Travel & Visa / Visa - Admitted & Abroad

Visa – Admitted & Abroad

Newly admitted students who are not citizens or residents of the U.S. must apply for an appropriate F or J visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling to the U.S. to begin their academic program. You may only apply for a visa after you have received an I-20 or DS-2019. Once you receive your I-20 or DS-2019, following the steps below to complete the visa application process.

Steps to Apply for F or J Visa for New Students

  • Step 1: Pay the one-time SEVIS I-901 Fee.
    Pay the one-time SEVIS I-901 Fee online through the I-901 website. Print a copy of your SEVIS fee payment receipt and bring it to your visa interview.
  • Step 2: Complete the DS-160, pay the visa fee and schedule a visa appointment.
    Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160, and pay the visa fee before scheduling a visa appointment. Consult the instructions on the U.S. embassy or consulate website where you will be applying for more information on how to complete these steps.
  • Step 3: Attend visa interview and wait for visa issuance.
    Take your CSUF I-20 or DS-2019, passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry to the U.S.), I-901 SEVIS fee receipt, and financial support documents to your visa interview appointment. Visit the U.S. embassy or consulate website for country-specific instructions and/or additional information that may be required to be presented at your visa interview appointment.


    After you attend your visa interview, wait for the issuance of your F or J Visa (wait times may vary). For more information regarding visa application requirements or to check the current visa wait time, please visit the State Department page on U.S. visas.

Planning Your Arrival Date to the United States

If it is your first time studying in the United States as an international student, you cannot arrive earlier than 30 days before the Program Start Date indicated on the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (found on Item 3, “From date”). If you are unable to arrive to the United States on or before the date indicated on your Form I-20 or DS-2019, contact ISS immediately.

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