Visa Information

These are a few visa and immigration topics that you may find helpful as a new student or scholar.

Applying to W&M
Choosing a Visa Type
  • Explore which visa type is right for you: F-1 or J-1
    • F-1 is typically used for students getting a degree at W&M
    • J-1 is typically used for exchange students
How to request the Initial I-20 or DS-2019 to begin study
  1. Once you have been admitted to W&M and paid your deposit, you will receive an email from our online system iStart. 
  2. Through iStart, you will complete an online form and upload copies of your passport identity page (if you have one) and financial documentation (i.e. proof of funding).
  3. The request will be electronically endorsed by the admissions office and then routed to the Reves Center.
  4. Reves Center will issue the I-20 or DS-2019, send it to you, and notify you that it is on its way.
Applying for a Visa

If you have any immigration questions, contact an ISSP staff member.

Selecting Travel Dates
  • You may enter the U.S. up to 30 calendar days before the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. The start date is found in item #5 on the I-20 or item #3 on the DS-2019. Note: Transfer students (who have transferred their immigration record to W&M) are not bound to this rule.
  • You must arrive in the U.S. on or before the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • If your travel will be delayed, causing you to arrive in the U.S. after the start date, you must notify the Reves Center so we can amend your SEVIS (Immigration) record.
  • Students: 
    • If you are planning to travel home for an academic break and must decide on a return date, know that exams continue several days after classes end. You should not leave W&M until after the end of exams. Undergraduates can consult the academic calendar for this information. Graduates should contact their department before making travel plans, as exam schedules and commitments will vary.
    • If you live in on-campus housing, consult with Residence Life about when housing is open or closed during breaks and holidays at various times during the academic year, as you may need to make other housing arrangements for these periods.
Traveling to the U.S.

At the port-of-entry (the airport or border where you officially enter the U.S.), be prepared to present your documents:

• Passport
• F-1 or J-1 visa (located in your passport)
• I-20 (for F-1s) or DS-2019 (for J-1s)
• Admission or invitation letter from William & Mary
• Receipt of SEVIS fee payment
• Financial documentation (such as bank statements, scholarship details, etc.)
• U.S. Customs Declaration Form (you will receive that on the flight to the U.S.)

Keep these documents in your carry-on luggage, as when you arrive in the U.S., the immigration officer will review your documents and ask you some questions regarding the purpose of your stay in the U.S.

A digital photo and fingerprints will be taken, and then your passport, and I-20 or DS-2019 will be stamped and annotated F-1 or J-1 and D/S.  D/S means you may stay in the U.S. as long as your documents are valid and you maintain legal status.

Note: If you have any problems entering the U.S., call 757-221-3594 (Reves Center) or on weekends and evenings, call 757-221-4596 (W&M Police).