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Immigration and Pre-arrival Process

Are you requesting an F-1 or J-1 visa to study at American University? Please see our choosing between F-1 and J-1 visa page if you need help on deciding what visa to apply for.

We have designed this guide to help you obtain your immigration document and student visa and prepare you for your arrival in the United States, in Washington, DC, and at American University. Please review the below and let us know what questions we can answer as you prepare to join the American University community.

Before Obtaining an I-20/DS-2019

You must first be admitted to American University before your admissions office can send a request to ISSS to process the I-20 or DS-2019 on your behalf.

After you are admitted, submit your deposit if required by your admissions office. Please refer to the instructions provided in the package you received from your admissions office. 

If you need information on applying to AU, AU Admissions can answer all of your questions related to the application process.

Activating your portal account is easy and allows you to receive important communication from the ISSS office. 

Please follow these simple instructions:

  1. Go to https://myau.american.edu.
  2. Click on the "Students" link next to "New to AU? Create your account".
  3. Click "Create Student Account" on the next webpage.
  4. 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.
  5. Complete the quick tutorial to learn about the benefits of using the portal.
  6. Access your american.edu email account by logging in to myau.american.edu, then click the "Email" link in the top right corner of the screen. Enter the same username and log-in again. Please begin checking this email account regularly.

If you are having trouble activating your account or logging in to the portal, contact the university's Information Technology Help Desk by phone, email, or chat.

F-1 students are required to submit financial documents to demonstrate the ability to meet financial obligations for the first year of their program of study (including tuition, fees, and living expenses) before American University can issue the immigration document form I-20 needed to apply for an F-1 student visa.

J-1 students are required to submit financial documents to demonstrate the ability to meet financial obligations for the entire length of their program of study (including tuition, fees, and living expenses) before American University can issue a DS-2019 needed to apply for a J-1 student visa.

Both F-1 and J-1 students must submit the following to their admissions office:

  1. Complete Certification of Finances for International Students (CFIS) Form (PDF)
  2. Supporting official financial proof
  3. Complete Additional Sources of Funds Form (PDF) if you have additional sources

For the estimated costs for your program of study and sample financial documents, please review our Cost Guides and our Financial Documents page, respectively.

Immigration Transfers must also complete the F-1 or J-1 Immigration Transfer-in form in iEagle.

Once you have submitted these documents, your admissions office will send ISSS a request to process your I-20 or DS-2019. For questions on the admission process, please contact your admissions office directly.

Note: This information has been updated to reflect new processes during COVID-19 based on guidance received from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Your I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued within 2 weeks from the time the ISSS office receives acceptable documents. For F-1 students, we will send an email containing a link to download the I-20 from iEagle once the immigration document has been created. For J-1 students, your admissions office will mail the DS-2019 to you at the address you provided on your CFIS Form or confirmed with the admissions office. 

ISSS will contact you if any questions arise during the review process, which may delay the issuance of your immigration document.

You will receive an email communication after your I-20/DS-2019 issuance that will explain next steps. For more information, please review the Pre-Arrival Guide for International Students (PDF) and the Immigration Documents video in iEagle

After Obtaining an I-20/DS-2019

Before applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa, all first-time visa applicants are required to pay the SEVIS fee in addition to the visa application fee. Please print and save the SEVIS fee payment receipt.

After you receive your immigration document and pay the SEVIS fee, you will apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa at the US Embassy or Consulate in your country. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for information on how to apply for your F-1 visa or J-1 visa. See our Tips for a Successful Visa Interview and Visa Wait Times for more information. 

Additional guidance can be found on our Visa Application and Renewal page and Education USA.

Contact your academic advisor for information about the course registration process. It is important to register for your classes before you arrive on campus to start the semester.

ISSS provides an extensive orientation program for new students the week before classes start to help make your transition to the university as smooth as possible. The ISSS orientation page has information about the mandatory International Student Orientation dates and the pre-registration process.

Your program may also have a separate orientation. Please contact your admissions office for more information.

Note: Please review the International Student FAQs to learn about additional health requirements related to COVID-19.

Immunization
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.

Health Insurance
All students are automatically enrolled in and required to hold American University health insurance. American University health insurance meets all university and immigration requirements. For more information, review the Student Health Insurance page

Waiving American University health insurance is extremely difficult, and approval is not automatic. For more information, please review the waiver information page.

Private health insurance must meet all university requirementsFor J-1 Students, private health insurance must also meet immigration requirements

  • Tuition Payment: please visit the Student Accounts website for deadlines and payment options. Payments can be made using wire transfers, cash, credit card, and check. Tuition refund insurance information is available here.

    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.
  • Monthly Payment Plans are offered by American University. For more information see the American Payment Plan website.
  • Travel and Relocation Costs: Students may accrue additional expenses in the first few weeks of their stay in the U.S. (i.e., during off-campus apartment searches, transportation, household items, other necessities, etc.). Please prepare accordingly.
  • 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. For more information about employment options, please go here

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. Please review their Incoming Residents webpage to see which students are guaranteed on-campus housing. 

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.

Note: Please review the International Student FAQs to learn about general travel and health restrictions during COVID-19 that may affect your travel. 

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.

It is prohibited to pursue academic study in the United States on a B-2 tourist visa or visa waiver. Do not enter the country with these visa types. 

When purchasing your plane tickets, please note the dates from the university's academic calendar and be sure you are arriving in time for your mandatory orientation.

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
  • 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, (202) 885-3350.
  • 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 in student status

Visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for practical information on your arrival and entry into the United States. To learn more, please review the Entry to U.S. and Immigration Responsibilities videos in iEagle

Detailed information about Washington, DC transportation options and additional arrival information is available on the transportation webpage.

After Entering the United States

After arriving in the United States, you must complete mandatory immigration registration in iEagle (ieagle.american.edu). Specific check-in instructions will be emailed to you about this process. In general, you will need to submit photocopies of the following documents: 

  1. Electronic I-94 record  
  2. Biographical page of passport 
  3. F-1/J-1 Visa
  4. I-20/DS-2019 signed by you

You are also required to report your current U.S. address.

Please read all ISSS emails for important immigration information and become familiar with iEagle, your International Student Portal. 

Need Information on Applying to AU?

AU Admissions can answer all of your questions related to the application process.

Contact Admissions