Obtain a Form I-20 “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status”
If you do not hold a U.S. citizenship, permanent residency, green card or other non-immigrant status with authorization to study in the U.S., you will need to apply for an F-1 student visa. To apply for an F-1 student visa, you will need a Form I-20, which is issued by International Student Services (ISS).
Once you have responded to your offer of admission by logging into your My Williams Account and enrolled, you will receive an email with the I-20 Application Form and instructions on how to upload financial evidence and a copy of the biographical page of your passport. Fill out the information as thoroughly as possible.
Obtain a U.S. Visa
You will receive your Form I-20 and I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee receipt in the International Portal under the documents tab. Please note, once you receive your I-20, the next step will be to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. You will need the receipt for your visa appointment. If you’ve received financial aid this fee will be included in your financial aid award.
As soon as you receive your I-20 and I-901 receipt, schedule your visa appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for an F-1 student visa. Review the student visas page, as well as the instructions at the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply for a visa. After you receive your visa, check to see that you received the right type of visa and that your name and date of birth are correct and match the information in your passport.
Canadian Citizens are not required to apply for an F-1 student visa, but will be asked to present their Canadian passport, Form I-20, I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt and financial evidence to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the Port of Entry. The CBP Officer will confirm your documents with SEVIS.
Planning your Arrival
You may not enter the U.S. earlier than 30 days before the program start date on your I-20. There is no early move in, so plan to arrive on Saturday, August 27th to participate in the required International Student Orientation. If you are planning to arrive before you will be responsible for your accommodations. Your I-20 does not require a travel signature for your initial entry into the U.S., however you will need a travel signature for subsequent trips. Once you arrive on-campus and officially check-in with ISS you will receive your travel endorsement signature.
International Students and Domestic students living abroad
International students and domestic students living abroad receiving financial aid are given one round trip (or two one ways) per academic year plus a vacation allowance of $225 per semester for winter and spring breaks. Students must contact Bob Baker to book airfare and ground transportation. Students can request a refund from Student Financial Services to withdraw the vacation allowance funds each semester around mid-terms.
**Note** We no longer reimburse students for tickets purchased independently.
When booking airfare it is extremely important to be mindful of the move-in and move-out date provided by the Office of Campus Life and to make sure to book the return ticket after the final exam period is over. Final exam dates can be found on the Registrar’s page.
If you are transferring to Williams College from another U.S. institution and you already hold an I-20 make sure to complete the Transfer Form (included with the Form I-20 Application).