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This checklist is designed to give you a quick review of what to do before leaving your home country.

Step 1: Be Admitted

You will receive a letter of admission from your academic department and/or Admissions Office.

Step 2: Complete the International Student Financial Statement Form with ISSS

After accepting your admission offer to Vanderbilt, you will receive an email from ISSS within 1-2 weeks with a link and directions on how to complete the Initial I-20/DS-2019 Request. Once you have submitted the application, ISSS will review documents and follow up as needed. When all required documentation has been received, we will create a new I-20/DS-2019 and send you the document.

Step 3: Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee

If you have received the new I-20/DS-2019 and you are a first time-applicant for an F-1 (I-20) or J-1 (DS-2019) visa, you are required to pay a SEVIS fee prior to your visa interview. For more information, visit

Step 4: Apply for your F-1 or J-1 Visa

You can apply for a U.S. visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate near you. For more information, please visit

Step 5: Make Travel Arrangements

Review the program start dates listed on your I-20/DS-2019 (and make sure to check earlier orientation dates that may be required) before purchasing your flight/bus/etc tickets. You may arrive up to 30 days prior to the program start date.

Step 6: Inform ISSS of Your Arrival Plans

Once you have booked your tickets, complete the Pre-Arrival Form to inform of us your arrival plans.

Step 7: Housing (for Graduate/Professional Students Only)

All undergraduates are required to live on-campus and should finalize housing assignments with the Office of Housing and Residential Education. Move-in for undergraduate international students will be held on Tuesday, August 15th from 8:00 am to midnight at the Commons (free shuttle service available).

Graduate/Professional students should search for available housing and should find a permanent residence shortly after arriving to Nashville. For assistance in searching for housing, please visit the Off-campus Housing and Referral Service page or visit for more information.

Step 8: Health Requirements

Review and complete any health requirements/immunizations/etc. with the Student Health Center.

Note: Early Arrival Health Insurance

Student health insurance through Gallagher does not begin until mid-August. If you will be arriving earlier, it is highly recommended that you purchase the early health insurance plan so that you will be covered during the summer months. More information can be found here. You can enroll by going to the Gallagher student portal and clicking on the “Early Enroll” button on the left side of the page. You must then log in, complete the Early Enrollment form and submit the form along with payment.

Please contact the Student Health Center for questions or consult the following page to view informational videos and Frequently Asked Questions:

Step 9: Complete any required placement tests

Contact your department/program for additional information.

Step 10: Pay Tuition for Your First Semester

All students must pay their financial bills on time to avoid additional charges and/or holds on your course registration, etc. Please contact the Student Accounts Office for assistance.

Step 11: Prepare for New Student Orientation and Sign up for a Mandatory Immigration Check-In

International Student Orientation will provide the opportunity to learn important information about your immigration status and campus life and will help you get acquainted with your new peers!

If you are a graduate/professional student and are arriving before or after August 13th, you must register for a mandatory Immigration Check-In session with ISSS. You can view the schedule and sign-up here: 

Within the first week of your arrival you should do the following things:

Commodore Card Office
184 Sarratt Student Center
Nashville, TN 37240

Scholar Arrival Checklist

  1. Check-in with the hosting academic department.
  2. Come to ISSS for mandatory Welcome Check-In. *Bring passport and DS-2019. Also, be ready to provide a local address and phone number. ISSS needs copies of stamped travel documents for the scholar’s file.
  3. Get your Vanderbilt Identification Card. The University Card Office is located in Sarratt Student Center Room 184. VU Medical Center Card office is located in Medical Center North S-2311. *Bring your passport, DS-2019, and official invitation letter or offer letter from Vanderbilt.  (Dependents can get a Vanderbilt Identification Card too for $10)
  4. Get VUNetID and Vanderbilt Email Account.
  5. Attend J-1 Exchange Visitor Orientation at ISSS. Orientation is every Thursday at 1pm.
  6. Complete the J-1 Insurance Requirement Acknowledgement and Pledge form and return it to ISSS within two weeks of check in.

Additional Steps if Being Paid by Vanderbilt

  1. Apply for a Social Security Number. Bring your passport, DS-2019, and Vanderbilt offer letter to the Social Security Administration which is located at 120 Athens Way, Nashville, 37228. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays: 9am to 3pm. Wednesdays: 9am to 12pm. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.
  2. Have your hiring department or supervisor Request access to the GLACIER Tax Database from the International Tax Office (ITO).
  3. Attend New Staff Orientation to learn about health insurance plans and benefits. You can learn more about this orientation at