Enrolling at the University of Alabama in Huntsville is an exciting time in your life. You are joining a diverse student body of nearly 8,000 students that includes over 450 international students.
After your I-20 arrives you should complete the following task in preparation of your arrival.
- Read you I-20 to ensure it is accurate and free of errors.
If there is an error contact the appropriate admissions office immediately so a correction can be made prior to your visa appointment.
- Make a Visa interview appointment.
Refer to the U.S. Department of State website to find the U.S. Embassy closest to you and get details about the procedure for making an appointment in your country.
- Pay the I-90 SEVIS fee.
The U.S. Government requires students to pay a SEVIS fee in order to qualify for a non-immigrant F or J visa for an initial entry to the U.S. to begin an academic program of study. Use the I-20 issued by UAHuntsville in order to pay the fee on-line at http://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/ . Print the receipt and bring it to the consulate interview as proof of payment in order to be qualified for the F1 visa and have it with you when you enter the U.S. at the Port of Entry. If you have questions about the fee, please refer to the frequently asked questions section of the Department of Homeland Security fmjfee.com website. Canadian and Bermudan citizens, who are not required to have an student visa, must show proof of SEVIS fee payment for admission at a U.S. Port of Entry .
- Prepare for the Visa interview.
Download the two documents and review completely to aid your Visa interview.
Points to remember when applying for an F1 Visa
- Entering the United States
Do not arrange to fly to the U.S. prior to getting your visa from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. You are eligible to enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the start date listed on your I-20. Refer to the "Immigration Essentials" information included in your admission packet when arranging your travel plans. All new students are expected to arrive prior to the start date of classes to take care of activities required for enrollment in classes.
If you do not have the correct immigration paperwork, you may not be allowed to board the plane. Keep your immigration documents together in a folder and pack them in you carry on baggage. You need to have them with you on the plane because you will be required to present your passport and these documents to the Customs and Border Protection officer at your port of entry. On the plane you will be given a form to complete called the I-94 arrival/departure record. Since you are coming to the US in a student visa category you should complete a white card. Be sure to list your name and birth date on the I-94 card as it is listed in your passport. Writing your name consistently will eliminate problems after your arrival with other processes.
When you arrive at your port of entry, you will be inspected for admission into the U.S. At this time you will present the documents below to the officer.
I-20 or DS-2019
The inspector will stamp your passport and other immigration documents and return them to you. Put these documents in a safe place because you will need to present them to the International Student Advisor at UAH at immigration processing. Losing these documents will cost you significantly in time and money to replace. You are required by USCIS report to the institution whose Immigration documents you use to enter the U.S.
- Make travel plans and pack your bags!
The city of Huntsville Alabama is located in the South Eastern portion of the United States. The Huntsville area remains one of the South's fastest-growing. The county's population is estimated at 260,000. It has one of the highest per capita incomes in the Southeast. Huntsville's population truly reflects international cultures. Of the 160,000 city residents, more than 10 percent are natives of other countries. More than 100 languages and dialects are spoken here. In addition to the German rocket scientists who arrived in 1950, for example, Huntsville is home to the first U.S. plant built by Korea's largest corporation. Several Japanese-owned companies operate manufacturing plants here. Scores of foreign national flags ring the roof of the headquarters of an international computer manufacturing firm headquartered in Huntsville. Huntsville's visitor attractions offer a wealth of activities for the native and international visitor alike. The temperatures are moderate most months of the year with the average annual temperature of 60 degrees F (15 Celsius) except for July/August which are normally the warmest months and December/January/February which are the coldest. Find more detailed information about Huntsville at the Huntsville Madison County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. http://www.huntsville.org/
OTHER PRE-ARRIVAL CONSIDERATIONS
University students can choose to live in one of the University residence halls or apartments on campus or off-campus in an apartment or rental house. There are pros and cons to both arrangements and each student will have to decide which option suits their lifestyle and budget the best.
On-campus housing gives students the opportunity to meet new people; share social interactions in residence hall suites, enjoy a meal with roommates and friends, and experiencing first hand what it means to be a part of the campus community. On campus housing gives students individual privacy (private bedrooms for all residents) while balancing social interaction among other students. Students MUST complete a housing application online at http://housing.uah.edu/ to arrange a housing contract PRIOR to arrival and should check the housing web site for current rates and application deadlines .
A variety of off-campus student housing options also exist. However, if you choose to use off-campus housing, you will be held responsible for fully comprehending your apartment contract. In addition, living off-campus means that you will be farther away from campus and will have to make your own arrangements for utilities, transportation, and other conveniences that are not a part of the equation with on-campus housing.
UAHuntsville requires all international students to obtain 2 doses of MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella), if you are a first time freshman you will also need to show proof of the meningitis vaccine, and a recent Tuberculosis test (PPD) prior to enrolling in classes. You must receive the PPD in the United States. The Student Health Center will provide an opportunity to receive the PPD on campus prior to enrollment in classes. If you choose to have the services done independently, a U.S. health care provider can perform the necessary services and complete the immunization form and provide state license number or clinic stamp. The immunization form must be submitted to the UAH Student Health Center.
There are other immunizations that are recommended by the CDC and UAH for college students. It is recommended that you also be up to date with the additional immunizations: Hepatitis B, Meningicoccal, Tetanus/Diptheria, Pertussis, Varicella, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Contact http://www.uah.edu/SHC/ for more information at 256.824.6775.
All F1 and J1 students are required to have insurance under the UAH mandatory policy. When an F or J student enrolls in classes each semester, a fee is assessed to cover the cost of insurance for that semester. Students are required to pay for this fee with their tuition. Graduate students may be offered an assistantship that covers all or a portion of the insurance premium. The tuition bill for each student will reflect the payment due to the university to cover health insurance. Students should not purchase insurance from their home country. Waivers of the UAH insurance policy are extremely limited. If you have questions about the insurance requirement, contact Mrs. Nicke Keimer in the Student Health Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256.824.6017.
Why is health insurance mandatory? Medical care in the US is very expensive. Although in many countries the government bears the expense of health care for its citizens or visitors, people in the United States are responsible for these costs themselves. To stay in the hospital for one day in the US may cost more than $2,500 and a routine pregnancy could cost anywhere from $8,000-15,000. Most international students would be financially ruined if they had to pay for such expenses. Americans rely on health insurance to get access to better and more timely health care and to protect themselves against the enormous costs of health care in this country— you should do the same!! Without health insurance, many doctors would even refuse to treat you unless it was a life-threatening emergency. It also is a violation of immigration law for F1, F2, J1 and J2 students and dependents to accept government/public assistance, even for medical care. Maintaining health insurance helps you avoid worrying about unexpected medical costs while in the United States.
MONEY AND BANKING
You must bring $100-$500 in traveler’s checks, cash or other funds that are immediately accessible for the first few days in the U.S. You will not be able to open a bank account immediately upon arrival and will need money to take care of any incidental expenses. UAHuntsville is fortunate to have both local and national banks near campus, including the Alabama Credit Union, a financial institution located on campus. Once you open a bank account and deposit funds you can make necessary arrangements to pay your tuition or other bills.
The Office of International Programs and Services offers airport pick-up for new international students from the Huntsville International Airport. If you need transportation from the airport then email email@example.com a minimum of 1 week PRIOR to your arrival. Please include your full name, arrival date and time, airline, flight itinerary, and place of residence in Huntsville. All of this information will ensure that the OIPS staff will arrive on time and without any complications.