Pre-Arrival Checklist

Pre–Arrival Check


How to Obtain Your Visa and Plan Your Travel to the U.S.

If you are living outside the U.S. you must obtain a passport from your home country. Next, you must apply for an F-1 student visa if you are seeking a full degree at Eastern Connecticut State University or J-1 visa if you are looking to do a one semester exchange program. As soon as you receive your I-20 or DS-2019, schedule your visa appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for an F-1 or J-1.

Canadian citizens do not need a visa, but simply present the I-20 or DS-2019, SEVIS fee receipt, financial documentation, and proof of admission to ECSU to the immigration officer at the U.S. port of entry. A passport may be required depending on your method of travel. For more specific information, visit the U.S. Department of State’s travel pages at

Apply for the Visa as Early as Possible

Students applying for initial entry F-1 and F-2 visas may be issued the visas up to 120 days before the academic program start date as noted in item 5 on the I-20. J-1 and J-2 Exchange Visitors may be issued visas at any time before the beginning of their programs.

IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that you may not enter the U.S. earlier than 30 days before the start date noted in item 5 on the I-20 form or item 3 on the DS-2019 form. You should make your travel arrangements with this date in mind. The start date is chosen to allow adequate time for you to arrive to the ECSU International Students Orientation Week.

Your I-20 or DS-2019 does not require a travel signature for your initial entry into the U.S. However, you need a travel signature for subsequent trips. Dr. Petoskey or Mr. Dmitry Satsuk cannot sign your document for travel and reentry to the U.S., until you have registered full-time for your first semester. Do not plan to travel outside the U.S. after your first entry unless you will be able to register first and obtain a travel signature. Bear in mind that Dr. Petoskey and Dmitry aren’t always to be found on campus so make sure to get your travel signature well in advance.

SEVIS Transfer Students

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) is the system used in the U.S. to keep track of the visiting scholars, exchange and full degree seeking students. For more specific information about SEVIS, visit here:

  • You can travel with your current F-1 visa and ECSU I-20, even if the visa has your previous school’s name on it, as long as the visa is not expired and you are not outside the U.S. more than five months between academic programs.
  • You can use your ECSU “transfer pending” I-20 to enter the U.S. once without a travel signature before the start date, even earlier than 30 days before the I-20 start date. The 30-day rule is only for travel with “initial” I-20s, not “transfer pending” I-20s. However, if you wish to travel outside the U.S. after your initial entry on your ECSU “transfer pending” I-20, you will need a travel signature from either Mr. Dmitry Satsuk or Dr. Petoskey. It is recommended that transfer students wait to receive an ECSU “transfer complete” I-20 before traveling outside the U.S. as the “transfer complete” I-20 is issued with a travel signature.

Have Health Insurance

All international students must maintain adequate health insurance while attending Eastern Connecticut State University.


Review Post-Arrival Checklist

Review the Post-Arrival Checklist ( to be prepared for your arrival to Connecticut.