International Students FAQs

I20's and Visas

Most international students require an F-1 student visa, including those with a graduate assistantship. However, if you are sponsored by another agency such as Fulbright, IIE, your home government, etc; you may require a J-1 visa. More details are available here.

You must submit the International Financial Certification form and the Enrollment Confirmation form. Both of these are available in your online application after you are admitted. Once submitted, we require approximately 2 weeks for I-20 processing. We will contact you via email when your document is ready.

Individuals who currently hold F-1 status must transfer their SEVIS record to the University of Minnesota from their current institution. Detailed instructions are available here:

Visa wait times vary by consulate. Information about wait times is available from the US government here:

Your I-20 document indicates a program start date. Per US immigration regulations, this is the last date that you may enter the US. The first day that you may enter is 30 days prior to your program start date. Within those parameters, you should plan your arrival so that you can rest up from jetlag, attend Immigration Check-In at the ISSS office, and attend any required events or activites at your program.   More information about choosing your arrival date is available from ISSS here:


The US government charges the SEVIS fee to cover the costs associated with administering the student visa program. The fee is required of all new international students before issuance of an entry visa. Information and payment instructions are available here:

Note that you can’t pay the fee until you know your SEVIS ID number.  You will receive your SEVIS ID number when your I-20 document has been prepared.

I-20s are prepared in the SEVIS immigration database, which uses a generic list of major fields.   Often, there isn't an exact match between a U of M major name and the list in SEVIS.  In those cases, we review the field descriptions and select the closest match to your program at the U of M.

After You Arrive

During the month of August, the University provides a shuttle service from the airport to the Minneapolis campus, called the Gopher Chauffeur. Details about this service and other transportation options are available at the links below:

During July and August, the University’s International Reception Center (IRC) offers low-cost  incoming international students. Find more details about the IRC and make a reservation for the IRC here. Information about other temporary housing options is also provided.

After you arrive in Minnesota and before you can register for classes, you must attend an Immigration Check-In session at ISSS. Advance registration is required. Learn more about Immigration Check-In and how to register on the ISSS new student webpage:

All international students must participate in the Global Gopher Online Orientation and Immigration Check-In The Graduate School’s Graduate and Professional Student Welcome and Orientation (link available in late May) is optional, but highly recommended for new student’s. In addition, many departments host program-specific orientation sessions...make sure to check with your program’s coordinator for details.


Both domestic and international students must provide immunization records to the University’s Boynton Health Service. Please visit their website for detailed information about how to submit your immunization record.

International students must complete Immigration Check-In at ISSS before registering for classes. Some students may have other tasks to complete, such as providing transcripts to the graduate admissions office or providing updated English test scores. Your requirements are indicated by “holds” on your student account that prevent registration. More information about registration holds is available here.

Encouraging the enrollment of international students in the University, U.S. student enrollment in universities overseas, and the interchange of Minnesota and foreign university faculty is based on the enlightened self-interest of the University.”

– University of Minnesota Board of Regents Policy on International Education

International Admissions