Pre-Arrival Information

Sign Your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019

The University of Notre Dame issued you a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, which will allow you to apply for an F-1 or J-1 nonimmigrant student visa. If you received Form I-20, you should read the “Instructions to Students” on page 2 very carefully and then complete section 11. If you received Form DS-2019,  you should read page 2 carefully and then sign the bottom of page 1. If you will not enroll at the University during the semester stated on the form, notify ISSA immediately by emailing or calling +1-574-631-3825. 

Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee for students beginning a new F-1 or J-1 program. You must pay this fee prior to applying for your F-1 or J-1 visa.

Most F-1 nonimmigrants must pay a fee of $200. Most J-1 exchange visitors must pay a fee of $180. For a list of people who must pay the SEVIS fee, visit SEVIS Fee for F-1 Students & J-1 Exchange Visitors.

If you are a citizen of Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, or a British subject in the Bahamian, Cayman, or Turks and Caicos Islands, you will not need a U.S. visa to enter the country; however, you will need to present the SEVIS fee payment receipt at the U.S. port of entry. 

How do I pay the SEVIS fee? 

Complete Form I-901 online at Print the receipt and take it to the U.S. consulate or embassy for your visa interview. 

Secure a United States Visa 

(Excluding Students from Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and British Subjects in the Bahamian, Cayman, and Turks and Caicos Islands)

Visit to locate the nearest American embassy or consulate and for specific instructions about applying for a nonimmigrant student visa (F-1 or J-1 visa) in that country. If you were issued a Form I-20, you should apply for an F-1 visa. If you were issued a Form DS-2019, you should apply for a J-1 visa. At the visa interview, you will need to present:

  • DS-160 non-immigrant visa application receipt. You should complete and submit the application at prior to your appointment;

  • Your passport;

  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 issued by the University of Notre Dame;

  • One passport-sized photo;

  • SEVIS fee payment receipt;

  • Visa application (MRV) fee payment receipt number (visit your embassy’s or consulate’s website for more information);

  • Letter of admission from the University of Notre Dame;

  • Proof of English language proficiency;

  • Proof of financial support for your studies at Notre Dame;

  • Proof of your intention to depart the United States after the completion of your studies; and

  • Other documents detailed on the U.S. embassy’s or consulate’s website.

Please note that F-1 student visas cannot be issued more than 120 days prior to the program start date.

Students admitted to the University of Notre Dame should not enter the country on visitor visas (B-1/B-2 visas).  

Arriving in the United States

You may arrive in the United States up to 30 days prior to the program start date listed on your Form I-20 (see section 5) or Form DS-2019 (see section 3) and no later than this date. If you attempt to enter the U.S. after this start date, you may be denied entry. Please note that you are responsible for making your own housing arrangements.

Arrive at the U.S. Port of Entry

At the U.S. port of entry, you will need to present the following documents to the inspections officer (do not pack these items in your checked luggage):

  • Passport with F-1 or J-1 Visa (unless you are exempt from the visa requirement)
  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 issued by Notre Dame;
  • Admission Letter; and
  • Evidence of Financial Resources.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

This record gives details regarding your most recent entry into the United States.  It is intended to provide students with the ability to present evidence of immigration status and legal entry into the United States to employers and benefit-granting agencies such the Social Security Administration and Bureau of Motor Vehicles. You may provide evidence of lawful entry and legal immigration status when completing the I-9 form by providing one of the following documents:

Online I-94 Information: A student who entered the United States through an air or sea port may access his or her I-94 record online at: A paper copy of your most current U.S. entry can be printed from this site.  DHS advises that it may take up to three days from the date of an individual’s entry into the United States for I-94 information to become available through the web interface.

Traditional I-94 Card: A student who entered the United States through a land port or who last entered the United States prior to April 20, 2013 will likely still have a paper I-94 card given to them at the border. If you apply for and are granted a change of nonimmigrant status within the United States you are also still issued a traditional paper United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Approval Notice, the bottom third of which serves as your I-94 document.

International Students Changing Status

If you will change your status to F-1 or J-1 within the U.S., you must file Form I-539, your original Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, and other required documentation with USCIS. Students are strongly advised to contact ISSA if they plan to change status as well as provide a copy of the entire application to ISSA prior to submitting it to USCIS. For more information and Form I-539, visit Read more information about changing status to F-1.

Information for New Transfer Students

If you are a new F-1 or J-1 transfer student, the University will issue you a “Transfer Pending” Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 after the transfer release date set by your previous institution. Once you have completed immigration document registration and updated your U.S. address with the ISSA, you will be issued a new I-20 or DS-2019 for “Continued Attendance” after which the transfer process will be complete.


If your dependent (spouse or child) plans to join you at Notre Dame, he or she will need a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to apply for an F-2 or J-2 visa. To request a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 for a dependent, please email

  • If you receive an F-2 dependent Form I-20, you should sign page 1.
  • If you receive a J-2 dependent Form DS-2019, your dependent should sign page 1.

Make sure that you and your dependent read page 2 of the I-20 or DS-2019 carefully before signing. At the U.S. port of entry,  the officer should stamp your dependent’s passport and mark the stamp with “F-2” or “J-2” status and "D/S" and return them to your dependent.  Please note dependents in F-2 status are not permitted to engage in employment or study while in the United States.

Maintaining Lawful F-1 and J-1 Status

All students are responsible for knowing the rules and regulations pertaining to their F-1 or J-1 student immigration status, and should read the rules carefully before signing their  I-20 or DS-2019. Failure to comply with the rules can result in serious consequences. ISSA will provide additional information regarding your immigration status and responsibilities during International Student Orientation, which all new F-1 and J-1 visa holders are required to attend.  Additional F-1 and J-1 immigration information can be obtained from the Current Students page.

Immigration Questions?

Please contact International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) at 574-631-3825 or

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