New Students

New Student Welcome Guide

Welcome Guide - Instructions for Travel, Visas, and Adjusting to Princeton.

View our 2018-2019 New International Student Welcome Guide online where you will find important information about travel and applying for your visa as well as information about settling into your life at Princeton. For your convenience, you will also receive a paper copy of the "Welcome Guide" with your I-20/DS-2019 package.

Immigration for New Students

Application for a Visa Certificate (I-20 or DS-2019)

The Application for a Visa Certificate (AVC) should be submitted to the Davis International Center as soon as possible after you accept your admission. Once your application is complete, the Davis IC will begin issuing visa eligibility documents (I-20 Form for F-1 students or DS-2019 Form for J-1 students). If you are an undergraduate student, your document will be issued within 5 business days of receipt of a complete application, or if you are a graduate student, we will do so once department confirms your start date.

To receive your I-20 or DS-2019, you MUST make arrangement for express mail through eShip Global. If you have any questions about completing the AVC, send your inquiry to the Davis IC at avcvisa@princeton.edu. Please allow a minimum of 48 hours for processing your inquiry.

Students Transferring from Another U.S. School to Princeton University

In addition to the AVC, you must also complete the F-1/J-1 Transfer-In Form.


IMPORTANT: This transfer form is only for students who are currently studying in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. You must submit the transfer form to the international student advisor at your current U.S. school and inform them of your intent to transfer to Princeton University. Your advisor must complete Section 2 on the transfer form and send it to the Davis IC as per the instructions on the form. The advisor must also transfer your SEVIS record to Princeton University after you complete the program at your current U.S. school or finish your Optional Practical Training (F-1 students) or Academic Training (J-1 students).

For more information about the transfer process, you can visit our F-1/J-1 SEVIS Record Transfer page.

F-1 or J-1 Visa- Which One is Right for You? (Graduate Students Only)

(This section is intended for graduate students)

The F-1 visa is the most common visa used by international students at Princeton. All students are eligible for an F-1 visa, as long as they have been admitted and have accepted admission and can document funding for at least the first year of study.

You are eligible for a J-1 visa: If you have been admitted and have accepted admission; If you can document funding for at least the first year of study, and: IF you will receive at least 51% of your total financial funding from a source other than personal, family, or friends. Funds other than personal funds may include a single source or any combination of the following:

  • Scholarship
  • Grant
  • Fellowship from an external funding source
  • Fellowship, Assistantship in Instruction (AI) or Assistantship in Research (AR) from Princeton
  • Home country government
  • International organization
  • Corporate sponsor

IMPORTANT: If you meet the above funding criteria for  the J-1 visa and you wish to be eligible for that option, then you MUST submit the completed DS-2019 Student Request Form, along with your AVC and other required documentation, to the Davis IC via DocuPortStudents who do not submit the DS-2019 Student Request Form will automatically receive the I-20 form for the F-1 visa.

NOTE: Before requesting a DS-2019 form, please read carefully about differences between F-1 and J-1 visas, such as the 2-year residency requirement, mandatory health insurance and employment permission for J-2 dependents.

Please read carefully below how a J-1 visa may impact your long term plans:

J-1 Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement 212(e)
Some J-1 visa holders are subject to the two-year home country residency requirement. This requirement will apply to you:

1.  If you receive any funding from the U.S. Government or your home country government. If this is the case, you will be automatically subjected to the two-year home country residency requirement, regardless of whether your government requires that you obtain a J-1 or not. F-1 students with home country government funding are not subjected to this requirement.

2.  If your field of study has been included in the U.S. Government’s Exchange Visitor’s Skills List 
If your field of study is on the EV Skills list, you will be automatically subject to the Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement.

If you are subject to this requirement, you must reside for an aggregate of two (2) years in your country of citizenship or last country of legal permanent residence, or have the requirement waived before being eligible for certain other U.S. immigration status, including H, L or permanent residency. J-2 spouses are also subject to the requirement. Note: Obtaining a waiver can be difficult and expensive. You would likely need to hire an immigration attorney to help you in the process. 

Twelve Month Bar
If you have been in the U.S. on a J student visa for more than six months, you will not qualify for a J-1 Research Scholar visa category until 12 months after the J student visa ends.  J-2 spouses are also subject to the 12 month bar. The 12 month bar is not the same as the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement.

Citizens of Canada

Canadian citizens are exempt from applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport, however, you must complete an AVC to receive an I-20 or DS-2019 Form. You are also required to pay the SEVIS fee in order to enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. Canadian landed immigrants must have an I-20 or DS-2019 Form, pay the SEVIS fee and have an F-1 or J-1 student visa in their passports in order to enter the U.S.

Students Currently in the U.S. in Another Immigration Status

Student who wish to study at Princeton with a visa type other than F-1 or J-1 must be sure that their visa allows full-time study and employment authorization (if the student plans to work during studies). IMPORTANT: Students in B-1/B-2 or WT/WB Visitors Visa status or F-2 dependent visa status are NOT eligible to study or be employed and must change their status to F-1 BEFORE enrolling in courses.

If you are currently in the U.S. in another non-immigrant status, you may obtain F-1 or J-1 status after you receive the I-20 or DS-2019 Form from Princeton University. There are two ways to obtain F-1 or J-1 status:

  • Obtaining F-1 or J-1 Status by Travel: You will need to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad, preferably in your home country. After you obtain the visa, you will then enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 visa status.
  • Applying for a Change of Status within the U.S.: If you choose not to travel outside the U.S. to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa, you will need to apply for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 by submitting an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) from within the U.S. You may wish to consult with an immigration attorney to assist you with your change of status application.  Please note that change of status application can take many months to be processed. If you have questions about your specific situation, please reach out to us.

Orientations

Undergraduate International Orientation (IO)

International Orientation (IO) is a great way to start your Princeton experience!

International students have the opportunity to be one of the first groups of students to arrive on campus. These additional days will allow you to settle into your dorm room, navigate your way around campus, learn practical information that will help you adjust to life in the U.S. (and Princeton), as well as meet other international students before the rest of the incoming freshman class arrive. 

International Orientation Registration is now OPEN! An email with the registration link has been sent to International Class of 2022.

For any questions please email msalem@princeton.edu 

International Orientation (IO) is not required but is strongly recommended for all international freshmen. If you plan to attend IO, the earliest date you may arrive on campus and move into your assigned dorm room is during IO Check-In.  There will be NO early check-ins allowed before the scheduled IO Check-In. Detailed information will be included in your Visa Mailing packet and also sent to you via your Princeton email during the summer months. 

IO will cover practical immigration information regarding your F-1 student visa status, including how to maintain your status, employment in the U.S., social security numbers, travel, and more. Throughout IO, the Davis International Center (Davis IC) will also provide helpful information related to your adjustment to both the U.S. and Princeton culture – academic success, bank accounts, cell phone providers, campus and social life, and more.

One of the most important things about IO is the opportunity for new students to build relationships with other international students through social events and activities. To aid with your arrival on campus, the Davis IC has selected 24 IC Student Leaders from around the world to help guide you through your first few days on campus. Our IC Leaders are responsible for making sure that your first impressions of Princeton (and maybe even the U.S.) are helpful! IO Leaders serve as peer facilitators to provide a personal perspective on what it’s like to be a student at Princeton.  Attending IO is a great way to meet your IC Leaders and start making connections!  

Check back for the IC Leader video and Class of 2022 Facebook group!

For questions, please e-mail Davis IC at davisic@princeton.edu 

International Orientation is hosted by the Davis IC.

Graduate International Orientation (GIO)

Graduate International Orientation (GIO) is a great way to start your Princeton experience! 

GIO Registration is now OPEN.

Any questions, please email msalem@princeton.edu

Graduate International Orientation (GIO) occurs prior to Princeton’s general Graduate Orientation.
GIO will cover practical immigration information regarding your F-1 or J-1 student status, including how to maintain your status, employment opportunities and issues, social security numbers, travel, and more. Throughout GIO, the Davis International Center (Davis IC) will also provide helpful information related to your adjustment to both the U.S. and Princeton culture – academic success, bank accounts, cell phone providers, campus and social life, and more. 

One of the most important things about GIO is the opportunity for new students to build relationships with other international students through social events and activities. To aid with your arrival on campus, the Davis IC has selected Student Leaders from around the world to help guide you through your GIO experience.

Meet some of the Student Leaders and other graduate international students by joining the Princeton International Graduate Students Facebook page.

Graduate International Orientation is hosted by the Davis IC.

Online Orientation for Visiting Student Research Collaborators (VSRC)

VSRCs (Visiting Student Research Collaborators) can view our Online Orientation. We also offer in-person VSRC orientations at the beginning of each semester. Please visit our Events Calendar for more information.