Information for New International Students

Congratulations on your decision to enroll at Hartwick College!

A Hartwick education is a transformational experience, and one that will stay with you throughout your life. Please explore the links below for the information you need before your arrival at Hartwick.

Travel Documents
Change of Plans
Applying for your U.S. Visa
What to Take to the Visa Interview
Strategies for the Visa Interview
Note to Citizens of Canada
If You Are Currently in the United States
All Other Non-Immigrant Visa Classifications
Port of Entry, Immigration and Customs

Visas and Immigration

The visa and immigration process for studying in the U.S. can feel overwhelming. Please contact  The Office of Global Education ( or visit Study in the States for more details.

Visa Documents

I-20 Form: Your Certificate of Eligibility, or I-20 form, is mailed to you in your acceptance packet. This form is necessary to apply for the F-1 visa for entry into the United States. Your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) indicates the latest date by which you should report to Hartwick College. You may enter the country up to 30 days before that date.

I-901 Payment: To obtain your visa, you must pay the Federal SEVIS fee of $200 and get a printed receipt prior to your visa interview.


You must have a passport with a validity date of at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the United States.

Change of Plans

If your plans change, and you decide not to attend Hartwick College, or to defer your attendance to a later semester, notify the Admissions Office ( and Office of Global Education ( right away.

Applying For Your U.S. Visa

If you are currently outside the U.S. and do not yet have a valid U.S. student visa, you must apply for one at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.

Apply for your student visa well ahead of the date you would like to depart for Hartwick. Holiday and vacation periods are very busy times at the U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, so make sure you get an appointment well in advance of your arrival date.

Visit the U.S. Embassy Locator to find the embassy or consulate near you.

What to Take to the Visa Interview

  • Passport
  • Required photos
  • Federal SEVIS Fee payment receipt (I-901 payment)
  • U.S. non-immigrant visa application forms (unless you are completing the form at the consulate or embassy)
  • Hartwick College admission letter
  • Hartwick College I-20 or DS-2019
  • Test scores and academic records
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Proof of financial support
  • Evidence of ties to your home country
  • Any other documents required by the embassy or consulate

Remember, you must present the visa officer with an I-20 issued by Hartwick College or the DS- 2019 issued by your sponsor. You cannot apply for a U.S. visa using another school’s I-20 or DS-2019, and then try to attend Hartwick College.

Strategies for the Visa Interview

Go alone: Do not take family members or friends with you to the visa interview. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.

Academics: Be definite and clear about your educational plans. Be able to explain precisely what you wish to study and why you chose Hartwick College for your education. Be prepared to explain reasons for studying in the United States rather than your country.

English: Anticipate that the visa interview will be conducted in English.

Ties to Your Home Country: Demonstrate convincing reasons for consular officials to believe that you intend to return home after your studies in the United States. Emphasize ties to your home country such as employment, family obligations, bank accounts, family members at home, property or investments, and clear explanations of how you plan to use your education to help your country or pursue a career when you return home.

Financial Documentation: Be prepared to prove financial ability to pay for your education and living expenses. Do not expect that you will be able to work part time on-campus to help finance a large portion of your studies. You must show the consular officer that you have the annual amount in United States dollars listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 form in the form of bank statements, sponsorship letters, or scholarship award letters.

Be concise: Because of the volume of visa applications, all consular officials are under considerable pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision based on the impression they form during the first minute or two of the interview.

Be prepared for challenging questions: Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants may have more difficulty getting visas.

Note to Citizens of Canada

Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain a U.S. visa to enter the United States. However, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will inspect your papers, either at a pre-inspection site in Canada or upon entry to the United States. You must have with you:

  • Canadian passport
  • Admission letter to Hartwick College
  • Proof of Federal SEVIS Fee Payment
  • Your Hartwick Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019)
  • Proof of financial support that corresponds to the information on your I-20 or DS-2019

If You Are Currently in the U.S.

If you already have valid F-1 student or J-1 student status by being enrolled at another school, college or university in the United States, complete the form at your current school to request that the International Student Advisor release your SEVIS record to Hartwick College. A new I-20 will be issued to you by Hartwick College.

All Other Non-Immigrant VISA Categories

If you are currently in the U.S. in a visa classification other than F-1 or J-1, contact the Office of Global Education for further information.

Port of Entry, Immigration, and Customs

Expect to go through both immigration and customs inspection at the U.S. port of entry. At the immigration booth, present your passport, your I-20 or DS-2019, your proof of Federal SEVIS fee payment, and your completed I-94 card (usually this is distributed on the airplane).

Usually, you will enter the U.S. easily. In certain cases, if there is some problem with your documents, you may be issued a 30-day entry on form I-515, usually with instructions to see your international student advisor.