Graduate Students: Applying for Visa Documents from Stanford

This series of questions is for those international graduate students who will be beginning their studies at Stanford either in summer 2015 or fall 2015.

Which office at Stanford issues international student visa documents?

  • All international visa documents for international students coming to Stanford on F-1 or J-1 visas are issued by the Bechtel International Center. You will need these documents to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa at a US embassy or consulate.

What are the steps for receiving my document?

  1. Read the Admitted Students section of Graduate Admissions web site where you will find important information about coming to Stanford, including how to request your visa document.
  2. Submit necessary online transaction to the Office of Graduate Admissions.
  3. Once the Office of Graduate Admissions has confirmed all your materials, they will forward your request to the Bechtel International Center.
    Note: The admission process can take up to 4-5 weeks and must be complete before your visa request can be forwarded to Bechtel International Center.
  4. When Bechtel International Center receives your request from Graduate Admissions, you will receive a confirmation email. We will also let you know if there are any questions regarding your financial documentation.
  5. Bechtel International Center will issue your document within 15 business days. There is no way to expedite this process, and delays can be caused by submitting incomplete documentation and insufficient proof of finances. NOTE: Students transferring their visa (F or J) to Stanford from another U.S. institution must also be released by SEVIS before your Stanford visa document can be processed.
  6. Bechtel International Center will produce visa documents in the order in which we receive the necessary materials.
  7. Bechtel International center will email you when we have mailed your I-20 or DS-2019.

What financial documents do I need to provide?

  • These documents normally include bank statements, letters of grants or scholarships from an organization/institution (including Stanford letters of offer for scholarships/fellowships), etc.
  • Your funding needs to equal or exceed the Estimated Expense Budget for graduate students. These costs are determined by Stanford University and are based on full tuition—which is 11 units. We cannot negotiate on these costs and failure to submit complete funding information will delay the issuance of your visa document. Note: If you are receiving financial aid from Stanford in the form of an assistantship, the tuition costs are for 8,9,10 units.
  • Please submit ALL evidence of funding, including any offers of financial aid (including assistantships) from Stanford:
    • The I-20 (F-1 student visa) requires proof of funding for one Academic Year, i.e. 9 months or 3 quarters.
    • The DS-2019 (J-1 student visa) requires proof of funding for the ENTIRE period during which you are pursuing your degree. For example, the MS usually takes 24 months to complete. Therefore, you would need to provide proof of funding for 24 months.
  • Wherever possible, please provide proof of funding in US dollars. Many banks issue official statements with USD equivalents. If this is not possible, we will accept other currencies. However, it will take additional time to calculate funding which can increase processing time.

Upload all primary documents and proof of funding to the Office of Graduate Admissions. Any documents sent directly to the Bechtel International Center WILL CAUSE DELAY creating your visa document. ALL documents MUST be processed by Graduate Admissions FIRST!

Once your transaction is received from Graduate Admissions, Bechtel will contact you directly if any further documentation is needed, and give you instructions as to how to provide it. See the next question below:

What if I submit incomplete funding documents?

  • Bechtel International Center will return your transaction with details of what is missing. We cannot issue a visa document if your paperwork and documents are incomplete. Neither can we issue it on the promise that you will submit the missing materials later.

How will I know if my visa document has been sent to me?

  • The visa document will be sent to the address you provide us on the online transaction request. If you have chosen to have your document sent by courier, please make sure this is an address to which a courier can deliver mail, and include a local (to you) phone number.
  • We will email you once we have mailed your document, and include the tracking number if your document is being sent by courier Please make sure you have provided a working email on your online transaction form.

What if I have not received an email saying that my I-20 has been sent, and I need to know the status?

  • Login to and look at your 'Checklist.'
    It should be noted there what forms (if any) are missing from your application. If there are any forms listed, your application is not complete, and your paperwork has not yet been forwarded to Bechtel. You must send the missing information to Graduate Admissions to complete your file.

What if my file is complete and I need to contact Bechtel International Center?

  • Please note we cannot respond to routine status inquiries about whether we have received your materials, or when your document will be ready or mailed.
  • For emergencies only, you can send an email to
  • Please do not use any other email address to ask questions about your visa documents.

What will I receive with my visa document?

  • You will receive information on how to apply for and obtain a visa.
  • In spring and early summer you will receive information about housing, health insurance and other important matters.
  • In summer you will receive information from Bechtel International Center about a special orientation for new international graduate students.

Once I have received my visa document and obtained a visa, when can I travel to the U.S.?

  • You can enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the start date of your program. This date is noted on your visa document.

What if I am already in the U.S. on an F or J Visa?

  • Students who are transferring their SEVIS Record from one U.S. institution to another are not restricted by this 30 day entry regulation. You will not have to pay the SEVIS fee again, nor will you need another visa interview.

Where can I find more information about being a new graduate international student at Stanford?

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