International Scholars

Pre-Arrival Checklist

Obtain J-1 Exchange Visitor visa

If you are outside the United States, apply for a J-1 visa stamp at the consular office designated for your location. Check for the materials you need for applying for the visa stamp such as forms, fees and photos. Applications for J-1 Visas require:

If your family members (spouse and children under 21) will be applying for J-2 visa stamps, bring copies of the marriage certificate for your spouse and birth certificates for children.

Canadian citizens are exempt from the J-1 visa stamp requirements and must carry the documents listed above for entry into the United States.

Additional information about applying for a visa is available at the Department of State website. And read 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa for more helpful tips.

Pay SEVIS fee

The SEVIS fee, implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is intended to defray costs associated with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) administration.

You are required to complete the I-901 form and pay the fee before making an appointment at the U.S. consulate, applying for a change of status or entering the United States. This requirement applies to:

Payment options

Go to for instructions on the I-901 form and paying the fee for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Choose one of the following three methods of payment:

Note: If you are having difficulty paying the I-901 fee, another person at a university may pay the fee on your behalf and mail the receipt to you. Visit, click on "More Information" and click on "How can someone else pay the fee for me?"

Additional information on the SEVIS I-901 Fee can be found online.

Familiarize yourself with important immigration documents

DS-2019, also called "Certificate of Eligibility," is required to obtain a J-1 visa at the U.S. consulate and is used to enter the U.S. It indicates your length of stay in the U.S. on your J-1 program, authorizes you to participate in The Ohio State University J-1 Exchange Visitor program and is used for travel outside, and reentry to, the United States. Scholars should keep all copies of DS-2019s issued to them.

Form I-94 is a small white card usually stapled inside your passport upon entry into the United States. This card is also referred to as the arrival/departure card since it is used to record your arrival into and departure from the U.S. It shows your arrival date into the U.S., the port of entry and your immigration status as a J-1 visa holder. In addition, it shows the date by which you must depart the United States, which should be reflected by the letters D/S. D/S stands for "Duration of Status" and your duration of legal status in the U.S. is indicated by the expiration date of your Form DS-2019. If you arrive by air or sea, this information will be stored in an electronic I-94 record and will be available for you to obtain after your arrival on the official I-94 website. If you arrive by land, CBP will issue you a paper form I-94 at the land border port of entry.

Visa is the stamp that a U.S embassy or consulate affixes to the passport to indicate the kind of nonimmigrant status that a person is seeking. The only time you are required to have a valid visa is when you enter the U.S.

Passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. Your passport should be valid at least six months into the future.

Report to the Office of International Affairs upon arrival

The U.S. government rules allow a limited time to enter the United States based on the start date of your DS-2019 form. You must report in person to Ohio State's Office of International Affairs after you arrive. You can enter up to 30 days before and no more than 20 days after the start date listed on your DS-2019 form.

Notify your host department immediately if there will be a delay in beginning your J-1 program more than 20 days after the start date of your DS-2019 form. Your host department will contact the Office of International Affairs to update your immigration document and SEVIS record. Failure to update your SEVIS record will result in denial of the visa stamp or entry into the United States.

To complete the government reporting requirement, you must attend the Office of International Affairs' check-in and orientation. Office of International Affairs scholar advisors review your immigration documents, collect your residential U.S. address and health insurance coverage information and provide orientation. Register for check-in and orientation online.

Note: If you will be located at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio, schedule your check-in and orientation with their Office of Human Resources.

Obtain health insurance

The U.S. government requires all J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents to have health insurance coverage that meets certain minimum requirements throughout their entire stay in the United States. If you will be using the Gallagher Plan, you should apply online for this insurance ahead of time to begin on the day of your arrival.

For detailed information regarding insurance, please see the Required Health Insurance section of our website.

Secure housing

There are many housing options in the Columbus area, including a wide variety of rooms, apartments and homes offered by both commercial companies and local landlords. There is also an option of "sub-letting" a place where you can rent someone's room/home for a set period of time while they are away. This option might be the best if you are only coming for a short period of time and do not want to sign a lease. Below are a few options to help you find a place close to campus, along with websites to explore a wide variety of other options. Please note that this list is not comprehensive and that the listed prices can fluctuate. Prices may or may not include utilities, furniture or more than one bedroom. Visit Living in Columbus.

Things to bring with you

Immigration and travel documents


Important numbers and addresses

Other important documents (with official English translation)

Travel and arrival tips for Columbus campus

Travel and arrival tips for OARDC