Visa and travel
Coming to NAU
International scholars must keep track of many issues and documents, including immigration status, visa applications, travel guidelines, and much more.
NAU will help ensure you take care of all the details, from the time you apply and you arrive on campus until you complete your studies.
Incoming scholar eligibility
Previous time in J-1 status Accordion Closed
If the invited visitor is currently in the United States in J-1 status or has previously been in a J-1 program, the applicant must provide evidence of this status by submitting photocopies of DS-2019s, along with passport stamps showing United States departure dates. The International Scholar Adviser will determine the visitor’s eligibility for:
- a DS-2019
- program transfer
- other options
The United States has regulations about the amount of time a J-1 professor/researcher must spend out of the United States before returning again in J-1 professor/researcher status and the maximum amount of time a J-1 scholar can remain in the US.
Two year home country restrictions Accordion Closed
If the exchange visitor is financed either by the US government or home country government, or if the occupation code while at NAU is listed on the US Department of State’s Skills List, the visitor will be required to fulfill a 212(e) two year home residency requirement upon completion of their program at NAU, that requires a return to their home country for two years.
Two year ban on repeat participation Accordion Closed
An exchange participant who has entered the United States under the Exchange Visitor Program as a professor or research scholar, or who has acquired such status while in the United States, and who has completed his or her program, is not eligible for participation as a professor or research scholar for a period of two years following the end date of their program participation as identified in SEVIS.
Current immigration status Accordion Closed
Generally speaking, immigrants or non-immigrants currently in the United States in a status other than J-1 are not eligible for a J-1 visa. ISSS will work with the individuals and their departments to determine the best visa status options to arrive at NAU.
Non-US citizens and visitors from a foreign country are required to apply for a non-immigrant visa to enter the US. As a scholar, you must have a valid and appropriate visa in your passport to be allowed entry into the US. Before applying for an exchange visitor visa, you must be accepted by an SEVP approved US institution. You must also have an I-20 or DS-2019 from the US institution in which you intend to study before applying for a visa. Follow the steps below to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and apply for a visa.
SEVIS I-901 fee Accordion Closed
After receiving your immigration documents – Form I-20 or Form DS-2019– you can start the visa application process by paying your SEVIS fee. All J-1 exchange visitors must pay the SEVIS fee. Please note that you must pay the SEVIS fee at least three business days BEFORE your visa interview.
Who should pay the SEVIS fee? Accordion Closed
Before applying for a visa, the Department of Homeland Security requires all new J-1 scholars who are entering the US for the first time to pay a SEVIS fee. The SEVIS fee is separate from the visa fee which you will pay later on before your visa interview. For more information on who must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee, please refer to the Homeland Security website. *Continuing scholars do not have to pay the SEVIS fee when they apply for a visa to return to the US. Learn more information on who is exempt from paying the SEVIS Fee from the ICE FAQ. *Dependents of J-1 scholars are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.
When should I pay the SEVIS fee? Accordion Closed
We recommend that you pay the SEVIS fee immediately upon receipt of your Form DS-2019 using any of the methods listed below. You do not need to pay the SEVIS fee to schedule your visa interview, but you must pay the SEVIS fee at least three business days BEFORE your visa interview.
How can I pay the SEVIS fee? Accordion Closed
Proof of your I-901 SEVIS fee payment Accordion Closed
After you pay your SEVIS Fee, make sure to print out a receipt as proof of your I-901 SEVIS Fee payment. This receipt is one of the important documents you will need when you go to your visa interview.
Applying for visa
After paying the SEVIS fee, you should complete the online nonimmigrant visa application (Form DS-160) and schedule an interview. The US Department of State recommends that you print the DS-160 form confirmation page and bring it with you to your visa interview.
Learn more information on the visa interview requirements, application fee, and the required documentation at the State Department’s website.
Learn helpful tips for visa application and interview at the Study in the States website.
Scheduling your visa appointment Accordion Closed
Preparing for your interview Accordion Closed
Check your country’s US embassy or consulate website to know what documents are required for your interview. Generally, the following documents are required by the US embassy:
- Passport (valid at least six months after your period of stay in the US)
- Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt
- Photo: The online Form DS-160 requires that you upload your photo while completing your application. If you fail to upload your photo online, you must bring a printed photo to your interview. Make sure that your photo follows the requirements of the US Department of State. Learn more information about photo requirements on the travel page.
- Your Form DS-2019 signed by you and NAU
- Your invitation letter from NAU
- Evidence of financial support
- SEVIS fee receipt
Receiving your visa Accordion Closed
Processing your visa might take some time, so make sure that you schedule your visa interview well in advance of your travel date. Some visa applications may require administrative processing that will require additional processing time after the visa interview date, and could delay your arrival to the US. If this happens to you, be sure to contact us and your host to discuss deferring your arrival dates. The status of your visa application can be tracked on the Department of State website.
Once you receive your visa, be sure to check it carefully for errors to avoid any delays or complications while entering the US. If you find any errors, contact the US embassy immediately.
Visa denials Accordion Closed
The approval or denial of visa applicants is governed by US law. Your visa application will be denied if the consular officer finds that you are not eligible. In the case of a visa denial, you will be notified of the reason. Please notify us along with the reason if you receive a denial.
There are several things you need to remember as well as documents you need to carry with you as you plan to travel to and from the United States. As a new incoming scholar, be sure to read information regarding your initial entry to the US (the first time you come to the US with your new scholar visa) carefully to ensure you are prepared to travel to the US to begin your studies.
Initial entry to the US Accordion Closed
Before you travel
Before you travel, please upload these three documents to iNAU:
- Copy of passport bio page
- Copy of your J-1 visa
- Copy of your DS-2019
When can I enter the US?
J-1 scholars can enter the US up to 30 days prior to the program start date located on their DS-2019.
What can I bring to the US?
Be sure to check your airline’s policy for carry-ons and checked bags. Remember to consider what is and is not allowed to enter the US. Information about restricted items and limitations can be located on the TSA website.
How should I prepare?
Have your immigration documents ready and be prepared to show them to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer when entering the United States. Do not pack your immigration documents in your luggage because you will not have access to your luggage when entering the US!
At the US port of entry, you will need the following documents ready:
- Passport and J-1 visa
- Original form DS-2019 from NAU (do not forget to sign your form)
- NAU invitation letter
- SEVIS I-901 fee payment confirmation
- Evidence of financial support
What should I expect at the port of entry?
The CBP officer will ask you a few questions about why you are traveling to the US. Remember to remain calm and answer any questions the CBP officer may ask you. Be honest and confident! Explain that you are coming as a scholar at Northern Arizona University. You might be required to go through a secondary inspection or additional screening, which is not uncommon.
What is an I-94?
When you are admitted, the CBP officer will provide you with an admission stamp on your passport that shows the following:
- The day of your entry to the US
- Duration of Status (D/S): this indicates that you may remain in the US as long as you maintain your immigration status
- Immigration Status: this indicates the type of visa by which you were admitted to the US
- Form I-94 digital arrival record (Arrival/Departure Record)
An I-94 arrival record will typically be issued in a digital format when entering via air or sea, and on a small white piece of paper when entering via a land border. Your I-94 includes a unique admission number that serves as proof of your legal status, the class of admission, and the duration of your stay (D/S). If you believe the information on your I-94 is incorrect, please contact ISSS.
Travel within the US Accordion Closed
It is important that you carry the originals of the following immigration documents anytime you leave Flagstaff:
- your passport and visa
- copy of I-94
- your DS-2019 (no travel signature is required for traveling within the US)
Travel outside the US/reentry to the US Accordion Closed
Preparing for travel – documentation
To prepare for traveling abroad and reentering the US, you should check that your immigration documents are valid prior to departing. The following are required immigration documents to reenter the US.
- Your passport (valid at least 6 months after your date of reentry). If your passport is expired or due to expire in less than 6 months, you must renew your passport.
- Your visa: you can remain in the US after your visa expires as long as you maintain your immigration status, but if you are traveling outside the US, you must renew your visa in order to reenter the US. Learn more about applying for your visa and the visa issuing process on our website.
- Your Form DS-2019 with a valid travel signature. Be sure that your DS-2019 states your current and accurate information. As a J-1 scholar, your DS-2019 must have a valid travel signature in the “Travel Validation by Responsible Officer” section of page one. Each travel signature is valid for one year while you are a scholar at Northern Arizona University.
How can I request a travel signature?
- Complete the travel signature request e-form on iNAU.
- Bring your most recent DS-2019 to the ISSS front desk at least two weeks before you depart Flagstaff.
- ISSS will email you when it is ready to pick up.
Keep in mind that you may need a visa to enter a country other than your own. Please contact the consulate/embassy of the country you will be visiting for visa requirements.
- Evidence of Financial Support – The financial documents used to apply for your DS-2019
Form I-515A (temporary admittance) Accordion Closed
You may be issued form I-515A which allows you to be admitted to the US temporarily for 30 days if you fail to provide the CBP officer with ALL the required documents to enter the US. If you receive an I-515A, you must contact us immediately.
What if I need to contact NAU ISSS? Accordion Closed
Arriving in Flagstaff
For information on traveling to Flagstaff, please see our “Getting to Flagstaff” page.
Once you arrive in Flagstaff, you need to finalize your document upload at iNAU AND schedule a mandatory new scholar orientation appointment.
You will also be required to attend a scholar orientation. At orientation you will learn required information regarding your scholar status as well as helpful information about NAU and Flagstaff. Coordinate with ISSS to find out when the next scholar orientation will be held.