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Information for Prospective and New International Students

Traveling to the United States for study or work can be a big step culturally and logistically.  The information on this section of the website will help you prepare to take this step. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email or telephone.

All new students who are not US citizens will be contacted by International Student and Scholar Services ( ISSS) after paying their tuition deposit.  ISSSwill advise non-citizens about their visa needs and assist them with necessary paperwork.

Explore these topics to learn more:

Getting a Student Visa

These are the basic steps in obtaining a student visa:

  1. An accepted student pays the tuition deposit.
  2. ISSS requests documents from the student.
  3. After receiving documents, ISSS sends the student papers to obtain a visa.
  4. The student pays the I-901 fee and applies for a visa at the US embassy or consulate in their home country.
  5. The US embassy or consulate grants the student a visa.
  6. The student travels to the USA with their visa and USciences documentation to begin studies.

ISSS will reach out to all accepted international students with more details about the process and the documentation required for I-20/DS-2019 issuance.

F-1 Versus J-1 Visa Status

Source of Funds
F1-Visa Supported by personal, family or outside funds. Can combine funding sources.
J-1 Visa At least 51% of funds must be from an outside source (e.g scholarship, fellowship or government sponsorship.)
Off-Campus Employment  
F-1 Visa

Two authorization options:

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - for work/training off-campus connected to specific courses during your studies.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) - for work/training off-campus related to your degree during or after studies. 12 month limit with a 24 month extension available to students in a STEM-designated program.

For more information about CPT and OPT, contact the ISSS Program Manager

J-1 Visa

One authorization option:

Academic Training (AT) - for work/training off-campus related to your degree during or after studies. Permitted for 18 months or duration of program, whichever is shorter. An additional 18 months are permitted for students at the PhD level.

For more information about AT, contact the ISSS Program Manager

Dependents (spouse and/or children)
F1-Visa Dependents in F-2 status may study part-time.  They are not eligible for employment.
J-1 Visa Dependents in J-2 status may study full-time.  They may also apply for employment authorization.

Preparing to Attend USciences

Required Health Insurance

USciences requires all international students to enroll in the university‚Äôs student health insurance plan (SHIP), or to opt out of the plan.  It is only possible to opt out of (or waive) the SHIP if you can demonstrate that you have purchased a plan with benefits that are equal to or better than the SHIP.

Students sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) are not required to submit plan information before arrival or enroll in the SHIP.

Additional information about how to enroll.

Health and Immunization Requirements for New Students

USciences requires new full-time undergraduate and graduate students to provide proof of medical clearance to attend classes, consisting of:

  • Up-to-date medical history (completed by student)
  • Comprehensive health evaluation (i.e. Physical Exam by a Physician/Nurse Practitioner)
  • Documentation by Physician/Nurse Practitioner (prior to entering the USA) stating proof of all required vaccinations.

Students who do not submit a fully completed health packet by the deadline will be charged a late fee and registration may be restricted until all health requirements are met (completed health form, physical exam and proof of all required vaccinations).

New international students will be sent instructions from Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) along with with their immigration documents.  The health packet and details about immunization and other health requirements can also be found on the SHAC website.

Transferring to USciences

International students accepted to USciences often come from a high school or another university within the United States.  To maintain F-1 or J-1 visa status, these students must request a SEVIS transfer from the former school to USciences.  ISSS will advise accepted students already studying in F-1 or J-1 status on transfer procedures and necessary documentation.

Students in F-1 status may stay in the USA while waiting to start their studies at USciences if the time period between the I-20 program end date at their former school and the USciences I-20 program start date is less than five months.

Students in J-1 status should coordinate their transfer dates carefully with ISSS and their current school.



Students are generally required to live on campus and purchase a meal plan in their first year. Students must submit a housing application and a room reservation fee before arrival, and will be contacted with information on how to apply upon acceptance.  More information about on-campus housing.

The residence halls and dining halls are closed for the winter, spring and summer breaks.  Students should check the dates on the academic calendar and plan early to find alternative accommodations for these breaks.


On-campus housing is an option for single graduate students, and there are plenty of options close by for students who are married or accompanied by family.

When thinking about living off-campus, there are several factors to consider: proximity to campus, safety, cost, and accessibility to public transportation.  Housing around USciences can vary greatly in price, condition, convenience and type of accommodation. Because renting an apartment can be expensive, many students live with roommates to share the cost of rent and utilities.

For more information, see the Residence Life website or view off-campus housing options.

International Student Orientation

This orientation is mandatory for all new international students at USciences, including first-year, transfer, and graduate students. Meet the staff of ISSS and learn about the services and resources available to international students. ISSS will send accepted students details about orientation prior to their arrival.


Bill Keyes
ISSS Program Manager


University of the Sciences
600 South 43rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495