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Before You Arrive

Please review the Pre-Arrival Checklist below that corresponds to your status. You should have all of the items on the checklist completed prior to arriving on campus for International Orientation.

International Orientation is held the week before classes begin. See the Orientation Schedule for details. You should make your travel arrangements so that you arrive on campus in time to attend all mandatory events. There is no orientation event for summer admits. If you are an international student beginning in the summer semester, you should check in with ISSS shortly after arriving on campus by visiting ISSS on the second floor of Fell Hall.

We look forward to meeting you soon. Welcome to Illinois State and the Global Redbirds family!

Explore Before You Arrive

      1. Getting Your Visa

Pre-Arrival Checklist

  • F/J Students
  • Exchange Students
  • J Scholars/Interns
  • Receive an email from ISSS that includes your ISU account information and important scholar resources. Read through the resources and review your ISU account information.
  • J-1 Scholars should review the Visiting Scholar Handbook for information regarding your program, visa, and life at ISU.
  • J-1 Student Interns should review the Student Intern Pre-Arrival Guide.
  • Receive your welcome letter and DS-2019 document from ISU. Email or call +1 (309) 438-5112 if you have questions regarding your initial DS-2019 document.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee
  • Schedule your visa appointment at a U.S. consulate and obtain your exchange visitor visa.
  • Make travel arrangements to arrive on campus so that you will be able to start your program on the program start date listed on your DS-2019. If you will not be able to arrive in time for the start of your program, notify ISSS.
  • Make housing arrangements with assistance (if applicable) from your host faculty/department.
  • Activate your ULID.
  • Bring your immigration documents with you in your carry-on luggage: passport, visa, DS-2019, SEVIS fee receipt.
  • Email once you have arrived on campus so that your Scholar Orientation can be scheduled.


Before applying for their student visa, students must first pay a SEVIS fee. SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, and it is the system that the government uses to keep track of international students and scholars. To pay the SEVIS fee, you must file and submit an I-901 Fee Remittance form online. When you have completed the form, be sure to print and retain the receipt. You will need to show this receipt when you attend your visa interview in person.

Choose one of the following options to make the SEVIS payment:

  • Online (recommended): Visit to complete the form and pay with a credit card.
  • Western Union: If there is a Western Union location in your country, you may pay the fee in your local currency and file your I-901 form there. You must take your fee payment, completed I-901 form, and other immigration documents to the Western Union location. Learn more.

After paying the SEVIS fee, students will need to make an appointment to apply for a student visa.