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Prepare for your Visit to UC

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Whether you currently hold an F-1 or J-1 visa, or are planning to apply for one to come to the U.S. to study, there are several procedures that you need to follow in order to be issued your I-20 or DS-2019 form. Follow this guide to make your transition to UC go as smoothly as possible.

Confirm your Offer of Admission

All students, regardless of immigration status or intent, must confirm admission.

  • If you are an undergraduate student, we suggest that you attempt to confirm on-line at the undergraduate admissions web site. This will require a $100 fee to be put on your credit card. You will also need your student ID number to confirm.

  • If you are a graduate student, your admitting department will have provided you with instructions on what you have to do in order to confirm your admission and if a confirmation fee is required.

Submit Proof of Financial Support

Before you can be issued a Certificate of Eligibility for a student visa (I-20 or DS-2019), you must first complete UC's Financial Certification Form. When documenting financial support you must demonstrate that you have financial support for all years of study it will take you to complete your degree. On average, an Associate degree takes two years to complete, a Masters degree takes three years, a Bachelors degree takes five years, and a Doctoral degree is completed in six years, unless noted otherwise. Also, some programs such as the one year MBA program or the three year masters program in Architecture have different lengths. Check the estimated annual expenses for your college, level, and program to determine the amount you have to certify.

If a spouse, parent or any other person will be providing room and boarding, please complete the Financial Certification Form and have it signed and notarized.

There is no deadline for submitting financial certification forms to UC International Services, but you will not be issued a Certificate of Eligibility until they are properly received. You should submit your financial documents as soon as possible, but no sooner than 6 months prior to your start date at UC.

Pay your SEVIS Fee

Prior to applying for your visa you must pay a SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This fee is $200 for F-1 visas and $180 for J-1 visas. The SEVIS fee can be paid by credit card over the internet, or by check or money order via mail. If your visa has been denied, you do not need to pay the fee again if you re-apply for the same visa within 12 months of the denial. See our SEVIS Fee page for more information on who is required to pay this fee and payment options.

Apply for an F-1 or J-1 Student Visa

Unless you are already in the U.S. on F-1 or J-1 status and will be transferring to UC from ELS or another school, you will need to apply for a student visa in your home country. If you are already in the U.S. on F-1 or J-1 status, skip to the appropriate section below.

Provide Documentation of your Dependents

You must notify UC International Services of any accompanying dependents in F-2 or J-2 status and provide biographical information (e.g., full name, address, country of birth, etc.) and immigration information (e.g., passport information, visa information, etc.) regarding those dependents using the UC International Services Add a New Dependent eForm found at Each dependent will then receive his/her own I-20 or DS-2019 to apply for the appropriate visa. screenshot

Request Express Mailing

For students and scholars currently outside the U.S. who intend to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa, we recommend that you have your DS-2019 sent by express mail. Regular mail overseas takes 4- 6 weeks. To request express mail service, you need to go to We have discounted express mail rates negotiated for UC students & scholars with DHL and FedEx, but you must use the eshipglobal service. Do not go through the DHL or FedEx websites directly.

You will need your UC ID number, mailing address, email address, phone number and a credit card (Visa, Mastercard or Discover cards only) to set up a user account. Our office will be notified once you have requested a shipment. If you experience any difficulty in registering and processing a shipment, please use the "Help" link in the site for step by step instructions. If you have additional questions about how to use this service, please email

You will receive periodic updates on the status of your I-20 or DS-2019 via email. Upon admission to UC you will receive an email from us indicating what documents, if any, are missing. Each time additional documents are received you will receive an update on the status of your I-20 / DS-2019. When it is issued you will receive an email indicating that your I-20 / DS-2019 has been mailed and to what address it was mailed. If you have any additional questions, check out our I-20 frequently asked questions.

Travel to the U.S. & Arrival at UC

Prior to arrival, please read our tips for traveling to the U.S. to prepare for your trip. For help finding UC after you arrive, visit our maps & directions page. Once you arrive at UC, there are a couple of things that will be required of you.

Check-In with UC International Services

The University of Cincinnati looks forward to the arrival of all of our new students. All new students must schedule a check-in with UC International Services prior to arrival. You should not complete a check-in request until you have successfully obtained your student visa and you have made your flight reservations to come to Cincinnati. There are multiple check-in dates for Fall Quarter arrivals and only one check-in date for Winter, Spring and Summer Quarter arrivals. The first check-in for Fall Quarter is for College of Law students and students who are already in Cincinnati. Typically this includes students transferring to UC from other schools and those who have applied for a change of status to F-1. To schedule your check-in, please go to and click on the "Limited iStart Services" link. From there click on the "Admission and Orientation" link and then the "Registration for New International Student Check-in" link for the quarter you will be arriving.

All new students must report to the check-in immediately following your arrival in Cincinnati unless otherwise indicated! You should bring your passport, I-94 card, and I-20/DS-2019 with you! The earliest you may enter the U.S. is 30 days before the start date on your I-20/DS-2019.

Compulsory Health Screening

The University of Cincinnati requires that all students new to the University to have a health screening at University Health Services (UHS). The health screening will include a test to screen for tuberculosis (TB). The charge for the initial blood test will be $85. Charges will be assessed to your university Bursar account. Based on your TB test results, a chest x-ray may be required and will be done at no charge to you. Chest x-rays from other countries cannot be accepted. Please consult the letter attached in your pre-arrival packet from UHS. It contains an immunization record sheet that needs to be completed and signed by a medical official. This is very important! Please read this letter! Failure to complete the health screening upon arrival will result in notification to the Registrar’s office and possible cancellation of your classes for the subsequent semester. If your classes are cancelled, you will be in violation of your immigration status.

If you are Currently in the U.S. on F-1 Status

You must notify your international student services office at your current school of your intent to transfer. You must tell them that you intend to transfer to the University of Cincinnati and what date you wish to be released from their sponsorship. Once you notify them of your intent, they will go into the SEVIS system and release you for transfer to UC. Tell the office that we are listed in SEVIS as:

  • University of Cincinnati-University of Cincinnati (if admitted to our main campus),
  • University of Cincinnati-UC Blue Ash College (if admitted to our Blue Ash branch campus), or
  • University of Cincinnati-UC Clermont College (if admitted to our Clermont branch campus).

Once the release date is reached, your I-20 for study at the University of Cincinnati can be issued. You should go to to complete our F-1 SEVIS Transfer In Request eForm found in the "Admission and Orientation" section. You will be required to scan and upload copies of your passport, I-20’s, I-94 card and visa. ELS students will need to list Kori Lentes (email as the current school advisor.

Check-In with UC International Services

Once your transfer has been approved you should complete the "Pre Arrival Checklist" at Click on the Limited iStart Services link. Enter your UC ID number, date of birth and click the "access PIN number" button.

After you receive your access PIN number by email, go back to Click the Limited Services for Students and Scholars link again. Enter your UC ID number, date of birth and access PIN number. Next, click on the "Admission & Orientation" link and then the "Pre Arrival Checklist".

Validity of Visa Stamp

If you have a valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport and you are traveling home before enrolling at UC, you do not need to obtain a new visa stamp at the U.S. Consulate / Embassy before returning to the U.S. You only need to obtain a new visa stamp if the expiration date has been reached prior to the date you plan to return to the U.S.