Applies to: On-Campus and DEL-MEM students

Step 1: Determine status

Who is required to apply for an F-1 visa?

If you are a non-U.S. passport holder living outside of the United States you are required to apply for the F-1 student visa. Please send an email to to request access to the web form. You will receive an email with a web link and temporary login information.

Who does NOT need to apply for an F-1 visa?

  • Non-U.S. passport holders living in the United States with a work visa (H-1b or L-1). H-1b and L-1 visa holders still need to complete the web form but do not need to apply for an F-1 visa. Please send an email to to request access to the web form.
  • Legal Permanent Residents or ‘green card holders’ do not need to apply for a visa, but must show their green card to the Visa Services Office upon arrival to the program (this is required each time you arrive on campus after being out of the country).
  • Employment Authorization Card (EAC) holders (those in the process of applying for a green card) do not need to apply for a visa, but must complete the web form and submit the original signature page and a copy of their EAC. Please email to request access to the web form. EAC holders must show their card to the Visa Services Office upon initial arrival to the program.

Step 2: Submit the web form and supporting documents

Use your temporary login to complete Part II of the web form (Student Services will complete Part I for you). Please sign the final page of the form and sign it. Once you have completed the web form and supplied the necessary supporting documents, we will initiate the I-20 process. The I-20 is a required document that is used when applying for your student visa at the U.S. Consulate in your home country.

View PowerPoint outlining the steps


Please compile the following documents and upload files to this secure Box folder:

  1. ORIGINAL signature page from the web form
  2. ORIGINAL supporting financial documentation*
  3. If you are being supported by your family, an employer, etc. then the sponsor will also need to submit an ORIGINAL signed letter stating the specific dollar amount to be provided and the connection to you*
  4. Photocopy of your passport showing the biographical data, picture, and expiration date
  5. Photocopy of any former UNITED STATES VISA(s) (if applicable). Does not include guest/tourist visas
  6. List the complete mailing address where you prefer to receive your I-20

*The Visa Services Office recommends obtaining two (2) original copies of your financial documentation (send only one original to the Student Services Office) because you will most likely need an additional set when you apply for your visa at the U.S. Consulate in your home country. Visa Services will NOT return the financial documentation that you provide to obtain your I-20.

Student Services cannot request an I-20 for you until ALL of the previously listed documents have been received.

We prefer to receive one PDF file per student, but understand if that is not possible. Please name your files with your first and last name.

Upload documents

Step 3: The I-20

Once all of your materials are received by the Student Services Office, please allow 20 days for your I-20 to be processed. The Visa Services Office at Duke University will send your I-20 to the address you have listed in your web form. During this time, please visit the website for the U.S. consulate in your home country to determine what additional materials you will need to apply for the F-1 visa. In addition, consulate regulations vary from country to country - some may require you to make an appointment to apply while others may have specific walk-in hours during the week.

IMPORTANT: The Visa Services Office at Duke University strongly recommends that you DO NOT schedule an appointment with the U.S. consulate until you have received your I-20.

While the Student Services staff will do everything possible to assist you in this process, please understand that it is your responsibility to obtain the student visa prior to your arrival in Durham. You may begin the visa application process within 120 days of your scheduled arrival in the United States.

Please direct questions you may have to


Policy owner
Student Services