East Carolina University
Office of International Affairs

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Immigration Information

International students are primarily those students who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders or resident aliens), but are in the United States on a temporary, nonimmigrant visa primarily engaged in a course of study and were admitted into an academic program.  Federal Regulations regarding studying and working vary widely depending on visa type.

This information is subject to change without notice. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your legal status in the United States, it is important for you to come to the Office of International Affairs and set up an appointment to meet with an advisor.
What are your general responsibilities as an international student in the United States?
  • Keep your PASSPORT valid at all times.
  • Maintain FULL-TIME ENROLLMENT EACH SEMESTER during the academic year.
  • File any necessary EXTENSIONS OF STAY before your present stay expires.
  • Do not accept ANY off-campus EMPLOYMENT without proper employment authorization.
  • Do not TRAVEL outside the United States, even briefly, without the proper documents.
  • Make photocopies of ALL your documents and safeguard the originals.


Obtaining your VISA 


An I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 students serves as your "application" for a U.S. student visa. Please take a few minutes to review your I-20. Make sure all information printed about you and your program of study is true and accurate. If there is an error on the I-20, please contact our office. If there are no errors, sign and date the Certificate of Eligibility as required. Finally, note that you have been given a "reporting date." This is the date by which you should enter the U.S. with your I-20. If you will be arriving late, please contact our office for advice. Applying for an F-1 visa This information is for students who plan to enter the United States for the first time to study.

For information on bringing dependents to the U.S., returning to continue studies, or renewing a visa, or for more details on how to apply for a student visa, refer to the U.S. Department of State website:

For visa wait time, visit: This information is for students who plan to enter the United States for the first time to study.

For more details on how to apply for a student visa, refer to the U.S. Department of State website:  


1.Contact your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy to ask about how to apply for an F-1non-immigrant student visa. A list of Consulates and Embassies can be found at

2.After you receive an I-20 form from East Carolina University, follow the U.S. Embassy/Consulate instructions to schedule an interview. It is important to 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.Complete the following forms: ″DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form ″ Pay the visa application fee following instructions on the U.S. embassy or consulate's web site. ″Pay the $200 SEVIS fee before applying for a student visa. This fee is separate from and in addition to the visa application fee.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are required to pay the fee at least 3 days before going to a U.S. port of entry. The fee cannot be paid at the port of entry or at a U.S. embassy or consulate office.


-Pay at a local Western Union office with Quick Pay service ″Get a form I-901 "Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Nonimmigrants" Download the form from

Ask for the form by phone at 1-800-870-3676 (inside the U.S.).

Complete the Form I-901. Write your name exactly how it appears on your I-20 form.

Download instructions and sample of the completed Western Union form from  

Complete the form and take it and the instructions to Western Union. The SEVIS $200 fee can be paid in local currency. Be sure to get a receipt of payment from Western Union to take to the visa interview.

-Pay By Mail

Get a Form I-901 from  

Prepare a check or money order in the amount of $200USD, made payable to "I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee".

Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on Form I-901.

A Form I-797 receipt confirmation letter should be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. Be sure to make copies of this receipt letter, and keep it with other documents.

A third party such as a friend, family member or other interested party can pay the fee on your behalf through the same procedures.

-Pay Online

Find the form I-901 at

Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information.

Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form. Print a copy of your online receipt. Make a copy of your receipt, and keep it with other important immigration documents. Take 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 database. Electronic payments must be submitted at least 3 business days before your visa interview. Mailed payments must be sent early so that the check or money order has time to reach the Department of Homeland Security at least 3 business days before the scheduled interview. 

Note: If you are transferring schools, extending your program, applying for an F-2 dependent visa, or have paid this fee and had been denied a visa within the last twelve months, you do not need to pay the $200 SEVIS fee.

Prepare and bring to your visa interview the following information:  

A passport valid for at least six months. 

Form I-20. 

ECU Acceptance letter.

Completed visa application 

Two 2x2 photographs in the prescribed format (  

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 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 the 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 U.S.This may include proof of property, family, job offer or other ties to your community. 

Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended. 

Scores from  standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT. We would like to credit NAFSA:Association of International Educators for the following tips on how to apply for a nonimmigrant visa.