Santa Clara University


Visa Document Preparation Process

When to Apply for an F-1 Visa:

Once you are admitted to Santa Clara University, you will need a visa to enter the United States. The earliest that an F-1 visa can be granted is 120 days before the reporting date listed on your SEVIS Form. You may apply for an F-1 visa earlier than 120 days before the start date to allow for visa processing and security clearance delays, however, the consulate still cannot actually issue the visa until 120 days before the program start date. Please note that although you may succeed in getting a visa issued up to 120 days before the expected report date on the SEVIS Form, the regulations do not permit the student (or dependents) to enter the U.S. sooner than 30 days before the report date (this became effective January 1, 2003). 

For information on obtaining an F-1 visa, please visit the following web page:

To make SEVIS fee payments please visit the following website:

**Wait Times for Visa Interviews Now Available Online**

DOS is now publishing on its Web site the average wait times for nonimmigrant visa interviews and for the processing of nonimmigrant visa applications. The wait times are listed by post. To access the wait-time site, go to:

Normally, international students will be admitted to the United States for "duration of status" noted as "D/S". Duration of status allows the student to remain in the United States for the duration of their program of study provided the student is maintaining a full load of classes each term and is making normal progress towards completing their degree.



Santa Clara University's International Students & Scholars (ISS) department is responsible for processing the Forms I-20 and/or DS-2019 that international students need in order to apply for the appropriate student visa required to study in the United States.  Students applying for the F1 student visa need the Form I-20.  Students applying for the J1 student visa need the Form DS-2019.  ISS will process an I-20 or DS-2019 only for students who have been officially admitted by the university.  Students with pending applications will be referred to the academic department or the office of admissions.

I-20 Process

Once you have been officially admitted, In order to be issued an I-20, ISS will need the following documents:

  1. I-20 Request Form
  2. Transfer Clearance Form - Only needed for students in F-1 status who are transferring from a U.S. high school, community college, or university or students in F-1 status who are working on OPT.
  3. Financial documents  - showing funding for tuition, living, health insurance, and other costs for one academic year. Please see Estimated Expenses for the list of these fees for each department.
  4. Affidavit of Support Form (if necessary)
  5. Passport– photocopy of biographical page of student passport (and that of any dependents).

Graduate Students: Once you have read the instructions and completed the I-20 request forms, please send completed material to your academic department (the admissions department who sent your admit letter).

Undergraduate Students: Please submit these documents directly to International Students & Scholars (ISS) via mail or by email:

Undergraduate students sending via mail:
Santa Clara University
Global Engagement Office
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053-0292
Attention: International Students & Scholars

Undergraduate students sending via Email:

*Once all the above documents are received at ISS, please allow 2-3 weeks to process during peak season (April-July) and 7 working days to process outside of peak times.

DS-2019 Process

Please forward the following documents to your appropriate admissions department:

  1. DS-2019 Request Form – completed and signed by student.
  2. Proof of Funding– verification of funding from both visitor and host department.
  3. Health Insurance– verification form.
  4. English Proficiency– verification that TOEFL or similar test requirement has been met.
  5. Passport– photocopy of identity/biographical page of exchange visitor passport (and that of any dependents).

The department will then verify all the above documents and will send to International Students & Scholars (ISS) along with the following additional form:

Departmental Declaration Form

*Once all the above documents are received at ISS, please allow 2-3 weeks to process during peak season (April-July) and 7 working days to process outside of peak times.

Deadline for submission of I-20/DS-2019 Documents:

In an effort to better serve our students and to avoid last minute I-20/DS-2019 requests, International Students & Scholars (ISS) will be adopting deadlines for the submission of the I-20/DS-2019 request packets. These deadlines will assist the students in ensuring that they have the required documents to apply for the visa stamp with the US Consulate or Embassy in a timely manner.

For the Fall 2015 quarter, the deadline for initial I-20s/DS-2019 requests is August 1, 2015. To transfer your SEVIS record, the Fall 2015 deadline for I-20/DS-2019 request packets is September 1, 2015.

NOTE: These deadlines do not apply to students requesting a change of status from within the US.

Mailing of the I-20/DS-2019:

For all students, once the I-20/DS- 2019 is ready for shipping and a shipment label has been created, the student will receive an email with the FedEx tracking number and a SEVIS number. You can generally expect to receive the I-20/DS-2019 within 7 to 10 business days from the receipt of the tracking number. Upon receipt of the I-20/Ds-2019, please review it for accuracy and contact ISS with any corrections that need to be made. 

Please allow for 2-3 weeks to process the I-20/DS-2019 during peak season (April-July) and 7 working days to process outside of peak times. Email and phone inquiries asking about the status of your I-20/DS-2019 after you have submitted your documents and within this processing time window will NOT be answered. As stated above, because of the vast number of requests we receive, we simply cannot respond to these requests. It significantly delays the processing times for I-20s/DS-2019s.

VISA Process at the US Embassy/Consulate:

Once the student has the admission letter and I-20/DS-2019, he/she may proceed with scheduling the visa appointment.  Do not schedule your visa appointment until after you receive the I-20/DS-2019.  If you do so, you will need to cancel or reschedule your appointment if you do not receive the I-20/DS-2019 on time.  Setting a visa appointment ahead of time will NOT be considered an urgent reason to speed up the processing and issuance of your I-20/DS-2019.  That would be preferential treatment which is unfair to the students who follow the instructions carefully.  We will treat all students equally throughout the I-20/DS-2019 process.  Be sure to have all required documents in order before attending the visa appointment.  For any questions directly related to the student visa application, contact the US Embassy or Consulate near you.

Good luck with the visa interview process and we look forward to meeting each of our new students at the International Students & Scholars  orientation! Note that there is a $125 orientation fee for Fall 2015 incoming graduate students only. The International Students & Scholars Orietnation is mandatory, and regardless of attendance, the orientation fee is automatically charged to your eCampus account. Undergraduate students will not be charged $125 for the orientation. 



International students maintaining valid F-1/J-1 student status may transfer their SEVIS record to Santa Clara University from another U.S. Service approved school (including high schools) by following the transfer procedures set forth in the regulations. Simply transferring academically from one school to another does not transfer a student's F-1/J-1 status unless the student and DSO/ARO follow the federal regulations surrounding the transfer process. The transfer process, however, does not require government adjudication. Rather, it is a notification process that takes place as an update event in SEVIS with the active participation of the student, the "transfer out" school, and the "transfer in" school.

Transfer Process:

  • Student must inform the DSO/ARO at current school ("transfer out") of intention to transfer and provide the DSO/ARO with the complete name of SCU:Santa Clara University.
  • DSO/ARO at transfer-out school will need to release SEVIS record to SCU.
  • A release date will be set for SCU to access a student's transfer record. However, if the transfer-out school determines that the student has failed to maintain status, or if the SEVIS record indicates that the student is not in active status, then a release date cannot be set, and the transfer cannot proceed.
  • Once a student's record has been released in SEVIS (with a release date), SCU will then issue the SEVIS document.
Transfer Deadlines:

For the Fall 2015 quarter, the deadline to submit the I-20s/DS-2019 request pack to transfer your SEVIS record is September 1, 2015.

For F-1 Students:

  • If a student completes a course of study (or OPT), the student is eligible for transfer through the end of the 60-day grace period. Failure to transfer during the 60-day grace period will result in the loss of your F-1 student visa status and you will be considered "out of status."
  • In addition, the start date at the transfer-in school must be within 5 months following the release date set by the transfer-out school, or within 5 months of the program completion date in SEVIS, whichever date is earlier. This means that a student can remain in the United States for no more than 5 months between completing at the transfer-out school and beginning at the transfer-in school (granted the transfer was initiated in SEVIS within 60-days of the completion of program or OPT).

For J-1 Students:

  • If a student completes a course of study (or Academic Training), the student is eligible for transfer through the end of the 30-day grace period. Failure to transfer during the 30-day grace period will result in the loss of your J-1 student visa status and you will be considered "out of status."
  • An exchange visitor may transfer from one program sponsor to another if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which he or she was admitted to exchange visitor status and if the exchange visitor remains within the same participant category.

  • Before beginning the transfer process, an exchange visitor should discuss his or her plans with the RO/AROs of both programs, make a definite decision about the transfer, and make sure that all parties involved have agreed on the date of transfer. It may be very difficult to change the date of transfer after the process has been started.

Change of Status

Applying for Change of Status to F-1/J-1 within the United States

Students who are filing for a change of status application within the U.S. must submit the following documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 30 days of document issuance:

  • Brief letter of explanation for the purpose of your application for change of status to F-1/J-1 student category (i.e. to receive the benefits of F-1/J-1 status such as travel abroad, off-campus employment, and to be eligible for practical training/academic training after graduation).
  • Photocopy of Santa Clara University SEVIS Form which indicates that the document was issued for an application for change of status.
  • A receipt showing that you have paid the "SEVIS fee" which you can print when you pay the fee on line at:
  • Photocopy of Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure card stapled inside passport). It is sufficient to send a photocopy, since USCIS will generate a new I-94 card as part of the change of status approval notice.
  • Photocopy of current immigration status documents, visa stamp, and passport ID pages.
  • Documents which establish the necessary financial support to complete the program of study. This should be the same financial support information used to obtain the SEVIS Form from SCU.
  • Dependent family member documentation: if dependent family members currently in the U.S. plan to change their status as well, their information should be included in Form I-539, they should each be issued SEVIS Forms and documentation showing the validity of their current immigration status, including copies of their Forms I-94, should be included.
  • If you are married and your spouse has a different last name, a copy of your marriage certificate is recommended.
  • A completed Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status).
  • Enclose a check or money order made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $290.00. Visit the USCIS website for current filing fees.

Students should mail their application to USCIS. For U.S. Postal Service deliveries, mail as certified mail with a return receipt to:

P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail and courier deliveries, mail to:

ATTN: I-539

2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Please Note:

  • Make photocopies of all documents mailed to USCIS.
  • You may NOT work on campus as an F-1/J-1 student until your change of status to F-1/J-1 is approved.
  • You must check-in with ISS with your I-797 approval notice ONCE your change of status to F-1 has been approved. 
  • An applicant for change of nonimmigrant status to F-1 may start attending school even before the application has been submitted or approved, except for the following, who must wait until their change of status application is approved by USCIS: Nonimmigrants changing to F-1 from B-1 or B-2 status; and Nonimmigrants changing to F-1 from F-2 dependent status (except in the case of F-2 minors studying at the primary or secondary level
  • If you do not use the SEVIS Form issued by SCU to obtain F-1/J-1 status as described above, you are not in F-1/J-1 student status.
  • The I-20/DS-2019 is only a "certificate of eligibility" for F-1/J-1 student status, and the mere issuance of the form does not grant F-1/J-1 student status itself.
  • For those of you changing status from H-1B please note that your change of status application MUST be received by the USCIS before your final day of employment in H-1B status.
  • Aliens holding nonimmigrant status C, D, K, WB or WT (transit, crewman, fiancée or fiancé, waiver business, or waiver tourist), J-1 physicians admitted to receive graduate medical education or training are not eligible for change to any other status within the U.S., including J-1. AJ-1 or J-2 who is subject to the 212(e) home residence requirement may not change visa status in the United States.