Visa Information

Visa InformationIn order to enter the United States as an international student or Visiting Language Instructor at the University of Mary Washington, you must apply for the appropriate visa. Prospective students should not apply for their visas until they have been admitted to UMW and have already been issued their I-20 or DS-2019. If you have any questions, e-mail

Applying for an F-1 or J-1 Visa

  • F-1 student visa instructions for degree-seeking students who have been issued an I-20.
  • J-1 visa instructions for exchange students and Visiting Language Instructors who have been issued a DS-2019.
  • Changing status? Contact CIE if you are in the U.S. in another immigration status and would like to change to F-1 or J-1.

Selecting Travel Dates

  • You may enter the U.S. up to 30 calendar days before the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. The start date is found in the Program of Study box on the I-20 or #3 on the DS-2019.  Campus housing is not available until the official UMW check-in date.  Students arriving prior to the check-in date will be responsible for their own transportation and lodging.
  • You must arrive in the U.S. on or before the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • If your travel will be delayed, causing you to arrive in the U.S. after the start date, you must notify CIE.
  • If you plan to travel home during an academic break, or return home at the conclusion of the academic year,  do not depart the U.S. until after your final exams are over.  Final exams take place the week after classes end.  Undergraduates can consult the academic calendar for this information. Graduates should contact their department before making travel plans, as exam schedules vary.  Make sure you have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel authorization!
  • If you live on-campus, consult with Residence Life about when housing is open or closed during breaks and holidays at various times during the academic year, as you may need to make other housing arrangements for these periods.

Traveling to the U.S.

At the port-of-entry (the airport or border where you officially enter the U.S.), be prepared to present your documents:

  • Passport
  • F-1 or J-1 visa stamp (located in your passport)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Admission or invitation letter from UMW
  • Receipt of SEVIS fee payment
  • Financial documentation (such as bank statements, scholarship details, etc.)
  • U.S. Customs Declaration Form (you will receive that on the flight to the U.S.)

Keep these documents in your carry-on luggage. An immigration officer will review your documents and ask you some questions regarding the purpose of your stay in the U.S.

A digital photo and fingerprints will be taken, and then your passport will be stamped and annotated F-1 or J-1 and D/S.  D/S stands for “duration of status,” meaning you may stay in the U.S. as long as your documents are valid and you maintain your visa status.

Note: If you have any problems entering the U.S., call CIE at (540) 654-1870. On weekends and evenings, call (540) 419-9781 to reach the 24/7 emergency line.