Information for New International Graduate 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.

Quick Links
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.
  • Be in legal status, eligible for transfer, if already in the U.S. Submit transfer information form signed by current international student advisor.
  • Complete the Immigration Information Form, and provide a copy of your passport ID page.
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 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 -- SEVIS Fee Payment
  • Read about the student visa process at the U.S. Department of State website to learn what to expect from the paperwork and the interview.
  • Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee at least three days before 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.
  • New international students cannot enter the US more than 30 days before the Program Start Date on the I-20 or DS-2019 form. Please make your travel plans with this restriction in mind.
Medical Records and Immunication History Form Requirement
All new students entering Virginia Tech are required to submit a completed immunization history form 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. This is required by Virginia state law, and students who do not comply will receive a medical hold on their record that will block their registration for spring semester classes.You can phone 540-231-6444 if you have questions. It is highly recommended that new international students sign up for an Orientation to Healthcare and Immunization History Review session offered by the Schiffert Health Center to learn about student healthcare at Virginia Tech, tour the facilities, and have their immunization history form reviewed.
Health Insurance Requirements
All international students and their accompanying family members 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,110 New Student Services Building,  (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 student records. See Insurance Requirements for International Students for more information.

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.
  • Visit the website for U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement to find useful information on what students can expect at a U.S. Port of Entry, as well as information about immigration documents. The link called "I-515A Tool Kit" provides information about what documents you need to carry with you when arriving in the U.S., and anytime you travel outside of the U.S.
  • 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. Provide a copy of any external sponsorship documents, such as government or other agency funding letters, to the University Bursar's Office. This is necessary so that your sponsoring agency can be billed for tuition and fees in a timely manner.
English Placement Test
It is Graduate School policy to administer an English placement test (EPT) to international students with TOEFL scores below certain minimums. The VT Language and Culture Institute manages this exam on behalf of the Graduate School. EPT sessions are offered during the orientation period prior to the beginning of classes. Learn more about the requirement and register for a test date online. You can register for a test session here.
Teach and Speak Test for International GTA's
It is Graduate School policy to administer a teach and speak test to new  international teaching assistants who will have teaching responsibilities in the classroom or lab. No oral testing is required for GTA's who have grading duties only, or who have scored 26 or higher on the Speaking subtest of the internet-based TOEFL (iBT).

For the TEACH Test, each student will give a mini-lecture (10-15 min.) on a topic chosen by the student in his/her academic field at the undergraduate level. The SPEAK test is an institutional version of the Test of Spoken English (TSE), consisting of 12 tape-recorded questions on a variety of topics, with timed responses, ranging from 30 to 90 sec. Students must sign up online for a 30-minute individual appointment.

TEACH/SPEAK Testing Dates: TBA

Orientation Programs

Orientation programs are offered for all new students, both by academic departments and the Graduate School. There will be a mandatory immigration session for all new international students.