International Students

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FlagsWelcome, International Students!

We welcome International Students at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

We can assist you with your F-1 student visa to study at one of our U.S. campuses: New York, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles. This includes students who are coming to one of the U.S. campuses from the Year-In-Israel program and students who will be beginning their academic program on one of our U.S. campuses.

Obtaining an I-20

Once you have been admitted and know which stateside campus you will be attending, please contact the DSO (Designated School Official) Lauren Kim, Registrar ( or PDSO (Principal Designated School Official): Monisha “Mo” Ringler, Associate Registrar (

We recommend that you begin the process for a F-1 visa about 6 months before you plan to arrive in the United States.

To study in the United States, you will need to do the following:

  1. Make sure that you have a current passport.
  2. After admission to HUC-JIR, and assignment to a U.S. campus, apply for I-20 data with financial information form. Fill out the form completely and mail it with any supporting documents to your campus DSO/PDSO. Otherwise we cannot prepare an I-20 for you.
  3. Please understand that you will be responsible for demonstrating that you have enough money from your own account and/or your sponsor’s to cover the full cost of attendance for the academic program on the campus your plan to attend.
  4. Will you be bringing any dependents with you? If so, indicate this in an email to your campus DSO/PDSO.
  5. Your campus DSO/PDSO will prepare your I-20 for you and mail it to you. It cannot be emailed or faxed.
  6. Register with SEVIS (the database for student visitors to the U.S.) and create an account. You will need to pay the SEVIS registration fee of $350.
  7. Make an appointment with a U.S. embassy or consulate for your interview for a F-1 student visa.
  8. If your F-1 visa is granted, then gather all your documents before you travel. Take with you in your carry-on luggage:
    1. Passport
    2. F-1 visa
    3. I-20
    4. Copy of your admission letter
    5. Copy of your financial information form
  9. Travel to the U.S. but not 30 days before classes/orientation starts.
  10. When you arrive at the U.S. airport/border, you will meet with a Customs & Border Protection officer who will verify your information and determine if you may enter the U.S. They will also verify your information in the SEVIS database.
  11. If the CBP officer admits you into the country, you will be given a Form I-94Arrival/Departure Record. Read it and make sure that all of the information is accurate.
  12. Notify your campus DSO/PDSO that you have arrived and make an appointment with them.
  13. Your campus DSO/PDSO will want to see your passport and visa stamp and make copies of them. Once you have registered for classes for the coming semester, your DSO/PDSO will update your SEVIS record to show that you are enrolled.
  14. You may not work while you are in the U.S. unless (1) the work is specifically required as part of your curriculum (Curricular Practical Training/CPT) or (2) U.S. Homeland Security has approved Optional Practical Training (OPT) for you. CPT can be approved by your campus DSO/PDSO. OPT requires at least 90 days to approve, and it must have some relation to your academic field of study. ALWAYS CHECK FIRST WITH YOUR CAMPUS DSO/PDSO BEFORE SEEKING ANY EMPLOYMENT IN THE U.S.
  15. Keep all of your records in a safe place, including your I-20, financial information, I-94, passport, etc.
  16. Open a bank account. See your DSO/PDSO for information about banks that may be helpful and convenient.
  17. Stay in contact with your DSO/PDSO every semester, especially if you are planning to travel outside of the U.S. while you are in the U.S. on a F-1 student visa.
  18. If you need further information, you should see this page from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or check with your campus DSO/PDSO (see list above).