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New Student Pre-Arrival Checklist

Once your I-20 or DS-2019 has been prepared, it will be sent out to you via FedEx. Keep in mind that you will need the original document in hand for your visa interview.

There are several items you will need to take care of as you prepare to make your way to Vanderbilt University and Nashville, Tennessee. Please review the information below for a summary of your next steps while you wait for your F-1 or J-1 visa to be processed by the US Consulate. You should review and take action on each of the steps below before making your departure for the US. Refer back to this document as you make your preparations to arrive at Vanderbilt.

Step 1: Apply for your F-1 or J-1 Visa
You can apply for a U.S. visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate near you. For more information, please refer back to the “Applying for your US visa” article in the Learning Content area of your Initial I-20/DS-2019 Request Application. This article outlines all of the information that you need to be aware of and the steps you need to take to apply for the F-1 or J-1 visa. You can also find more information on our website. To navigate back to the Learning Content articles in your application, log in to the ISSS Portal and select “My Home” from the “User Menu.” This will take you to your profile home page where you can access all of your applications.

Step 2: Make Travel Arrangements
Review the program start dates listed on your I-20/DS-2019 and make sure to check for any program specific orientation dates that you may be required to attend before purchasing your tickets. Remember that the federal regulations allow F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors to enter the US no earlier than 30 days prior to the program start date on the I-20 or DS-2019. Keep this in mind when scheduling your flights.

Step 3: Complete the Pre-Arrival Form
Once you have booked your tickets, complete the Pre-Arrival Form to inform the university of your arrival plans.

Step 4: Confirm Your Housing Arrangements 
All undergraduate students are required to live on-campus and should finalize housing assignments with the Office of Housing and Residential Education. We also recommend reviewing the housing information on the Return to Campus website. Undergraduate students should also be sure to follow the instructions regarding tasks to be completed before arriving on campus

Graduate and Professional students should search for available housing and should be prepared to find a permanent residence shortly after arriving to Nashville. For assistance in searching for housing, please visit the Off-campus Housing and Referral Service page or visit our housing resource page for more information.

Step 5: Health Requirements
Review and complete any health requirements and immunizations with the Student Health Center. Read the Health Insurance for International Students article in the Learning Content of your I-20/DS-2019 application in the ISSS Portal for information on what you must do before you arrive on campus. You may need to make an appointment with the Student Health Center when you arrive to complete your immunization requirements. Please contact the Student Health Center directly to confirm if an appointment is needed. We also recommend visiting the following page to view informational videos and Frequently Asked Questions.

Step 6: Review COVID-19 protocols for arriving on campus

All students arriving to campus from an international departure point will need to follow the university policy regarding returning to campus after international travel. Undergraduate students will also need to complete pre-arrival COVID-19 testing before coming to campus for the first time. All students who will be on campus for the fall 2020 semester will also need to complete the Return to Campus Acknowledgment.

Step 7: Sign up for or complete any required placement tests

Review your admission letter and any information from your academic department for information about placement tests or pre-assessments that you may be required to complete. Contact your department or program for additional information if you have questions.

Step 8: Pay Tuition for Your First Semester
All students must pay their financial bills on time to avoid additional charges and/or holds on your course registration, etc. Please visit the Student Accounts website for additional information. You can also contact them directly via email ( if you need assistance.

Step 9: Sign up for a Mandatory SEVIS Check-In
All initial students who will attend in person or hybrid courses this semester will need to complete a SEVIS Check-in with ISSS upon arrival into the U.S. This must be done within the first 7 days of your entry to the country.

Step 10: Prepare for your SEVIS Check-in appointment
Log into the ISSS Portal and upload a copy of your I-20 or DS-2019, passport and visa stamp prior to your arrival at Vanderbilt. Copies of these documents are needed to complete your SEVIS Check-in. You will do this through the New Student/Scholar Document Upload application.

Step 11: Sign up for New Student Information Sessions for new F-1 and J-1 students
ISSS provides informational sessions for F-1 and J-1 students that are new to Vanderbilt University. These sessions are mandatory for new students and provide important information about how to maintain your legal status while you are in the U.S. and at Vanderbilt. Graduate and professional students should be sure to check with their individual school or program for specific orientation programs that you may also be required to complete.

We are sure you have many questions. Please feel free to email us (, and we will be happy to assist you.

Congratulations again on your admission to Vanderbilt! We look forward to meeting you!