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If you will enter the US in F-1 or J-1 (U of I sponsored) status, you will receive your initial I-20 or DS-2019 from either the Office of Undergraduate Admissions or the Graduate College. Please reach out to these offices directly for further questions about your first document.

First Steps

  1. If you will hold F-1 or J-1 status, please pay your SEVIS (I-901) fee once you receive your I-20 or DS-2019 from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The SEVIS fee can be paid online at Remember to print the receipt to present at your entry visa interview.

  2. Schedule an appointment for your non-immigrant entry visa with an embassy or consulate in your country. Search U.S. Embassies, etc., by country. Please bring the required documents to your entry visa interview as listed on the embassy website.
    • J-2 entry visas will only be issued or renewed by the Department of State if the J-1 entry visa has not expired.
    • While you do not need your I-20 or DS-2019 to indicate whether you are taking online courses or not, you can print this letter to have on hand if asked for verification regarding appropriate arrival dates.
  3. Prepare your documents to show at the United States Port of Entry:
    • Passport
    • Entry visa (Canadian citizens are not required to show an entry visa to enter the United States)
    • Original I-20/DS-2019 (no copies)
    • If you will hold a visa status other than F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2, please be sure to travel with the appropriate documents relevant to your status.
  4. If you are already in the United States and need to change your non-immigrant status prior to the beginning of your academic program, please contact ISSS as soon as possible. This process is lengthy and could take up to4-6 months if submitting a change of status application within the U.S. If your change of status application is not approved prior to the beginning of the semester, this could affect your ability to begin your studies or start your on-campus employment.

You must have your new SEVIS document prior to Check-In. If you have not received your SEVIS document, please contact Undergraduate Admissions or Graduate Admissions.

Immigration Information for F-1 & J-1 Students (Video)

This video covers immigration information for new F-1 and J-1 students, including an overview of your immigration documents, what to bring to campus, and what to expect at U.S. Customs and Port of Entry.

You can also watch this video via Box (no login required).