Transition to campus


Joining us in Virginia

While you are studying online with us this fall, we know you will also be getting ready to join us in Harrisonburg in-person in January. Please read the information below about the next steps for obtaining a student visa, so you can study with us on the JMU campus.

If you are joining us on campus for Fall 2020, please read about JMU's Return to Campus Plan and contact ISC Center Director Jennifer Little if you have any questions.

Joining the on-campus program

The most important thing you need to do to be able join us on campus is to obtain your visa. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and request permission from the U.S. immigration officer to enter the USA. It does not guarantee entry into the USA.

Most non-U.S. citizens who wish to study in the USA will seek an F-1 (non-immigrant) student visa, but there are other visa types that are sometimes authorized for those who study in the US. An F-1 visa is for people who want to study at an accredited U.S. university or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute.

Once you have been accepted in a program, provided the required financial documents and paid your deposit, JMU will issue a Form I-20 from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can then apply for a visa to study in the U.S. at JMU.

Steps to obtain a student visa

  1. Receive your I-20 from James Madison University. Review it carefully.
  2. Pay the SEVIS fee online at
  3. Complete the form DS-160 to begin your visa process.
  4. Schedule and prepare for your visa interview. You will need to gather several supporting documents.
  5. Attend your visa interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
  6. Wait for your F-1 entry visa.

Contact the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your country for more information about the procedure for applying for a student visa. For full visa guidance, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

When should I apply for a visa?

It is best to apply early for the visa to make sure that there is sufficient time for visa processing. We recommend that all students apply for their visa as soon as they have all the required documentation. Notify directly once your visa status is known. Please tell the ISC when you have made an appointment, and notify us of the outcome of that appointment.

Before you arrive on campus

After you obtain your visa, please review these next steps to prepare for your travel to the U.S.:

  • Complete the Immunization Form and return it via email to: at least two weeks before your program start date.
  • Fill in the Flight Arrival Form and return it via email to: as soon as your travel plans are confirmed and no later than two weeks before your program start date.
  • Send your official high school documents to:
  • Bring your immunization records, original secondary academic transcripts, original high school leaving examination results or diploma, any previous college transcripts, official English versions of all documents, and payment receipts to JMU orientation.
  • Pay tuition and fees according to your invoice.

Please use your official name (name on your passport and what you used to apply to James Madison University) on all forms and correspondence with the JMU ISC.

Things to bring to the U.S.

You can buy almost anything you need nearby, but it’s useful to bring the essentials as well as clothes and personal items to make your new room feel like home. 

We’ll get you to where you want to be – Read our latest guidance for current students, or find out more about online learning.