Acquiring F-1/J-1 Status

Once you receive your I-20 or DS-2019, you can acquire your F-1 or J-1 status.

Steps for F-1/J-1 Status
Pay the SEVIS fee

Pay the SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

  • This is required for all initial F-1 and J-1 students.

Obtain the visa

Apply for an F-1 or J-1 US entry visa  at a US embassy or consulate in your home country. 

  • Once approved, the consulate will place a F-1 or J-1 US entry visa sticker in your passport.

  • For additional information on the visa process and potential issues, see the US Entry Visa section of our site. 

  • If your visa application is delayed or denied, please email us with any other relevant details.

Enter the United States

Enter the United States within 30 days of the program start date on Form I-20 or DS-2019.  

  • For additional travel information and documents requirements, see our travel page.  

NOTE:  Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from the US entry visa requirement but still must pay the SEVIS fee and present form I-20 or DS-2019 when entering as an F-1 or J-1 student.

Health Insurance requirement for J-1 Students and J-2 Dependents:  The US Department of State requires J-1 and J-2 Exchange Visitors to be compliant with certain health insurance standards.  Please immediately review the J-1 Insurance information.


Other Options

The above process applies to the majority of students who will be travel from abroad and enter the US to gain F-1 or J-1 status. 

Instead of travel, certain new students may be eligible to acquire or continue F-1 or J-1 status under the following scenarios.


What's Next

Be sure to check-in with ISSS when you arrive at Penn.  Visit the Welcome to Penn section of the site to help you with non-immigration related items like housing and campus life.