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Pre-Arrival Information - Before You Arrive

Please view the travel and health advisories at Student Health Services for current information about international health alerts for travelers.

This page summarizes pre-arrival requirements and recommendations of the U.S. Government to help you prepare for your arrival to the U.S. Please also view: Before you arrive: UMass Dartmouth requirements and the pre-arrival checklist.

U.S. Government requirements & recommendations

International Students and Scholars must adhere to U.S. government requirements before and upon entering the U.S.

Acquiring your Visa

Once you have been admitted to the University, and after you have sent your enrollment deposit and financial records, we will send you one of three forms:

  • The I-20 form for F-1 students 
  • The DS-2019 form for J-1 Students
  • The DS 2019 form for J-1 Scholars who have completed the scholar appointment process

The I-20 or DS-2019 form will show the semester you are entering the University as a student, or the term of your scholar appointment, and date of your expected arrival.  With one of these forms and a letter of acceptance or appointment, you will be able to apply to a U.S. Consul for the student visa (F-1 or J-1), or scholar visa (J-1), that will allow you to enter the United States.

The U.S. Consul will require the following paperwork in addition to your letter of acceptance or appointment:

  • A current passport from your country, valid for at least six months beyond your stay in the United States
  • AND A U.S. Government Affidavit of Support completed by your sponsor(s) 
  • OR Other proof of financial resources  

Check Visa Status

Students and scholars can now check the status of their visa applications online at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Visa Status Check


A SEVIS fee must be paid at least three days prior to your F or J visa appointment at an embassy or consulate. Once you have paid the fee, please print the receipt and bring it to the visa appointment as proof of the SEVIS fee payment. Learn more about the SEVIS fee.

Port of Entry

What happens at the Port of Entry in the U.S.? Learn more at Study in the States, a site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). J-1 exchange students please note: although the Port of Entry process described at Study in the States is for students entering the U.S. on F and M student visas, the inspection process is the same for students entering on the J-1 visa. Your documents are inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP).

Form I-94

During the admissions process at your U.S. port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer will create an electronic arrival Form I-94 record from a scan of your passport. Form I-94 is evidence of your lawful admission to the U.S. and is used in a variety of ways to document your legal status in the United States.  After you have arrived on campus and checked in at the International Student and Scholar Center (ISSC) you will learn more about Form I-94.

Other resources

In addition to the Study in the States information site offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Department of State (DOS) sponsors a network of advising centers and a website for international students interested in studying in the U.S. Learn more at EducationUSA.

More information Avoiding Immigration Scams

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