International Students

Pre-Arrival FAQs

This section is a resource for international students to find answers to frequently asked questions on a variety of topics that are important to know prior to arriving at Ohio State.

In this section, international students can find out which visa is right for them and which placement tests they are required to take. This section also answers questions about the SEVIS fee, tuition and the necessary health screening and vaccinations.

Students may also find helpful to check out the information under "Arriving at Ohio State" for answers on housing, health insurance and registering for classes.

New international students are required to attend immigration check-in and orientation. This section provides answers students may have about scheduling an immigration check-in appointment and registering for orientation.


How do I know which is the right visa for me?

Information about U.S. consulate policies, procedures, and requirements can be obtained from the U.S. Department of State at travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html.

I’m a Canadian citizen; do I need to apply for a visa?

Canadian citizens do not need to obtain a visa before entering the United States. A Canadian citizen simply shows his or her I-20 or DS-2019 at the U.S. border, along with proof of Canadian citizenship. Upon entrance into the United States, a Canadian student should make sure to have his or her I-20 or DS-2019 properly processed and to receive an I-94 card. Without the I-94 card, students may not be able to fully check-in at Ohio State.


What is the SEVIS Fee?

The SEVIS fee, implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is a fee intended to defray costs associated with the administration of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). This rule took effect on September 1, 2004.

Who must pay the SEVIS fee?
  • Students seeking an F-1 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad for "initial" attendance at a U.S. school
  • Students seeking a J-1 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad to commence participation in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program
  • Persons applying for a change of status to F-1 or J-1
  • Canadians exempt from the visa requirement who are seeking entry at a U.S. port of entry for "initial" attendance at a U.S. school or Exchange Visitor Program
  • J-1 students applying for a change of program category within the United States.
  • J-1 students transferring from fee-exempt federal government sponsored programs (such as Fulbright) to other J-1 programs
  • J-1 students transferring from reduced-fee J-1 programs to full-fee J-1 programs
  • J-1 students applying for reinstatement
  • F-1 students applying for reinstatement
  • F-1 students who have been absent from the United States for more than five months and wish to reenter the United States to continue in the same course of study

How do I pay the SEVIS fee if required to do so?

Those required to pay the fee must do one of the following:
  • File Form I-901 (available at FMJfee.com), with DHS by mail along with a check, money order or foreign draft drawn on a U.S. bank and payable in U.S. currency
  • Electronic submission of Form I-901 to DHS using credit card or other electronic means of payment accepted by DHS (please visit FMJfee.com for more information)
  • Western Union Quick Pay. Click here for instructions.
  • Any future DHS-approved payment services


How do I know if I need to take placements tests?

You can view whether you are required to take placement tests in your To Do List in Buckeye Link. Note that graduate students do not need to take the math placement test. You will also be informed of which placement tests you need to complete at the Office of International Affairs’ immigration check-in.

Where can I find information about the math and English placement tests?

Information regarding the ESL Composition Placement Test, and reasons for exemption, can be found on the ESL program’s website:

Information regarding the math placement test, and reasons for exemption, can be found on the Department of Mathematics’ website: math.osu.edu/undergrad/new-students/math-placement.


When will my tuition and fees be due?

Tuition and fees are due seven calendar days prior to the start of the semester. You can view your statement of account and fee payment deadline through Buckeye Link.

How can I pay my tuition and fees?

There are three payment options:
  • Electronic payment (online payment from a U.S. checking or savings account)
  • Credit card (Discover, MasterCard, VISA and American Express only)
  • Wire transfer of foreign currency

It is highly recommended that you pay through the first method, electronic payment. To do so, you must first set up a U.S. bank account upon arrival. For further details on these methods of payment, visit busfin.osu.edu/bursar/student-payments. Note that you cannot pay your tuition and fees in cash.

What is the Financial Responsibility Statement, and how do I complete it?

The Financial Responsibility Statement (FRS) is an acknowledgement you must make every semester that you understand the financial obligation involved in being an Ohio State student. By completing the statement in Buckeye Link, you are confirming you understand and agree to uphold your financial obligation to the university (i.e., to pay your tuition, fees and all other charges associated with being a student). Students who do not complete the Financial Responsibility Statement prior to registering each term will have a Registration Lock Hold placed on their account, preventing them from registering, adding a course or moving off of a wait-list. Once the statement is completed for the term, the hold is removed. For more information and instructions on completing the FRS, visit buckeyelink.osu.edu/task/all/financial-responsibility-statement.


I have questions about the mandatory health screening—who should I contact?

Please contact the Wilce Student Health Center at 614-247-2387 or visit the website for more information: shs.osu.edu/services/international-students/vaccination-requirement.

I’m transferring from a university in the United States—do I need to complete the mandatory health screening?

Please contact the Wilce Student Health Center at 614-247-2387 or visit the website for more information.

What is the vaccination requirement?

Ohio State requires verification that all new students are up to date on certain vaccines (immunizations). Complete information on the requirement can be found on the Student Health Services website: shc.osu.edu/services/vaccinations/vaccination-requirement. The requirement includes two steps:
  • The first step is to enter the dates of your vaccinations into the website My BuckMD. You’ll need to have set up your Ohio State username and password to be able to log in.
  • The second step is to fill out the vaccination form which is found at shs.osu.edu/vaccinations1/completing-university-vaccination-requirement), and have it signed by your doctor. When the form is complete you will need to scan it and upload it into the My BuckMD system. Questions should be addressed to vaccination@osu.edu

I can't find some vaccinations in my country—can I get them at Ohio State?

If you are not able to get, or verify that you have gotten, all of these vaccinations prior to arrival, you can receive them all at the Student Health Center once you are here and the cost would be covered by your Ohio State health insurance. Questions should be addressed to vaccination@osu.edu.


When should I arrive in Columbus?

F-1 and J-1 students entering the United States on an initial SEVIS record may arrive in the United States no more than 30 days prior to the start date on their I-20/DS-2019 (the same as the start date of classes for the term). OIA strongly recommends that you arrive more than two weeks prior to the start of classes in order to accomplish pre-semester tasks. F1 students who have been issued a transfer I-20 form do not need to adhere to the 30-day-entry requirement and may enter the United States earlier if using the transfer I-20 issued by Ohio State.

Which office can help with finding housing off campus?

The office of Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services provides a wide range of support and resources for students searching for and living in off-campus housing. Consult their website to do an online housing search, find a roommate, get safety tips, see rankings of local landlords and more.

When can I move into my dorm?

Please contact University Housing with all your questions at housing@osu.edu.

How can OIA help me?

When international students and international scholars first arrive at Ohio State, the Office of International Affairs is one of their initial points of contact. We provide them with a warm welcome to the campus community and support their transition to help them comfortably adjust to their new life on campus and in Columbus. Students meet one-on-one with a representative from International Students and Scholars to get answers to questions about immigration regulations, cultural differences and financial matters.

Are you open on weekends (Saturday and Sunday)?

No. OIA, like most university offices, is open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

What type of health insurance do I have to purchase?

All Ohio State students must have health insurance, and almost all international students are required to purchase Ohio State’s Comprehensive Health Benefits Plan. Full information about the plan can be found on Student Health Insurance’s website: shi.osu.edu. Information just for international students can be found here: shi.osu.edu/for-international-students. Any questions can be sent to shi_info@osu.edu. You can only waive Ohio State’s student health insurance plan if:
  • You are fully financially sponsored by your government, and it has designated a health plan for you.
  • You are able to hold insurance through a U.S.-based employer (for example, if you are a dependent on the plan of a spouse who holds coverage through a U.S.-based employer).

When will I register for classes?

Undergraduate students will meet with their academic advisor during orientation in order to schedule courses and learn more about college-specific requirements. Graduate students should contact their academic department to find out if classes can be scheduled prior to arrival. Note that you cannot finish your course registration until you have completed immigration check-in and your English and math placement tests are completed and scored.

How will I register for classes?

First semester students cannot register for courses on their own; you will need the assistance of your academic advisor to put courses on your schedule. Undergraduate students will meet with their academic advisor during orientation in order to schedule courses and learn more about college-specific requirements. Undergraduate students who attend Pre-Departure Orientation in China can begin the course registration process prior to arrival (but are still required to attend immigration check-in and orientation on campus). Graduate students should meet with their academic department upon arrival to discuss course registration.


New international students are required to attend immigration check-in and orientation. This section provides answers students may have about scheduling an immigration check-in appointment and registering for orientation.

What is the difference between immigration check-in and orientation?

These are separate events and you are required to attend both immigration check-in and orientation to complete your arrival requirements. During immigration check-in you will meet with OIA immigration coordinators who will review your immigration documents in order to report your arrival to the U.S. federal government. This process is mandatory and should be completed as soon as you enter the United States. Failure to complete immigration check-in can result in termination of your immigration status.

Orientation will introduce you to Ohio State and cover important topics such as campus resources, safety and health information. Undergraduate students will attend a meeting with academic advisors from their college and schedule courses. Graduate students are required to attend orientation but should refer to their departments for course scheduling. All students will complete a mandatory health screening and review of vaccination requirements during orientation. We will also be hosting activities to help you learn more about campus and Columbus including tours and trips to places of interest where you can meet other new and current students.

Who has to attend immigration check-in and orientation?

F-1 and J-1 students entering the United States on an initial SEVIS record and F1 and J-1 students who have been issued a transfer I-20 form from another university in the United States. OIA strongly recommends that you register for immigration check-in and orientation early and make sure you check the deadline to register for an appointment. A registration for immigration check-in is required and they fill up quickly due to the large number of students that arrive at Ohio State each semester.

Students returning to Ohio State after a leave of absence are required to attend the mandatory check-in. It is highly recommended that returning students attend the orientation program.

Students who are not F-1 or J-1 students but are coming to the university from outside the United States are welcome to attend international student orientation if they would like to. Please contact int.orientation@osu.edu for more details.

What is the orientation fee?

Students will be assessed a one-time $50 orientation fee, which is used to cover costs of both immigration check-in and orientation. The fee will appear on your statement of account along wither other tuition and fees, for your first semester of enrollment.

What is BuckeyePass and why do I need it?

BuckeyePass is a multifactor authentication service provided by Ohio State, which is required when accessing your different Ohio State accounts. It helps protect your account even if your password is stolen. You must have BuckeyePass set up on a device that you will have with you during immigration check-in. You won't be able to complete the process without BuckeyePass. The easiest way to set up BuckeyePass is to download the Duo Mobile app on your mobile device. View instructions on how to set up BuckeyePass and download Duo Mobile.

Can I do my immigration check-in any day I want?

No—please register for an immigration check-in time on OIA’s website by choosing the appropriate academic term and following further directions under “Immigration Check-In.” If you do not have an appointment or you are encountering issues with the registration we will help you to schedule for the next available time, which can take up to two days to plan and reschedule. Make sure to register in advance to avoid delays!

Can I complete orientation and immigration check-in in one day?

If you are starting in an autumn or spring semester, then no. For those semesters, immigration check-in and orientation are separate events and take place on different dates. Please make sure you register for immigration check-in on OIA’s website. There is no registration for orientation as you will be automatically assigned an orientation time when you register for immigration check-in. Those starting in a summer term, can attend both on the same day, and registration is not necessary.

Do I also need to register for orientation?

You are required to register for immigration check-in on OIA’s website. Once you do that you will be automatically assigned to an orientation. Each immigration check-in time has a corresponding orientation session. Before you register, please make sure you can attend the orientation associated with your preferred check-in time because appointments cannot be changed. You only have to attend one immigration check-in and one orientation. The dates for immigration check-in and orientation are listed on OIA’s website under the each academic term. Visit the section, “Immigration Check-In,” to see the schedule.

I'm transferring from a university in the United States, do I need to complete immigration check-in and orientation?

Yes—please make sure you requested to have your SEVIS record transferred to The Ohio State University or you will not be able to complete immigration check-in. Please register for immigration check-in on our website by choosing the appropriate academic term and following further directions under “Immigration Check-In.”


I am currently on OPT, and will be starting a new degree program. Should I complete immigration check-in and orientation?
  • Ohio State University students on OPT: If you will be continuing on the same SEVIS record, no, you are not required to attend immigration check-in.
  • Students on OPT from another university in the United States, transferring your SEVIS record to Ohio State: Yes, you are required to attend both immigration check-in and orientation.

I did not get confirmation about my immigration check-in appointment. Can you confirm if I registered successfully?

Please check the “junk” or “spam” folder in your email first. If the confirmation email is not there please email us with the following information: first name, family name, SEVIS number or BuckID, email you listed in the registration to iss@osu.edu

I have a spouse and/or children. Do my dependents need to do immigration check-in?

Not necessarily. However, you can bring their passports and I-20s/DS2019s when you come to complete your immigration check-in and we can keep copies of their documents with your record.

Can I reschedule my immigration check-in appointment?

Only under extraordinary circumstances including: your flight has been delayed, delays with visa or passport issuance or other emergencies. Please email our office so an immigration coordinator can assist with your request at iss@osu.edu.

I have a Green Card/Permanent Resident Card, do I need to register for immigration check-in and orientation?

No—you are not required to check-in with the Office of International Affairs. Visit orientation.osu.edu to learn more about your orientation.

What should I do if I have to arrive after check-In and orientation are over?

Please contact the Office of International Affairs immediately so we can assist you at iss@osu.edu.