All admitted international students are required to complete the International Student Visa Documentation process, including a financial guarantee, in order to receive visa-eligibility (I-20/DS-2019) and/or clearance to enroll in classes at Penn State.
The following is an overview of student visa process
Apply to Penn State
Visa and/or immigration related documentation is no longer required at the time of application. However, all documentation will need to be submitted prior to arriving on campus and enrolling in classes at Penn State.
2. Accept your offer of admission
3. Complete the on-line International Student Visa Documentation process
Access iStart to complete the on-line International Student Visa Documentation process. Once you have accepted your offer, Directorate of International Student Advising (DISA) will be notified and will contact you via email to provide instructions for accessing the link to our secure on-line system, iStart. The system will guide you through a series of sections and eForms where you will enter biographical and immigration-related information and upload required documentation (ex. visas, passports, bank statements and Affidavits of Support). You cannot access iStart until we send you the instructions.
To be issued an I-20 /DS-2019, a guarantee of finances will be required.
4. Case review
Once ALL required documentation and eForms have been submitted via iStart, DISA/Pre-Arrival Advising will review your case. The review process can take approximately 2-3 weeks.
You may be required to provide additional information and/or documentation as a part of this review process, which may further delay issuance of an I-20/DS-2019. Please keep this in mind as you plan to schedule your visa interview.
5. Case decision
- If you requested an I-20/DS-2019, you will receive an email notification when your case has been approved.
- If you did not request an I-20/DS-2019, you will receive an email notification when you have been cleared by our office to register for classes.
- If you are coming to Penn State from another U. S. Institution, you will receive an email notification and SEVIS release form when you have been pre-approved to receive an I-20/DS-2019. However, our office will be unable to prepare a new I-20 or DS-2019 document for you until after you have completed study at your current school or have completed any period of academic training (CPT/OPT) and your record has been released to The Pennsylvania State University within SEVIS
6. Request shipment of I-20/DS-2019
You can request a shipment for delivery of an I-20/DS-2019 at any time during the review process. However, requesting a shipment before you have been notified of our decision will not impact when your case is reviewed. Your shipment will be processed as soon as we have completed our review and prepared the document(s) for shipping.
Documents are mailed through the regular postal system unless otherwise requested. Regular first-class mail takes about 3-8 days within the U.S. and first-class, air mail takes about 2-5 weeks to addresses outside the United States. Express mail, however, is usually delivered within 1 week after the document has been prepared for shipping.