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New Student Pre-Arrival Checklist

Due to the impact of COVID-19, ISSS is currently issuing forms I-20 electronically to newly admitted F-1 students. Forms DS-2019 must still be sent in hard copy to new J-1 students. Once your I-20 or DS-2019 has been issued to you, review it for accuracy and sign it where indicated. Contact ISSS right away if any corrections are needed. Keep in mind that you will need the printed and signed 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 U.S. Consulate. You should review and take action on each of the steps below before making your departure for the U.S. 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

New and returning students will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the 2021–22 academic school year. The requirement applies to all undergraduate,  graduate  and professional students this fall, and it will be handled in a manner consistent with other university policies governing student vaccine requirements. Students can find additional information on the student vaccination requirement on the Vanderbilt Health and Safety Protocols site. We also recommend reviewing the International Students & Students Arriving from Abroad Arrival Testing and Vaccination Information page.

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: Submit your SEVIS Check-In documents in the ISSS Portal
All initial students will need to complete a SEVIS Check-in upon arrival into the U.S. Please plan to do this within the first 7 days of your entry to the country. To complete your check in, submit the New Student/Scholar Document Upload form in the ISSS portal after you have arrived in the U.S. and retrieved your I-94.

The following help sheets will help you get this completed:

Once you have completed updating your information and uploading your documentsplease be sure to click submit. An ISSS advisor will review your information and report your arrival in your SEVIS record.

Step 10: Attend International Student Orientation on January 6, 2022
Incoming students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are also required to an orientation with ISSS. This orientation will go over important information about your visa, status maintenance, and employment options. This session will be held on Thursday, January 6, from 11 AM to 1 PM. Lunch will be provided at this session. All incoming students in F-1 or J-1 status must attend.

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!