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All newly admitted international students are required to complete the International Student Visa Documentation process in order to receive visa-eligibility documentation (I-20/DS-2019) and/or clearance to enroll at Penn State. The following is an overview of this process (additional details are provided to the student as they progress through the steps):

  1. Apply to Penn State

    We no longer require any visa or immigration related documentation at the time of application. The following will detail how and when that documentation will need to be submitted.
  2. Accept your offer of admission

    Undergraduate Students do this by paying their acceptance fees. Please log on to your MyPennState Profile to complete this step or contact Undergraduate Admissions if additional information or assistance is needed.
  3. Access iStart to complete on-line International Student Visa Documentation process

    Once DISA/Pre-Arrival Advising has been notified that you have accepted your offer, we will contact you via email to provide you with a set of instructions and a link so that you can access our secure on-line system (iStart). The system will then guide you through a series of sections or eForms as you are asked to enter biographical and immigration-related information and upload required documentation (ex. visas, passports, bank statements and Affidavits of Support).

    Please note:
    • All newly admitted international students need to complete this process.
    • International students who are not requesting an I-20/DS-2019 do not need to provide any financial information.
    • The process to request an I-20 for F1 visa or a DS-2019 for J1 visa is the same.
    • You cannot access iStart until our office receives notification that you have accepted your offer of admission/paid your acceptance fees.

      Financial Guarantee Requirements for International Students

           - Bringing dependents: If you will be accompanied by dependents (spouse and/or children), you will be fully responsible for their support and additional funds are required. University stipends (for graduate students) are not sufficient to cover dependents’ expenses and are not intended to do so.
  4. Case review

    Once all required documentation has been submitted, DISA/Pre-Arrival Advising will review your case. If all documentation is in order, the review process can take approximately 2-3 weeks (depending on the current volume of cases).

    Please note:
    • You may be required to provide additional information and/or documentation as a part of this review process, which may further delay issuance of an I-20/DS-2019. Please keep this in mind as you plan to schedule your visa interview.
    • DISA/Pre-Arrival Advising will not begin the review process until you have completed all of the required sections or eForms within iStart.
  5. Case decision

    • If you requested an I-20/DS-2019, you will receive an email notification when your case has been approved.
    • If you did not request an I-20/DS-2019, you will receive an email notification when you have been cleared by our office to register for classes.
    • If you are coming to Penn State from another U. S. Institution, you will receive an email notification and SEVIS release form when you have been pre-approved to receive an I-20/DS-2019. However, our office will be unable to prepare a new I-20 or DS-2019 document for you until after you have completed study at your current school or have completed any period of academic training (CPT/OPT) and your record has been released to The Pennsylvania State University within SEVIS.
  6. Request shipment of I-20/DS-2019

    Unless you specifically choose “express mail” as your mailing option, all documents will be mailed through the regular postal system. Regular first-class mail takes about 3-8 days within the U.S. and first-class, air mail takes about 2-5 weeks to addresses outside the United States. Express mail, however is usually delivered within 1 week after the document has been prepared for shipping. Express Mail Instructions

    Please note:
    • You can request a shipment for delivery of an I-20/DS-2019 at any time during the review process. However, requesting a shipment before you have been notified of our decision will not have any impact on when your case is reviewed. Your shipment will be processed as soon as we have completed our review and prepared the document(s) for shipping.