Visa Information and Interview

SEVIS Fee Collection

The Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an internet-based system that allows schools and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US ICE) to exchange data on the visa status of international students. Information is transmitted electronically throughout the student’s academic career. U.S. Consulates and other U.S. government agencies have access to this information.


Check for updates on the SEVIS I-901 fee at the US ICE website.

Applicants must pay the SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for their visa interview.

Applicants who are citizens of Canada, Bermuda, Bahamas and residents of certain other islands (see I-901 FAQ) wishing to apply for F-1 or J-1 status at a Port of Entry into the United States must pay the SEVIS fee before appearing at the Port of Entry.

Non-immigrants currently in the U.S. who apply for student or exchange visitor status must pay the fee prior to filing their change of status application.

How much is the fee?

Status Fee
For students (F-1) $200
For spouses and dependent children (F-2 or J-2) of students or exchange visitors $0
For exchange visitors (J-1) $180

For additional and detailed information regarding:

  • Who pays the fee?
  • How is the fee paid?
  • When must the fee be paid?
  • How will the payment be verified?
  • When must continuing students (F-1, F-3, M-1, or M-3 non-immigrant’s that have begun, but not finished, a program) pay the SEVIS fee?
  • When must continuing exchange visitors (J-1 nonimmigrant’s who have begun, but not finished a program) pay the SEVIS fee?

Go to SEVIS I-901 Fee Frequently Asked Questions.

Visa Interview

After you have been admitted to San José State University, SJSU will mail you an I-20 (document needed to obtain an F-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate). After you receive it, you will need to apply for your visa. Applicants who require a visa to enter the United States must pay the SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for their visa interview.

What you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success.

  • Expect the interview to be conducted in English and not in your native language. Consular Officers will make a decision based on those impressions they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Keep your answers to the officer’s questions short and to the point.
  • Do not bring family members with you to the interview. Maintain a positive attitude. Do not engage the Consular Officer in an argument.
  • If you are denied a student visa, ask the Officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.
  • If asked, make it clear that you do not intend to work in the U.S. after completing your studies. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, this work is incidental to their main purpose of completing their education.
  • F-2 Family Members: If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstance, be employed in the U.S. If asked, be prepared to tell what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the U.S. Volunteer work is permitted. An F-2 spouse may ONLY engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature. An F-2 spouse desiring to engage in full time study in a degree program should apply for F-1 visa. F-2 children may only study K-12 grades and only the first year can be in a public school.
  • If your spouse and children are staying in your country, be prepared to explain how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially difficult area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the Consular Officer gets the impression that your family will need you to send money from the United States in order to support itself, your student visa application may be denied.

F-1 Visa / I-20 / I-94 / Passport

International students, having been granted a visa in a US Consulate abroad, have three documents that govern their stay in the U.S. They are: the F-1 visa, the I-94 and the I-20.

F-1 VisaF-1 Visa

The F-1 entry visa is issued at a U.S. Consulate/Embassy in a country outside the U.S. Most students come to the U.S. with an F-1 student visa. These visas are marked either for a single entry to the U.S or for multiple entries. There is a time limit for the use of the visa. Sometimes a multiple entry visa is valid for the amount of time expected to complete the program sought, and sometimes it is good only if for one or more years. If a student leaves the U.S, after the expiration date on the visa, a new visa must be obtained to return. This visa is only needed when entering the U.S. from another country. It does not control your period of stay in America. It is legal for you to remain in the U.S. after your visa has expired. However, you must renew an expired F-1 visa if you leave the US and wish to return in F-1 status.

SEVIS I-20 Form

The I-20 is the Certificate of Eligibility that SJSU issues to you when you are admitted. It shows information that the U.S. government needs to grant a visa to enter the U.S.

The I-20 is needed each time a you apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy, enter the U.S. through a Port of Entry, or apply for any type of benefit in the US. If you change majors, need to extend your studies beyond your completion date, or if you finish your degree earlier than indicated on your I-20, item #5, you must update it. Failure to maintain and keep your I-20 updated may result in losing your F-1 status.

SEVIS I-20 Form

Electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

As of Summer 2013, an electronic record will be created instead of the paper I-94 card, which has been discontinued. Foreign nationals will receive an entry stamp in their passports which will include the date of entry, status, and authorized period of stay. In order to access your electronic I-94 record after the system has been automated, you can go to  You will need to enter your name, date of birth, passport number, country of issuance, date of entry, and class of admission (F-1 status) in order to access your record and print your receipt.  You will be able to use this receipt with any agency that requests a paper I-94, like the Social Security Administration or the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you currently have a paper I-94, this will continue to be your proof of admission to the U.S., until the next time you leave and re-enter.

For more information, please see CBP’s I-94 Fact Sheet.


At the Port of Entry, the CBP Officer stamps an arrival date and place on the passport and writes the letters F-1 and D/S on the stamp. F-1 is your student status. D/S is an abbreviation for "Duration of Status." Duration of Status means that students may stay in the country until the completion of their program, as long as the student always maintains legal F-1 status. This is true even if the visa has expired. Please make sure that your passport has been stamped with this information.

You must always keep a valid passport during your stay in the U.S. Failure to have a valid passport may put you “out of status” and will prevent international travel as well as other immigration benefits while you are in the U.S. If you lose your passport or need to renew it while you are in the U.S., please contact your local Consulate to get a replacement or renewed passport.