Applying for your F-1 visa
After you receive your I-20 from UMW, you must apply for your F-1 visa. Review the U.S. Department of State U.S. Visas Study & Exchange website > Student Visas “F” section for instructions on how to apply for your F-1 visa.
Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) for F-1 status.
Be prepared to present the following at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate:
- SEVIS Form I-20
- One passport size photograph
- Evidence of financial support (original bank statements, scholarship letter, approved loan application, etc.)
- Evidence that you have no intention of abandoning residence in your home country (strong family ties, pre-arranged job in your home country or other economic ties, etc.)
- Passport (valid at least 6 months beyond your program start date)
- Proof of English-language proficiency
- University of Mary Washington admission letter
- Student visa application fee
- SEVIS fee payment receipt
- DS-160 confirmation receipt
What is the SEVIS fee?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a one-time SEVIS fee for students beginning a new F-1 program. This fee is separate from the visa application fee.
When do I pay the SEVIS fee?
- At least three business days prior to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- At least three business days before entering a U.S. port of entry if you are exempt from the visa requirement.
- Prior to the submission of a change of status application.
How do I pay the SEVIS fee by credit card?
- Complete the I-901 Form online.
- Supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. *Enter your name exactly as it appears on your Form I-20.
- Print a copy of the online receipt.
- Make a copy of your receipt and keep it with your other important immigration documents. You will need to take the printed receipt with you to the Consulate or Embassy when you have your visa interview.
How do I pay the SEVIS fee in my local currency?
- This option is available in any country where Western Union offers its Quick Pay service.
- If you choose this option, do not file Form I-901 online.
- Access the instructions, along with a completed sample of the Western Union form, on the SEVP website.
- Find the Western Union location nearest you.
- Bring a printed copy of the instructions and the sample of the completed Western Union form to the nearest Western Union office to process your payment.
- After three business days, check www.fmjfee.com to view your payment status. Once payment is confirmed on the website, print out the confirmation page as proof of payment.
Arriving in the United States
You must arrive in the United States no later than the program start date listed on your Form I-20 and no earlier than 30 days prior to this date. If you cannot enter by the date given on your immigration document, contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Travel Following Initial Entry
While students are permitted to enter the United States up to 30 days prior to their program start date, we discourage F-1 students from entering the United States and then making immediate international travel plans. International travel requires prior verification with the U.S. Government. Since immigration records will only be updated and registered AFTER the mandatory immigration compliance session, students should wait to leave the United States until we have completed the registration process with the U.S. Government.
Students who are compelled to travel internationally during this 30 day period prior to the program start date must consult with CIE prior to entering the United States in F-1 status.
I-94 Card Completion
All students, without exception, should be issued print a copy of their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record by visiting the DHS “Get I-94 Information” website.
Arrival by Airplane
The I-94 is the official record of your immigration status in the United States. Students arriving in a U.S. airport will no longer receive a paper I-94 card. Instead, the airport will enter the I-94 electronically so that it is available online. After arriving in the United States, you should visit the DHS “Get I-94 Information” website and print a copy of the I-94 to keep with your other important immigration documents. You should verify that your personal information such as your name and date of birth matches the information as it is entered on your student visa. Students who are exempt from the visa requirement should compare the information on the I-94 to the same information as it appears on the I-20 or DS-2019. You should verify that the I-94 shows your correct immigration status (F-1 or J-1) and that the “Admit Until Date” shows D/S.
Arrival by Automobile, Bus, Train, or Boat
The I-94 is the official record of your immigration status in the United States. Carefully complete this white card provided to you during your travels, writing your name exactly as it appears on the student visa stamp in your passport. A student who is exempt from the visa requirement should write his/her name as it is listed on the Form I-20 or DS-2019. The official at the port of entry must stamp the I-94 card either J-1 and D/S or F-1 and D/S, depending upon your immigration document and your student visa. Your portion of the I-94 card should be stapled into your passport for safekeeping.
Upon arrival in the United States, you must be prepared to show the inspections officer:
- valid passport
- F-1 entry visa
- original admission letter
- original financial support documentation
- Form I-20 issued by UMW. Do not present an immigration document issued by any other institution.