International Admissions & Student Visas

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International Admissions & Student Visas

We hope the following guide will serve as a quick reference for UD departments and representatives as they navigate the international admissions and immigration process. However, it is not meant to serve as a replacement for immigration guidance given at ISSS. Please note, immigration regulations are subject to change and can vary on a case-by-case basis. For more information, please contact CGPS.

The following are quick reminders for working with international students. We recommend that you review them as well as the follow up information regarding each of these issues and frequently asked questions.

  • An I-20 or DS-2019 is needed to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa, respectively, at a U.S. consulate/embassy abroad.

  • Admitted students are required to provide proof of financial support along with additional information in order to obtain an I-20/DS-2019 from CGPS.

  • The I-20/DS-2019 start date mirrors the start date of the semester/session in which the student will begin their matriculated degree program, except for students in the Graduate ITA program.

  • New initial F-1/J-1 students may arrive to the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the start date on their I-20/DS-2019.

  • During the fall/spring semesters, full-time enrollment for international graduate students is 9 credits (or 6 credits with graduate contract) and 12 credits for undergraduate students.

  • Graduate students: If a student begins a matriculated degree program during the summer/winter sessions, full-time enrollment is 3 credits in a course that requires the student’s physical attendance.

  • Undergraduate students: If a student begins a matriculated degree program during the summer/winter sessions, full-time enrollment is 6 credits. The 6 credits cannot be split between summer I and II and must include a physical presence requirement.
  • Departments must inform their incoming students about the ITA requirement.

  • ITA students must arrive in the U.S. by the start date of the ITA program.

  • Waivers can be granted by the Graduate College. Departments and the Graduate College must inform CGPS if a waiver is granted and should include CGPS in correspondence to the student/department regarding the decision. If a waiver has been requested, please inform CGPS so that we can wait for the final decision before issuing the I-20 with either the ITA start date or a fall start date.

Typically, international students need to have an F-1 or J-1 visa in order to study in the U.S. CGPS is responsible for producing the documents needed by the student to apply for the F-1 or J-1 visa. F-1 students receive an I-20 and J-1 students receive a DS-2019. The wait and processing time for a student visa will vary widely from country to country and consulate to consulate. Generally, it is recommended that students receive their documents at least 2 months before the start of their program. 

Most students will obtain an F-1 visa; however, some students may join UD as part of an exchange program, or they may be fully funded by their governments. These situations usually require a J-1 visa. For more information on visa type, please contact CGPS.

 

International students receive a link to the online I-20/DS-2019 request form when they reply to the offer of admission and their application status page is updated. Also provided is the link to eShipGlobal, where they will register and pay for having their documents shipped to them in their home countries. The student receives the I-20/DS-2019, admission letter, and other documents relating to the visa process and information about the International Student Orientation.
Based on federal regulations, CGPS is required to submit detailed information regarding a student’s eligibility to study in the U.S. In order to complete an I-20/DS-2019 request, students must provide the following after they have been officially admitted to a UD program:

 

  • A copy of his/her passport, valid for at least six months from the date of entry to the U.S. (also valid passports for any dependents*)

  • F-1 Visa: Proof of funding that meets or exceeds the University’s required amount for the first year of their academic program.

  • J-1 Visa: Proof of funding that meets or exceeds the University’s required amount for the entire duration of the program.

*Dependents: to qualify for a dependent visa (F-2 or J-2), the person(s) must be the spouse or unmarried minor (under age 21) child(ren) of the student.

After the student’s I-20/DS-2019 request has been reviewed and found to be complete, CGPS will create the I-20/DS-2019. If the request is not found to be complete, CGPS will contact the student to request any further information. Incomplete requests, such as missing documents, insufficient funds, or conditions on the student’s admission, may delay I-20/DS-2019 processing.

The approved start dates for the I-20/DS-2019 are typically the first day of classes in each semester/session: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer I and Summer II. The exception to this would be the start date for the Graduate ITA program (mid-July). Due to immigration regulations, exceptions cannot typically be made to I-20/DS-2019 start dates, such as to correspond to a payroll start date or to start in the middle of the semester because of a visa delay.

 

Students with new initial I-20: Students who receive an Initial I-20 are permitted to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date. They are also eligible to begin on-campus employment up to 30 days prior to the program start date on the I-20.

Students transferring their immigration record (SEVIS) from another U.S. school: Students transferring their immigration record may be able to re-enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date of their program. These students may also be able to work on-campus as soon as their F-1 record has been transferred to UD and the new UD I-20 has been issued. Students transferring their I-20 record to UD should always check with CGPS before traveling or starting employment.

 

The University website features the published tuition rates for each academic program. CGPS uses these rates to calculate the required amount for document processing purposes. Individual colleges or departments at the graduate level may offer further discounts or special pricing on the graduate credit hours.
The required amount on the I-20 includes tuition (18 credit hours for graduate students and 24 credits for undergraduate); University fees; health insurance; and estimated cost of living expenses. For more information on costs, please see our Costs page.

Proof of funding documents can be accepted in the form of personal/family/sponsor funds, department funding or a combination of sources. Bank statements must meet certain criteria, and if a student is using funds provided by a family member or other sponsor, he/she must also submit a completed University of Delaware Affidavit of Support Form.
Graduate departments frequently provide financial support for students, and it is the official offer of funding letter that students submit in their I-20 requests. The letter should:

  • Be written on letterhead,

  • Be signed by the appropriate department representative,

  • Indicate the time frame the funding will be in effect, and

  • Indicate the percentage of tuition coverage offered and/or any other coverage such as health insurance along with the dollar amount of any stipend to be paid.

Please note: If the student will be assigned teaching duties, it is important to include information about the mandatory ITA program in mid-July in the offer letter.

After the student’s I-20/DS-2019 request has been reviewed and found to be complete, CGPS will create the I-20/DS-2019. If the request is not found to be complete, CGPS will contact the student to request any further information. Incomplete requests, such as missing documents, insufficient funds, or conditions on the student’s admission, may delay I-20/DS-2019 processing.

Students may defer admission for any number of reasons – late admission, visa processing delays, etc. Undergraduate Admissions or Graduate College must agree to the deferral and inform CGPS. As long as the materials provided in their original I-20/DS-2019 requests are still valid according to our criteria, students deferring to the next available session/semester are typically issued an updated I-20/DS-2019 with the same SEVIS number.

IMPORTANT: International graduate students receiving teaching assistantships, even native English speakers, must attend the International Teaching Assistant (ITA) program. This program runs for approximately one month, from mid-July to mid-August. Departments are responsible for communicating this information to students.

Students whose regular academic program begins in the fall will be issued an I-20/DS-2019 with a mid-July start date in order to accommodate this program. These students must enter the U.S. by the ITA program start date and must be enrolled in the ITA internship course over the summer. Enrollment in the course is managed by Graduate College.

A waiver may be requested for a student who has served as a teaching assistant at another U.S. institution, or who can demonstrate that he or she has already mastered the concepts and skills that make up the ITA training program. In this case, the department should request this waiver from Graduate College as soon as possible.

  • If a waiver has been requested: Please inform CGPS immediately so that we can wait for the final decision before issuing the I-20 with either the ITA program start date or a fall program start date.

  • If a waiver has been granted: Graduate College must communicate that information to all parties – the student, the department, and CGPS, and the I-20 will be issued with a fall start date.

It is critical that CGPS be made aware of any changes in admission and ITA attendance since these changes can have a serious impact on an international student’s ability to maintain their visa status or enter the U.S.

Per federal regulations, international students on F and J visas must be enrolled full-time. During the fall and spring semesters, undergraduate students must take 12 credit hours per semester and graduate students must take 9 credit hours (Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, and Graduate Assistants - 6 credit hours). Auditing classes does not count towards full-time enrollment. Graduate students who have completed all their credit bearing coursework must register for Sustaining.

Although enrolling for courses in the summer and winter sessions is normally optional, graduate students who begin their degree program during these sessions must be enrolled full-time in 3 credits in order to maintain their visa status.

  • Graduate students who have an I-20/DS-2019 that begins in the first summer session must enroll in at least 3 credits that require physical presence (no online courses) for the first summer session (they are not required to enroll in courses for the second summer session).

  • Graduate students who begin their program in the second summer session must enroll in at least 3 credits on-campus coursework that requires physical presence for the second summer session.

  • F-1 students: Regulations permit F-1 students to enroll in only 3 credits (1 class) of online coursework during the fall/spring semesters to count towards full-time enrollment.

  • J-1 students: May NOT take online or distant education to count towards full-time enrollment.

  • Students starting in Summer/Winter: If a student begins a degree program in the summer or winter session, they must be enrolled in at least 3 credits of on-campus coursework (no online courses). J-1 undergraduate students are required to enroll in at least 6 on-campus course credits.

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ISSS Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is provided as a service to international students, faculty, staff, employees, and administrators at the University of Delaware, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of official counsel. For assistance on your immigration status, we encourage you to contact an ISS advisor for specific guidance at oiss@udel.edu.