International Students – Visa Overview


For many students, the process of obtaining a visa to study in the United States can seem daunting. We are here to help you with the process, but the first step in the process is for you to provide us with some critical pieces of information. This page gives you an overview of the process, but please also consult the comprehensive international student page for other issues of importance to international students.

Most students enrolling at Fletcher will seek a standard student visa (F-1). A smaller number of students who are receiving external sponsorships (Fulbright, Asia Foundation, etc) will seek a different student visa (J-1). If you will be entering the United States under a different visa category (e.g. A or G), please indicate so on the Certification of Funds form. DO NOT enter the country as a tourist (B-2 visa or ESTA/Visa Waiver) as you are not permitted to attend school  with this visa.

STEP 1: Complete the “Certification of Funds” form by May 25.

The first critical step is to complete the "Certification of Funds" form and return it no later than May 25 together with a photocopy of your passport showing your photograph, biographical information, and passport expiration date to our international student advisor, Reiko Ohmura. We encourage you to submit this information as soon as possible after it is available to ensure timely receipt of your visa. Delays in submitting this paperwork are the main cause of students not receiving their visas on time.

For students seeking a J-1 visa, you first step is to receive a DS-2019 form from your sponsor. Please check with your individual sponsor for their requirements to produce this form. If Fletcher needs to issue your DS-2019, you must complete the Certification of Funds form as outlined in the paragraph above.

The Certification of Funds form demonstrates that you have adequate funds to cover your study at The Fletcher School. All amounts listed must be exact and in U.S. dollars, and the form must be signed by the proper authorities. The amount of funds which you certify on this form must be available, in full, upon your arrival at The Fletcher School. If your spouse and/or dependents will accompany you, you must certify additional funding for each as stated on the form, note the country of birth for each, and provide a copy of the biographical passport page for each as indicated above. Please note: common law marriages and/or fiancés are not recognized by the Department of Homeland Security to be the same as a spouse. The Fletcher School makes all scholarship awards at the time of admission, and no additional awards should be assumed for the purposes of this form.

STEP 2: Receive your Certificate of Eligibility form (I-20 for F-1, DS-2019 for J-1)

Once Reiko Ohmura has received and approved your certification of funds form, she will enter the necessary information into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is the US Government’s internet-based system that tracks schools, students, exchange visitors, and their dependents. Once the information has been entered, Reiko will send to you via regular mail your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019 form). If you prefer to receive your I-20 or
or DS-2019 via express mail, please check the box on the second page of the Certification of Funds form. The charge will be assessed to your Tufts student account. Express mail is strongly recommended.

STEP 3: Pay your SEVIS Fee

Once your I-20 has been issued or you have received you DS-2019, you must pay a fee required through SEVIS. The fee is $200 for F-1 visas or $180 for J-1 visas. The fee must be paid before your visa appointment as you are required to bring a receipt (I-901 form) with you to the Consulate, showing that you have paid the fee. Further information regarding the fee can be found here.

STEP 4: Schedule an appointment with the nearest embassy or consulate

For a complete list of embassies and consulates, please see here. Each embassy or consulate has different process and wait times for visa interviews.

STEP 5: Conduct your visa interview

You will need to bring to your embassy or consular interview the “required documentation” for F-1 visas or J-1 visas. Please see consult the appropriate page for comprehensive details. These documents include but are not limited to:

  • Forms I-20 and DS-160 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1)
  • a valid passport
  • passport photos
  • copies of your financial documentation
  • evidence of English ability sufficient for the course of study
  • MRV and SEVIS I-901 fee receipts
  • Evidence of intent to depart the U.S. after completion of studies
  • Consular Fee of approximately $50. Contact the Consulate or Embassy for the exact amount. This is not the same as the SEVIS fee.
  • Receipt from paid SEVIS Fee (I-901).

STEP 6: Pick up your visa

Visas must be collected in person.

STEP 7: Come to Fletcher! 

Make sure you have your I-20 and passport when entering the U.S.

Contact information for Reiko Ohmura, International Student Advisor:

Physical Location: Office of the Registrar (Goddard 212), Regular business hours are Monday-Friday, 9 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 4 pm EST.
Mailing Address: Reiko Ohmura, The Fletcher School, 160 Packard Ave, Medford, MA 02155 USA
Telephone number: +1-617-627-3055
Fax number: +1-617-627-4028