The start of your 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. Information on other topics such as health insurance, housing, and resources in the Washington, D.C. metro area are also available here. Once you arrive, our staff, members of the faculty, and the academic advisors in your department will be prepared to answer any remaining questions.
The Immigration Compliance Session and Immigration Document Review will be your first formal immigration responsibilities, providing detailed information about your rights and responsibilities as an international student. Attendance is mandatory at both. Date and time will be determined by your program.
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 a F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant 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. Embassy or Consulate:
- SEVIS Form DS-2019 (J-1) or Form I-20 (F-1)
- 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
- Georgetown University admission letter
- Student visa application fee
- 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 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.
- 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.
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. To request a refund of the fee or assistance in transferring your fee from one institution to another, contact fmjfee.SEVIS@dhs.gov or call the Department of Homeland Security hotline at 212.620.3418.
You must arrive in the United States no later than the report date listed on your Form I-20 (Section 5) or 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 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, OIP discourages F-1 and J-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 OIP has 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 OIP prior to entering the United States in F-1 or J-1 status.
I-94 Card Completion
All students, without exception, should be issued an I-94 Record of Entry upon arrival in the United States. The I-94 procedure differs according to method of entry into the U.S.
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 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 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. If you find an error on your I-94 or are unable to locate your I-94 online 30 days after your entry into the U.S., please contact OIP 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. 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 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.
United States Visitor and Immigrant Indicator Technology (US-VISIT)
The inspections officer will use the US-VISIT Program to register your entry into the United States by taking digital photographs and fingerprints. For more information, please see the US-VISIT website.
If you were previously enrolled in F-1 or J-1 student status at another U.S. institution, you should have requested a transfer of your immigration status to Georgetown. The Georgetown Form I-20 should indicate "Transfer Pending" in Section 3, while a DS-2019 Form lists the transfer release information in section 8. The Georgetown-issued document must be used to reenter 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 I-20s or DS-2019s with your other important documents and have them accessible in case an inspections officer has any questions.