Pre-arrival Information


The visa is issued and stamped in your passport by a U.S. consul outside the United States (US Visa website).  The visa is required for entry to the United States, and indicates your designated visa category and states status, e.g., H-1B or J-1. The visa has an expiration date and may be valid for one, two, or an unlimited number of (“multiple”) of entries.

 Items for Visa Application

You will need to present the following items to the nearest U.S consulate or embassy to your home country to obtain a visa to enter the United States. For more information on how to apply for a U.S visa and travel to the U.S, visit these links:

US Travel Exchange Visitor Visas

US Travel Website

  • UNC Charlotte Admissions Letter
  • SEVIS generated I-20. Please sign your I-20 at the bottom of the page before presenting it for the interview.
  • You will need to submit a SEVIS generated Form, DS-2019, which was provided to you by your program sponsor. (not sure if this is the document needed for I-20 or not, so this part may be redundant)
  • A Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002. (not sure about this one either)
  • Proof of SEVIS I-901 fee payment. You need to pay the SEVIS fee before you can be granted a visa interview.
  • Documentation evidencing financial ability to meet expenses while in the U.S
  • Passport valid at least six months into the future
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph
  • Form DS-156, “Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form” (Consular office may provide)
  • Visa fee-currently $131 (Consular will advise of actual cost/fee)
  • Any other documents required by the consular office

SEVIS Fee Form

SEVIS database receives, stores, and processes data submitted by schools for exchange visitors and dependents (J-1 and J-2). New fees for exchange visitors and schools went into effect on October 27, 2008. The new fees, which will fund the much anticipated program enhancements, are as follows:

Foreign citizens applying to become J exchange visitors pay the following SEVIS I-901 fee amounts:

  • I-901 F-1/M-1 visa applicants (full payment) $200 
  • I-901 Government visitor (no payment) $0
Who Must Pay the Fee?

Any J1 scholar and exchange student with Form DS-2019 issued for “Begin New Program”

F-2 and J-2 dependents are NOT required to pay the SEVIS fee.

How to Pay the SEVIS Fee and What are the Payment Options?

You must fill a Form I – 901 to make the payment. You may pay online at with Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit cards or Debit cards (also known as check cards) that have the Visa or MasterCard logo; or

You may pay by mail with check or money order. Download the Form I – 901 from and follow the instructions on the form to mail the payment to the right address.

Entry Into The United States: 30 Day Grace Period

The Department of Homeland Security regulation requires that all J exchange visitors, and J-2 spouse and dependents enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the applicant's program start date as shown on the Form DS-2019. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the U.S. Immigration officers may deny you entry into the United States at your expense if you attempt to enter more that 30 days before your program start date. The 30-day limitation does not apply to current exchange participants who are returning to continue with their exchange program.

If you want an earlier entry in the U.S. (more than 30 days prior to the course start date), you must qualify for, and obtain a visitor visa, as explained below; however, this is strongly discouraged.

Essentials to Bring
  • Contact Information for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  • Contact Information of an individual at UNC Charlotte to contact in case of a travel delay or an emergency.
  • Contact information of an emergency contact person in your home country.
  • Contact information of your consulate in the United States
  • Carry all essential identification papers and documents on your person or in your hand baggage. Do not place important documents in bags that you will check on the plane.
Money and Personal Effects
  • Please bring some cash with you.
  • Towels and toothbrush
  • A set of clothing in case your checked luggage gets lost and does not arrive!
  • Medication prescription-translated into English
Bring Memories of Home
  • Remember to bring photos of family and friends with you!
Temporary Accommodations

If you arrive before on-campus housing is available or you plan on living off-campus and have not yet found a place, make sure you have some temporary housing. Here is a list of hotels in the Area: