Students walking past JMU sign

Transition to campus

Joining us in Virginia

Please read the information below about the next steps for obtaining a student visa, so you can study with us on the JMU campus.

Contact ISC Center Director Jennifer Little if you have any questions.

Joining us on-campus

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.

The James Madison University International Student Guidebook will help prepare you for your arrival at JMU. Access the Guidebook here.

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.

You will only need to bring the basic essentials with you on your flight to the U.S. We want you to feel comfortable and at home as soon as you arrive, so don't worry about bringing furniture or bed linen with you. When living on campus, you will be provided with a bed, chest of drawers, closet space, a desk and chair in your residence room. You can buy bed linen on arrival.

It is important to bring clothing suited for the weather: at James Madison University you will experience four distinct seasons. Average temperatures range from 0 degrees Celsius in January to 27 degrees Celsius in July. There is below-freezing weather and snow in winter and daytime high temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius in mid-summer.

Although James Madison University has computers and printers for student use, it may be useful to bring your own computer and printer to use in your room or study areas.

Bring your cell phone with you. In your welcome package along with your immigration document (I-20 or DS2019), there will be a CampusSIMs card that will allow you to configure your new sim card prior to leaving your country, so that you can use your phone as soon as you arrive in the U.S.

Vine, from Nigeria

What our students say

"Landing in a country that I had never been in before, the ISC took us from the airport to the ISC and from there they took us shopping on the first day. So just really helping us out with that and helping us figure out the bus schedules so we knew how to get to classes. And the next day they helped us set our bank accounts up. And then throughout being here at JMU, getting started at the International Study Center helped me because I was with other international students who were going through the same struggles I was going through. And I found that very encouraging to not feel like I was alone. It was just comforting to be with other people who are figuring it out with me as well."

Vine, from Nigeria. Studied Communication and Advocacy

A James Madison University student walking through campus

Join us

Find all the important information for starting your studies with us!

James Madison University students walking through campus

Visa information

Know what visa you need to join us? Find out more about visa information and the visa application process with our helpful guide.