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International Student and Scholar Services

Visa & Immigration

Acquiring F-1 or J-1 Status

The process of acquiring F-1 or J-1 status begins with the issuance of a certificate of eligibility from a school or program, which outlines your program of study. The process ends with your entry into the United States using the appropriate immigration documents.

  1. Apply for admission to an academic or exchange program
  2. Receive I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) Certification of Eligibility
  3. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee
  4. Make a visa appointment at a U.S. consular office or embassy
  5. Enter the United States in the appropriate immigration status

Paying the SEVIS Fee

Once you receive your I-20 or DS-2019, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee online at When making the payment, you will need to enter your family name, your date of birth, and your SEVIS ID number, which is printed in the upper right hand corner of your I-20 or DS-2019. You should print a copy of Form I-901 receipt, which confirms payment of the SEVIS fee. You will need to bring Form I-901 with you to your visa appointment.

Applying for a u.s. visa

After paying the SEVIS fee, you will need to contact a U.S. consular office or embassy to schedule a visa appointment. Scheduling practices vary among offices, so visit the embassy's website to learn how to make an appointment. In general, you should allow several weeks to schedule an appointment and complete the visa application process, especially if your major field of study or country of citizenship requires additional security checks. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends students apply for a visa at a consulate or embassy in their home country.

Visa applicants typically are required to have a face-to-face interview with a consular officer. The interviews are often very short and you will not have much time to respond to the officer's questions. Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare for your interview. 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Non-immigrant Visa