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University of Colorado Denver

ESL Academy

International Student Services : Arrival



If you have not already done so, apply for your passport or verify that your current passport is valid. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future at the time you are applying for your student visa and on the date you enter the US.

Paying I-901 SEVIS Fee

Students applying for F-1 or J-1 visas for initial attendance at a university must first pay the I-901 SEVIS fee of $200 for F-1 students and $180 for J-1s. We recommend that you pay the fee on-line. This fee should be paid prior to making a visa appointment at the US Embassy or Consulate. F-2 and J-2 spouses and dependent children DO NOT have to pay this fee.

You must take your fee receipt for proof of payment to your visa appointment. Payments can be made on-line by using a credit card, by mail or by Western Union. If paying by Western Union or mail, please keep in mind that it will take several weeks to get a receipt; please pay this fee early to avoid delays. Please visit to pay the fee and complete an I-901 form.

Hints for filling out the I-901:

  • Read the FAQ (frequently asked questions).
  • Double-check that the information on the I-20 or DS-2019 is correct.
  • If it is not, do NOT pay the fee and contact UC Denver's International Student & Scholar Services to correct the I-20 or DS-2019.
  • The school code is DEN214F00301000 (for F-1s) or P-1-03858 (for J-1s).
  • Your SEVIS number is in the top, right-hand corner and begins with N000.
  • Print at least two copies - one to take to the Embassy or Consulate and one for your records.

If you have applied to more than one school, you must decide which school you will attend and pay the SEVIS fee using that school's information. If you are denied a visa, you cannot get a refund of your SEVIS fee. If you decide to reapply for a visa within the next 12 months, you will not have to pay the fee again.

Student Visa Application at US Consulate

You should also make an appointment as soon as possible with the US Consulate where you will be applying for your student visa. You must enter the country BEFORE the reporting date on your I-20 or DS-2019. In fact, you can enter the US up to 30 days before the reporting date. Arriving early will allow you time to settle into the Denver area before the start of school. You can go to the Department of State website to see the estimated wait time for the Embassy or Consulate nearest you. The visa can be issued up to 120 days before the reporting date on your documents.

Be prepared for the visa interview. The officer must assume that each prospective student is planning on staying in the US. It is your job to prove otherwise. Any ties to your country - family, jobs, land ownership, etc - will help show that you do plan to return to your home country after you are finished with school. Take any documents that you think will help your case including your original financial documents or letter of sponsorship, but don't be surprised if the officer does not ask to see anything. The officer will probably spend less than a few minutes with you as well.

You should take:

  • I-20/DS-2019
  • Proof of having paid the SEVIS fee
  • Evidence of financial resources
  • Evidence that you intend to depart the US upon completion of your studies
  • Form DS-160 or Forms DS-156 and DS-158 (Check with the embassy you are applying to)
  • Form DS-157, if applicable
  • Passport-sized photographs
  • Proof of payment of Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee
  • Visa reciprocity fee (if applicable)
  • Transcripts, test scores (GRE, TOEFL, etc)

You can find specific information about the consulate, appointment process, application forms, and visa fee at the Department of State Web site.​


 Arrival in the U.S.

Arriving at the US Port of Entry

After you receive your visa, you may enter the US up to 30-days before the reporting date listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019. Make sure that you pack all your important documents in your carry-on luggage. This should include:

  • Passport
  • I-20/DS-2019
  • Evidence of student status, such as acceptance letter, recent tuition receipts, transcripts or proof of registration
  • Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797
  • Name and contact information for your Designated School Official

You can also read more about what will happen at the Port of Entry at the ICE website.

Coming to Denver

Denver International Airport (DIA) is located about one hour from downtown Denver. To get to campus from the airport, you have a few options:

  • Contact your student group for pick-up possibilities. UC Denver does not offer pick up services, but some of the student groups may. You can visit
  • Shuttle services (about $20 per person to downtown; cash or credit)
  • Taxi ($54 flat rate to downtown; cash only)
    • Metro taxi: 303-333-3333
    • Yellow Cab: 303-777-7777
    • Zone Cab: 303-444-8888
  • RTD bus ($10 one way; exact change - cash only). The bus will drop you off at the Market Street Station (Market and 16th), just a few blocks from campus.

More information is available on Level 5 (ground transportation and baggage claim). Please see for information on DIA and services provided. You can also call 303.342.4059 or email

Finally, the ESL staff is in the process of establishing a limited airport pick-up service for new ESL students. More information will be posted on this Web site soon!​


 Arrival at CU Denver

Upon your arrival at CU Denver, you will be required to attend our ESL Academy Orientation. For the dates, please see the program calendar. A more detailed scheduled will be provided to you either with your Form I-20/DS-2019 or via email a few weeks prior to the start of the term.​


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