William & Mary

Visa Information

You may find these visa and immigration topics 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
Requesting your 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. You will use it to apply for your visa.
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. Students who recently attended another U.S. school and 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 so you arrive in the U.S. after the start date, contact the Reves Center so we can update your SEVIS (Immigration) record.
  • If you are planning to travel home for an academic break, travel after the end of exams as exams cannot be rescheduled around travel plans.
  • Undergraduates can check the academic calendar for this information. Graduates can contact their department, 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 arrange other housing for those times
Traveling to the U.S.

When you first arrive in the U.S. at the airport or border, you will go through an immigration checkpoint and will answer questions from an immigration officer about the purpose of your stay.

Keep these documents with you in your carry-on luggage: 

• 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 documents (such as bank statements, scholarship details, etc.)
• U.S. Customs Declaration Form (you will receive that on the flight to the U.S.)

The immigration officer will review your documents, take your photo and fingerprints, stamp your passport, and mark it as F-1 or J-1 and D/S.  D/S means you may stay in the U.S. while your documents are valid and you maintain legal status.

You will also receive an electronic I-94 entry record, typically updated shortly after you arrive.

If you have any problems entering the U.S., call 757-221-3590 (Reves Center) or on weekends and evenings, call 757-221-4596 (W&M Police).