New International Students

After a non-U.S. citizen student has been admitted to Drexel and has confirmed their intent to enroll, ISSS will reach out to them with detailed instructions on how to proceed with assessing their visa needs.

In brief, the order of events after a student is admitted to the university is as follows:

  1. A student confirms their intent to enroll by submitting their nonrefundable tuition deposit through the Discover Drexel portal.
  2. ISSS reaches out to the student with instructions on how to apply for a visa.
  3. Student follows ISSS instructions and is granted a pre-visa document sponsored by Drexel University.
  4. Student uses the pre-visa document and follows the instructions that come with it to apply for a visa at a US embassy or consulate in their home country.
  5. Student is granted a visa by a US embassy or consulate in their home country.
  6. Student carries visa and pre-visa document with them when they enter the U.S. to begin their course of study at Drexel University. 

Non-US citizen students who study at Drexel University can be sponsored by Drexel for one of two types of non-immigrant visas: either F-1 or J-1. Use the chart and descriptions below to help you determine your eligibility.

  F-1 Visa J-1 Visa
Pre-visa document name I-20 DS-2019
Financial Support Unrestricted Majority of financial support must come from a non-personal or familial source
Full-time Enrollment Required Required
May bring Dependents Spouse and/or Children Spouse and/or Children
Spouse may Study Part-time Only Unrestricted
Spouse may work No Yes (with valid EAD Card)

The most popular student visa for Drexel undergraduate and graduate students is the F-1 student visa. The F-1 Visa allows the bearer to enter the U.S. as a full-time student in a degree-granting program and/or language training program. This visa status allows students to remain in the U.S. until the completion of their program.

The F-1 visa enables an international student to work in the U.S. in certain limited circumstances. This is especially important to students in our academic programs with a co-op requirement. For more information on working in the U.S., please refer to our Employment Information.

Students on this visa status are also allowed to bring their dependents (spouse and children) to live with them in the U.S. as long as they provide proof of sufficient financial resources. F-2 spouses cannot work, thought they may study  part-time while in the U.S.

There is a funding restriction on J-1 visas. Students who pay for all or the majority of the cost of their Drexel studies through scholarships, grants, fellowships, or assistantships from a government-sponsored source or agency, corporate sponsor, or international organization may qualify for the J-1 visa. If the student's funding comes from one of these sources, it does not mean that they are required to seek a J-1 visa! All of the above sources of funding may be used to support either an F-1 or J-1 visa status.

The J-1 Visa requires students to be enrolled full-time. Students can bring their dependents (spouse and children) to live with them in the U.S. as long as they provide proof of sufficient financial resources. J-2 spouses can work while staying in the U.S. but need to obtain permission from the International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Any income earned by J-2 visa holders may be used to support general family expenses, but not the costs associated with the J-1 visa holder themselves.

In order to be eligible for J-2 work authorization, the J-1 visa holders will need to show that they are able to support themselves without the support of J-2 dependents' income.

The J-1 visa carries with it the risk of something called the 212(e) two year home residency requirement. This means that, at the discretion of your home country's government, you may be forced to return to your country of origin upon the completion of your Drexel program and must remain in that country for two years.

Exchange students who are attending Drexel under an exchange agreement between their home institution or government and Drexel University will do so on a J-1 visa

Some students  are currently in the U.S. and are studying at another U.S. institution. They will need to transfer their SEVIS records to Drexel University.

Transfer students cannot have a break between the old school and the new one. They must begin classes the next available quarter/semester. The SEVIS record of the student who has graduated from a college or university in the U.S. must be released to Drexel no more than 60 (for F-1 students) or 30 days (for J-1 students) after their program end-date (as printed on the Form I-20/DS-2019). Otherwise, the status will become invalid.

Drexel University does not accept completed, terminated, inactivated or otherwise invalid SEVIS records.

After gaining admission and confirming attendance to Drexel, students will receive an email from ISSS  instructing them to apply for their I-20 (for an F-1 visa) or a DS-2019 (for a J-1 visa).

Students who have never before had an F-1 or J-1 visa before will be asked to provide:

  • A completed I-20/DS-2019 Application (only available to admitted and confirmed students)
  • A PDF scan of their passport's biographical information page
  • Proof of ability to cover their expenses for the first year of school

Students who have had a U.S. visa before will provide the above, plus:

  • A PDF scan of their previous visa

Students who have had an F-1 or J-1 visa before will provide the above, plus:

  • A PDF scan of their previous I-20 or DS-2019
  • A Transfer-In Form (only available to admitted and confirmed students)

As part of the application for pre-visa documents I-20 or DS-2019, ISSS is required to verify that the student has sufficient financial support to pay for the first year of study. This is done by reviewing documents that demonstrate ability to do so. These documents may be: scholarship letters, bank statements, or other such documents.

The amount of proof a student must show before they are issued their pre-visa document depends upon the varying cost of their program. You can view the full breakdown of costs to use for I-20/DS-2019 documentation at Drexel Central's Cost of Attendance for International Students page.

For detailed instructions, see the Pre-Arrival Handbook below.

For detailed instructions, see the Pre-Arrival Handbook below.

New international students can prepare themselves by reviewing the Pre-Arrival Handbook [PDF]. Within the Pre-Arrival Handbook, you can find information on the following topics:

  • Pre-Arrival Visa Preparation and SEVIS Payment
  • Arriving at Drexel University 
  • New Student Orientation
  • Housing
  • Health Insurance and Immunization
  • Drexel Central (Financial Aid, Bursar's Office, Registrar)
  • Banking/Money Matters
  • Employment Information

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