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Apply for Student Status

Congratulations on your admission to Cornell! We look forward to meeting you on campus. Here are the steps you need to follow to get ready to enter the United States as a student.

  1. Show Proof
  2. Receive Docs
  3. Pay SEVIS
  4. Apply for Entry

1 Show proof of financial support.

Your admissions office will ask you to show proof of financial support. Each admissions office has slightly different procedures and forms. Your admissions office will provide details about how you can provide proof. If you plan to bring your spouse or children with you for your degree program, be sure to tell the admissions office.

If you are an undergraduate student, contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

2 Receive an I-20 or DS-2019 form.

The admissions office will send you an I-20 (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students) certificate of eligibility form. You will need the form to apply for a student visa stamp at a U.S. consulate, unless you are a Canadian citizen.

Most students come to the U.S. with F-1 status. Learn more about your status.

3 Pay the SEVIS fee.

4 Apply for an entry visa at a U.S. consulate.

Make an appointment at a U.S. consulate to obtain an entry visa stamp. The appointment cannot be more than 365 days ahead of your program start date shown on your I-20/DS-2019.

Canadian citizens skip this step. At the port of entry, show your Canadian passport and I-20/DS-2019 to request F-1/J-1 student immigration status to attend Cornell University. If you are a Canadian “landed immigrant,” please check with a U.S. consulate to find out if you need a visa stamp.

Is my visa status the same as the visa in my passport?

No. All international students, except for Canadians, apply at the U.S. consulate for an entry visa stamp. This stamp is only used to enter the country. Once you are in the United States, you are allowed to stay—even after the entry visa in your passport expires—as long as you maintain your visa status.

I’ve been working in the U.S., and I’m starting a degree program at Cornell. Do I need to change my visa status?

If you are already in the United States—as an H-1B worker, for example­—you will need to change to F-1 or J-1 student status when you’re admitted to Cornell. The best approach is to travel out of the United States. Leave the country, apply at a U.S. consulate for the new type of visa stamp, and then reenter in your new visa classification. If you are Canadian, you may reenter with your new immigration documents. We no longer recommend applying for a change of status within the United States. If you think you may need to change within the United States, please discuss your situation with one of our advisors.

Next Up: Enter the U.S.