International Education Center



Applying for a United States Entry Visa & SEVIS Fee Information 



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Applying for a Visa & Entering the United States

  • You must use the appropriate forms (I-20 for F-1 visa or DS-2019 for J-1 visa) from UC Riverside to obtain your visa and to enter the United States. 
  • If you have an initial attendance I-20 or DS-2019 Form, you must enter the United States in the 30-day period before the program start date on your Form. You will not be allowed to enter if you arrive earlier.
  • If you are entering the United States with an initial attendance I-20 or DS-2019 Form, you will be required to pay a $200 (F-1/I20) or $180 (J-1/DS-2019) SEVIS Fee before you apply for your visa. If you are from Canada, you must apply for this fee before you enter the United States. Please see the SEVIS fee information below for details.
  • Do not enter the U.S. using a B-1/ B-2 (tourist) visa. Changing your status to F-1 or J-1 in the U.S. is extremely difficult and rarely approved.
  • F-2 students are no longer able to pursue full time degree programs in the United States. Do not enter in F-2 status if you plan to be a full time degree-seeking student.

    If you are currently in the United States in F-2 status, you must file and be approved for a change of status to F-1 before the quarter begins. Contact Kelly Hinosawa at Kelly.hinosawa@ucr.edu for more information.

    Consulates now require an in-person interview for most visa applicants. We recommend that you apply for a visa as far in advance as possible since visa issuance can sometimes take up to 3 months depending on the required security clearances. Please review the information below designed to assist you with the visa application process.

    You will need to apply for a visa at the United States Consulate in your home country.

    1. Please review the information about visa applications and fees at the Department of State’s website: www.travel.state.gov.

      You will be required to present your Admissions Letter, your I-20 or DS-2019 Form, proof of financial support, and a receipt for the SEVIS-FEE (if applicable) when applying for a visa. Other items may also be requested.

      Review the following website for information: http://educationusa.state.gov

      If you have been a student in the United States previously and have an arrest record, please contact kelly.hinosawa@ucr.edu.

      If you are preparing to study in a field that the consular officer may consider “sensitive” to the national security of the United States, please plan to apply for a visa well in advance and be prepared for potential delays. Students in fields such as biochemistry, cell & molecular biology and electrical engineering, for example, are sometimes subject to these security clearances.

    2. Be prepared to show that you have significant ties to your home country and that you will return there after completing your studies in the United States.

    Once you receive a visa, you may enter the United States in the 30-day period before the program start date on your initial attendance I-20 or DS-2019. You will be denied entry if you try to come earlier. If you hold a “transfer pending” I-20 document, you may return to the United States at anytime after a short visit home as long as page 3 of the I-20 Form is endorsed for travel.

    Sevis Fee Information (For students in F/J status, and those changing to F/J)

    Who has to pay the SEVIS fee?

    • If you are entering the United States with an initial attendance I-20 or DS-2019 Form issued for the first time after August 31, 2004, you will be required to pay a $200 SEVIS Fee for F-1 students with an I-20) or $180 SEVIS Fee (for J-1 status with a DS-2019) before you apply for your visa or before you enter the United States (if a visa is not required).
    • If you are a transfer student with a transfer pending I-20 or DS-2019 Form, you do not have to pay the SEVIS Fee.
    • If you are changing levels from one- degree level to another at UCR, you do not have to pay the SEVIS Fee, even if your Form is dated after 08/31/2004.
    • If you are changing status to F or J, you will be required to pay the SEVIS Fee.
    • If you are out-of status and reentering the United States with an initial attendance I-20 Form, you will be required to pay the Fee.

    If you are still unsure about whether or not you have to pay the SEVIS Fee, please review the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website. You may also contact us at Kelly.hinosawa@ucr.edu with questions.

    How do I pay the SEVIS fee?

    You must complete and submit Form I-901 with a payment.

    • The easiest way to pay the SEVIS Fee is online with a credit card @ www.fmjfee.com. You must print out and keep your receipt. This proves that you have paid the SEVIS Fee.
    • Through Western Union in local currency. Click here for instructions.
    • You can also pay the SEVIS Fee by mail with a check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank and payable in U.S. dollars. Download the Form and instructions from this government website.
    • In some locations, you may be able to pay the fee through Western Union in local currency. Click here for instructions.
    • Questions? Review the frequently asked questions.

    Take your receipt with you when you apply for a visa or enter the United States. You cannot pay the SEVIS fee at the border or at the airport when you arrive.



More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
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Department Information

International Student Resource Center
University Village, Suite 204

Tel: (951)-827-4113
Fax: (951)-827-3778
E-mail: InternationalCenter@ucr.edu

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