New Students

New Student Welcome Guide

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

Check back here early summer to view our New International Student Welcome Guide, where you will find important information about traveling to the U.S./Princeton campus and information about settling into your life at Princeton.

Orientations

Undergraduate International Orientation (IO)

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

The Davis International Center and International Center (IC) Leaders are eager to bring the Class of 2025 international students into the fold of the international community at Princeton University. IO is an opportunity to learn practical information that will help new students adjust to life at Princeton University, as well as meet other international students. 

Our office is awaiting further information from the University regarding summer and fall activities to determine what the 2021 International Orientation (IO) program will look like. We hope to provide more information over the summer months. At this point we encourage students and their family not to make non-refundable/non-transferable travel arrangements. If students happen to arrive earlier than any planned in-person orientation activities, they would need to make alternate accommodations at a nearby hotel (or with friends and family) until on-campus housing is available. Students should contact the Housing Office if any special accommodations are needed.

Information regarding International Orientation registration will be post in late June.

For any questions please email msalem@princeton.edu 


Check out this year's IO welcome video!

 

International Orientation (IO) is not required but is strongly recommended for all international first year students. 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. More details will be sent to students via their Princeton email during the summer months.

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 goal, the Davis IC has selected 25 IC Student Leaders from around the world to help guide you through your first year. Our IC Leaders are responsible for making sure that your first impressions of Princeton (and maybe even the U.S.) are helpful! IC Leaders serve as peer facilitators to provide a personal perspective on what it’s like to be an international student at Princeton.  Attending IO is a great way to meet your IC Leaders and start making connections!  

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! 

Information regarding International Orientation registration will be post in late May/early June.

For any questions please email msalem@princeton.edu

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. To aid with your adjustment to Princeton, the Davis IC has selected student leaders from around the world to help guide you through your GIO experience.

Meet 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.

Immigration for New Students

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

Newly admitted students for the Fall 2021 term will receive an email with instructions on how to proceed with the Application for Visa Certificate process after accepting their offer of admission. Please await this email to proceed. We appreciate your patience. Most admitted students should receive this email within 1 week of acceptance. Note that admitted undergraduate students may see a slightly longer delay of up to 2 weeks as early provisioning is required to access our system. Should you have any questions or if you do not receive this email following the above timeframes after accepting your admission, please contact avcvisa@princeton.edu

NOTE: Students who deferred their admission from Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 should have received an email with further instructions. Please reach out to avcvisa@princeton.edu with questions or if you did not receive this email. 

Admitted students who have accepted their offer of admission will be required to complete an Application for Visa Certificate. Once an application is complete and successfully submitted, the Davis IC will review within 5 business days. After an application is approved, we 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 an approved application, or if you are a graduate student, we will do so once the department confirms your start date. Note that the program start date confirmation process is conducted internally and may result in a delay of a few weeks after your AVC submission.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, all I-20s will be sent electronically. For students requesting a DS-2019 for J-1 status, we will coordinate to mail your documents to you. If you have any questions about completing the AVC or the issuance of your visa eligibility documents, 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?

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.

SEVIS Fee

All students, including citizens of Canada, must pay a $350 (F-1 Students) or $220 (J-1 Students) SEVIS fee [fees are subject to change]. Students required to obtain a visa stamp must pay the SEVIS fee before applying for a visa. Canadian citizens must pay the SEVIS fee before entering the U.S. as F-1 or J-1 students. 

The SEVIS fee may be paid at www.fmjfee.com. After paying the fee, please print a receipt as you will need it for your visa interview and at the U.S. port of entry. If you do not have proof of SEVIS fee payment, you may experience difficulty entering the U.S. 

PLEASE NOTE: Students transferring their F-1 or J-1 SEVIS records from another institution to Princeton are not required to pay the SEVIS fee again. 

Students Outside of the U.S. - The Visa Application Process

Please review our website here for additional information on the visa application process and timeline. 

Students are encouraged to apply for their visa early to provide enough time for visa processing and any possible delays. You should note that Embassies/Consulates may not issue your student visa more than 120 days in advance of your program start date. At some Embassies, an application may be submitted more than 120 days in advance of the I-20/DS-2019 start date in order to accommodate long processing times. For more detailed instructions, please check the website of the Embassy/Consulate where you will apply for your visa. 

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.

Study Restrictions for B1/B2 Visitor Visas

DO NOT enter the U.S. as a visitor, either with a B-1 or a B-2 visa stamp if you plan to study at Princeton. In addition, if you are from a country whose citizens are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, DO NOT enter the U.S. in a WT (waiver tourist) or WB (waiver business) status through the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) program. Individuals in visitor visa status are not eligible to attend classes or engage in any employment while in the U.S. You must enter the U.S. as an F-1 or a J-1 student. 

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.
Immigration Check-In

All students on an F-1 or J-1 visa sponsored by Princeton University must complete an immigration check-in upon their arrival to the U.S. Students who have transferred their SEVIS record from a prior U.S. institution must check-in within 15 days of the program start date listed on their I-20 or DS-2019. Those in initial status who did not transfer from another U.S. institution must check in no later than the start of classes if they have arrived in the U.S. Please review the information below and complete your academic sign-in and immigration check-in to report your arrival for SEVIS compliance. 

Personal Information and Summer/Academic Sign In

All students must maintain their personal information in TigerHub at all times throughout their program. This information is sent to our office for SEVIS compliance. Student should pay particular attention to keeping the following information accurate: 

  • U.S. Residential Address - this should reflect where you are physically living. Note that on-campus/dorm addresses are entered directly by Student Housing and you may not be able to edit.
  • Contact Information - you should maintain any U.S. and foreign telephone numbers as well as a permanent email address that you can be reached at. 
  • Permanent Residential Address in your country of citizenship or permanent residence
  • Full name - it is highly recommended that this match how your name is listed on your passport and I-20/DS-2019 for consistency.
  • Preferred name - optional, please use this field to note if you would prefer to be called by a name other than your legal name as above.

After verifying that all information is up-to-date, students must complete a summer or academic sign-in at the start of their program and at the start of each academic year through TigerHub. 

Should you need assistance accessing the system or completing these requirements, please contact the Office of the Registrar. 

Accessing and Completing the Immigration Check-In:

Go to TigerNav. Click “Login.” Use your university netid and password. In the left-hand column, click “Orientation” and then “Student Immigration Check-In”. Click “Start a New Request” and complete/submit the form.

You will need electronic PDF copies of:

  • Certificate of Eligibility, I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Princeton University (signed by both the Davis IC and student)
  • F-1 or J-1 Visa stamp issued by the U.S. Consulate/Embassy abroad (Canadian citizens are exempt and will instead need a scan of the biographical page of their passport)
  • I-94 Record of Admission

ALL files together may be no larger than 50MB so please ensure that your total file size does not exceed this limit. If you receive an error while submitting your check-in, please take a screenshot of the error and send to puvisa@princeton.edu. DO NOT initiate multiple submissions as this may contribute to the error. 

Please note that you will not be able to save your application as a draft and return to submit it later. You should ensure that you have all of the materials as listed above in PDF format prior to beginning the application itself to avoid complications.