Getting Your Visa
Getting Your Visa
The International Students and Scholars office helps visiting undergraduate and graduate students, researchers, and faculty secure and maintain visas as well as paths to permanent residency.
We will work with you and your academic department to make sure documentation is processed according to regulations set by the United States federal government.
We have outlined some basic immigration information below. We understand that immigration and visa issues can be complicated. We're here to help!
|Financial Support Requirement||Show financial support for the first year of the program when requesting Form I-20||Show financial support for the entire length of the program when requesting DS-2019. 51% or more of your financial support must come from a source other than personal/family funds|
|Working Approval Requirement||May work on campus without prior approval from ISS and are eligible to participate in Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.||Must receive approval from the ISS office for any on campus employment and are eligible for Academic Training|
|Physical Presence Requirement||Students are not subject to a two year physical presence requirement.||May be subject to a two year physical presence requirement in their home country before they are able to return to the U.S. on any visa that has immigrant intent.|
|Dependent-Working in the US||F-2 dependents cannot work in the United States||J-2 dependents can apply for permission to work in the United States as long as the income is not used to support the J-1 student.|
|Dependent-Studying in the US||F-2 dependents can only study part time at an approved school. Please contact ISS for details.||J-2 dependents can study in the United States|
Getting Your Visa
To apply for an F1 or J1 visa, you should gather the following documents before scheduling an appointment with the US embassy in your home country.
[Note: Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are not required to obtain a student visa, they are only required to present the Form I-20/DS-2019 at the time of entry.]
We recommend that you apply for a visa as far in advance as possible since visa issuance can sometimes take up to 3 months (or longer) depending on the required security clearances and country of origin. Please review the information below to assist you with the visa application process. Make sure to visit the Department of State’s website for more information about visa applications and fees: www.travel.state.gov.
You will be required to present the following documents at the visa interview:
- UCR Admissions Letter
- Form I-20 (for F1) or Form DS-2019 (for J1) issued by UCR
- Proof of financial support
- Receipt for the SEVIS fee payment
- Other items may also be requested (such as transcripts or test scores), depending on your embassy and situation. Please contact your embassy for further instructions.
- Since you are applying for a non-immigrant status, be prepared to show that you have significant ties to your home country and that you plan to return there after completing your studies in the United States.
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 nuclear engineering, for example, are sometimes subject to these security clearances.
We recommend reviewing the following website for information: http://educationusa.state.gov
Change of Status to F-1/J-1
If you are currently in the US on another visa and plan to change to F1 or J1 status
Before requesting an I-20 or DS-2019, we highly advise that you speak with an International Student Advisor regarding your plans to change status. There are two ways to change status, by travel and re-entry or by filing a change of status application in the United States. The best option for you depends on a variety of personal factors, and an advisor can help you determine which option may be best for you in your situation.
Studying on Other Visa Types
If you plan to study at UCR on a visa status other than F-1 or J-1:
Any individual who holds a visa with non-immigrant intent will be classified as an international student (non-resident) for immigration purposes. This is determined separately from your residency status for tuition purposes.
Before starting classes, make sure your current visa status allows for full-time study. Some dependent statuses, such as F2, only allow part-time study but not full time.
Please check-in with our office by completing the International Student Personal Record Form.
F-1 Students – How to Request an I-20
I-20 requests for new students are processed completely online through the application form.Please do not send any I-20 forms, passport or bank documents to our office via email or regular mail as this may result in a processing delay. AnI-20 will be issued after you are admitted to UCR and have submitted a complete I-20 application form.
To apply for the I-20, please prepare and submit the following items:
1. Complete the electronic I-20 application form.
This link has been emailed to the email address on file from your admissions application. It has been prefilled with some of your personal information. Please check this form carefully and complete all required fields, as missing information or errors will cause delays in processing.
2. Upload a copy of the identity page of your passport.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from program start date. If needed, please renew your passport prior to requesting the I-20. We do not require copies of your visa.
3. Upload a recent bank statement or bank letter that shows the minimum funds required
for your program.
For program amounts and financial requirements, please visit the Estimated Cost of Attendance page.
Once all required documents are received and complete, please allow 5 business days for I-20 processing. You will receive an email when your I-20 is issued.
[Note: If you are transferring your SEVIS record from another school, we cannot issue your I-20 until the record is transferred to UCR. For more information on the transfer process, please visit the SEVIS Transfer to UCR page.]
J-1 Students – How to Request a DS-2019
Education Abroad Reciprocity Students
All UCEAP reciprocity Exchange students will be issued Form DS-2019.
1. The central UCEAP office will collect your financial documentation and send it to us for DS-2019 issuance.
2. Once your DS-2019 is complete we will email you shipping instructions.
Graduate and Undergraduate Students
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request information about obtaining a DS-2019 for J status.
To apply for the DS-2019, please prepare the following items:
- A copy of the identity page of your passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from program start date. If needed, please renew your passport prior to requesting the DS-2019. We do not require copies of your visa.
- A recent bank statement or bank letter that shows the funds required for the length of your program at UCR. For program amounts and financial requirements, please visit the Estimated Cost of Attendance page.
- Once all required documents are received and complete, please allow 5 business days for DS-2019 processing. You will receive an email when your DS-2019 is issued.
Note: If you are transferring your SEVIS record from another school, we cannot issue your DS-2019 until the record is transferred to UCR. For more information on the transfer process, please visit the SEVIS Transfer to UCR page.
I-20 Mailing/Pickup Options
I-20 Mailing/Pickup Options
I-20 Mailing/Pickup Options for Graduate Students:
1. Pick it up yourself at Skye Hall Room 321 (International Students and Scholars Office)
2. Authorize a friend or family member to pick it up at Skye Hall Room 321 (International Students and Scholars Office)
3. Have the I-20 picked up and mailed to you free of charge by your academic department
I-20 Mailing/Pickup Options for Undergraduate Students:
1. Pick it up yourself at the Undergraduate Admissions Office (Student Services Building, 3rd floor)
2. Authorize a friend or family member to pick it up at the Undergraduate Admissions Office (Student Services Building, 3rd floor)
3. Have the I-20 and admit packet mailed to you free of charge by the Undergraduate Admissions Office
Transferring Your SEVIS Record to UCR
What is a SEVIS transfer?
As an F1 student, the school that you are currently attending maintains your SEVIS record.
When you transfer to a new university, your current school will need to transfer (or “release”) your SEVIS record to the new school in order to issue your I-20. This transfer process must be initiated and scheduled by the International Advisor (DSO) at your current school - it is not automatic. Your SEVIS transfer date should be between your graduation date/end of term at your current school and your term start date at the new school. To transfer, your DSO will need a copy of your admission letter to UC Riverside and the school code, which is LOS214F00177000.
SEVIS Transfer Process
Please see the following chart which shows the F-1 SEVIS transfer process in detail.
J-1 students who are currently in the United States should email
for information about transferring to UCR.
Paying the SEVIS Fee
What is SEVIS?
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an electronic database of international students in the United States. Your I-20 or DS-2019 is generated from this system and is like a “snapshot” of your SEVIS record at that moment. SEVIS is used by Designated School Officials (DSOs) to manage your F1 student record, and it’s also used by other government agencies to check your legal status in the United States.
Who has to pay the SEVIS fee?
-If you are a new incoming student with an initial attendance I-20 or DS-2019 form you are required to pay the SEVIS fee before you apply for your visa or before you enter the United States (if a visa is not required).
-If you are a SEVIS transfer student with a transfer pending I-20 form, you do not have to pay the SEVIS fee.
-If you are changing levels from one- degree level to another (ex. Bachelors to Masters) at UCR, you do not have to pay the SEVIS fee.
-If you are changing status to F1 or J1, you will be required to pay the SEVIS fee.
-If you are out-of status and re-entering the United States with an initial attendance I-20 form, you will be required to pay the fee.
Please visit https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/paying-the-i-901-sevis-fee for more details.
How much is the fee?
For F-1 - $350
For J-1 - $220
For F-2 and J-2: None
When do new/prospective students pay the SEVIS fee?
- At least 3 days before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate for the visa interview
- Before appearing at the Port of Entry (applies if you do not need a visa because you are a citizen of an exempt country)
- Before filing a change of status application while in the U.S.
Where do I pay the SEVIS fee?
[Please Note: You cannot pay at the Port of Entry.]
Pay online at www.FMJfee.com: use a credit card and complete Form I-901 (recommended method)
Certain countries require payment by money order or Western Union
For more information on payment requirements, please visit
If you need assistance with fee payment, please contact the SEVP Response Center 703-603-3400.
You will need your SEVIS number, which is listed at the top of your document and begins with the letter “N.”
Once you have paid, please print your confirmation receipt and bring it to your visa interview as proof of payment. If you would like to request corrections to your I-901, would like to go to a different school, or would like to transfer your payment to a new SEVIS record, you must e-mail a detailed request to FMJfee.email@example.com.