The DS-2019 is a Certificate of Eligibility that reflects the information in your SEVIS record. It lists your biographical information, category, Program Sponsor, start and end dates, estimated expenses, and source of funding.
Your DS-2019 also contains space for ARO-authorized benefits, like off-campus employment.
If you travel outside the U.S. after your initial entry, you must have a valid signature from an ARO in the bottom right corner of your DS-2019 to reenter.
SEVIS I-901 Fee
The SEVIS I-901 fee, paid to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), is separate from visa application fees. After receiving your DS-2019, pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. Print a copy of your receipt to bring to your visa interview.
- Students with a country of birth/citizenship of Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, or Gambia cannot pay online and must pay by mail or Western Union Quick Pay. Mail service varies throughout the world, allow at least 2 weeks for delivery.
- The fee is not required for SEVIS transfers or J-2 dependents.
- If you already paid the SEVIS I-901 fee on a different SEVIS ID that you did not use, you can request a transfer of the fee to your new SEVIS ID within 12 months of the initial SEVIS fee payment. Learn more at I-901 SEVIS Fee Frequently Asked Questions ("How Can I-901 SEVIS Fee Paid on One SEVIS ID be Moved to Another SEVIS ID?").
A valid visa is required for all new students entering the U.S., except citizens of Canada and Bermuda.
The expiration date on your visa is the last day you can use your visa to enter the U.S. It does not determine how long you can remain in the U.S. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., you can remain in the country as long as your DS-2019 is valid and you are maintaining your student status.
If you leave the U.S. with an expired visa, you must renew it at an embassy or consulate outside the U.S. in order to reenter. Review these resources to learn more about applying for your student visa:
- Check visa processing times
- Exchange Visitor Visa Overview & How to Apply
- 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa
It is important to know that having a valid visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S. Even with valid documents, entry is always at the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection officers at the port-of-entry.
When you apply for your J-1 visa, the U.S. consular officer may indicate if you are subject to the 212(e) two-year home country physical presence requirement on your visa stamp. They may also indicate it on in the bottom left corner of your DS-2019.
If you are subject to 212(e), you must return home for at least two years after your exchange visitor program. If you cannot return home for two years, you must apply for a waiver. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must approve your waiver before you can change status in the United States or receive a visa in certain categories.
Port of Entry Stamp
When you enter the U.S., a Customs and Border Protection officer may stamp your passport. The port of entry stamp contains the date you entered, your visa category and D/S for the “admit until date”. D/S stands for Duration of Status. It means you may remain in the United States so long as you are maintaining your DS-2019 SEVIS record. It also gives you a 30-day grace period to leave the U.S. at the end of your program.
Customs and Border Protection creates an I-94 record for every nonimmigrant who enters the U.S. The I-94 shows your date of entry, visa category, and D/S. After entering the U.S., you can access your electronic I-94 record on the CBP website.
Students Entering By Land: Within 7 days of entry through a land port of entry, you can apply and pay $6.00 for your I-94 online. Please be aware that the I-94 you obtain online is temporary and just the first step in completing the I-94 application. To obtain the final, legal-for-travel Form I-94, you will need to appear at a port of entry in person with your immigration documents. If you are entering via an airport, you do not need to apply for an I-94 in advance in order to access your record at the CBP website.
To access your electronic I-94 record after entry:
- Go to the I-94 website.
- From the menu at the top, click “Get Most Recent I-94.”
- Enter all information exactly as it appears on your travel documentation you used to enter the U.S.
- Click “Next” to get your most recent I-94 record.