Executive & Short-Term Residency Programs Visa & Immigration Guide

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

The mandatory in-person Immigration and Compliance Session and online Immigration Document Review are the first formal immigration responsibilities. Attendance at the session and completion of the document review are mandatory for all students. This session provides detailed information about rights and responsibilities as an international student. The exact date and time is communicated by OGS during issuance of the Form I-20.

With limited exceptions*, each international student applying for admission to the United States must hold a valid entry visa. Contact the nearest U.S. consulate for specific details on how to obtain an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa. In Taiwan, contact the American Institute.

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

Be prepared to present the following at the U.S. consulate:

  • SEVIS Form I-20 (F-1)
  • One passport size photograph
  • Evidence of financial support (e.g., original bank documents, scholarship letter, approved loan application, etc.)
  • Evidence of no intention to abandon home country residence (e.g., strong family ties, a pre-arranged job in home country, other economic ties, etc.)
  • Passport (valid at least 6 months beyond your program start date)
  • Proof of English-language proficiency
  • Georgetown University admission letter
  • Student visa application fee
  • SEVIS I-901 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 I-901 Fee?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a mandatory SEVIS I-901 Fee for students beginning a new F-1 program. This fee is separate from the visa application fee. Please note due to the short-term residency in DC/United States structure of these programs, a separate Form I-20/SEVIS ID is required and a new SEVIS I-901 Fee must be paid for each residency in DC.

Who must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee?

  • An incoming student applying for an F-1 Visa, whose Form I-20 is marked for initial attendance.
  • An incoming student applying for a change of status to F-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.

Who is exempt from paying the SEVIS I-901 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 unmarried 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 I-901 Fee?

  • At least three business days prior to the visa interview at the U.S. consulate.
  • At least three business days before entering a U.S. port of entry if exempt from the visa requirement.
  • Prior to the submission of a change of status application.

How do I pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee by credit card?

  • Complete the I-901 Form online.
  • Supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. Enter name exactly as it appears on the Form I-20.
  • Print a copy of the online receipt.
  • Make a copy of the receipt and keep it with all other important immigration documents. Students need to take the printed receipt with them to the U.S. consulate for the visa interview. Students applying for a change of status to F-1 within the United States must make a copy of the receipt to include with their application.

How do I pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee in my local currency?

  • This option is available in any country where Western Union offers its Quick Pay service.
  • Fill out the Form 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.
  • Western Union location.
  • After three business days, check the FMJ Fee web page to view the payment status. Once payment is confirmed on the website, print out the confirmation page as proof of payment.

How do I transfer the SEVIS I-901 Fee?
The SEVIS I-901 Fee is transferable*. It is attached to the student’s name, not to the SEVIS number. Save the receipt of payment with all important immigration documents. If the SEVIS I-901 Fee was paid using another institution’s Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 and a student decides to attend Georgetown University instead, simply save both the receipt and the unused immigration form for which the original SEVIS I-901 Fee was paid and bring them to the visa interview. Students can transfer the fee from one institution to another online or request a refund of the fee by email fmjfee.SEVIS@dhs.gov or call the DHS hotline at 212.620.3418.

A separate SEVIS I-901 Fee must be paid for each Georgetown Form I-20/SEVIS ID/residency in DC.

Report Date
Students must arrive in the United States no later than the report date listed on the Form I-20  (section 3), and no earlier than 30 days prior to this date. Anyone who cannot enter by the date on the immigration document must email Alicia.Ward@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 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 the Office of Global Services (OGS) has completed the registration process with the U.S. government.

tudents who have already entered the United States and are compelled to travel internationally for unforeseen reasons during the 30 days prior to the program start date must email Alicia.Ward@georgetown.edu immediately.

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 Record differs according to the method of entry into the United States.

Arrival by Airplane
The I-94 Record is the official record of immigration status in the United States. Arrivals by airplane are recorded electronically, and the I-94 Record is available online. After arriving in the United States, download and print a copy of the I-94 Record to retain with all other important immigration documents. Verify personal information including name and date of birth matches the information entered on the student visa. Students who are exempt from the visa requirement should compare the information on the I-94 Record to the information as it appears on the Form I-20. Verify the I-94 Record shows the correct immigration status (F-1) and the “Admit Until Date” shows D/S. If there is an error on the I-94 Record or the I-94 Record is unavailable online, please email Alicia.Ward@georgetown.edu for instructions.

Arrival by Automobile, Bus, Train, or Boat
The I-94 Record is the official record of immigration status in the United States. Students who arrive by land from Canada or Mexico, or by boat, ust schedule and pay the I-94 Record fee in advance of arrival to the border.Carefully complete this white card provided during travel and write name exactly as it appears on the student visa stamp in the passport. Students who are exempt from the visa requirement should write their name as it is listed on the Form I-20. The official at the port of entry must stamp the I-94 Record card either F-1 and D/S. The I-94 Record card should be stapled into the passport for safekeeping.

Upon arrival in the United States, be prepared to show the following documents to the inspections officer:

  • valid passport
  • F-1 entry visa (unless exempt)
  • Form I-20 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 fingerprints.  For more information, please see the Office of Biometric Identity Management website.

Students who were previously enrolled in F-1 student status at another U.S. institution should have requested a transfer of their immigration status to Georgetown. The Georgetown Form I-20 should indicate “Transfer Pending,”. The Georgetown-issued document must be used to reenter the United States by students currently abroad or those who plan to travel abroad prior to the start of the Georgetown program. If the F-1 student visa is still valid, there is no need to apply for a renewal. Secure all previous Forms I-20s or DS-2019s with all other important documents and have them accessible in case an inspections officer has any questions.

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