Parents and Families

We look forward to welcoming parents and families to campus throughout their student's Notre Dame career, but we particularly enjoy connecting during International Student Orientation (ISO) and Welcome Weekend. It is an extraordinary gift and responsibility to be part of the Notre Dame community that will care for and support their students. Parents and families are included in many orientation and welcome events, and even have a few of their own. We have highlighted below the most frequently asked questions we receive from our international student families.  

Am I able to stay in my student’s residence hall during ISO and Welcome Weekend?

Parents and family may help their student move in, but they are not allowed to stay overnight in the residence halls. There are several hotels on and near campus.

Are parents and/or family members able to attend orientation and Welcome Weekend with their student?

Yes, we encourage parents/families to join their students for orientation, and Welcome Weekend has a whole schedule just for families.  

How do I access my son or daughter's grades while they are at Notre Dame?

Due to FERPA restrictions, grades cannot be disclosed to anyone other than the student. FERPA is a federal law that helps protect the privacy of student education records and limits University officials ability to speak on a student's situation, even with their parents or immediate family members. FERPA provides students the right to: (1) inspect and review their education records; (2) seek to amend those records; and (3) limit disclosure of information from their education records except in certain circumstances.  This can be challenging for international student families who may not have similar limitations to information in their home country, and there is not a mechanism by which a student can waive their right to FERPA protection. Information about the student's academic life, mental health, physical health, and participation in life of the University is all limited. There is a related law in health care (HIPAA), that protects a patient's right to privacy. 

How can I set up payment for my student's tuition?

Parents and family members that wish to have access to pay their student’s tuition can become authorized payers through IRISHPAY, but that needs to be set up by the student. Instructions on how to designate an authorized payer can be found here. All questions about tuition payments can be sent to Student Accounts at

Does our student need to enroll in health insurance if we have our own?

International students must be enrolled in a valid health insurance plan while enrolled at Notre Dame, which provides access to U.S. based health care throughout their program. The Notre Dame-sponsored student insurance plan is excellent, affordable and available to both undergraduate and graduate students. If a family would like to waive the University health insurance, they must provide evidence of comparable coverage that meets the University's minimum requirements. More information about insurance rates, waivers and the waiver deadline can be found here

More information about health insurance in the U.S. can be found here.

We will be in the Notre Dame area for a few days - where can we find other things to do? 

We look forward to welcoming you to campus! Information on events happening on campus and how to get to campus can be found here. Information about the greater South Bend/Mishawaka area can be found here.

Can the University give me a letter of invitation for our visit?

Parents and family will likely need a B-1/B-2 or ESTA WB/WT status to visit the United States. The University does not issue invitation letters for Welcome Weekend or Graduation, because the Department of State has been very clear that they do not consider institutional invitation letters in determining whether to issue a visitor visa for families wanting to attend orientation, a football weekend, Junior Parent Weekend, or graduation.

It is more important that family members can articulate a clear purpose of the trip, an intent to return to their home country, and strong ties to home that ensure their return after the events or ceremonies. If a student wants to provide documentation for their family members to carry with them to the consulate for a visitor visa application, it is recommended that they include the following information in your letter of invitation or explanation:

  • the visitor’s name, date of birth, place of birth, nationality, and relationship to the student,
  • an explanation of the purpose and length of their stay (example: to attend the graduation ceremony),
  • a tentative schedule while they are visiting the U.S., including where they will stay/eat, if known, and
  • a description of what the student will provide during the visit (for example: room and board for a specific period of time, round trip airfare). 

We also recommend the student provides copies of the following documents for their visitors to have on hand, if questioned:

  • evidence of the student's status in the US (like a copy of the I-20),
  • evidence of enrollment at Notre Dame (an unofficial transcript or a copy of your course schedule), and
  • proof of relationship to your guests (if they are family member/s), and
  • a copy of the schedule of events (Welcome Weekend itinerary, Commencement itinerary, etc)

Again, the visitors will need to provide evidence that they intend to return to their home country and not remain in the U.S.

The decision to grant a visa is at the sole discretion of the consulate officer; the consulate officer may not look at or consider the student's letter or supporting documents, and they may not grant a visa for family members or friends to join the student in the U.S. 

Information on obtaining a visitor visa B-1/B-2 or applying for ESTA WB/WT can be found here.