Undergraduate Student Orientation: August 14th to August 24th (Arrive No Later Than August 13)
Graduate Student Orientation: August 5, 12, 20, or 21 (Arrive No Later Than August August 22)
Apply for Admission
You will receive a packet from the Office of Admissions with your I-20 or DS-2019 from Iowa State University. This will come via postal service, not electronically.
Accept Offer of Admission
This step is only completed by undergraduate degree-seeking students. Degree-seeking students must accept their offer of admission as soon as possible. This includes a $330 acceptance fee. More information can be found on the Office of Admission's website.
Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee
If you are a first-time applicant for an F-1 or J-1 visa, you are required to pay the SEVIS fee before your visa interview. More information regarding the I-901 SEVIS fee can be found on the I-901 SEVIS Fee website.
Apply for an F-1 or J-1 Visa
After accepting admission and paying the I-901 SEVIS fee, apply for a visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. More information can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.
Set Arrival Dates
You can arrive up to 30 days prior to the program start date. The program start date can be found in item #5 of your I-20 or item #3 of your DS-2019. ISSO recommends that you arrive 3 - 4 days before your program start date.
Create a NetID
Your NetID will be your main form of university communication and the key to access several resources at Iowa State University. Your NetID is the first part of your @iastate.edu email address and you will use it on a daily basis. Please take a moment to create your NetID by following these simple steps on the ISU Information Technology website.
Submit Immunization Records
Incoming students must have certain immunizations completed to attend Iowa State University. Students can submit documentation of their immunization history to the Theilen Health Center. More information on immunization record requirements can be found on the Thielen Student Health Center website.
If you will be under the age of 18 when you arrive at ISU, it is required that your parent or guardian complete the Consent to Treat a Minor form.
Take the ALEKS Math Placement Test (Undergraduate Degree-Seeking Students Only)
The ALEKS math test is required for all undergraduate degree-seeking students. This test aids academic advisers in determining the appropriate mathematics course selection for you. We recommend you take this before you arrive at ISU. More information can be found on ALEKS Math Placement website.
Find Permanent Housing
You may choose to live on or off campus during your time at Iowa State University. More information about on-campus housing can be found on the Department of Residence website.
Register for Orientation Housing
During orientation and before the move-in date for residence halls, ISSO will provide temporary housing. For more information on how to register for Orientation Housing, please visit the Orientation Housing website.
Access the Online Orientation
ISSO provides a mandatory online orientation for students before they have arrived in Ames. You are required to complete each module of the online orientation. After registering for your NetID, you will be sent an invitation to join the ISSO Online Orientation Course on Canvas.
To access the ISSO Online Orientation Course:
- Click on the link in the email
- If you did not receive the enrollment link in your CyMail, please email your ISU NetID to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Login with your ISU NetID (ISU email) and password
- Accept the course invitation
- Select Dashboard and select "ISSO International Student Online Orientation" to launch the course
Complete the Online Orientation
To complete a module, you will first click on the title of the module. Then you will watch the video by clicking the “Play Button.” Each learning module has a video that covers content that is important to know as a new student at ISU. Once you have reviewed the information, you can click on the second page of the learning module to access the quiz. This quiz does not count towards your grade point average at Iowa State University, but instead is a way to track your comprehension of the material.
To access a quiz, select the “Click to Launch” button, and then select the "Begin" button. Answer each question before clicking the “Save and Submit” button. You must receive an 80% to complete the learning module before proceeding to the next module.
Prepare for Your Trip
Bring Required Documents
Students must have the following documents in their possession when entering the U.S.:
- I-20 or DS-2019
- Admission letter
- Financial support documentation
A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will review all immigration documents (listed above) and any supporting materials when you enter the U.S. border. They may ask additional questions about your plans in the U.S. If there are any questions regarding your record, you may be asked to go to secondary inspection for a more thorough review of your documents and record.
Prepare Your Initial Expenses
When packing for your initial expenses, we anticipate that your first few weeks in Ames may range from $1,000 to $1,500 (excluding cost of Orientation Housing or transportation). We recommend bringing sufficient funds to cover the first three months through traveller's checks, ATM, or debit/credit cards until you establish a bank account in the U.S. Never carry large amounts of cash with you or in your luggage when checked in with the airlines.
Getting to Ames from the Des Moines International Airport
ISSO has partnered with Executive Express to provide all incoming international students a FREE shuttle service from the Des Moines International Airport to Ames. This free ride is only available to new ISU international students. The baggage limit is 2 items in the back and a small personal item (that can be stored on your lap). There is a $15 fee for every additional bag.
To register: Email email@example.com and a registration link will be sent via email.
Drop-Off Location: If staying in temporary housing, select "Orientation Housing" as the drop-off location. If staying at an alternate location, select "Home Drop-Off" as your drop-off location.
Watch this video to learn more about Executive Express and what to expect.
Uber or Lyft
Uber and Lyft are popular modes of transportation for international students. To use Uber or Lyft, down their mobile application(s) on your phone. You will need to set-up payment with your credit card information. Once the app is set up on your phone, you can request pick-up from your current location to your destination in Ames. Price can vary depending on the day/time, but is typically around $90 USD (including tip).
You can find the queue for taxis directly outside of baggage claim. The price can vary, but anticipate around $100 USD (excluding tip).
Airport Express Shuttle
The Airport Express Shuttle can also take you directly to Ames. Stop by the Airport Express Shuttle counter by the baggage claim area.
International Student Orientation will be your chance to get acquainted with campus, build your course schedule, and meet new friends! Undergraduates are required to attend all of Orientation. View the Undergraduate Orientation Schedule.
Course Registration: Incoming international students will register for classes during the week of orientation. Students will have an arranged meeting with their academic adviser from their college who will personally help them develop their course schedule.
Graduate Student Orientation
Graduate students must participate in a 3-hour Graduate Student Check-In and Health Screening to fulfill their orientation requirement. To register, please visit the Graduate Student Check-in website. Review the Graduate Orientation Schedule for additional details on what to expect.
For more information, see the Admitted Students Letter.
Course Registration: Contact your academic department for information about course registration.
Bring Documents Required for Orientation
- Iowa State University I-20 or DS-2019
- ISU ID Number (found on admission letter)
- Dependent documents: Passports, visas, and I-20s or DS-2019s
- Address in Ames (can be temporary address, such as hotel or home of a friend with whom you are staying)
- Emergency contact information (name, phone number, email address, and physical address) for person in U.S. or abroad. Generally, this is a parent or other family member.
- Letter of intent (for graduate students on assistantship)
- Financial guarantee (if educational expenses are to be paid by a government, agency, or institution instead of by you or your family)
Take the English Placement Test
English Placement Test for Non-Native English Speakers of English (EPT) is required for all incoming students whose first language is not English and do not meet any of the other exemption categories. The English Placement Test results aid academic advisers in determining appropriate English course selection for you and determine whether English as a Second Language coursework is necessary. For registration, exemption, and all other information, review the English Placement Test website.
Incoming international students will register for classes during the week of orientation. Students will have an arranged meeting with their academic adviser from their college who will personally help them develop their course schedule.
For graduate students: Some specific graduate departments allow their students to register early. This is strictly based on the discretion of the department.
Attend Orientation Events
Orientation events are open to all incoming international students (undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree students). Check out the upcoming Fall Orientation Events.
All International students must pay their student account balance (or U-Bill) on time to avoid additional charges. Iowa State University is now working with Western Union Business Solutions to provide international students an alternative method for paying student bills. This payment option allows you to pay your U-Bill balance in the currency of your choice and provides a simple and reliable way of initiating payments electronically. More information can be found on the Accounts Receivable website.