Getting ready to study in the USA for international students: tips on visas, finances, and more

Published: Jun 18, 2021, Updated: Jun 18, 2021 | Tags: Student Visas, USA Visa

The start of the new US academic semester is just around the corner, and after a year that's been challenging, international students are starting to prepare everything they require to get started. The United States is a very popular option for those seeking to continue their education, and some may choose to apply for permanent residency after graduating. When international students move to the US, they are required to bring several items to be sure of a stress-free transition. To make things easier, we've made a checklist of all the essentials, as well as tips and resources for international students moving to the US.

Checklist for US international students

Planning your finances

Before starting the process of applying for a student visa for the US, you need to be sure that you have the finances in place to equip you to study in the United States. As a general rule, international students studying in the US pay higher tuition fees than US citizens. Therefore, about a year before you plan to make a move, think about applying for financial aid and any scholarships that might be available to you. You might also consider working part-time alongside your studies.

Your acceptance letter, applying for your student visa, and gathering documents

F and M students studying in the United States require Form I-20, the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. Once you have been accepted on a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program)- certified school, you will receive Form I-20 from your DSO (Designated School Official).

If you plan to bring any dependents with you to the US, they will each require Form l-20. The type of student visa you may apply for will be dictated by your chosen course of study (Academic and Language or Vocational). Form l-20 must be signed by you and your DSO. For minors under the age of 18, the form must be signed by a parent or guardian.

Now you can apply for your United States student visa. We advise starting the application process at least ten months before the start of your studies, as the process can be lengthy. Due to the Covid-10 pandemic, applications may currently take over a year to be processed.

You will now be required to attend an immigration interview in your home country. You will need to bring several documents with you, including:

  • A valid passport
  • Confirmation page form DS-160
  • Student Visa Certificate
  • Application fee receipt
  • Photo of yourself

We recommend scanning and saving important documents, including copies of travel documents and credit cards, but carrying the originals with you. The school or college you will attend may also request additional documents, so gather together as much evidence as you can to prove your school acceptance and student visa approval.

Health insurance

International students in the United States are required to have health insurance. Ask your agent to assist you or contact an insurance agent directly. In addition, many schools have their own rules regarding health insurance, so be sure to check the information provided by your school's international student office.


As soon as your immigration interview has been successfully completed, it's time to start making plans for student accommodation. US colleges offer accommodation either in student dorms (on-campus) or in private homes off-campus. International students often prefer to live in student housing, at least for the first year. It's an excellent way to make new friends, and you won't have far to go to your classes. If you opt to live off-campus, expect to pay a rental deposit, and remember that you will also have to budget for utility bills.

Setting up banking

If you receive financial assistance, it will probably come as a check or be deposited straight into your account. But it can be difficult for international students to open a bank account. Banks have differing requirements, but you'll most likely need proof of ID, your address, your source of income, and your Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number. Your school's international student office or admission officer will be able to provide you with bank transfer details.

Employment for international students

Many international students boost their finances by combining their studies with part-time employment. For example, students with an F-1 visa can work on-campus during tier first academic year, and during their subsequent studies, they can seek paid employment off-campus.

Tips for making your move as smooth as possible

  • Scan your most important documents and save them in your email or Dropbox.
  • Keep a list of all your contacts' addresses, emails, and telephone numbers, both online and in a separate notebook.
  • Do as much research as you can online before you move. For example, find out where the nearest public transport links are and how to get to the closest supermarkets, stores, and medical facilities.


This article has reviewed topics of relevance to international students visiting the United States. It's important for students to get their finances and insurance in order, alongside academic related matters. Doing so will ensure a smooth experience for the start and throughout their academic experience in the United States.



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