Prearrival Information for New International Students


Welcome to Virginia Tech!

This webpage is designed to assist you with your preparations for coming to the United States and help you through the first couple of weeks of adjustment and settling down in Blacksburg. We hope that you will find the information on these pages useful and will not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions after looking at the information presented here. We will be happy to assist you!

Quick Links
Department of Homeland Security
Provides information for international students who want to study in the U.S.
Student Guide
Basic information and important procedures for all new graduate students.
How to Get an I-20 or DS-2019 Form
  • Be accepted into an academic program by the academic department and the Graduate School. You will receive the admission letter from the Graduate School.
  • Show proof of having sufficient funds to cover all educational and living expenses for the first year; one or a combination of documents in the list below is accepted as proof:
    • Original bank statement showing sufficient funds, accompanied by an original letter of support from sponsor stating the amount and time period of support ;
    • Assistantship agreement signed by the academic department;
    • Original, written confirmation from the sponsoring institution or government agency of a scholarship, fellowship, or other type of funding. NOTE: copies of external funding documents also MUST be provided by the student to the University Bursar's Office so they can set up billing to these agencies.
  • Be in legal status, eligible for transfer, if already in the U.S. Submit transfer information form signed by current international student advisor.
  • All documents must be original and less than 6 months old.
  • Complete the Immigration Information Form. Provide a copy of your passport ID page, and fill out the Immigration Information Form with your name as it appears on your passport. Data consistency with immigration documents is critical, so please refer to the Fact Sheet: F/M/J Nonimmigrants: Managing Information that the U.S. Government Needs About Nonimmigrants During Their Visit. This will help you to understand why it is important that ALL of your documents--passport, visa, I-20 or DS-2019, I-94 card, Social Security card and driver's license--use the same name consistently.


Receiving Your I-20 or DS-2019 Form
Once we receive all the required documents, an I-20 or DS-2019 form will be issued and mailed. Forms generally are issued within 3-4 days of receipt of complete request. Forms are mailed by IGSS by bulk airmail (allow 30 days for delivery) unless you pay for express mail. Please allow 3-4 months for the visa application and approval process from the date you receive the I-20 or DS-2019 form.
Tips for Students and Exchange Visitors
Read about the student visa process by visiting the U.S. Department of State website. This will help you prepare for what to expect from the paperwork and the interview.

Be sure to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee at least three days before you go for your visa appointment. Failure to do so will result in a denial of your visa application. You can pay the fee online. If you do not have a credit card, there are instructions for processing by mail or through Western Union. Review our guidelines.

Please remember that new international students cannot enter the US more than 30 days before the Program Start Date on the I-20 or DS-2019 form. This is immigration law. You need to make your travel plans based on this restriction.

Medical Records
All new students entering Virginia Tech are required to provide a health history (translated into English) that is signed by a licensed health care professional. Read about the requirements and download the Immunization Form and instructions from the Schiffert Health Center website. You can phone 540-231-6444 if you have questions. They will accept the forms by fax or mail, or you can bring them with you when you come to Virginia Tech.
Health Insurance Requirements
All international students are required to have adequate insurance coverage for the duration of their stay in the United States. This requirement protects students in cases of medical emergencies. Health care is very expensive in the United States, and without insurance coverage one could not afford paying for many services.

Aetna is the company under contract with Virginia Tech to provide insurance coverage for students which meets the minimum university requirements. Students must be enrolled full-time to qualify for this insurance policy. Questions regarding the insurance policy, eligibility and costs may be referred to:

Student Medical Insurance (0361)
110 New Student Services Building
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Telephone: (540) 231-6226

Students who do not purchase Aetna insurance must complete the Alternative Insurance Compliance Form, have it endorsed by their insurance provider and submit it to the Student Medical Insurance Office. Failure to provide proof of sufficient insurance coverage may result in the blocking of your records for registration, transfer or other academic actions. Additional details may be found on the Insurance Requirements for International Students web page.

Getting Started Checklist for F-1 and J-1 Students
This checklist provides information about what tasks need to be completed before classes begin, and contact information for the offices with whom you will need to work to accomplish the tasks.
Travel Tips for F-1 and J-1 Students
  • Hand carry (do not check) the following documents:
    • Your passport;
    • Your I-20 or DS-2019 form;
    • Evidence of financial resources;
    • Evidence of student or exchange visitor status, such as transcripts or letter of acceptance;
    • Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee (if applicable);
    • The name and contact information of your designated school official or sponsor
    • Important Note: If you are a new student or a new exchange visitor participant, remember to carry with you the sealed envelope given to you by the U.S. Department of State's  Consular Officer - attached to your passport. It is important that you do not open this envelope.
  • Please visit the website for U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement. This site provides useful information on what students can expect at a U.S. Port of Entry, as well as important information about immigration documents. The link called "I-515A Tool Kit" provides information to help you understand what documents you need to carry with you when arriving in the U.S., and anytime you travel outside of the U.S.
  • Inform the CBP Officer at the port of entry that you are a new or returning student or exchange visitor.
  • Report to your school or program upon arrival so that your school official can validate your participation in SEVIS.
  • Maintain contact with your designated school or sponsor official throughout your stay to ensure your SEVIS data is updated and accurate.


Mandatory Check In After Arrival
All international graduate students must check in with International Graduate Student Services (IGSS) in the Graduate School after arrival (Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown). Please bring your passport, I-94 document, I-20 or DS-2019 form with you for this process. Your SEVIS record will be activated only after you check in with the IGSS. Failure to check in may result in the de-activation/cancellation of your SEVIS record and could potentially cause problems with your ability to stay in the U.S.

Make sure that you have provided a copy of any external funding documents, like government funding letters, to the University Bursar's Office. This is REQUIRED so that your sponsoring agency can be billed for tuition and fees in a timely manner.

Orientation Programs
Orientation programs are offered for all new students, both by academic departments and the Graduate School.

We are glad that you chose Virginia Tech for your academic pursuits. We look forward to you joining the Virginia Tech community.