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Acquiring your F-1 Student Visa

In order to study in the U.S., all international students must have an F-1 student visa.

International students in the U.S. are registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). All new F-1 students must pay a $200 SEVIS I-901 fee to be able to apply for a U.S. student visa.

Here are the steps to becoming an international student in the U.S.

  1. Acceptance at an academic institution
  2. Financial clearance within that institution
  3. Academic institution issues an I-20 and sends it to the student who signs it.
  4. Student pays the SEVIS fee (see below)
  5. With the I-20, receipt from paying the SEVIS fee, passport, and any other required documentation, the student applies for a student visa at an American consulate or embassy in their home country at least 3 days after paying the SEVIS fee. Canadian students present their SEVIS payment receipt when they enter the U.S. for school.
  6. With complete documentation including passport, student (F-1) visa, I-20, and receipt for SEVIS payment, student arrives in the U.S.
  7. Student proceeds to the academic institution and checks in with the Director of International Student Programs (DSO or PDSO).

For further information, please visit the US Department of State website: 

*Once you have acquired your visa, please let our office know by emailing us at cheryl.margason@wheaton.edu


How do you pay the SEVIS fee?

On-line or by mail: You may pay this fee with a credit card* through an internet connection, through Western Union, or by mail in the form of a check or money order to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Third party payment is permitted. To pay the fee on-line, go to www.fmjfee.com. Complete the form supplying the necessary information. Be certain that your name appears exactly as it appears on the I-20 form.

SEVIS ID#: the number which begins with N000 located in the upper right hand corner of the I-20 form.

Payment: On the second screen you will provide the payment information. If you pay by credit card, you will immediately receive a receipt of the payment. Print out the receipt (the print button is at the bottom of the receipt page.) If you are paying by mail, you will print out the I-901 form and send it to the address indicated with a check or money order in US dollars for $200. Please be certain that you travel with your SEVIS receipt.

You can revisit the site to check on the status of your fee payment. Do not proceed to apply for your visa until the payment is complete.

*Exception: Students from the following countries CANNOT pay by credit card: Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. March 2015