Global Education

Preparing for your F-1 or J-1 Visa Interview and Paying the SEVIS Fee

This information has been prepared to assist international students who plan to enter the United States for the first time to study at California State University, Sacramento in F-1 or J-1 visa status. For information on bringing dependents to the US, returning to continue studies, renewing your visa, or for more details on how to apply for a student visa, refer to the US Department of State website, at:


  1. Contact your local US Consulate or Embassy to obtain F-1 or J-1 international student visa application procedures. A list of Consulates and Embassies can be found at
  2. After you receive a SEVIS I-20 or DS 2019 from the school that you wish to attend, follow the US Embassy/Consulate’s instructions to schedule an interview for your F-1 or J-1 student visa. Apply for your student visa as far in advance as possible. Many consulates recommend that appointments be made no more than 120 days from the intended date of travel, but some can make earlier arrangements for interviews.
  3. Pay the SEVIS fee online at . Please refer to the attached DHS document entitled “I-901, Fee Remittance for Certain F, J and M Nonimmigrants”. You must bring the receipt of fee payment with you to the interview. If you have lost the receipt, the Visa Officer should be able to view your payment history in his or her SEVIS database.
  4. Complete the following forms:
    • DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application
    • Form DS-158 Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant. If a male between the ages of 16 and 45, DS-157 Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
  5. Pay the visa application fee by following instructions on your local US embassy or consulate’s web site.
  6. Prepare and bring to your visa interview the following:
    • A passport valid for at least six months
    • Form SEVIS I-20 or DS 2019 (sign the form as appropriate)
    • School admission letter
    • Completed visa applications (DS-156, DS-158, and, if applicable, DS-157)
    • Two 2”x 2” photographs in the prescribed format (see the website)
    • A receipt for the visa application fee
    • A receipt for the SEVIS fee. If you have not received an official receipt in the mail showing payment and you paid the fee electronically, the US embassy or consulate will accept the temporary receipt you printed from your computer. If you do not have a receipt, the consulate may be able to see your payment electronically if your fee payment was processed at least 3 business days before your interview.
    • Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study.
    • Any information that proves that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the US . This may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community.

Remain calm and answer all the Visa Officer’s questions to you openly and honestly.

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Global Education at Tel: (916) 278-6686 or Advisor email addresses located on your Welcome and Orientation Letter.

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