ISSS office walk-in advising hours: Mondays: 12:00 noon - 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Bakar, Senem S
Director, International Student & Scholar Services
410 Butler Pavilion Washington, DC, USA 20016-8041 United States
We have designed this pre-arrival guide to help you obtain your student visa and prepare you for your arrival in the United States, in Washington, DC, and at American University. Please review this guide and let us know what questions we can answer as you prepare to join the American University community.
Step 1: Request immigration documents and pay SEVIS fee
After you are admitted to American University, International Student & Scholar Services will begin the process to issue your immigration documents. Please see the Immigration Process page for additional details. After you receive your immigration documents in the mail, you will need to pay the SEVIS Fee before applying for your visa.
Step 2: Apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa
You will need to apply for your visa at a US Embassy or Consulate outside the US. Please the the Visa Application and Renewal page for guidance. Additional information is available from Education USA.
Step 3: Activate your MyAU Portal account and regularly check your new AU email account
Activating your portal account is easy. Please follow these simple instructions:
- Go to https://myau.american.edu
- Click on "Create your Account," then on "I am a Student"
- Follow the instructions to create your account. You will be prompted to enter the 7-digit American University ID number that you received with your admittance letter from the Admissions Office.
- Complete the quick tutorial to learn about the benefits of using the portal.
- Access your american.edu email account by logging in to myau.american.edu, then clicking the "Email" link in the top right corner of the screen. Enter the same user name and log-in again. Please begin checking this email account regularly.
If you are having trouble activating your account or logging on to the portal, contact the university's Information Technology Help Desk by phone, email, or chat.
Step 4: Pre-register for classes
Contact your academic advisor in your department for information about the course registration process. It is important to register for your classes before you arrive on campus to start the semester.
Step 5: Register for orientation
American University provides an extensive orientation program for new students beginning the week before classes start to help make your transition to the university as smooth as possible. The ISSS orientation page has information about your orientation dates and the pre-registration process.
Step 6: Immunization and insurance
Students under the age of 26 must show proof of immunizations upon arrival at American University. Students over the age of 26 do not need to submit proof of immunization. Immunization forms can be found on the Student Health Center website. Immunization records must be in English or accompanied by an English translation.
All students are required to hold American University health insurance unless proof of adequate private health insurance is given. American University health insurance meets all university and immigration requirements. To enroll for American University health insurance, please submit the enrollment form.
F-1 students: your private health insurance must meet all university requirements (PDF). If your private insurance meets all university requirements and you would like to waive American University health insurance, please fill out and submit the university online waiver. If your waiver is accepted, the health insurance fee is removed from your student account.
J-1 students: your private health insurance must meet all university requirements (PDF) and all immigration requirements. The U.S. Department of State requires all J-1 visa holders to maintain a health insurance that meets certain minimum requirements for themselves and J-2 dependents for the entire period of their program at American University.
If your private insurance meets all university and immigration requirements and you would like to waive American University health insurance, please follow the steps below:
- Fill out the Exchange Visitor Insurance Verification e-form available on iEagle. ISSS will review your request. If approved, please proceed to the next step.
- Fill out the university online waiver. If your waiver is accepted, the health insurance fee is removed from your student account.
For more information on university requirements and the university online waiver, please contact the Student Health Center. For more information on immigration requirements, please contact ISSS.
Step 7: Prepare your finances
- Tuition Payment is due one month before classes begin. For deadlines and other information, please visit the Student Accounts website. Payments can be made using wire transfers, cash, credit card, and check.
- Monthly Payment Plans are offered by American University. For more information see the American Payment Plan website.
- For more information about tuition payment, billing, tuition refund insurance, and other related information, please visit the office of Student Accounts website or call AU Central at +1-202-885-8000.
- Travel and Relocation Costs: As a student coming to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status, you have demonstrated to the U.S. government that you can finance your education without working in the United States. Before you leave, you should determine how much money you will need for the first weeks of your stay on campus.
- Social Security Numbers for Employment and Merit Awards: Students authorized to work or receive university graduate merit awards with a work component are eligible for a Social Security number.
Step 8: Plan for housing
One of the most important things you will have to take care of before you start your studies in the United States is finding a place to live. This is an important decision since it will be one of your biggest expenses and will affect your personal and academic adjustment.
On-campus Housing: Please see the Housing & Residence Life website or contact them by phone at +1-202-885-3370.
Off-campus Housing: For an extensive list of Washington, D.C., area off-campus housing links, including roommates, group houses, apartments, and more, please visit the Off-Campus Housing Resources website.
Step 9: Prepare for travel
American University expects you to report to school in time for orientation and to register for classes.
You are allowed to enter the United States no more than 30 days before the start date listed on the I-20 or DS-2019. You will not be able to enter the United States after the start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 document. If you are facing unexpected delays in arriving, notify the ISSS office as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Do not enter the United States on a B-2 tourist visa or visa waiver. These visas are not acceptable for the purpose of full-time studies in the United States.
Carry the following documents with you on the plane:
- Passport with your F-1 or J-1 visa
- SEVIS form I-20 or DS-2019 (in a sealed envelope - it is important that you DO NOT open this envelope)
- Evidence of financial resources
- Evidence of student or exchange visitor status, such as letter of acceptance, tuition receipts or transcripts
- Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee
- Contact information for International Student and Scholar Services
- Inform the immigration officer at the port of entry that you will be a student in the United States to ensure that you are admitted with student status
Detailed information about Washington, DC transportation options and additional arrival information is available on the transportation webpage.
Step 10: Check in at ISSS
After arriving in the United States, you must complete on-line immigration check-in. Depending on what orientation you are attending, specific check-in instructions will be emailed to you.
You may also come to the ISSS office to do immigration check-in. We are located on main campus in Butler Pavilion #410, in the Office of Campus Life suite. You can get to the office by taking the elevator in the tunnel by Bender Arena to the 4th floor of Butler Pavilion. ISSS is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and there is always an advisor available for walk-in appointments. We look forward to meeting you in person!