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Office of International Programs

Visas and Entry into the U.S.

Visa information for F-1 Students

1. Your Form I-20
The Admissions Office sends admitted students the I-20 form necessary to apply for a Student Visa once ALL supporting documentation mentioned in the application checklists has been received.

Your official letter of admission will include the Form I-20 if the all required documents were completed, submitted, verified, and approved by the International Admissions Specialist at the point of admission.

Once you obtain the I-20, sign & date section 11.

Your I-20 should always be kept in a safe place. You will be required to present this document whenever you cross the U.S. border, travel within the U.S., and on several other occasions throughout your time as a student in the U.S.

* J-1 exchange students and scholars will receive a DS-2019 form instead of an I-20.

Accompanying Dependents: You must notify the International Admissions Specialist of any accompanying dependents in F-2 status and provide biographical information (e.g., full name,address, city, country of birth, etc.) and immigration information (e.g., passport information, visa information, etc.) regarding those dependents.

2. Pay the SEVIS Fee
SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System) is an internet-based system in which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) maintains info on non-immigrant visitors holding F, M and J visas.

When to pay You will be able to pay the SEVIS fee once you have received your I-20 form. The fee must be paid at least 3 business days BEFORE applying for your visa, or applying for admission at the U.S. port of entry for those exempt from the visa requirement.

How to pay:
The fee can be paid to the Department of Homeland Security by mail or online, and must be accompanied by a Form I-901. It can be paid by you or by a third party, inside or outside the US.

To Pay by Mail:

  1. Obtain a Form I-901 "Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Non-immigrants".
    • Download the form from www.Fmjfee.com
    • Complete the Form I-901.
    • Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20.
       
  2. Prepare a check, international money order, or foreign draft (drawn on U.S. banks only) made payable to "The Department of Homeland Security."
    • Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on Form I-901.
    • A Form I-797 receipt notice should be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.

To Pay Online

  1. Find the Form I-901 at www.Fmjfee.com
  2. Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard, American Express information. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20.
  3. Print a copy of the online receipt.
  4. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.

To Pay through Western Union
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has implemented an alternative method of payment for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee for international students and exchange visitors. Since November 1, 2004, nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors in more than 130 countries are able to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee locally using the Western Union Quick PayTM service.

3. Apply for a Student Visa
Canadian citizens are visa exempt and do not need a visa to study in or enter the U.S.

The visa is the most commonly misunderstood immigration document. It is a stamp that the United States consulate or embassy gives foreign nationals in their passports and which they must have to enter the United States in the particular classification they request (e.g.: F-1 or J-1).

The validity of a visa stamp pertains only to the period during which it may be used for admission to the United States. It does not indicate how long you may stay in the United States.

Schedule a Visa Interview
A visa can only be issued by a U.S. Embassy/consulate. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate for detailed instructions; requirements for processing the visa will vary by location, and many offices will require a visa interview. Check with the US Embassy/Consulate in your home country for their requirements. Allow a minimum of 4 weeks for this process to be complete.

» Tips When Applying for a Visa

4. Entry into the United States. Be sure to bring all of your documentation regarding Minot State University (including proof of financial resources). It is crucial that you bring your documents in order to successfully obtain entry into the United States. Without proper documentation and identification you will be denied entry until all documentation is present.

Form I-94: This is the small white card (Arrival/Departure record) given to foreign nationals at the port of entry to the United States, and which an immigration officer validates and staples into the passport. This is a very important document as it indicates the visa classification you are given upon entry to the United States and the length of time you may stay. A notation of D/S (for Duration of Status) will be noted on most student or exchange visitors I-94’s.

When to arrive. You may enter the United States up to 30 days before the Program Begin Date listed on your I-20. We recommend that you arrive in Minot at least 1-2 days before the beginning of orientation so that you have a little time to get settled and begin to recover from jet lag.


» F-1 Visa Regulations [pdf]
» Typical Non-Immigrant Visa Classifications

Itís important for all students and exchange visitors to understand the concept of immigration status and the consequences of violating that status.

Definition of "Status"
Every visa is issued for a particular purpose and for a specific class of visitor. Each visa classification has a set of requirements that the visa holder must follow and maintain. Those who follow the requirements maintain their status and ensure their ability to remain in the United States. Those who do not follow the requirements violate their status and are considered "out of status." Failure to maintain status can result in arrest, and violators may be required to leave the United States. Violation of status also can affect the prospect of readmission to the United States for a period of time. Most people who violate the terms of their status are barred from lawfully returning to the United States for many years.