Getting Your Visa

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Part One: Gathering Your Documentation

1. Receive acceptance letter.

2. Pay confirmation fee (“seat deposit”).

3. Start using the pre-arrival checklist from UC International Services. You were sent a separate email from them about how to access the system. It is the pre-arrival checklist that you will use to prepare for your arrival in Cincinnati, including obtaining your Certificate of Eligibility for a student visa (I-20 or DS-2019). You will use the Sources of Support eForm to submit your financial documents. When documenting financial support, you must demonstrate that you have financial support for all years of study it will take to complete your degree.

4. You should submit your financial documents as soon as possible, but no sooner than 6 months prior to your start date at UC. (You can do this now.)

5. We recommend that you have your I-20 or DS-2019 sent by express mail, since regular mail overseas takes 4- 6 weeks. To request express mail service, you need to go to We have discounted express mail rates negotiated for UC students & scholars with DHL and FedEx, but you must use the eshipglobal service. Do not go through the DHL or FedEx websites directly.

  • You will need your UC ID number, mailing address, email address, phone number and a credit card (Visa, Mastercard or Discover cards only) to set up a user account. Please select UC International Services as the sending office. They will be notified once you have requested a shipment. If you experience any difficulty, please use the "Help" link in the site for step by step instructions. If you have additional questions, please email
  • You will receive periodic updates on the status of your I-20 or DS-2019 via your UC email, which is given to you after you confirm your admission. You will receive an email from us indicating what documents, if any, are missing. When your I-20 / DS-2019 has been mailed, we will tell you via email and to what address it was mailed.

6. Prior to applying for your visa, you must pay a SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This fee is $350 for F-1 visas and $220 for J-1 visas. The SEVIS fee can be paid by credit card over the internet, or by check or money order via mail. If your visa has been denied, you do not need to pay the fee again if you re-apply for the same visa within 12 months. 

You will not be able to apply for a visa interview until you have finished these steps.

7. Make an appointment with the American Consulate or Embassy that has jurisdiction over your home country. The U.S. immigration rule states that the F1 visa can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start of the program, so you should schedule your appointment as soon as possible upon being issued an I-20 or DS-2019.

Although you may apply at any U.S. Consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence. You will need to complete the DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application. If you want to apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate in Canada or Mexico, please download  the instructions.

Find the embassy or consulate closest to you. You should apply for your visa well before the date you would like to depart for Cincinnati. The summer period is very busy at the U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, and it is important for you to have your visa so that you can arrive in time to begin your program.

Appointments are now mandatory for all visas, and some U.S. embassies and consulates require that appointments be made at least four to eight weeks in advance. All U.S. embassies and consulates have a website where you can read the latest information on visa procedures. Please use the link below for more details.

8. When you know what city your visa interview will be in, we can provide a Letter of Support from our Senator’s office for you to bring with you. If you would like a Letter of Support, please email us the following:

  • Your Name EXACTLY as it appears on your passport
  • Your Date of Birth (in the format: month/day/year)
  • Your Passport Number
  • The City and Country in which you will attend your visa interview

Please gather everything you will need for the I-20 and for your visa interview so that you will be ready when the deadlines come.

Part Two: The Visa Interview

1. The MOST COMMON reason that students’ visas get DENIED is that there is not enough evidence that they plan to return home after the LLM program or that they indicate in any way that they hope to stay in the United States permanently.

Prove that your stay is temporary using appropriate documentation. U.S. law very clearly states that F and J visas may be given only to persons who intend to remain in the U.S. temporarily. This rule is the number one reason that visa applications are denied. You must prove that you intend to return to your country after completing your program. You can demonstrate this by following these tips:

You must have a definite academic or professional objective. You must know what you are going to study and where it will lead. Be ready to say what you want to study and what kind of career it will prepare you for in your home country. Be prepared to explain why it is better for you to study in the U.S. than at home.

  • You must be qualified for the program.
  • You must be definite about your choice of schools. If you do not seem certain that you want to study or work at the University of Cincinnati, you will not get a visa.
  • You must be adequately financed and have documents to prove it. Except in the case when employment is specifically authorized on the Form-I-20 (i.e. graduate assistantship), you may not plan to use employment as support while you are in the U.S.
  • Remain calm and impersonal when speaking to the consular officer. Do not try to negotiate or discuss personal matters.
  • Do not emphasize any ties you may have to the United States or to family members in the United States. 
  • U.S. government officials are convinced more easily by written documents than by spoken statements. When possible, show your connections to your home country.
  • If your family owns property, take the deeds.
  • If you have a brother or sister who studied in the U.S. and then returned home, take a copy of the brother’s or sister’s diploma and a statement from an employer showing that they have returned home.
  • If possible, show that an individual or company in your home country will give you a job when you return. If you cannot get a promise of a job, try to get a letter saying that you will be considered for a job, or that the company needs people with the kind of education you are coming to the U.S. to receive.
  • If your family owns a business, take letters from a bank, describing the business, to the visa interview with you.
  • Your visa application if at least part of your financial support comes from your home country.

2. Please reach out to people in your country that you may know who have gone through this process before. They may have tips that are relevant to YOUR country.

3. Dress professionally for your interview.

4. EducationUSA offers video tutorials on how to ace the visa interview.

5. Bring all necessary documents to your visa interview. These documents include the following:

  • Passport
  • Required photo(s)
  • Visa fee or proof of visa fee payment
  • Federal SEVIS Fee payment receipt
  • U.S. non-immigrant visa application forms (unless you will completing it at the consulate or embassy)
  • University of Cincinnati College of Law LLM admission letter
  • University of Cincinnati SEVIS I-20 or SEVIS DS-2019
  • Test scores and academic records
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Proof of financial support (if applicable)
  • Evidence of ties to your home country
  • Any other documents required by the embassy or consulate

6. Please keep us informed as to your progress on obtaining a visa!

7. Remember that LLM Orientation begins August 10 th and that we are expecting students to arrive by August 1st to get settled and prepared to start the program. You will not be allowed to enter the United States more than 30 days prior to the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019, so please plan your travel accordingly.

8. The majority of UC students and scholars will be successful in obtaining their visas. Despite this, a small number may have their visa applications denied. The visa officer must verbally inform you of the reason for the visa denial. If your visa is denied, please send an e-mail message to us and to Provide the date and location of your visa interview and details regarding the reason given by the visa officer for the denial. We will help you reapply or determine your next steps.