Welcome to Pitzer College! Here you will find information about what you need to know and prepare prior to coming to the college, and what you can expect once you arrive. Information provided here is essentially specific to International Students. Therefore, if you are looking for information regarding the general new international students, please go to New Student Orientation website.
An I-20 is a document that a student receives when they are accepted to a school. If the student is in their home country, they will present this form to the American Embassy or Consulate in their home country when they apply for F-1 visa status. This document is what determines how long you may stay in the United States as a student. Before traveling abroad, students must obtain a travel signature from a DSO (Designated School Official). At Pitzer College, the DSO’s are Todd Sasaki, Michael Ballagh and Jamie Francis.
After gaining admission to Pitzer College and receiving your I-20, you will need to apply for a visa in order to enter the United States. Department of State regulations first direct those requiring a visa to enter the U.S. to apply for a visa “at a consular office having jurisdiction over the alien’s place of residence.” This means that, generally, you must apply for your student visa in your home country, at the U.S. Embassy, or consulate nearest your home. Every consulate is able to set their own procedures, and they can vary greatly in terms of hours of operation, documents required, waiting periods, etc.
A good place to start for information on how to apply for your visa is the U.S. Department of State Study and Exchange website.
Please note that Citizens of Canada, and of Bermuda, do not need to apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. consulate; however, they do need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and must present their valid passport, I-20 (for students in the F-1 immigration status), and SEVIS I-901 fee receipt to U.S. immigration officials at the U.S. port of entry.
SEVIS I-901 Fee
SEVIS I-901 FEE REQUIREMENT: F-1 Students
Federal regulations require prospective F-1 students to pay the I-901 SEVIS (Student and Exchange Information System) fee before an F-1 visa can be issued. After receiving I-20, pay the one-time mandatory SEVIS I-901 Fee online before scheduling your F-1 visa interview. Print (and keep an electronic copy of) your receipt and be prepared to present it each time you enter the U.S. on your F visa.
Please note, if you are applying for a new visa, there will be additional visa application fees as well.
Frequently asked questions:
Who pays the SEVIS fee?
- New students with I-20s marked for “initial attendance” who are applying for a new F-1 visa from outside the US.
- New students with I-20s marked for “initial attendance” who are applying for a change to F-1 status from another status (B-2 for example).
- Current F-1 students in the US filing for reinstatement after a violation of status or being out of the country for more than 5 months.
Can someone else (friend or family member) pay the fee for me?
- Yes. But you should keep a copy of the fee payment receipt that proves that the fee was paid.
Do I have to pay if I stay in the U.S. but transfer to another school or if I change levels (example: US high school to undergraduate study)?
When do I pay the SEVIS fee?
- The fee should be paid at least 3 business days before you apply for your visa, change of status or reinstatement application.
How do I pay the fee?
Will the DHS keep a record of my payment on file?
- Fee payments should be entered into your permanent immigration (SEVIS) record but it is strongly recommended that you print out and keep a copy of your fee receipt for your records.
For more information please visit:
For additional information regarding the SEVIS fee requirement or other visa-related matters as it relates to you and Pitzer College, please contact Todd Sasaki at 909-621-8308.
Preparing for Arrival
Upon traveling to the U.S., make sure you carry the following items (do not pack it in checked luggage) as you will need to present it to the U.S. Border Control official upon arrival:
- Valid Passport (with F-1 visa)
The earliest date you can enter the U.S. with valid F-1 status is Earliest Admission Date, which is 30 days prior to the program start date (indicated in the Program of Study section in your I-20). Be sure to enter the U.S. by the start date at the latest.
Airport pick-up service is available to Pitzer students for their initial arrival to Pitzer. Pick-up service will bring the student to the Pitzer campus, and is available only for the student. Family or friends accompanying the student will need to provide their own transportation. Information about airport pick-ups will be sent directly to the students before orientation.
Post Arrival Information
New International Student Orientation
New international students and exchanges will be able to arrive early to participate in International Student Orientation, which takes place before New Student Orientation.
International Student Orientation has several sessions, activities and programming designed to help international students adjust to being at Pitzer and to prepare them for the coming weeks.
Students will find out more about important Pitzer resources, purchase supplies for your dorm room, get mobiles or open bank accounts if necessary, but mainly, it’s a chance for members of the international community to get to know one another, and get their feet under them before beginning New Student Orientation and the start of the semester.
For Spring Semester, new international transfers and exchanges also have an International Student Orientation that takes place before the start of the semester.