Immigration to the U.S.

Once you have secured your admission to Wooster, confirmed your ability to finance a Wooster education, and received your I-20 or DS-2019, you still have several very important next steps to follow.

You must prepare for lawful entry into the U.S. in time to participate in International Student Orientation Be sure to check the list of important dates. Begin this process EARLY!

  • Policies can change frequently and with little warning. For the most up to date visa application procedures from your country, please visit the website of the US Embassy for your country.
  • Become familiar with the Visa Application Tips and the Port of Entry Procedures.
  • Become familiar with important immigration terms and acronyms, for F-1 students, for J-1 visitors.
  • Become familiar with the process (video) required to make your SEVIS I-901 payment. This fee is separate from visa fees and school SEVIS administration fees. Your payment must be made before you go to your visa interview.

Instructions for Most Non-Immigrant Students

Step 1: I-901 SEVIS Fee

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that international students pay a $200 fee to support and administer the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Individuals can pay the fee by credit or debit card via the internet or by check or money order mailed to SEVP.

Payment is recorded in the SEVIS system, and you must present your I-901 Fee Receipt at your visa interview.

Step 2: Secure a student visa

If you are a citizen of a foreign country, you will need a student visa to enter the U.S. 
Do not enter the U.S. as a tourist; B-1/B-2 entry does not allow for full-time study.

Most foreign citizens must apply for the F-1 Student Visa at a U.S. embassy in their home countries. Language assistants and some exchange students will apply for a J-1 visa.

**Visa processing can take several months.**

You can be issued an F-1 visa as early as 120 days prior to your program start date. Visit your nearest U.S. embassy as soon as possible to request an application packet.

Complete the application and prepare the required documentation (Form I-20 or DS 2019, Wooster admission and financial aid letters, financial support documents, plane tickets, etc.).

Schedule your visa interview appointment as soon as possible. Assuming you have the appropriate documentation to present, the visa interview is the most critical element in successfully securing your visa.

Hint: Your local ‘Education USA’ advisor (usually housed within the U.S. embassy) can provide valuable advice on specific student visa requirements for your country, as well as local opportunities for pre-departure programs and information.

Instructions for Individuals Already in the U.S.

If you are already in the U.S. on an F-1 visa you need to request a SEVIS transfer from your current institution to The College of Wooster. Email us as soon as possible to prevent the issuance of an initial I-20.

If you are already in the U.S. and hold a non-immigrant status other than F-1 you may need to process a “change of status” through Citizenship and Immigration Services. Email us immediately.

Instructions For Citizens of Canada and Bermuda ONLY

If you are a citizen of a country that is exempt from the student visa requirement (Canada, Bermuda) you do not need to apply for your F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy. You may apply for your visa at the Port of Entry (POE).

You must also pay the SEVIS FEE (see above) and must show the I-901 Receipt at the Port of Entry (POE).

When you enter the U.S., you must be able to establish your identity and citizenship with a birth certificate, citizenship certificate, or passport.

The officer at POE will interview you. Be prepared to show proof of financial support to complement the I-20.

Once an F-1 visa is granted, the immigration officer will stamp your passport, your I-20, and your I-94 (as received from the POE).

Instructions For U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents Living Overseas

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident residing abroad you do not need a visa to enter the U.S., nor do you need to pay the SEVIS fee. However, your participation in International Student Orientation is mandatory.