Information for Newly Admitted International Students (pre-arrival)

All new international students, regardless of their visa status, are required to complete a clearance process with the International Student Advisor prior to enrollment.  To clear your record for registration, you will need to present your passport and immigration documents, satisfy Shenandoah University insurance requirements, and complete several forms required by the University. USCIS (immigration) requires the Coordinator of ICC to keep copies of your immigration documents in our files and to record your address. Please bring your passport, visa, I-20 Form or DS-2019 Form to our office as soon as you arrive on campus.

In Preparing To Come To Shenandoah University

The four most important steps that you must complete to facilitate your transition are:

Step One

Obtaining Your F-1 Visa

Take your SEVIS I-20 Form, your Shenandoah University acceptance letter and your financial support documents (bank statements, scholarship awards), to the nearest U.S. Consulate to apply for your F-1 Student visa.

The actual forms that the U.S. Consulate will require, the process to follow, and fees which will be incurred vary considerably from country to country. You will probably need to demonstrate the following:

  • That you intend to go to the U.S. for the purpose of study at the school whose SEVIS I-20 Form you use to obtain a visa
  • That you have sufficient funds (money) to cover all the costs of your study in the U.S.
  • That you intend to return to your home country when your studies are completed.

It is best to enter the United States with an F-1 Student visa. It is very difficult to change from a different visa category to F-1 student status once you are in the U.S.

Entering the United States: Immigration & Customs

With the proper visa, you should have no problems entering the US to study. However, here are a few issues to be aware of:

  1. At your first place of entry into the United States, you will need to show the United States Bureau of Citizen and Immigration Service Officer (USCIS Agent) the same documents that you presented at the U.S. Consulate Office (in your country) when obtaining your visa. Be sure that you obtain the Form I-94 and page 3 of the I-20 form with the U.S. Immigration stamp on the top, right comer.
  2. Please note that since you will not be able to get your luggage until after you have gone through U.S. Immigration, be sure you have your passport and I-20 Form on your person. If you pack these documents in your luggage, you will not have them when you need to enter the US. It is also a good idea to have copies of your financial documents (photocopies will be OK at this point) in case the USCIS agent has any questions.
  3. The USCIS agent may ask a few questions to determine that you are actually entering the U.S. to attend Shenandoah University. Do not be intimidated by the questions-just answer them honestly. As long as you have followed the correct procedures at the consulate where you obtained your visa, you should have no problems.
  4. You are allowed to bring your personal items into the U.S. If you are bringing over $10,000 of money in any form (such as cash or bank draft) this must be declared to the U.S. Customs Service. You will not be charged any fee to bring in the funds, but you are required to declare the amount.
  5. Also, be aware that most types of food cannot be brought into the U.S. without a license. If you have questions about what you can and cannot bring with you, ask for information at the U.S. Consulate when you apply for your visa.
  6. Special Information for Students from Canada and the Bahamas: You do not need to obtain a visa prior to applying for entry into the United States. You should insure that you have the necessary information that the US Immigration Service “may require.” You will need to show your I-20 Form at the border and proof of your finances. Be sure to have both items with you when you attempt to enter this country or you may be denied admission.

Make sure that the Immigration officer gives you an I-94 card and returns your I-20 to you. Check to see that both are stamped F-1.

Airport Information

A driver from AES Limousine Service can meet you at any one of the three three Washington, DC area airports: Dulles International Airport (IAD), Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA), or Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). Dulles International Airport is definitely the most convenient of the three airports. National and BWI airports are about a 2 hour drive to our campus depending on traffic.

If you are a first-time student arriving for your first semester at Shenandoah University, the university will arrange for transportation from one of the airports mentioned above to the campus.  In order to request this pick-up, you must complete and submit the online request form.

If you have made a reservation to be picked up, the driver from AES meeting you will be at the International Arrival area for Dulles and BWI airports or at the baggage claim area for National Airport. If you have a problem making contact with the person meeting you, call AES at (800) 832-6561 or (540) 667-8303.

If you already cleared U.S. Customs and Immigration at a different airport in the USA before arriving at the Washington, DC. area airport, the AES driver will meet you at the baggage claim area for your flight.

Hotel Information

If you come to Shenandoah prior to the August 16th or 17th arrival date, you will be expected to stay at a local motel. Visit the hotels page for more information about local hotels.

Arrival on Campus

When you arrive at the Shenandoah University campus, please first come to the International Cross-Cultural Center on the first floor of Cooley Hall. If you are arriving in the evening or on weekends, contact the Office of Campus Safety at (540) 678-4444 or visit their office located in Armstrong Hall to be let into your residence hall.