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Arrival information

Pre-arrival checklist for J-1 scholars

  • Look over your DS-2019 and make sure all of the information is accurate. Read the included welcome materials.
  • Contact the U.S. consulate in your country to schedule a visa interview (unless exempt from the visa requirement). You should apply early to provide ample time for visa processing. Check the U.S. Department of State website for visa application information.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee ($220). This fee supports the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program and is paid to the Department of Homeland Security. It can be paid online or by Western Union. You will need to bring a receipt for this payment to your visa interview.
  • Bring the required documentation to your visa interview. Required fees and documentation vary by country, so check with the embassy for your home country to find out what applies to you. At the minimum, please be prepared to present the following:
    • DS-2019
    • Financial support documentation
    • SEVIS fee receipt
    • Passport valid for at least six months into the future
    • Form DS-160: Nonimmigrant Visa Application (involves a $160 processing fee and can be completed online)
    • One 2 inch by 2 inch photograph (see photo requirements)
    • Evidence of ties to your home country
    Note: If your spouse or child(ren) will be joining you in the U.S., they must apply for a J-2 visa. The application procedure is the same as that for the primary visa applicant. They may apply for the visa during the same interview as the J-1, or at a later date.
  • Make travel arrangements. Columbia has a regional airport with limited services. The closest major airports are in St. Louis and Kansas City (each about 125 miles from Columbia). For details, see the information about getting to Columbia.
  • Secure temporary housing in Columbia, if necessary. For details about hotels and short-term housing options, see the information about housing.
  • Review the list of documents to submit and what to expect at the port of entry on the Customs and Border Protection website.

After arrival checklist for J-1 scholars

  • Plan to arrive in the U.S. no later than 20 days after your start date. If your trip will be delayed for more than 20 days, please contact the International Center.
  • Upon arrival in Columbia, you must check in at the International Center. You will be asked to complete a check-in form and provide your local address. The center will make copies of your documents and passport. This must be done within 30 days of the start date on your DS-2019 or you will be considered illegally present in the United States.
  • Attend a J-1 scholar orientation session. These sessions are held on a weekly basis at the International Center, and you will sign up for one when you check in. It is required by federal law that you attend an orientation session.
  • Enroll in an insurance policy that meets U.S. requirements for J-1 visitors.
  • If you will be paid by the hosting department, complete the employment paperwork (I-9 form, etc.). Your department will complete a Personnel Action Form on your behalf.
  • If you will not be paid by your department, you may request that your department file a courtesy appointment PAF for you. You will then be assigned an employee ID number.
  • Use the PAF and employee ID number to obtain an MU ID card. The ID Card Office is located in the lower level of the Mizzou Store in the MU Student Center.
  • Apply for a Social Security card. Take your passport, I-94 record and DS-2019 to the Social Security Office. Application details and directions to the office are available on the information about Social Security cards.
  • If desired, apply for a driver's license. Take your passport, I-94 record, DS-2019 and a letter from your hosting department confirming your position at MU to the Missouri License Bureau. You will have to take both the written and driving tests. See the driver's license information for details about the tests and required documentation.