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Incoming International Students

Congratulations on your admission to the University of Rochester! The International Services Office (ISO) is here to support you through the process of obtaining immigration documents, planning your trip, and arriving in the United States as an international student. Please read the following steps and bookmark this webpage to use as your checklist to track your progress. We at the ISO are here to help you stay updated with all important ISO requirements and information. We wish you safe travels and hope to see you when you arrive at the University of Rochester!

  • 1. Complete the New Student Intake Forms (NSIF)

    As a new international student to the University of Rochester, the ISO is prepared to assist you in obtaining immigration permission for full-time study. Our office will issue your Form I-20 (F-1 students) or Form DS-2019 (J-1 students), certifying your eligibility to study at UR under the University's immigration sponsorship. If you are planning to study under sponsorship from another organization, or are not eligible for the F-1 or J-1 category, please find more information on Students in Non-UR Sponsored Categories.

    The New Student Intake Forms (NSIF) is used to request the Form I-20 (for study in F-1 status) or DS-2019 (for study in J-1 status) and consists of two parts, the NSIF Department Section and the NSIF Student Section. After your admitting department/admissions office submits the NSIF Department Section, you will receive an email communication inviting you to complete the NSIF Student Section. Please contact your admitting department/admissions office if you have not received the invitation to complete your NSIF.

  • 2. Review and sign your Immigration Document(s)

    If you will be seeking immigration sponsorship from the University of Rochester, your immigration document will be emailed to you as a PDF attachment. Please carefully review the information listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 to ensure accuracy. The details listed on the document are shown exactly as they are reported through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

    If your document is accurate, please be sure to print it in order to sign and date it in ink (line 11 on the I-20 or section 8 on the DS-2019). Print and sign/date any dependent documents as well. Students are NOT permitted to digitally sign the immigration document in any way.

  • 3. Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee

    In addition to the standard visa application fees, F-1 and J-1 applicants must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee online. Pay this fee and print proof of payment before scheduling your visa appointment. *Students with the SEVIS category of Immigration Transfer or Change of Education Level (COEL) do not need to pay the fee again, with the exception of students transferring from a federally sponsored exchange program that did not require the payment previously.

  • 4. Prepare and Interview for your Student Visa

    To obtain the student visa, you must schedule an interview and apply for the visa in person at your local US Consulate or Embassy. Please see our video on Obtaining an F-1 or J-1 Visa as well as additional information online about the visa application process. Visit NAFSA’s website for tips when applying for a student visa.

    Visa appointment availability: US State Department policy requires that embassies and consulates give priority for student visa appointments. While appointment times may appear limited, the expectation is that consulates will make more appointment times available as demand increases. If you will need an earlier visa appointment than what appears to be available, you should be able to submit a request for an expedited visa appointment. You must first schedule a regular visa appointment (even if it is after you anticipate needing to travel to the US), before you will be able to request an expedited date. Expedited appointments will only be granted at the Consulate’s discretion. Please follow the instructions provided on the website of the embassy or consulate at which you will apply for your student visa.

    Canadians and Bermudians: Under current immigration rules, Canadian and [most] Bermudian citizens are not required to apply for a visa. However, you still must prepare all other documents and pay the I-901 SEVIS fee for F-1 and J-1 students. The Department of State offers more information online: Canadian citizens, Bermudian citizens.

    Multiple schools: If you have multiple documents from different US universities, you need to decide which school you plan to attend before applying for your visa. Once the visa is issued, you must enter the country with the I-20 or DS-2019 from the school printed on the visa stamp and your permission to study will be granted only at that school.

    Visa Delay or Denial: Some visas are delayed due to administrative processing. You can read more about visa application decisions or report a visa delay/denial

  • 5. Participate in ISO's Pre-Arrival Programs

    TIPS On-Demand, ISO's Pre-Arrival Program 
    As you plan to join the UR community, it is important that you feel prepared and understand the requirements of your US immigration status and campus services. Our office has developed the TIPS On-Demand program to share relevant information specifically for our incoming international students. This online training consists of a series of video tools that you can view at your own pace and as often as you like. TIPS On-Demand serves as ISO’s Pre-Arrival program and is required of all new international students sponsored by ISO. The details covered here directly align with the Immigration Compliance Webinar you will attend virtually on [Date to be confirmed soon!]. Please plan to review this information in advance. To access this online training, log into Blackboard using your University NetID login details. Then, visit the ISO Pre-Arrival Program organization in “My Organizations.” We hope these tools will be useful as you prepare for your arrival, and will monitor participation. If you encounter difficulties accessing this content after this date, please contact us at

    ISO Pre-Arrival Webinars
    Additionally, the ISO is hosting several pre-arrival webinars before the semester begins. These webinars are optional, but students are encouraged to attend. 

    View this International Student Webinars & Welcome Events page for more information. If you can't attend, recorded videos will be posted on the website for you to view at a later time.

  • 6. Enter the U.S. in valid F-1 or J-1 student status

    Once you obtain your student visa, you can finalize travel plans to Rochester.

    You are permitted to enter the US up to 30 days prior to the program start date listed on your initial I-20 or DS-2019. This travel restriction does not apply to students with a SEVIS Category of Immigration Transfer or Change of Education Level. Applicants intending to file for a Change of Status (Form I-539) should not leave the United States while their application is pending.

    Please review our video on Entry to the United States, as well as arrival information and preparing for travel.

  • 7. Report Arrival and Complete Immigration Check-In

    Upon arrival to the United States, all international students must complete a mandatory online immigration check-in with the ISO. This will allow our staff to report your arrival in SEVIS and activate your F-1 or J-1 record for study at UR. As part of your check-in, you will also be asked to confirm you have reviewed, understand, and will follow the requirements of your non-immigrant student status (F-1 Student Requirements, J-1 Student Requirements).

    Please access ISO’s Immigration Check-In tool via our URcompass client portal to confirm your presence in the US upon arrival, and no later than one week from arrival to ensure timely SEVIS reporting.

    If you will no longer arrive at UR by the Program Start Date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019, please notify your school right away to revise your attendance plan. Your UR Department will need to report their approval of a later arrival to ISO via your NSIF before ISO will be able to update your immigration record accordingly and issue a new immigration document, as needed. Students approved to defer their arrival will be invited to complete immigration check-in at a later time that aligns with the new start date.

  • 8. Attend ISO's Immigration Compliance Webinar

    ISO’s Immigration Compliance webinar is designed to supplement your online Pre-Arrival Program (TIPS on Demand) by providing opportunities to engage more critically with key aspects of the immigration requirements and benefits you may encounter during your studies at the University of Rochester. This program is mandatory for new international students throughout all University divisions who are scheduled to arrive for full-time study. Students who are returning from an absence longer than one year, students who are changing degree level at UR, and students who are transferring their immigration record from another US school are also required to participate. This meeting will be delivered virtually. Please register using the unique Zoom meeting link below. We appreciate and look forward to your participation! 

    Immigration Compliance Webinar
    Thursday - August 15, 2024 
    9:00AM to 10:00AM Eastern Time