Before You Arrive

In this section prospective international students will find information about requesting or refusing an I-20 or DS-2019, insurance and financial requirements, and other essential pre-arrival information.

Our goal is to assist and advise incoming international students on U.S. immigration related issues and regulations.  We also help direct students to finding answers to many questions about the transition to Penn State as a newly admitted student.

For Frequently Asked Questions, visit the Pre-Arrival FAQs page.

Visa Application Steps and SEVIS I-901 Fee

SEVIS I-901 Fee

Before applying for a visa, you are required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee if you have a new (Initial) I-20 or DS-2019.  Students who receive a “transfer pending" I-20 or DS-2019 from Penn State do not need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee as long as they begin classes within 5 month of their last enrollment.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has more information available about this fee.  

Watch the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) I-901 SEVIS Fee tutorial, and then Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee on-line.

Be careful and avoid SCAMS! is the ONLY site certified to collect I-901 SEVIS Fee Payments.

You Must Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee If:

  • You are seeking an initial F-1 or J-1 visa from a U.S. consulate.
  • You are a Canadian citizen seeking admission at a port-of-entry to begin initial attendance.  (Canadian citizens are visa exempt, but the SEVIS fee must be paid before going to the border.)
  • You are currently in the U.S. as a J-1 applying for a change of category-such as a change from J-1 scholar to J-1 student.
  • You are in the U.S. in J-1 status and are applying for reinstatement after a substantive violation or you have been out of status for more than 120 days but less than 270 days.
  • You are in the U.S. in F-1 status and are applying for reinstatement after failing to maintain status.
  • You were in F-1 status but left the U.S. more than five (5) months ago.

Instructions for Visa Applications

  1. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee at least 3 days before the visa interview (or earlier if you are not paying with a credit card)
  2. Complete the DS-160 visa application
  3. Pay the Visa Application fee (MRV)
  4. Schedule the visa appointment with the Embassy/Consulate closest to your location.
  5. Read important visa application tips from this NAFSA WEBSITE.
  6. Go to the visa appointment with:
  • your DS-160 bar code receipt
  • the MRV receipt
  • the SEVIS fee receipt
  • original I-20/DS-2019
  • passport
  • financial guarantee
  • photos, and any other information the U.S. Consulate website indicates

You will find more information regarding locations and visa wait times on the individual Embassy websites.