There is much documentation needed to study in the U.S., including:
- Travel documents
- Passport, including a valid entry stamp
- I-20 or DS-2019
- Employment Authorization Document (“EAD Card”)
Because there are so many types, visa requirements can be confusing. Below is a list and basic definition of each type of visa.
- F-1 Visa
- An F-1 visa is for full-time international students in the United States.
- They can only be obtained from U.S. Embassies and consulates outside of the U.S.
- In order to be eligible for an F-1 visa, you must obtain a form 1-20 from the U.S. institution where you will studying. Your 1-20 will show that you will have financial support (from yourself or elsewhere, such as family) during your stay in the U.S.
- J-1 Visas
- A J-1 visa is for international students studying the in United States as part of an exchange program.
- Students with a J-1 visa must be sponsored by an educational organization, corporation or a section of government.
Beginning in 2011, students from some countries must receive an offer of employment from a sponsoring party. These sponsor include educational organizations, corporations or a section of government. You must get this sponsorship before you apply for a J-1 Visa. These countries include:
- Belarus (the above-mentioned educational organization, corporation or section of government) prior to applying for a J-1 visa.
Students from these countries should allow extra time for the application process.
- H-1B Visas
- An H-1 B visa is typically obtained for employment in the United States. It is not often used by students.
- To get an H-1B visa, you must be working in a special occupation. These jobs include:
- If you are going to study any of these subjects, research H-1 visas. Become familiar with the process of obtaining one.
- B Visas
- B Visas are for international individuals who visit the U.S. temporarily.
- There are two types:
- B-1 visa. This is used by people traveling to the U.S. for business.
- B-2 visa. This is used by people traveling to the U.S. for purposes that are not business-related.
- I-20 or DS-2019
- The I-20 is a form distributed by the school or university where you’ll be studying.
- It contains information for the Department of Homeland Security to process and issue your visa.
- The form DS-2019 does the same thing for who need a J-1 visa.
- The form DS-2019 verifies your information and information on your visa sponsor.
- Employment Authorization Document
- Your Employment Authorization Document (also called the “EAD Card”) permits international individuals to legally work in the United States.
- You can learn more about employment in the “Employment options and protocols” section.
General Pre-Arrival Information and Planning
It can be overwhelming to move to a new place. You must decide what to bring with you. This depends on where you will live:
- On-campus – Housing for students on the school’s grounds
- Off-campus – Housing for students (and sometimes others) away from the school
Most universities require first-year undergraduate students to live on-campus. Many of the things you need are already provided here. Types of on-campus housing include:
- Dormitories (typically called “dorms”)
More information about these types of housing can be found in the Housing section.
Nearly all universities provide basic furniture in campus housing. This includes:
- Desk chair
There are some items you will probably buy when you arrive. These include:
- Sheets. Find out what size the bed is in your new home. You will need to buy sheets to fit that bed. Most on-campus beds are extra-long-twin-sized (approximately 2.03 meters long).
- Blankets. Again, make sure they are the right size.
- Pillow cases
- Laundry materials
- Detergent/clothes soap
- Dryer sheets
- Fabric softener
- Bag for soiled laundry
- Clothing hangers
- Alarm clock
- Rubbish bin
- Shower shoes (these are also called “flip flops”)
- Calling card or cellular telephone (read more about this in the Communication section)
- Plastic storage bins. These are most helpful if they can fit under your bed. Buy plastic bins that aren’t taller than 25 cm.
- Clothing. This will depend on the weather in your school’s region.
- Comb or hairbrush
Many shops in the U.S. specialize in selling these items and others you will need for university housing. The staff at these shops is very knowledgeable. They can answer questions if you’re not sure what you need. You can also order items online from most of these shops. In the U.S., it is very easy to purchase things online and have them delivered if you have a credit card. (Learn about credit cards in the finance section of this orientation). Some of these shops include: