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Immigration Information

International Students Who Currently Reside Outside the U.S.

Most students come to the United States to enroll in a full-time degree program in F-1 student status. A Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for an F-1 student visa) is issued to students by UT Austin for entry into the U.S. Dependents (spouse or children) of an F-1 visa holder can accompany the student on F-2 dependent visas. F-2s are not permitted to be employed in the U.S., study full-time or in degree programs.

Some students enter the U.S. in J-1 student status. The J-1 visa is administered by the Department of State and is used for a variety of educational purposes. The Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for a J-1 visa) may be issued to a student with a scholarship, either from a sponsoring organization or from UT Austin. Dependents of a J-1 visa holder are classified as J-2 and may apply for permission to work in the U.S.

If you reside outside the U.S., the UT Austin International Office will mail you the appropriate certificate of eligibility (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019) after you have submitted the required evidence of financial support. You must then pay the SEVIS fee (see SEVIS Fee Information PDF). The certificate of eligibility (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019) must be presented at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy when applying for your F-1 or J-1 student visa, along with your unexpired passport, evidence of financial support and SEVIS fee receipt.

If you do not receive the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, do not enter the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 tourist visa or the visa waiver program! Doing so may prevent you from beginning your academic program on time, or make it necessary for you to leave the U.S. to change to a student status. If it is absolutely necessary for you to enter the U.S. prior to receiving the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, you should request at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate that “prospective student” be noted on the B-1/B-2 visa to make a change of status easier to obtain.

International Students Who Are Currently in the U.S. on an F-1 Visa

If you plan to remain in the U.S., United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations permit a transfer of your immigration status to UT Austin provided that you are in valid F-1 status at the school you are currently attending. You must inform your current school of your intent to transfer to UT Austin as soon as possible but no later than the last day of your final semester at your current school (ex. if spring is your last semester at your current school, then no later than the last day of the spring semester). Your Form I-20 from UT Austin cannot be issued until your current school has been notified and releases you to transfer. Please talk to your international student advisor about the transfer process as soon as you decide you will transfer. See the Maintaining F-1 / J-1 Status page for forms and more information about transferring to UT Austin.

Failure to complete the transfer process within 15 days of the program start date at UT Austin results in a violation of your immigration status. Furthermore, you may not work on campus until your immigration transfer is processed. If you are out of status, discuss your options with your current international student advisor or with an immigration advisor at UT Austin.

If you plan to leave the U.S. before enrolling, please use the UT Austin transfer Form I-20 to re-enter the U.S. and to apply for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy (if your current F-1 visa has expired or if you changed your status to F-1 while in the U.S.).

International Students Who Are Currently in the U.S. on Another Type of visa (F-2, J-2 or H-1) or Who Have Applied for Permanent Residency

If you are in a status other than F-2, the University does not require you to change your status to F-1 or J-1 student status to be enrolled; however, you may not be eligible to work on campus without changing to F-1 or J-1 status. You are required to present your immigration documents to an immigration advisor during Immigration Briefing and Check-In. For individuals interested in changing their status within the U.S., the change of status must be submitted to USCIS prior to the expiration of your current status (and prior to the termination of employment for H-1 visa holders). Please contact an immigration advisor at the International Office as soon as possible for advice on your visa status.

Useful Links to find information on how to apply for a student visa

Electronic Visa Application - Form DS-160

How long will the visa issuance process take?

Visa Reciprocity Fees by Country

Student Visa Information from Bureau of Consular Affairs

Predeparture information