International Student Pre-Arrival Guide

International Student Pre-Arrival Guide

Congratulations on being accepted to Penn State!

Step 1: Get your visa

To obtain your visa take care of all pre-arrival processes, including completing the financial guarantee, requesting an I-20, paying the SEVIS fee, and applying for your student visa.

Step 2: Make travel plans

  • Philadelphia International Airport is about 18 miles (29 kilometers) from Penn State Brandywine and 18 miles from our suggested hotel.
  • Purchase a flight ticket or make driving plans if you are already in the United States.
  • If you need a hotel, we have reserved a block of rooms at the Best Western in Concordville. Contact Mrs. Ousey to get your discount room code.
  • Reserve your transportation from the airport to a hotel or housing (about 18 miles – 25 minutes without traffic):
    • Taxi service:  about $50 – 75 after 15% gratuity; rate depends on traffic
    • Limo in Philly:  about $85 for one person plus a 20% gratuity
    • UberX: about $30 (rates vary)
    • Lyft: approximately $20

Step 3: Make arrangements for housing

  • If you want to live in our campus residence hall, you must request a housing contract as soon as possible. A limited number of housing contracts are available. Move-in day for on-campus housing for international students is Monday, August 13, 2018.  
  • If you plan to live off-campus, look for permanent housing options for the school year along the Septa bus 110, 111, or 117 routes, preferably in Media or Brookhaven, PA. Contact Mrs. Ousey for information on local apartments and students looking for roommates.

Step 4: Prepare for International Student Orientation

  • ALL first-year international students must arrive in the United States NO LATER THAN SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2018 and attend the International Student Orientation (ISO), AUGUST 13-17, 2018, which will consist of assistance with banking, shopping and other practical arrangements, a welcome lunch, important information, and class registration.
  • First-year undergraduate students must complete the online ALEKS Math Assessment and the  Educational Planning Survey before they can register for International Student Orientation.
  • Once you have taken the ALEKS and the Educational Planning survey, you must confirm your attendance at International Student Orientation via the email you were sent about New Student Orientation.  (International Student Orientation is a special session of New Student Orientation.) If you have questions or did not receive an email, contact Mrs. Ousey.
  • Bring your passport, visa, and immunization verification form (see Step 5) to International Student Orientation.

Step 5: Fulfill mandatory health care requirements

  • You MUST print out the Immunization Verification Form and bring it to your health care provider for completion BEFORE you arrive on campus.
  • You MUST upload your completed Immunization Verification Form and complete the steps listed here.
  • Purchase the mandatory Penn State health insurance plan at First Student.
  • Translate your medical records, immunization records, and prescription information into English and bring them with you.

Step 6: Complete online document check-in - This can also be done at International Student Orientation

  • Log into iStart to view the Pre-Arrival Checklist and select "Mandatory Document Check-In."
  • Complete the questions and upload scanned copies of the requested documents.
    • Make sure to sign your I-20 or DS-2019 before scanning it.
    • After your arrival in the U.S., obtain your I-94 arrival information online and save it as a PDF document before uploading it to iStart.
    • Update your permanent address (outside of the U.S.) and local address (where you sleep) on eLion.
    • Email if you need help.

Step 7: Prepare for life at your new home

Step 8: Travel to Penn State Brandywine

  • Keep your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, money and other valuables with you at all times.
  • Familiarize yourself with the U.S. arrival process.
  • If your airline loses your luggage, complete a lost luggage report at the airport of your final airport destination with the local address where it should be delivered.

Welcome to Penn State Brandywine!

Questions or concerns? Contact Mrs. Deb Ousey, Coordinator of Multilingual Student Programs.