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Almost all international students will need a student visa in order to travel to and enter the United States.

OISS recommends that you contact your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as you receive your immigration documents from our office.

Exceptions to the Visa Rule: Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need a visa stamp in their passports in order to travel to the U.S. They do need a valid I-20 or DS-2019 to enter the U.S. for educational purposes.

Continuing Students

Students currently in the U.S. with an expired F-1 or J-1 visa may remain in the country until the program end date listed on their I-20 or DS-2019 documents. If you decide to travel outside of the U.S., you will need a visa to re-enter the country.

If you travel to a country other than your country of citizenship and need a visa to return to the U.S., make sure your destination country accommodates third country visas before you travel. If a third country consulate denies your visa, you cannot use the automatic revalidation to re-enter the U.S. Exceptions: Citizens of Canada or Bermuda do not need a visa in their passport to enter the U.S. They do need a valid I-20 or DS-2019 with current signatures from OISS for re-entry.

Types of Student Visas

Most international students at Lehigh University hold an F-1 visa. Some students hold a J-1 visa. Lehigh typically issues a Form I-20 (or DS-2019 for J-1 students) to international students, unless the student is sponsored by another organization such as the Fulbright Program. In that case, that organization issues the DS-2019.

 F-1 VisaJ-1 Visa
Eligibility

You must be admitted to a prescribed full-time program.

You must be admitted to a full-time program as part of an exchange that is:

  • based on an agreement between the U.S. and a foreign government; or
  • based on an agreement between Lehigh University and a foreign institution
FormsForm I-20: Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student StatusForm DS-2019: Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status
FundingYou must show proof of funding for at least the first year of your program, or for the entire program if your program is for one year.You must show proof of funding for your entire program. If you show proof of funding for one year, your DS-2019 will be valid for one year only.
DependentsF-2 dependents of F-1 students cannot study full-time in the United States, except school-age children younger than 18.

J-2 dependents of J-1 students can study in the United States. They can also apply for work authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Health InsuranceLehigh University requires all undergraduate and graduate students to have health insurance. OISS strongly recommends that F-1 graduate students and F-2 dependents purchase health insurance as well.
Learn more

The U.S. government requires that all J-1 undergraduate and graduate students and J-2 dependents have health insurance that includes:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible of no more than $500 per accident or illness
On-Campus EmploymentYou can work up to 20 hours a week during school and full-time when school is not in session. To accept employment and receive payment, you must complete the required payroll forms at OISS no later than 3 days after your employment start date and apply for a Social Security Number.You can work up 20 hours a week during school and full-time when school is not in session. To accept employment and receive payment, you must first get approval from OISS. You will also need to complete the required payroll forms at OISS no later than 3 days after your employment start date and apply for a Social Security Number.
Off-Campus Employment

You can participate in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or work because of economic necessity during your program.

After your program, you qualify for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

You may participate in Academic Training (AT) or work because of economic necessity.

After your program, you may qualify for Academic Training (AT).
Home Residency RequirementNo requirement

You may be required to return to your home country for at least two years after your program ends if you have government funding or if you are studying a field on this skills list. The two-year home residency may prevent you from changing status in U.S. or obtain family based visas.

TransferringYou can transfer to another U.S. school in the middle of your program or up to 60 days after completing your program.

You can transfer to another U.S. school before your DS-2019 expires.

You can move up a degree level (i.e. from M.A. to Ph.D.), but you cannot move down (Ph.D. to M.A.).

You cannot change from degree to non-degree.

Learn more

Grace Period After Program Completion60 days to leave the U.S., apply to another school or change status30 days to leave the U.S., apply to another school or change status if you are eligible