Grad students with a professor in the lab

International students from nearly 100 countries choose graduate study at Virginia Tech. In addition to the items on the new student checklist, international students must prepare for immigration to the U.S., take an immigration orientation online, and submit certain documentation. Here are the steps to take after you receive acceptance to a Virginia Tech graduate program .

For Students Not Currently in the U.S.

International students who have been accepted into a graduate program at the Blacksburg campus must supply the following documents before an I-20 or DS-2019 form can be issued so you can apply for F-1 or J-1 visa status. Students accepted for the National Capital Region must contact NCR for assistance.

After you are admitted by the Graduate School, the following documents can be submitted before June 1 (fall admission) and November 1 (spring admission):

  • Completed Immigration Information Form
  • Copy of passport ID page (with name and date of birth included)
  • Proof of sufficient funds to cover educational and living expenses for the first year.

How to submit documents (submit each document by one method only): 

  • Fax to 540-231-3714; or  

  • Upload through the admission application portal in Section 4, Other File Uploads. 

    • If you haven't been accepted by the Graduate School yet, the "Other File Uploads" section will only show [Thesis, Paper Presentations, Publications, and Other] as available document types. Do not use any of these to upload immigration documents; wait until the admission decision has been made, which will expand the document upload options to include immigration and financial documents as well. 

For Students Already Studying in the U.S.

International students in F-1 or J-1 visa status who are currently enrolled in another higher education institution in the United States may transfer to our Blacksburg or National Capital Region campuses. In addition to the documents listed above, submit:

School code for transferring to VT Blacksburg campus: 

WAS214F01228001 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University -- Graduate School (for F-1 students)

P-1-00071 program number (for J-1 students)


When to Expect Your Immigration Document

  • Allow 2-3 weeks for processing documents; after all required documents are received and accepted, an I-20 or DS-2019 form will be issued.
  • Learn about your mailing options and let us know how you want us to mail your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Immigration forms for the fall semester are issued and mailed between March and July; forms for the spring semester are issued between October and December. Forms for transfer students who are already in the U.S. may be issued until a week before classes begin.
  • You will receive an email notice from IGSS when the I-20 or DS-2019 form has been issued and shipped or is ready for pick up. The email includes your SEVIS number, our school code, and additional details.
  • Allow three to four months for your visa application and approval process from the date you receive the I-20 or DS-2019 form.  
  • 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.
  • New international students cannot enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date on their I-20 or DS-2019 form.

What to Carry with You

Hand carry the following documents, instead of putting them in your checked luggage:

  • Your passport
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 form
  • Evidence of financial resources (See Financial Requirements page for details)
  • Evidence of student or exchange visitor status, such as transcripts or admission letter
  • Paper receipt for SEVIS fee (if applicable)
  • The name and contact information of your designated school official or program sponsor

Visit the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement website for information on what students can expect at a U.S. Port of Entry, as well as information about immigration documents.  

Mandatory Check-In

All new international graduate students must complete a mandatory check-in process after arrival. Follow the instructions on our website to prepare for check-in.

Your SEVIS record will be activated only after you complete the check-in.  Failure to check in may result in the de-activation/cancellation of your SEVIS record and could mean you are no longer able to legally stay in the U.S.

Applying for Social Security Number (SSN)

If you secured on-campus employment in the form of an assistantship of wage position, you will need to apply for a Social Security Number. Before you can go to the Social Security Office to apply, the following steps must be done:

  • Complete the mandatory immigration check-in online
  • Wait until you receive an email from IGSS verifying that your check-in has been approved; wait 1-2 weeks to allow the SEVIS update to reach the Social Security Office
  • Pick up your SSN application support letter from the Graduate School after you receive the check-in approval email
  • Get an employment verification letter from the department that hired you

International GTAs

International Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) with teaching responsibilities in the lab or classroom must have at least one of the following credentials:

  • TOEFL (iBT) scores of 26 or higher on the speaking subtest
  • IELTS score of 8 or higher
  • Earned a bachelor's degree from a university in the U.S.

Visit our online student guide to learn about all the details of getting started as a student, from getting your PID, registering for classes, dates and deadlines, housing in Blacksburg, and more.


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

Medical Records and Immunization History Form Requirement

  • Students who do not comply with this requirement will receive a medical hold on their record. Contact Schiffert Health Center at (540) 231-6444 with questions.

Health Insurance Requirements

  • Aetna provides an insurance plan for Virginia Tech students that meets the minimum university requirements. Students must be enrolled full-time to qualify (final semester exceptions may apply).

  • Contact Student Medical Insurance with any questions about the insurance policy, eligibility, and costs:

    • Student Medical Insurance
      110 New Student Services Building
      (540) 231-6226,

Welcome Events and Services

The Graduate School offers welcome events and services to help new students get acquainted with studying in the U.S. and at Virginia Tech.  Learn more about orientation and welcome events here.