Skip to Content

Entering the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 Status


Visa Requirements

All F-1 and J-1 students (except Canadians) must have a valid appropriate F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in their passports before entering the U.S. 

When traveling to the U.S., you should present the following documents to the admitting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer:

  • Your UVa Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Your passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of admission
  • Your valid F-1/J-1 visa in your passport
  • Copy of SEVIS fee receipt

Passport Stamping

The Immigration Officer will stamp your passport.  The stamp, usually found on the opposing page to your visa, should be marked "F-1" and "D/S" or "J-1" and "D/S."  "D/S" stands for "duration of status,"  and means you are permitted lawful presence in the U.S. as long as you are maintaining the conditions of your legal status. 

Make sure your passport is stamped appropriately as F or J before departing Immigration.  Visit for more information.  If not, have Immigration contact the ISO before you leave the port of entry.


New students

Using a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp and Form I-20 or DS-2019, you may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to the start date indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019 (see section 5 of your I-20 or box 3 of your DS-2019).  (Canadians and Bermudians traveling without a visa stamp will be required to show the SEVIS fee payment receipt in addition to their I-20 or DS-2019).




Do NOT enter the U.S. on B-1, B-2, Visa Waiver or a Trusted Traveler Program, as you will not be permitted to enroll under these statuses.


More information on entering the U.S. and maintaining your status is available in the section of the site relating to your specific status.

I94/Admission Verification


Verify your proper entry as well as obtaining your admission number here:  Print out the verification for the ISO Document Check as well as for applications to government agencies, if needed.