Welcome to Georgetown University! Once you have an immigration document from Georgetown, you are ready to start the next phase of U.S. immigration. The visa and immigration guide will help you easily navigate U.S. immigration requirements. Whether you are applying for a new visa, paying the SEVIS I-901 Fee, transferring your status or looking for information about your responsibilities upon arrival, this guide clarifies your role in becoming a student at Georgetown. Information on health insurance, housing, bank accounts, etc. are available in Resources. Once you arrive, our staff, members of the faculty, and your academic advisors will be prepared to answer remaining questions.
Document Review & Immigration Compliance Session
The Immigration Document Review and the Immigration Compliance Session will be your first formal immigration responsibilities. Attendance at the Immigration Compliance session and completion of the online Immigration Document Review are mandatory for all students.
What is Orientation and am I required to attend?
Orientation is a critical component of your transition to Georgetown. Graduate students are encouraged to attend all sessions at International Graduate Orientation (IGO), in addition to two mandatory sessions on immigration compliance and cultural and academic adjustment. Undergraduate students are required to attend International New Student Orientation (I-NSO) and should view the I-NSO orientation schedule for their mandatory sessions.
With limited exceptions*, each international student applying for admission to the United States must hold a valid entry visa. Contact your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for specific details on how to obtain an F-1 or J-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. You must apply for the visa that corresponds to your immigration document. Those who received a Form I-20 should apply for an F-1 visa and those who received a Form DS-2019 should apply for a J-1 visa.
Reminder: GU-Q students must apply for an F-1 visa; Exchange visitors must apply for a J-1 visa. If you received the wrong type of immigration document, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.
Be prepared to present the following at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate:
- SEVIS Form DS-2019 (J-1) or Form I-20 (F-1)
- 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 I-901 Fee payment receipt
- DS-160 confirmation receipt
Please visit Applying for a Visa in Canada or Mexico for more information about applying for a visa as a Third Country National (TCN)
*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.
J-1 Exchange Program Information
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
- Cultural exchange programming (such as the Language Exchange Program and Global Expo)
- Cultural adjustment support
- Logistical support
- Immigration advising
What is the SEVIS I-901 Fee?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a one-time SEVIS I-901 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 I-901 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 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 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 I-901 Fee by credit card?
- Complete the Form I-901 online.
- Supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. Enter your name exactly as it appears on your 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 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 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 Student and Exchange Visitor Program (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 the SEVP website 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 I-901 Fee?
The SEVIS I-901 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 I-901 Fee using another institution's 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 I-901 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 I-901 Customer Support at 703.603.3400.
You must arrive in the United States no later than the report date listed on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (section 3), and no earlier than 30 days prior to this date. If you cannot enter by the date indicated on your immigration document, contact our office at email@example.com.
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. 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, view and print a copy of the I-94 to retain with your other important immigration documents. 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 on the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. Verify 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, you must schedule and pay the I-94 fee in advance of your arrival to the border. 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 on 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 Form 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 fingerprints. For more information, please see the Office of Biometric Identity Management website
If you were previously enrolled in F-1 or J-1 student status at another U.S. institution and currently have an active SEVIS record, you should have requested a transfer of your immigration status to Georgetown. The Georgetown Form I-20 should indicate "Transfer Pending", while a Form DS-2019 lists the transfer release information in section 8. The Georgetown-issued document must be used to re-enter the United States if you are currently abroad or if you plan to travel prior to the start of the Georgetown semester. If your F-1 or J-1 student visa is still valid, there is no need to apply for a renewal. Secure all previous Form I-20s or Form DS-2019s with your 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 web page.