Welcome to Georgetown University! The goal of Georgetown University's J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to promote cultural and educational exchange between international and domestic students, faculty, staff, and community members as well as to promote greater diversity and international awareness within the university community.

Components of this program include:

  • Educational, research and teaching activities
  • Orientation
  • Cultural exchange programming (such as the Language Exchange Program and Global Expo)
  • Cultural adjustment support
  • Logistical support
  • Immigration advising

Please also visit the U.S. Department of State’s website and their Exchange Visitor Program Welcome brochure.

The start of your exchange program is quickly approaching and we look forward to welcoming you to the Georgetown international community! This guide contains detailed information on the immigration steps required prior to your arrival. 

Orientation & Compliance Session

Document Review & Immigration Compliance Session

The Immigration Document Review and the Immigration Compliance Session will be your first formal immigration responsibilities. Attendance at Orientation and completion of the online Immigration Document Review form are mandatory for all students.

What is Orientation and am I required to attend?

Orientation is a critical component of your transition to Georgetown. Exchange students are required to attend all events and sessions during Orientation. Orientation is a series of social events and information sessions on academic life, immigration regulations, health care, employment, and cultural norms in and around Georgetown. Click here for more information about orientation.

Applying for Your Student Visa

With limited exceptions*, each international exchange visitor applying for admission to the United States must hold a valid entry visa. Exchange students should apply for J-1 status. Contact your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for specific details on how to obtain a J-1 non-immigrant student visa. In Taiwan, contact the American Institute.

Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) for J-1 status.

Be prepared to present the following at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

  • SEVIS Form DS-2019
  • One passport size photograph
  • Evidence of financial support (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
  • Georgetown University admission letter
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • DS-160 confirmation receipt

*Exceptions to the visa requirement: The most common exception to the visa requirement is made for Canadian citizens and certain landed Canadian immigrants. Please see the U.S. Embassy's website for more information. Other notable exceptions currently include citizens of the Freely Associated States or FAS (Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau) who are in direct transit from the FAS to the United States, citizens of Bermuda, citizens of British Overseas Territories, Bahamian nationals, and British subjects residing in the Bahamas who complete immigration inspection at Freeport or Nassau.


What is the SEVIS fee?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a one-time SEVIS fee for students beginning a new F-1 or J-1 program. This fee is separate from the visa application fee.

Who must pay the SEVIS fee?

  • An incoming student applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa, whose Form I-20 is marked for initial attendance or whose Form DS-2019 is to be used for initial participation in a program.
  • An incoming student applying for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 from another visa category inside the United States.
  • A current F-1 student in the United States who is filing for reinstatement after being out of status more than five months.
  • A J-1 Exchange Visitor applying for a change of category (J-1 researcher to a J-1 student, etc.) within the United States.
  • A J-1 Exchange Visitor in a U.S. Government-sponsored program who is transferring to a non-U.S. Government-sponsored program.

Who is exempt from paying the SEVIS fee?

  • Students transferring their immigration status to Georgetown from another U.S. institution or outside J-1 Exchange Program (except those currently sponsored by the U.S. Government).
  • Dependents (spouses or children under the age of 21) of F-1 and J-1 visa holders.
  • Students applying for reinstatement who have been out of status for less than five months.

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 or DS-2019.
  • 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. If you are applying for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 within the United States, make a copy of the receipt to include with your application.

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.
  • Fill out the I-901 online PRIOR to visiting a Western Union location. 
  • 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.

How do I transfer the SEVIS fee?
The SEVIS fee is transferable. It is attached to your name, not to your SEVIS number. Save your receipt of payment with all your important immigration documents. If you paid the SEVIS fee using another institution's Form I-20 or DS-2019 and you have decided to attend Georgetown University instead, simply save both the receipt and the unused immigration form for which the original SEVIS fee was paid and bring them to your visa interview. You can transfer your fee from one institution to another online or request a refund of the fee by contacting  fmjfee.SEVIS@dhs.gov or calling the Department of Homeland Security hotline at 212.620.3418.

Arriving in the United States

Report Date
You must arrive in the United States no later than the report date listed on your Form I-20 or For DS-2019 (section 3), and no earlier than 30 days prior to this date. If you cannot enter by the date given on your immigration document, contact your specific adviser or our office at newinternational@georgetown.edu.

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 and J-1 students from making immediate international travel plans after having entered the United States. 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 OGS has completed the registration process with the U.S. Government. SEVIS registration will be complete 30 days after the program start date listed on the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.

Students who have already entered the United States and are compelled to travel internationally for unforeseen reasons before SEVIS registration is complete must contact their dedicated IS Advisor immediately. For all other cases, please consult OGS prior to entering the United States in F-1 or J-1 status.

I-94 Record of Entry
An I-94 Record of Entry should be created for all students, without exception, upon arrival in the United States. The I-94 procedure differs according to the method of entry into the United States.

Arrival by Airplane
The I-94 is the official record of your immigration status in the United States. Arrivals by airplane are recorded electronically, and the I-94 is available online. After arriving in the United States, you should go to https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/ to view and print a copy of the I-94 to retain 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 Form I-20 or Form 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. If you find an error on your I-94 or are unable to locate your I-94 online after your entry into the United States, please contact OGS at newinternational@georgetown.edu.

Arrival by Automobile, Bus, Train, or Boat
The I-94 is the official record of your immigration status in the United States. If you arrive by land from Canada or Mexico, you must schedule and pay the I-94 fee in advance of your arrival to the border. You can do this here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home 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 Form 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 or J-1 entry visa (unless exempt)
  • original admission letter
  • original financial support documentation
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Georgetown- Do not present an immigration document issued by any other institution.

Biometric Identity Management
Upon entry to the United States, all visitors are subject to biometric identification through digital photographs and fingerprinting.  For more information, please see the Office of Biometric Identity Management website.

Settling in at Georgetown

For detailed information on housing, transportation, etc., please visit our Resources web page.