Thomas Jefferson University

Preparing to come to Jefferson

For foreign students and scholars preparing to travel to Jefferson

OIA strongly recommends that you make your travel arrangements after you have received your visa application materials/entry documents and after your visa application has been approved by a U.S. Consular official.

First, review all the materials to make sure there are no misspellings or other mistakes on your documents. If everything is correct and accurate, you may use these documents to apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you. If corrections need to be made to your visa application materials, please contact OIA.

Since visa application procedures differ from each consular office and sometimes from day to day, you should find information about the Embassy or Consulate you will use for your visa application on the internet at

Generally, however, you will be expected to present the following to the consular officer:

  • The completed online visa application Form DS-160 available at the U.S. Department of State website:
  • Visa application fee
  • Proof of paid I-901 SEVIS fee (for J-1 and F-1)
  • Your entry document (I-20 for F-1 student status, DS-2019 for J-1 status, form I-797 for H-1B status), signed by you and by the designated College official/responsible officer
  • A passport valid for at least six (6) months
  • Proof of "non-immigrant intent"--intention to stay in the U.S. temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study
  • Proof of a residence outside the U.S. to which you intend to return after completing the temporary period of study, research or training
  • Proof of financial ability to cover the cost of education and living expenses while at Jefferson (see above on original financial documentation)
  • You also should be prepared for the consular official to review your English proficiency, unless there is a notation otherwise on your student entry document

Below are examples of situations in which your visa application may be at risk. Please contact OIA if any of these cases applies to you.

  • You intend to make an application in a "third" country (e.g., you are from P.R. China, but you intend to go to Canada to obtain a visa).
  • This is your first application for a visa.
  • You are returning home after a long stay in the U.S. (3 or more years).
  • There is a serious political or economic crisis in your home country.
  • You are waiting for the results of an application for permanent residency
  • You are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

If your visa application is denied, before you leave the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, obtain a written explanation of the specific reason you are denied the visa and ask about re-application procedures. Also, try to obtain the full name of the officer who interviewed you, as well as her/his fax number. OIA might be able to help you if you can tell us this information.

Applicants generally establish their ties abroad by presenting evidence of economic, social, and/or family ties in their homeland.

  • Proof that your immediate family members reside in your home country
  • Proof that you own property or maintain a bank account in your home country
  • Showing the high likelihood of employment in your home country in your field of study after you complete your program in the U.S. (evidence of job searches, interviews, letters of prospective employment from employers in your home country, etc.)

Once you have made your travel arrangements, contact your department. Your department should then contact OIA to schedule your required orientation appointment with our office.

OIA encloses some health insurance company brochures with each DS-2019 pre-arrival packet.

As an Exchange Visitor in the United States, under a rule effective September 1, 1994, you must carry health insurance for yourself and your J-2 dependents for the full duration of your J program. Government regulations stipulate that if, after that date, you willfully fail to carry health insurance for yourself and your dependents, your J-1 sponsor must terminate your program, and report the termination to the United States Department of State (DOS).

The following requirements have been established for the type and amounts of coverage you must carry if you hold J-1 or J-2 status:

  • The policy must provide "medical benefits of at least $50,000 for each accident or illness."
  • If you should die in the United States, the policy must provide at least $7,500 in benefits to send your remains to your home country for burial.
  • If, because of a serious illness or injury, you must be sent home on the advice of a doctor, the policy must pay up to $10,000 for the expenses of your travel.
  • The policy may establish a waiting period before it covers pre-existing conditions (health problems you had before you bought the insurance), as long as the waiting period is reasonable by current standards in the insurance industry.

The policy must be backed by the full faith and credit of your home country government, or the company providing the insurance must meet minimum rating requirements established by DOS (an A. M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-i" or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above).

When you land in the United States, you must go through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with your valid immigration documents to gain admission.  For information on what to expect, please visit the Department of Homeland Security.