New International Students

The International Student and Scholars Services (ISSS) office supports international students in securing the immigration paperwork needed to apply for an F-1 or J-1 student visa for qualifying academic programs at Drexel University.

After an international student has been admitted to Drexel and has confirmed their intent to enroll, they will receive an email with instructions on how to proceed with applying for a U.S. visa.

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 U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
  5. Student is granted a visa by a U.S. 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-U.S. 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 common 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 the student 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. The ability to obtain work authorization is especially important to students in Drexel academic programs that have a co-op requirement. For more information on working in the U.S., please refer to the Employment Information.

Students in an F-1 visa status are also allowed to sponsor dependents (i.e. spouse and children) to live with them in the U.S. as long as they provide proof of sufficient financial resources. F-2 dependents cannot work, though they may study part-time while in the U.S.

While not as common as the F-1 student visa, the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa category can also be used for certain students who meet special requirements for this visa type.

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. An exception to this rule exists for students that are enrolled in an official exchange program with Drexel University or a government organization.

The J-1 visa requires students to be enrolled full-time. J-1 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 dependents can work while staying in the U.S. but must first apply for and receive employment authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Any income earned by J-2 visa holders may not be used to financially support the J-1 principal visa-holder's program costs.

Certain J-1 visa-holders may be subject to a two-year home-country foreign residency requirement (also known as 212(e)). Students receiving government funding or pursuing a major on their home country's skills list are deemed to be subject to this requirement. If this requirement applies, the J-1 visa holder must return to their home country for a cumulative total of two years at the end of the Exchange Visitor program before becoming eligible for certain immigration benefits, including the following:

  • Changing non-immigrant status while in the United States.
  • Adjusting status or applying for an immigrant visa/lawful permanent resident status (LPR).
  • Applying for certain work visas, including H-1B, L-1, etc.

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

An international student that has a valid F-1 or J-1 student visa at another institution may transfer their SEVIS record to Drexel University.

SEVIS Transfer Conditions:

  • The international student must be maintaining valid F-1 or J-1 visa status at the time of the requested transfer.
  • The international student must request a SEVIS transfer release date in a timely manner.
  • The international student must upload a completed Transfer-in form and copy of a valid F-1 or J-1 visa to their DrexelOne portal.

SEVIS Transfer Notes:

  • The F-1 student's program start date at Drexel University must be within five (5) months from the previous institution's program completion date or the first available start date, whichever is sooner.
  • F-1 students that have graduated or are on post-completion OPT must apply for their transfer before the end of the 60-day grace period following either the program completion date on their I-20 or their post-OPT expiration date list on their EAD.
  • J-1 students that have graduated or are on academic training, must transfer their J-1 record prior to the expiration of their current DS-2019 form. Due to the complexity of J-1 transfers, please consult with ISSS regarding your eligibility for transfer prior to initiating this request.
  • If an international student holds employment authorization from their previous institution (on campus, CPT, OPT, academic training, etc.), this authorization will automatically end on the date of the SEVIS transfer release date.

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

International students who have never previously had an F-1 or J-1 visa 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 financial support

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

  • A PDF scan of their previous visa
  • A PDF scan of their previous I-20 or DS-2019 (if previously a J-1 or F-1 visa holder)
  • A Transfer-in Form (if previously a J-1 or F-1 visa holder)

The U.S. government requires that all prospective international students show that they or a sponsor have sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses prior to the I-20 or DS-2019 being issued. Students should review Drexel Central’s cost of attendance for international students to see the current estimated costs of attendance. Students need to show proof of ability to cover expenses for the first academic year of their program.

Before uploading your financial documents to your DrexelOne Portal, please make sure that the financial documents are acceptable and meet the following conditions:

  • The document is typed and in English.
  • The document is on the official bank letter head and is signed by the bank (online account printouts are acceptable if they show the official bank name and address in a logo or heading). 
  • The document is no more than 4 months old.
  • The document names the account holder. 
  • The document lists the currency type shown in the account.
  • The document lists the type of account (ex.: checking, savings). 
  • The document shows the total available balance; only statement summaries are required.
Acceptable Financial Document Types Unacceptable Financial Document Types
  • Checking Accounts
  • Savings Accounts
  • Current and Money Market Accounts
  • Income/Salary Statements, Tax Return Forms
  • Stocks, Bonds, Investments
  • Pensions, Retirement Funds, Life Insurance Policies
  • Real Estate, Trust Funds, Credit Card Statements

Fixed Deposit, Fixed Term, and Time Deposits
(with a maturity date before the program begins OR that shows that funds can be accessed at any time)

Fixed Deposit, Fixed Term, and Time Deposits
(with a maturity date that is after the program begins)

Official Scholarship Award Letters
(that clearly state what the award includes such as tuition, fees, books, health insurance, and stipends)

Unofficial scholarship offers sent via email
(OR award letter without clear details on what the award includes)
Approved Educational Loan Letters
  • Loan application forms
  • Unapproved or Conditionally Approved Education Loans

Please note: Submitting unacceptable financial documents and/or insufficient proof of funds will delay the issuance of your I-20/DS-2019. Be prepared to show the financial documents you provide to obtain your I-20/DS-2019 during your visa interview.

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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