipt from the FMJFee website and/or take a screen grab once you've successfully paid the SEVIS fee.
Can you send me my SEVIS ID number so I can make an appointment for my visa?
Yes; once your I-20/DS-2019 is issued, you will receive an email with your SEVIS ID# and other information required for paying the SEVIS Fee and scheduling your appointment.
I have to be in the U.S. more than 30-days before my I-20/DS-2019 start date for a sports team, optional school program, or need additional time to prepare for school. What should I do?
The program start-date listed on your UChicago I-20 or DS-2019 will be early enough to accommodate early arrivals for orientations, AEPP, bootcamps, etc. If you are coming for summer to start research or in a lab, be sure to communicate with your admitting academic program about such requests.
When do I have to check-in with OIA?
You can check-in online with OIA after you enter the U.S. You will want to locate your I-94 arrival record from the U.S. Customs & Border Protection to complete check-in, and only after you have arrived in the U.S. More check in information can be found on our website.
Phone: (773) 702-7752
Address: 1427 E. 60th St. Chicago, Suite 251, Chicago, IL 60637 (MAP)Unit Specific Advisors
Student Services Team
Each international student is assigned an OIA advisor based on their academic unit. See our staff directory to see your OIA Advisor contact information.
|Traveling and Preparing to Enter the US, OIA Check-In, etc|