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Entering the United States

Once you have received your F-1/J-1 visa, you will be able to enter the United States as an F-1 Student/J-1 Exchange Visitor in "Initial" status. You will enter the USA via a “port of entry”, typically at your first airport in the U.S. To pass inspection by CBP officer, you need the following: 

  • Passport valid for at least six months past the date of your entry into the U.S.
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa, unless exempt from visa requirement (ex: Canadian citizens do not require an F-1 visa to enter the U.S. in F-1 Student status). When in "Initial" status, the name of the school on the F-1 or J-1 visa must match the name of the school on the Form I-20/DS-2019.
  • Evidence of financial support (ex.: financial aid award letter, certified bank statement, etc.)
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019, properly signed by the DSO/RO and student/Exchange Visitor
  • I-901 SEVIS fee payment confirmation

All prospective F-1 students must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee before the U.S. Department of State will issue a visa. For visa-exempt prospective F-1 students, proof of I-901 SEVIS fee payment must be shown at the port of entry into the U.S. SEVIS is the Student Exchange Visitor Information System, used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of State to manage international student and Exchange Visitor information.

Paying the I-901 SEVIS fee (U.S. $350 for F-1 Students, $220 for Exchange Visitors)

  • Prospective F-1 students with a country of citizenship except Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Gambia can pay the I-901 SEVIS fee at FMJfee.com.
  • Payment instructions can be found on www.studyinthestates.dhs.gov.
  • Prospective F-1 students with a country of citizenship of Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Gambia must pay by money order, Western Union Quick Pay or certified check drawn from a U.S. bank. Prospective students without access to a credit or debit card may also use this method.
  • Detailed payment instructions can be found on the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement website.

Important Terms

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