Applying as an Exchange Student

Once you have applied to your respective exchange program and have been officially nominated by your university, your application will be reviewed by the Office of International Education (OIE) staff at Southern to determine whether our institution will be able to accommodate you and your specific course needs. Our exchange partners typically receive a reply within 1-2 weeks, depending on whether our office requires additional information in order to make a decision. You are then notified of whether a placement has been made at Southern.

If you are accepted to participate in an exchange semester or academic year at Southern, you will be asked to fill out the OIE's J-1 Exchange Visitor Application. This application provides us with the information necessary in order to register you as a visiting student at Southern, to begin to assemble the information needed to issue your DS-2019 (for immigration purposes), and to enroll you in courses. We ask that the application be filled out and returned with supporting documents within two weeks so that we can continue making plans for your stay at Southern.

1) Admission for Exchange/DS 2019 Requirements

Submission of OIE's internal J-1 Exchange Visitor Application with supporting documents are required for admission to SCSU. Supporting documents include a copy of the student's passport, English translation of academic transcript, and a list of courses he/she is currently enrolled in. Proof of comprehensive health insurance, evidence of sufficient funds (to support the exchange student for the duration of his/her stay), and proof of English proficiency are required in order for the OIE to issue the DS 2019 to apply for your J-1 visa.

SCSU partners with ISO to provide health insurance coverage for J-1 Exchange Visitors. If your current comprehensive health insurance policy provides coverage for overseas travel that meets U.S. federal minimum requirements for J-1 Exchange Visitors (medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness; repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000; expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000; and a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness – additional details available here) you may request a waiver of the ISO policy through ISO. Contact ISO at

Proof of finances may be submitted in the form of a personal bank statement, student loan/grant/scholarship notification letters, or a letter from a sponsor accompanied by sponsor’s bank statement to show that the student has sufficient funds to live on or off-campus for the duration of his/her semesters at SCSU.

Proof of English Proficiency may be satisfied by submitting your TOEFL or IELTS score or completing a SKYPE interview. For information on waiving this requirement, please contact the OIE. English proficiency minimum scores: TOEFL - 72 iBT/525 paper; IELTS - 6; Certificate of completion from ELS Academic English Level 112.

2) Courses/Registration 

Our J-1 Exchange Visitor Application contains a course request list which the student must fill out. This course request list assists the OIE in enrolling the student in courses at Southern. Please indicate preferred courses and courses of secondary preference.

3) Health Form

All students are required to complete the Connecticut State University Health Form. All medical requirements listed on the form must be completed prior to arrival on campus.

4) Housing & Meals 

The student must indicate if he/she will be living on- or off-campus. If the student plans to live on-campus, he/she must apply for Housing via the MySCSU website. A Housing Deposit is due at the time that the student applies for housing. Then, housing/meal plan costs will be charged to the student's fee bill.

 Steps 2 through 4 cannot be completed without the J-1 Exchange Visitor Application.

5) Pay the SEVIS (I-901) Fee

Before you can apply for your J-1 visa, you must pay the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee. Canadian students (who don't need a visa to enter the United States) must also pay this fee.

How to pay: The easiest payment method is online.

The SEVIS I-901 Fee is $220.00 for J visa applicants and is non‐refundable. However, in the unlikely instance that your visa application is denied, you may reapply for a new J-1 visa within 12 months without having to pay a new SEVIS fee. If you choose to transfer your record, either between universities or advancing your degrees, you will not need to pay the I-901 fee again. The SEVIS I-901 fee stays with your SEVIS record via your SEVIS number. Anytime you receive a new SEVIS record with a new SEVIS number, you must pay the fee.

6) Apply for your Visa with Your U.S. Embassy or Consulate

You'll apply for your visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to you. Apply as early as you can so you have plenty of time for the interview and processing—in many cases you can apply 120 days prior to your academic program start date shown on your DS-2019. Check the Consulate or Embassy's website for application instructions. The US Department of State lists appointment and processing wait times.
Once you have applied and received your visa, please contact Dr. Erin Heidkamp to confirm that you have been issued a visa and to notify the office of your travel plans/itinerary information.

7) Travel to the U.S.

When you have received your J-1 visa, you can arrange your travel. You can enter the US as early as 30 days before the program start date on your DS-2019 (but no earlier).

Document checklist

Make you sure have the following items with you.

  • Your passport, valid for at least six months from your entry date
  • Your DS-2019 (NOT a photo or a copy of it)
  • Proof of SEVIS fee payment (receipt or Form I-797)
  • Welcome Letter and/or Letter of Invitation from Southern Connecticut State University
  • Original financial documents proving sufficient funding, as reflected on your DS-2019
  • Medical records: certificates of immunizations and vaccinations, and any prescriptions or necessary medical documents
  • Documents demonstrating your intent to return to your home country the U.S. once you've completed your studies/research at SCSU

8) Pass Through Immigration at your US Port of Entry

Once you arrive in the US, you'll go through Immigration and speak with an officer. Be prepared to show your documents and answer questions about your program of study, your family ties, and your intent to return home. Verify that the US entry stamp in your passport is clear and shows your status (J-1) and duration of that status (D/S). Read more about what to do when you arrive in the US.

If you have any questions regarding applying as a J-1 Exchange Student at Southern, please contact the OIE at