FAQs for Pre-arrival

The questions and answers below cover frequently asked questions that students have about applying for a visa, preparing for arrival, and arriving in the U.S.

I-20/DS-2019   Visa Application   Getting to Campus

Please be sure to review the CDC's requirements for proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for entering the U.S. here

Form I-20 and Form DS-2019

How do I get my Form I-20 or Form DS-2019?

For graduate and professional students: once you have accepted your admissions offer, your admissions department (Graduate School, Mendoza GBP, Law School, School of Architecture) will send you an email with instructions on how to request your Form I-20. All graduate and professional students request their immigration eligibility documents through ISSAlink.nd.edu.

For undergraduate and undergraduate exchange students, your admitting department will provide your admissions materials to ISSA once you have confirmed acceptance, and we will issue the I-20 directly to you.

In all cases, ISSA issues an electronic copy of the Form I-20, which students will print off and sign. We must ship the DS-2019, per Department of State regulations, and J-1 students will be advised on how to schedule and pay for that shipment.

How long will it take to get my Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 once I have submitted the request form in ISSAlink?

Due to the high volume of requests in the spring, please allow us 8-10 business days to process your request. Check your emails for any follow-up questions we have prior to issuing your documents.

Graduate & Professional Students: My department sent me the link to request my I-20/DS-2019, so why can’t I access the Initial Document Request form in ISSAlink.nd.edu?

It can take up to 72 hours after activating your netID and Okta account for your account to be available in ISSAlink.nd.edu. You’ll need to wait, but if you still cannot access your account after 72 hours, email us at issa@nd.edu.

How do I know which visa type to choose?

You can find information about the F and J visa here, including eligibility for the J-1 visa. Most degree seeking students at Notre Dame study with an F-1 visa.

Non-degree exchange students will study with a J-1 visa. Some graduate and professional students may also be eligible to study with a J-1 student visa.

I am an international student but will not study at the University with a Notre Dame-sponsored F or J visa. Do I need to do anything in ISSAlink?

You do not! ISSAlink is an information and request portal for students studying at Notre Dame with a Notre Dame-sponsored F or J visa.

I received my I-20/DS-2019, but the CIP code name doesn’t match the name of my major. What should I do?

It’s important to remember that the CIP codes and names are determined by the U.S. government, and even though it is the appropriate CIP code for your major, the name may not necessarily match your actual major. The university decided that CIP code was the government code that most closely matched your major. Some examples of this include:

University Major Name CIP Code CIP Code Name
Business Analytics 52.1399 Management Sciences & Quantitative Methods
MBA - Corporate Finance and Investment concentrations  27.0305 Financial Mathematics
ESTEEM 14.1301 Engineering Science
Masters of Global Health 30.9999 Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other

You can find a list of all majors at the University with their designated CIP codes here.

If after confirming your major’s CIP code, you still have questions, email ISSA.

Why doesn’t the I-20 or DS-2019 say my major is STEM-designated?

The I-20 has never indicated whether a major is STEM-designated, but you can confirm your major’s STEM designation by reviewing the U.S. DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List; search by CIP code.

Graduate & Professional Students: What kind of financial documentation will I need to present in order to receive an I-20 or DS-2019?

With the exception of two year Mendoza Graduate Business Program students, all F-1 students are required to present evidence of funding for one year of study. This includes full tuition and fees and living expenses. J-1 students will have to show full funding for the duration of their program dates on the DS-2019.

ISSA calculates expenses based on Estimated Costs of attendance information from the Office of Financial Aid. We do not include transportation in the cost of attendance for I-20 purposes. You can find an explanation of appropriate funding types here.

Graduate & Professional students: My funding has changed (e.g. I received an additional fellowship), does my I-20 need to be updated?

Once your Initial I-20 has been issued, you can submit a “Request Updated I-20” form in ISSAlink.nd.edu and upload accompanying evidence there. This form can be found under F-1 Student Services.

Graduate & Professional students: I have been granted summer start admission (or will be enrolled full-time prior to the start of fall semester), does my I-20 need to be updated?

Yes, it does. The Program Start Date indicates when you will start your program and determines when you can enter the U.S. in F-1 status, so it must accurately reflect your program dates.

  • If your Initial I-20 has already been issued, submit a “Request Updated I-20” form in ISSAlink.nd.edu and upload the new summer start admission letter there.
  • If your Initial I-20 has not been issued, you can upload both letters in the “Request Initial Immigration Documents” form.

How early can I enter the U.S.?

Students entering the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 student status can enter up to 30 days prior to the program start date. F-1 students, you will find an “Earliest Admission Date” under the “Program of Study” section of your I-20.

*If you will enroll in a supplemental English course or research prior to the start of the fall semester, that start date should be reflected on your I-20 as the program start date. We will need confirmation you are enrolled in the course prior to updating the Form I-20.

Visa Application Process

If I have more than one citizenship, does it matter which one I use to apply for a visa?

It usually does not, but it will be important to ensure your citizenship on the I-20 or DS-2019 matches the passport you travel with and ensure that you enter U.S. with the passport with F-1 or J-1 visa every time. For dual citizens who have Canadian citizenship, it may be easier to travel with Canadian citizenship, as you will not need to acquire the visa stamp. 

Will I be able to get a visa?

While most embassies and consulates have resumed visa processing, the Department of State has not provided guidance about when each embassy will open or what to expect once they have, and it is ultimately their decision as to when visas will be processed again in your country. If appointments are currently restricted, we recommend you check in to the embassy website frequently until you have an appointment.

Can you help me get an expedited visa appointment?

Because the visa application is between the Department of State and the student, there is no mechanism by which ND or ISSA can intervene on behalf of the student. In most cases, the embassy will review your program start date and make a determination to expedite based on that. With the I-20/DS-2019 and admission letter from Notre Dame, you have all you need to request an expedited appointment.

Fortunately, the Department of State continues to prioritize F and J visa applications, and you can find the most up to date visa appointment wait times here

If it becomes necessary to request an expedited appointment, check the consulate website for specific. In some cases, you can indicate when scheduling if you will need an earlier appointment than what is listed as available.Generally you cannot request an expedited appointment until you are within 2-6 weeks of your program start date and you only have one opportunity to request the expedited appointment. Plan accordingly.

What documents should I bring to my visa interview?

In addition to your valid passport, your Form I-20/DS-2019, documentation of your financial resources, your admission letter, and any amended admission letters that indicate a start date other than fall, you will want to review the consulate website where you are applying for an appointment. They may have additional documentation requirements.

Preparing for Arrival in the U.S.

What are my options for getting to campus once I arrive in the U.S.?

Please review our transportation options on our arrival page.

What accommodations are available for my family when dropping me off at the University (or if I have to wait for my lease to begin)?

While family members are not permitted to stay in the residence halls with their students, there are a number of accommodations close to campus, including the on-campus Hotel, The Morris Inn, and the on-campus Sacred Heart Parish Center, which has dorm style bedrooms.

Other options that are a 20 minute walking distance from campus (*), have a shuttle (**) or are a 10 minute drive (bus, car, or Uber) from campus are below. Some hotels further out may provide a shuttle from the hotel to campus, too. For additional accommodations, review options listed here.

Fairfield Inn & Suites*

1220 E. Angela Blvd.
South Bend, IN 46617

Quality Inn

215 Dixie Way South
South Bend, IN 46637

Ivy Court Inn & Suites*

1404 Ivy Court
South Bend, IN 46637

Hampton Inn & Suites

52709 State Route 933
South Bend, IN 46637

Embassy Suites*

1140 East Angela

South Bend, IN 46637

Holiday Inn Express

120 Dixie Way N
South Bend, IN 46637

DoubleTree by Hilton

123 N. St. Joseph St.
South Bend, Indiana 46601

Inn at Saint Mary’s**

53993 State Route 933
South Bend, N 46637

Hilton Garden Inn**

53995 State Route 933
South Bend, IN 46637