To-Do List for International Students
Congratulations! You are well on your way to your first class at the University of Idaho. There are just a few things to do before you can start. To help make your time here more productive and successful we've set up a to-do list to help you with those few things. Check back often to stay on track.
Setting up your Vandal accounts as soon as possible ensures that you will receive crucial information on important updates about financial aid, billing, housing, registration, deadlines and more.
Check your VandalWeb and VandalMail accounts frequently to make sure you don't miss important information.
VandalWeb allows you access to your transcripts, student account, add/drop class forms, registration and many other important items that are vital to your success at the University of Idaho.
iVandal is an immigration compliance portal that provides individualized services to international students, scholars, faculty, and staff. Use iVandal to submit documents and make requests to the International Programs Office (IPO). If you have any questions about iVandal, contact the IPO at email@example.com.
VandalMail is the official email used by your professors, academic advisor and different university departments to communicate important dates and information with you.
Duo Multifactor Authentication (MFA) provides extra protection for your account. You will be directed to enroll in Duo MFA when you set up your account.
If you have any questions or trouble along the way, you can contact ITS at 208-885-HELP(4357) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Your advisor will be an important resource as you plan your academic future. You will have to meet with your academic advisor each semester before registering for classes. Use our helpful tool to find out who your advisor is.
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If you are at one of our centers, you can find more advising info here:
Invitation to Idaho Scholarship
University of Idaho is proud to offer the Invitation to Idaho scholarship to eligible new international students, including transfer students. Eligibility requirements include the following: minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale at time of admission and pursuing a first bachelor’s degree. It is awarded within 7-10 days of admission, no separate application required, to qualified students and can be accepted through a student’s VandalWeb account. It is renewable up to 4 years; continued eligibility is based on full-time degree seeking student status, 2.5 U of I cumulative GPA maintained and continuous enrollment. This scholarship is applied to the cost of international tuition, decreasing the annual international cost of $27,540 to $12,456. More information can be found here.
The Invitation to Idaho scholarship is the only guaranteed funding offered to new or transfer international students at this time; the majority of our other scholarships are awarded to current students through a student’s college or department of study. However, if you are awarded private scholarships through other outside sources, they can be applied to your costs at the University of Idaho.
Please note that the Invitation to Idaho scholarship does not apply to online only semesters or summer session and cannot be combined with the #YAWH scholarship offered through the International Programs Office.
#YouAreWelcomeHere (#YAWH) Scholarship
Developed as a commitment to providing a welcoming, safe and diverse environment to international students, the #YAWH scholarship initiative offers two annual, renewable scholarships that are worth 50% tuition at the time of initial matriculation. The scholarships require an application and are open to first-year international students admitted for undergraduate degree-seeking study at the University of Idaho. More information can be found here. The #YAWH scholarship application can be found here. *You must be an admitted student to apply for the #YAWH scholarship.
Please note that the #YAWH scholarship does not apply to online only semesters or summer session and cannot be combined with the Invitation to Idaho scholarship.
An I-20 is an important immigration document that F-1 students need to obtain for their student visa and enter the U.S.
An initial I-20 is issued for students with a new SEVIS record. A transfer I-20 is issued for students who have an active SEVIS record at a U.S. high school or higher education institution and are transferring their records to University of Idaho.
Requesting an I-20 from U of I
Submit Required Form I-20 Documents
In compliance with the Department of Homeland Security and SEVIS regulations, all international applicants on the F-1 student visa must provide evidence of sufficient funds available for their studies in the U.S. For this purpose, a Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR) must be completed and submitted.
- Include all scholarships (i.e. Invitation to Idaho scholarship, Athletic scholarship, etc.) received from the University of Idaho in the Sources of Funds table, in U of I Department section; include the total amount of funding received from U of I on the same line but in the right column that says “Amount in U.S. Dollars.”
- Students with dependents (a spouse and/or child) who will be joining them in the U.S. during their time on an F-1 or J-1 visa will need to provide proof of additional funds. These amounts are outlined in the CFR.
- Use the Application Status Portal to upload your documents.
2. Bank statement (Dated within 6 months will be required for your visa interview.)
Bank statements will need to show liquid funds (funds that can be immediately accessed and used). These can be one statement covering the entire amount displayed on the financial guarantee form for one year of attendance at the university, or a collection of bank statements from the people listed on the financial guarantee as sponsors.
For sponsored students, a sponsor letter produced by a sponsoring agency recognized by U of I stating the applicant’s full name, academic program at U of I, term of the sponsorship and amounts covered by it. Some of the agencies are: SENACYT, Kuwait Cultural Office, Oman Cultural Division, Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission, Sidra and UAE Cultural Division.
Your bank statements need to show available balances that equal or surpass the amount of expenses (after deducting any scholarships) for one year of attendance at U of I. If this ability is not demonstrated, the I-20 cannot be processed.
- Use the Application Status Portal to upload your documents.
- Please ensure that the financial institution’s name, the account holder’s name and account balance are all clearly visible.
- These statements need to be dated within the last 6 months.
3. Copy of passport
- You may take a clear photo or scan of the biographic page of your passport and use the Application Status Portal to upload your documents. The bio page shows your picture and personal details. The passport must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the U.S. If not valid, the I-20 cannot be processed.
Access Your Issued Form I-20
- Your I-20 Form is electronically issued and emailed to your VandalMail account.
- Review your issued SEVIS Form I-20—ensure that the information is correct (spelling, dates, etc.)
- Print in color once you have reviewed for accuracy.
- Add your printed I-20 to your visa interview/travel file.
Additional NCAA and SEVIS Form I-20 requirements:
- Complete all outstanding tasks related to your academic and amateurism certifications in your NCAA Eligibility Center profile.
- Athletic compliance cannot issue the I-20 release to Admissions until you have had your academics and amateurism fully certified by the NCAA via the Eligibility Center.
- The University of Idaho cannot issue you an I-20 until we have received clearance from University of Idaho’s athletic compliance department.
- Pay your SEVIS Form I-901 fee
Upon receipt of your I-20 Form, you will have the information needed to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. This fee must be paid and your receipt of payment printed prior to applying for your student visa at your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate.
- Apply for your non-immigrant visa, DS-160
As a visa applicant, you must submit a completed DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application for all nonimmigrant visa categories. Read complete details about student visas. Note: After you have completed the DS-160, you will need to print and keep the DS-160 barcode page.
- Schedule Visa Interview
To schedule your interview, locate your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Each consulate sets its own timeline for accepting and processing student visa applications. If the consulate says apply “at least” 60 days before your program departure, this means no fewer than 60 days. To avoid problems, submit your visa application at the earliest date the consulate will accept it.
- Pay Visa Application Fee
Please read information about nonimmigrant visa application fees. Applicants must pay these fees as directed prior to their visa interview, and they must bring the receipt to their interview. If the visa is issued, please note that a visa issuance reciprocity fee may be applicable based on your country of citizenship. Please refer to the Visa Reciprocity Table to see if this fee applies to you.
- Prepare for Visa Interview
The U of I campus and Moscow are both easy to navigate and welcoming to students. Figure out where you need to go for classes and for fun!
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- Explore campus with a virtual tour.
- See what's happening in town by checking out the Moscow Chamber of Commerce website.
Not on the Moscow campus? Learn more about the center facilities and their communities
U of I recommends vaccinations and/or screenings for certain vaccine-preventable diseases. Check with Student Health Services to view the complete list of recommendation and fast facts about benefits, risks and info about accessing vaccines.
U of I requires all international students to have active and continuous health insurance during their in-person studies. Student Health Services will automatically enroll new international students in the U of I Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to protect you if you become ill or injured; insurance coverage begins on the first day of the first semester. Insurance cards (proof of insurance) will be mailed to new students after the start of the semester and can also be accessed through the SHIP portal.
Students who are only taking online courses are not required to have health insurance.
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All first-year students in Moscow are required to live on campus, as on-campus living is proven to help you succeed while going to college. When you confirm your living plan, you'll also confirm your dining plan option. Move in for new students is August 18-19, 2021.
Our beautiful residential campus offers many great living options to choose from including the residence halls and fraternity or sorority chapter facilities.
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- International Student Orientation for Fall 2021 has two parts, both hosted by the International Programs Office—a virtual pre-arrival component and an in-person program—both are required for new international students and will help get you connected as you begin this exciting, new experience! Plan your arrival to accommodate international student orientation. We look forward to welcoming you to the University of Idaho!
- Virtual Pre-Arrival in iVandal: Please complete prior to August 20, 2021.
- In-person Orientation Program: In-person orientation will be held on August 20, 2021, on the University of Idaho Moscow campus. Specific date, time and location will be emailed to your VandalMail account by the second week of August.
- Vandal Welcome: Fall 2021: Register Today! Vandal Welcome isn't just an orientation — it's a welcome to your new home on the University of Idaho campus. Vandal Welcome begins on August 19, 2021, for students starting in the fall semester.
Be aware of these important dates and deadlines:
- June – Review your financial aid awards on VandalWeb. Accept scholarships you have been offered.
- Mid-July – You will receive your university bill that includes charges for tuition and fees, residence hall and meal plan charges for on-campus housing and health insurance. Scholarship awards that have been accepted on VandalWeb will be included if you are enrolled full-time (12 credits undergraduate/9 credits graduate) for scholarships. You can get a head start on making payments towards your student account balance by setting up a payment plan.
- Aug. 23 – (first day of classes) – Pay your bill. All semester tuition, fees, residence hall and meal plan charges for on-campus housing, and health insurance must be paid at the Student Accounts Office, on VandalWeb or through the mail. Monthly payment plans are available through Student Accounts. If you are unable to pay your balance in full, you are encouraged to set up a monthly payment plan through VandalWeb. Full payment or payment plan enrollment is required by the first day of the semester to avoid late fees.
- Sept. 3 – Financial aid will be adjusted at 5 p.m. to reflect the number of credits for which you are enrolled. Most scholarships require full-time enrollment (12 credits). Check your account.
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It's tough being in a new place. Get connected with student groups, university organizations and events going on in Moscow and at the university through social media.
Share your experiences and learn about #UIdaho through pictures on Instagram.
Stay up to date on the experiences you've had at #UIdaho through Facebook.
Get the latest information about #UIdaho on Twitter.
Experience the action at the University of Idaho, follow the UIdaho YouTube channel.
Interested in following a certain group on campus? Find their Facebook or other social media options on the University of Idaho Social Media Directory.
Purchase Plane Ticket
Students with an F-1 visa may enter the country up to 30 days before their official program start date, as listed on their Form I-20; students must report to their school by their program start date.
We recommend that you arrive at least one week before your program begins. Plan ahead! Refundable tickets are a good option should delays arise. We also recommend that you arrive during regular university office hours, if possible. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday-Friday.
- Airport Option 1: Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport (PUW)
- Approximately 10 minute drive from campus;
- Call a taxi upon arrival to arrange a ride to campus or hotel.
- Airport Option 2: Spokane International Airport (GEG)
- Approximately 1.5 hour drive from campus;
- Transportation to campus via bus: Wheatland Express (Advanced reservations and payment needed)
- Fare from Spokane International Airport to Moscow: approx. $40
Be sure that you have access to funds for traveling costs, tuition, books, personal expenses, etc.
COVID-19 Negative Test Prior to Travel
On January 12, 2021 CDC announced an Order requiring all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country to get tested no more than three days before their flight departs and to present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. Air passengers will also be required to confirm that the information they present is true in the form of an attestation.
At the first point of entry into the U.S. as a legal non-immigrant, you will go through the customs process. Below is a quick overview of what to expect; for a more detailed explanation of the process, visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs website.
Step 1: Port of Entry
At your point of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will check your documents. This is where you will need to present your passport, visa and I-20 to the Customs and Border Protection officer.
The passport must be stamped by the port of entry official notating F-1 D/S or J-1 D/S (Duration of Status), date and location of arrival in the U.S. If this is incomplete or the stamped date or visa classification is incorrect, please bring it to the attention of the port of entry official so they can make the correct annotation. Errors noticed after you leave the airport should be brought to the attention of the UIdaho International Programs Office.
While a CBP officer inspects your immigration documents, you may be asked some general questions. Don't get agitated or nervous; it's just a routine procedure. Always answer clearly, honestly and politely. If there is a problem, suggest that they contact the International Programs Office at 208-885-8984. We are open during office hours, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There is no cause for alarm if you are asked to step into a side room. They may need to ask you some questions or verify some information. You are allowed to ask the officer what the issue is — just do so respectfully.
Step 2: Port of Entry
After checking your documents and clearing you to enter the U.S., you will proceed to the baggage claim area to collect your luggage. You will then need to enter a line with U.S. Customs (or Agricultural Dept.) officials where they may ask about the contents of your bags or ask to open them. Students should follow their instructions and answer their questions honestly and politely. Please bear in mind that the penalty for carrying contraband is very high and may result in deportation.
After you collect your luggage, you will go through the customs checkpoint. This is where you turn in the form you were given on the airplane. On this form, you must declare if you have funds exceeding $10,000 (in any currency) and any items that need to be declared. Please visit cbp.gov for detailed information on what you are allowed to bring and what items you need to declare.
Step 3: Port of Entry
Once you have cleared the customs checkpoint, you will exit into the international arrivals area of the airport. If you need to catch a connecting flight (to get to GEG or PUW), you will need to take your bags with you to the proper terminal or check-in counter for your domestic flight. At many airports, you will need to take a free inter-terminal shuttle to get to the proper location. We highly recommend visiting the website of your international destination airport to become familiar with what you will need to do.
Additionally, each U.S. airline has separate policies regarding charges for checked luggage and weight requirements. We strongly recommend researching your airline's domestic flight baggage policies so that you know if you will incur charges at check-in for your domestic flight. Finally, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has detailed information about what you can carry on and things to consider when traveling within the U.S.
We recommend using the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) as your port of entry for U.S. Customs prior to continuing to GEG or PUW.
Pro-Tip: Contact email@example.com immediately upon entering the U.S. so that there is no question of your arrival.
Pro-Tip: If you are arriving early to the U.S. and are living on-campus, confirm on-campus move in dates and make sure that you have arranged for hotel/other, as needed, for any time between arrival and move-in.
In addition to your personal and room items, be sure to bring your own office and school supplies. If you don’t have a computer, remember all students have free access to the 15+ computer labs on campus.
Pets (except fish) are not allowed in the residence halls. Halogen lamps and cooking equipment, other than microwaves (limited to 800 watts), also are not allowed in the residence halls. Microwave/refrigerator combination units are provided in all residence hall rooms.
Entry to the U.S.
Required Documents-carry-on-luggage only: Prepare documents in a travel file that can be easily carried in your carry-on luggage, not in your checked bag. You need access to your visa documents at all times during transit. Documents include: passport, I-20, original financial documentation (bank statement, CFR), valid U.S. entry visa, copy of immunization records, SEVIS I-901 payment receipt, Proof of Enrollment (U of I admissions letter/printout of full-time class enrollment), etc.
If you need confirmation of your previous SEVIS fee payment, visit the SEVIS fee payment page and select the option to “Check I-901 Status/Print Payment Confirmation.”
Make copies: Medical records, if needed; prescriptions; certified birth certificate (may be required for Idaho driver’s license)
Extra eye glasses/contact lenses; favorite book; calculator/paint brushes; etc.
Recommended not to bring: bedding, pillows, 220V appliances.
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¹ Recommended, but not required, for U of I students statewide
² Recommended for students in Moscow
³ Required for students in Moscow only
All other items are required for all students.