Visa Information for Incoming International Students
International students studying in the United States (even if only for a short period of time) are required to obtain a student visa. Below you will find information that will help you understand the visa process and how to apply for a visa.
Attention Canadian Nationals: Applicants with a Canadian passport are not required to apply for a student visa, however, they are required to pay the SEVIS fee. For more information about student immigration procedures for Canadians, click here.
An F-1 visa is a non-immigrant, full-time, student visa that allows you to pursue education in the United States. This is the proper visa type for both degree-seeking students and visiting students that are not part of a formal exchange agreement.
When the university admits a degree-seeking or visiting student, the student is sent a "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student" called the I-20. This form provides information that includes the student's field of study (major), estimated length of study, and the date which the student is requierd to report to the university. The I-20 also allows a student to formally apply for an F-1 student visa.
For more information about the F-1 visa, including your responsibilities, obligations, and limitations as a student, click here.
A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to exchange visitors who participate in programs that promote cultural exchange. Applicants must meet eligibility criteria and be sponsored either by a private sector or government program. This is the proper visa type for both study abroad students that are part of a formal exchange agreement.
When the university admits an exchange student, the student is sent a "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status" called the DS-2019. The DS-2019 also allows a student to formally apply for a J-1 student visa.
For more information about the J-1 visa, including your responsibilities, obligations, and limitations as a student, click here.
For students with other visa types, contact International Student Services to learn more about whether or not you will be required to obtain a student visa.
- Receive the I-20 or DS-2019 form from Hawai'i Pacific University.
- Schedule your visa appointment with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country.
- Submit your SEVIS fee payment in time to allow Department of Homeland Security to process payment at least 3 days prior to the visa interview.
- Gather all necessary documents to take with you to your interview.
- If you paid your SEVIS fee payment online, please print the payment receipt and take it to your visa interview.
- Go to your visa interview to request your visa. Please note the visa may not be issued right away, as many embassies mail the visa to the student a few weeks following the interview.
- Pay the respective visa fees (subject to change).
Please note that the I-20 and DS-2019 do not guarantee receipt of a visa. The local consular official makes the final decision on whether or not to issue a student visa.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
When can I enter the United States?
Visa regulations allow you to enter the United States up to 30 days before the first day of classes (the reporting date shown on your I-20 or DS-2019). If you attempt to enter the U.S. earlier, you will be denied entry at the immigration port of entry (in most cases the airport). Please plan your flight itinerary with this important policy in mind.
What happens if I cannot arrive by the reporting date?
You must request a new I-20 or DS-2019 from your university. Many universities will admit you for the next available session, but some universities may have restrictions on readmission.
What will happen when I enter the United States?
An airline flight attendant will ask you to complete the I-94 form (Arrival/Departure Record) in the airplane before you land at the U.S. port of entry (if you arrive by land from Canada or Mexico, you need to request the I-94 at border crossing). You will present the I-94 form and your passport to the immigration inspector when you land. The immigration inspector will stamp the I-94 form with "D/S (duration of status)." "D/S" means that you may stay in the U.S.A. until your I-20 or DS-2019 expires as long as you follow the appropriate regulations associated. You should keep the I-94 form and a copy of your valid I-20 or DS-2019 with your passport at all times.
Click here to download an important information sheet issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on what a student or exchange visitor can expect upon arrival:
Have other questions about your visa? Click here for answers to other frequently asked questions.