Visa and SEVIS Information

OBTAINING YOUR STUDENT VISA

Make a visa appointment as soon as you can after you receive the Form I-20 from Mercer. It may take several weeks for you to get an appointment. Contact your local U.S. Embassy for more information about applying for a visa in your country, or visit their website. You can also seek advice from the nearest Education USA Advising Center.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES

After obtaining your F-1 visa or J-1 visa, you may enter the United States up to 30 days before the “program start date” on your Form I-20 (document associated with the F-1 visa) or Form DS-2019 (document associated with the J-1 visa).

DOCUMENTS YOU SHOULD CARRY WHEN TRAVELING

  • Passport with F-1 or J-1 visa
  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019
  • Receipt verifying SEVIS Fee payment
  • Evidence of financial resources as provided to Mercer University for the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 issuance and the U.S. Embassy/Consulate at your visa appointment
  • Evidence of student status (acceptance letters, orientation schedule, tuition receipts, transcripts, etc.)
  • Name and contact information for Mercer ELI’s Designated School Official (DSO):
    Brenda Austrie-Cannaday, austrie-cannaday_b@mercer.edu, 678-547-6375

AS YOU ARRIVE AT THE PORT OF ENTRY

Have the following documents available for presentation to a Customs and Border Protection Officer (CBP Officer): your passport, F-1 or J-1 visa, Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, and Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059, given to you on the plane). 

All visitors entering the United States must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer that you will be a student while in the United States. Be prepared to state the name and address of the school where you will enroll/participate. Once your inspection is successfully completed, the CBP Officer will stamp your passport and return your passport and Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.

LUGGAGE & GROUND TRANSPORTATION

Once you have passed successfully through Customs and Border Patrol, you will proceed to the baggage claim area of the airport to get your luggage. If you will be traveling from the airport by public or private transportation, you will want to follow the signs to Ground Transportation.