Starting grad school this fall in the US? Here’s what you should be working on now.

The summer before you begin graduate school in the US, be sure you have all necessary documentation to enter the country and enroll in your program. Below are some important items you need before your departure to the US.

  1. Valid passport: You must have a passport to travel in the US. If you do not have a passport yet, you should start the process now because it can take several weeks to get one. Citizens of some countries are required to have at least six months validity remaining on their passports before entry into the United States. Carry your passport and certificate of eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) at all times during your travel.
  2. Visa: Detailed information on obtaining your visa should be in your admit letter or other correspondence from your university. Schedule an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible. You can find a comprehensive list of embassies and consulates here.  Select your city and country (“non-immigrant” section) to learn what the process is for your particular consulate. The following Department of State websites also have useful information:
    1. U.S. Department of State – overview of U.S. visa categories
    2. U.S. Department of State – F or J visa requirements
  3. Attend a Pre-departure Orientation in Your Country: EducationUSA advising centers organize pre-departure orientations for students as part of final preparations for departure. Students who have returned from their U.S. studies provide information and resources to prepare you for new experiences and challenges. Topics discussed include cultural differences, motivation, changes from your home environment, academic systems and expectations, housing, and tips for settling into your new community.
About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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