Applying for an F-1 or J-1 Visa for Study in the United States
You must obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa in order to seek admission to the U.S. for full-time studies, unless you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda. Citizens of Canada or Bermuda do not require F-1 or J-1 visas but must present appropriate means of documentation at the U.S. port-of-entry to seek admission for full-time studies.

To apply for an F-1 visa, you must provide the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with Form I-20 (for F-1 students), passport, statement of funds, and other documents as required by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. To apply for a J-1 visa, you must provide the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with Form DS-2019 (for J-1 students), passport, statement of funds, and other documents as required by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In the case of Canadian and Bermudan citizens, you must use your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to seek admission to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status at a U.S. port-of-entry without an F-1 or J-1 visa. Read page 2 of your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, examine the information on page 1 for accuracy and sign the student certification block (for F-1 students) or exchange visitor certification block (for J-1 students) on the bottom of page 1 prior to presentation to a U.S. consular official or immigration official.

The U.S. visa tells you until what date you may enter the United States. The expiration date of the visa has nothing to do with how long you may remain in the United States. That is determined by your I-20 or DS-2019 and I-94. You need to renew the visa only if you are traveling abroad after the visa expiration date, so that you may again enter the U.S.

Specific information on F-1 and J-1 visa application at U.S. Embassies and Consulates is available at the following address: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html.

The websites of U.S. embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions is available at the following address: http://www.usembassy.gov

You cannot enter the U.S. on a B-2 (tourist) visa and expect to change to F-1 or J-1 visa status after you arrive. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will likely deny this request, and you will have to leave the U.S. to obtain a proper visa. Also, you cannot enter the U.S. on a visa waiver and change F-1 or J-1 status after your arrival. Persons who enter the U.S. on a visa waiver are not eligible for change of status in the U.S.
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SEVIS Fee Requirement
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires F-1 and J-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time fee to supplement the administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS). For information on who is subject to the SEVIS fee requirement and for SEVIS fee payment options, F-1 visa applicants should read SEVIS Fee Payment Options for F-1 Students, and J-1visa applicants should read SEVIS Fee Payment Options for J-1 Students.

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Documents Necessary to Enter the U.S.
You will need to have the following documents to enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status.

F-1 Visa Holders
You may apply for admission to the U.S. if all of the following documents are in order at the time you plan to enter the U.S.:
  • Valid and unexpired Form I-20 (see section 5 of page 1).
  • Valid and unexpired F-1 Visa (Not required for citizens of Canada or Bermuda).
  • Valid and unexpired Passport.

J-1 Visa Holders
You may apply for admission to the U.S. if all of the following documents are in order at the time you plan to enter the U.S.:
  • Valid and unexpired Form DS-2019 (see section 3 of page 1).
  • Valid and unexpired J-1 Visa (Not required for citizens of Canada or Bermuda).
  • Valid and unexpired Passport.
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Travel Tips
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued important reminders to assist international students and exchange visitors expected to arrive in the United States.

These reminders for international students and exchange visitors registered in the Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) are intended to ensure that legitimate students and exchange visitors are quickly processed at ports of entry. A comprehensive list of answers to frequently asked SEVIS questions has also been posted online at www.ice.gov and www.cbp.gov. DHS offers the following recommendations for international students and exchange visitors:
  1. Hand carry (do not check with your baggage) the following documents:
    • Your passport;
    • Your SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019;
    • Evidence of financial resources;
    • Evidence of student or exchange visitor status, such as tuition receipts, transcripts or letter of acceptance;
    • Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee; and
    • The name and contact information of your designated school official (International Student and Scholar Services Advisor) or program sponsor (for students in J-1 status).
    Important Note: If you are a new international student or a new exchange visitor program participant, remember to carry with you the sealed envelope given to you by the U.S. Department of State's Consular Officer and attached to your passport. It is important that you do not open this envelope.

  2. Inform the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the port of entry as soon as possible that you will be a new or returning (in case you previously attended school in the U.S. and are transferring to the University of Miami) international student or exchange visitor in the United States.
  3. Report to your school or program upon arrival so that your school official can validate your participation in SEVIS.
  4. Maintain contact with your designated school or sponsor official throughout your stay to ensure your SEVIS data is updated and accurate.
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Students transferring to the University of Miami with F-1 status
Within 15 days of the program start date on your University of Miami SEVIS Form I-20, bring to International Student and Scholar Services your passport, University of Miami SEVIS Form I-20 (you need to complete #11 on this form), Form I-20 from your previous school, and Form I-94.
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Students transferring to the University of Miami with J-1 status
Within 15 days of the program start date on your SEVIS Form DS-2019 authorizing you to attend the University of Miami, bring to International Student and Scholar Services your passport, SEVIS Form DS-2019 authorizing you to attend the University of Miami (you need to complete the exchange visitor certification block on the bottom of page 1 of this form), Form DS-2019 from your previous school, and Form I-94.
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