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Visa Information

Visa Options
Applying to W&M
  • International Students: Apply to W&M through the Undergraduate Admission or through Graduate Admissions.  
  • International Scholars: Once you receive an invitation from a department to host you at W&M or VIMS, you will complete the process to become a J-1 scholar with your department. Once you and your department complete the process, you will receive a DS-2019 and can apply for your visa.
Choosing a Visa Type
  • Explore which visa type is right for you:
    • F-1 is typically used for students getting a degree at W&M or VIMS
    • J-1 is typically used for exchange students and visiting scholars
Requesting your I-20 or DS-2019 to Begin Study
  1. Once you have been admitted to W&M or VIMS 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 your 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 the Reves Center.

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.
  • Booking your flight: All new students are required to attend international orientation, so plan your arrival accordingly. Graduate students, check with your department about the best time to book flights home, as exam schedules and other graduate commitments vary. Undergraduate students, refer to the academic calendar and residence hall schedules when arranging flights home. Exams cannot be scheduled around flights, and dorms close shortly after the exam period.

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 or VIMS
  • 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).