Applying for F-1 Visa & Reporting to Stevens

Receiving the I-20 and Applying for an F-1 Visa

Form I-20:

Carefully read your Form I-20 to ensure that all information is correct, and that the spelling of your name and date of birth are exactly as they appear in your passport. If any information on your Form I-20 is incorrect, please contact the ISSS office [email protected]. You must read page 3 of the Form I-20 before you print and sign the Form I-20 at the bottom of the page 1.

Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee:

This required fee must be paid by new students with ‘Initial Attendance” I-20s who are beginning an academic program in the U.S. in F-1 status. Students have several options to pay the SEVIS fee including the use of credit card. Please make sure to print and retain the SEVIS I-901 Fee receipt along with other immigration documents to use as needed. A copy of the I-901 SEVIS Fee payment receipt must be included with the visa applications. For detailed information and to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, please refer to the FMJFEE website (

Applying for F-1 Student Visa:

Students are encouraged to apply for a visa as soon as the Form I-20 is received to provide ample time for visa processing. Please be advised that U.S. Embassies can issue student visas (F-1) for new students up to 365 days in of a program’s start date as listed on the Form I-20. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on your student visa more than 30 days before the program start date.

Current wait times for an interview can be referenced online: U.S. Visa Wait Time 

Note that processing times do not include time that may be required for security clearance. For more information review Potential Delays in Visa Issuance. Each U.S. Embassy sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding visas; thus students should always review information on the specific U.S. Embassy Consulate website for local procedures /instructions.

How and where to apply for your F-1 visa:

  1. Choose a U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you plan to apply for your F-1 visa. It is recommended you apply in your country of citizenship.

  2. Schedule a visa appointment: Visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for instructions on the Visa Application process (including application fee)

  3. Prepare required documents for your appointment: Visit the website of the Embassy/Consulate where your plan to apply for the list of required documents.

  4. Prepare for a visa interview: The visa interview is often brief. It is important to be well prepared and make a strong first impression so that you have a good chance of obtaining your visa. During your visa interview, the Consular Officer will assess whether you qualify for an F-1 student visa for university study by considering your academic preparation, your financial security, and your English-language ability. Remember, that you are expected to be able to talk about your credentials, your immediate and future academic /professional goals, and why you chose Stevens to pursue your academic endeavors. The Officer will also evaluate whether your intention to study in the U.S. is “temporary,” and confirm that you intend to return home after you complete your studies, an important consideration in the visa application process.

Exceptions to the student visa requirement:

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are not required to apply for an F-1 visa to enter the U.S. but are required to have a Form I-20 and pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee before entering the U.S. to study.

Transfer Students:

If you have followed the proper transfer procedures, you will be able to use your current, unexpired F-1 visa to reenter the U.S. along with a valid Form I-20 indicating ‘transfer-pending’ issued by Stevens even though it has your previous school’s name printed on it.

Dependents (if applicable):

Dependents are eligible to apply for an F-2 visa by submitting an F-2 Visa Application form (DS-160). The application must include the dependent Form I-20, proof of funding, and proof of marriage, if spouse, and a birth certificate, if for minor child. For detailed information and a list of required documents please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore, final travel plans, or the purchase of non-refundable tickets, should not be made until a visa has been issued.

After the visa is granted and processed check your passport to be sure you and any dependents obtained the correct visa designation (F-1 or F-2) and start preparing for your travel and study in the U.S.

5 Steps to Scheduling and Preparing for the Visa Interview

Arriving to Stevens

Enroll properly in courses to meet the F-1 Visa Requirements:

F-1 students should be enrolled in courses properly at the time of the semester start date. Graduate Students must enroll in at least 9 credits. Undergraduate Students must enroll in at least 12 credits. Certificate students must enroll in at least 6 credits. Of these required credits, only one course, worth up to 3 credits, may be online or distance learning.

Learn more about enrolling properly on the ISSS F-1 Enrollment Webpage.

More information on rules and responsibilities for maintaining F-1 regulations is available on the ISSS Maintenance of Status Webpage.

Entering the United States:

F-1 student visa holders can seek admission to the U.S. up to 30 days prior to a program’s start date as shown on the Form I-20. Be prepared to provide the following documents at the Port of Entry to the US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officer. Only use the I-20 issued by Stevens if your intention is to attend Stevens.

If you plan to attend another institution and have that other institution’s I-20, do not use the Stevens I-20 for entry.

Note: CBP inspection takes place before you collect your luggage, so please have these documents in hand or in your carry-on bag for immediate access:

  • Valid passport with valid F-1 visa

  • Admissions letter from Stevens

  • Your Form I-20 issued by Stevens

  • SEVIS I-901 Fee payment receipt

  • Supporting financial documents

We also recommend that you review the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) travel FAQs before you arrive to the US. After reviewing all required immigration documents a CBP officer will stamp your passport if admission is granted.

An admission stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission (F-1- for student visa), and how long you may stay in the U.S. which is designated as D/S (Duration of Status) which means for the duration of your degree program as stated on your Form I-20. It is important that you verify that this information appears on your entry stamp before you exit the inspection area at the U.S. Port of Entry. If your stamp shows the incorrect information, please RETURN to the inspection officer to correct it.

After arriving in the U.S. your admissions record (I-94) will be available at .

Transfer Students:

Students transferring to Stevens from another U.S. institution are not subject to the 30-day arrival limitation and may reenter the US at any time before the program start date. You must have a valid F-1 visa and “Transfer Pending” I-20 issued by Stevens. Please note that upon completion of SEVIS Activation with Stevens you will be issued “Continued Attendance” I-20 by Stevens.

Booking your flights, packing your bags, and more

After your Arrival - Beginning your F-1 Journey

Completing ISSS Mandatory SEVIS Activation

All international students beginning a new academic program at Stevens (including transfer students, and students changing their education level) must complete ISSS’SEVIS Activation Form prior to beginning their program. International students should plan to arrive to Stevens no later than the program’s start date listed on Form I-20 and complete the ISSS SEVIS Activation Form found on the ISSS Webpage.

Information regarding the ISSS SEVIS Activation Form will be provided to students via email and will be available on the ISSS website.

SEVIS Activation is required by all students beginning a new program at Stevens, including newly arriving students, transfer in students, change of degree level students, and students returning from a leave of absence.

Completing the Mandatory ISSS SEVIS Activation Form is essential for compliance with U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations and University policies. Failure to timely submit the form and produce your documents to the ISSS may result in the loss of your lawful F-1 status.

The SEVIS Activation Workday Hold

All F-1 Students beginning a new program at Stevens will have a “SEVIS Activation Needed” hold placed on their Workday Records. 

The SEVIS Activation Workday Hold does not have any impact on your program and is placed on your records as a reminder of the SEVIS Activation requirement. While the SEVIS Activation Hold type is “Transcript”, you are not required to submit your transcripts in order to remove the hold. You may begin your program as planned while the SEVIS Activation Hold is on your account. It will not impact your ability to choose or change classes or to attend your orientation or courses once the semester begins.

Your SEVIS Activation Workday Hold will be removed from your Workday Records within 3-4 days of your SEVIS Activation Form submission. Please read about submitting your SEVIS Activation Form and having your hold removed on the ISSS SEVIS Activation Webpage

Deferring or Declining Your Admission to Stevens:

We understand plans change, but you should update Graduate Admissions, if a graduate student, or Undergraduate Admissions, if you are an undergraduate student, if you will be deferring your admission to a later semester or if you are declining your admission. This process should be completed by the last day to add /drop courses of the semester that your initial I-20 was issued for.

**Failure to defer or decline your admission by the end of the add/drop period will result in your Form I-20 being cancelled in SEVIS for the reason of “Student not Attending.” You will NOT be able to use that I-20 again for entry to the U.S. If you need a new I-20 to attend Stevens in the future, you must reach out to ISSS ([email protected]) to discuss next steps for I-20 issuance.


  • Immigration questions should be directed to [email protected]

  • Academic questions, including those about Study Plans, course selection, and registration, should be directed to [email protected]

  • Student Life questions, including those about Vaccination requirements, Airport Pickup, Temporary Housing, and Orientation, should be directed to [email protected]