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Applying for the F-1 Visa

All persons who intend to visit the US temporarily to pursue a full course of study at an academic institution must apply for an F-1 student visa. Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain an F-1 visa in their passport, but must apply for F-1 status at the US port of entry.

The Form I-20 is the document you will need in order to apply for an F-1 visa and/or gain admission to the US in F-1 visa status. Students with a Form I-20 issued for "initial attendance" must pay a SEVIS I-901 Fee prior to applying for an F-1 visa or F-1 visa status. Payment of this fee may be made online. Print the SEVIS I-901 fee payment confirmation page and keep it with your Form I-20.

Complete #11 on page 1 of the Form I-20. Check your Form I-20 for any errors or updates that need to be made. Your name on the Form I-20 must match your name in your passport!

Visit the US Department of State (DOS) website for information on the student visa. For more specific instructions, locate the website of the US embassy, consulate, or other US visa-issuing post having jurisdiction over your place of residence. Schedule your visa appointment as early as possible. Each case is unique, and visa issuance may be delayed if special clearances are required.

If your application for a student visa is denied, we encourage you to apply again as soon as possible. If your application was denied under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states that every alien shall be presumed to be an intending immigrant until he or she proves otherwise, prepare evidence of strong ties to the country to which you intend to return upon completion of your studies.

If your Form I-20 was issued for "initial attendance" (#3 on your Form I-20), you may be admitted no more than 30 days before the "program start date" on your Form I-20 (see #5 on your Form I-20). Admission to the US is not guaranteed even if you have the required documents. To avoid complications at the US port of entry, visit the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website for information on entry/exit procedures and requirements.

At the US port of entry, the CBP officer will provide an admission stamp in your passport that is annotate with date of admission, class of admission (for students, the class is "F-1"), and length of authorized stay (for students, the authorized stay is for "duration of status" or "D/S"). The Form I-94 is an important admission document that is issued to nonimmigrants entering the US. It is created as an electronic automated arrival record at an air or sea port of entry. You must go to the CBP website as soon as you arrive in order to retrieve and print your I-94 number. You may need to present it as part of your lawful record of admission. Keep each I-94 number printout for your records.

Important: Be consistent in the way you enter your name, date of birth, and other information on government forms, such as an application for a California driver's license or a US social security number. The information you provide should match the information in your passport and on your Form I-20.

If you wish to cancel or defer your attendance at Pepperdine University, or if you decide to attend another school after entering the US on a Pepperdine University Form I-20, notify the DSO immediately. In order to remain in the US, the program start date at the other school must be within 30 days of your arrival.

If you previously attended or are currently attending a school in the US, you may enter the US using your existing F-1 visa and SEVIS I-901 fee receipt, provided: 1) you have notified the previous school of your intent to transfer and obtained a Pepperdine Form I-20 bearing the same SEVIS ID number; 2) you will begin studies at Pepperdine within 5 months of completing studies at the previous school; 3) you have not been absent from the US for more than 5 months; and 4) your existing F-1 visa is still valid for re-entry.

The information contained on this site is subject to change. For up-to-date information visit the Homeland Security website.