Center for International Programs

International Travel Forms

  WCU International Travel Form Approvals

All West Chester University personnel travelling internationally (outside of the contiguous United States: this includes Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico) must receive approval prior to travel and in writing by the Center for International Programs and both the Provost and the University President.  There are two key steps and forms to fill out.   Both of these forms must be submitted to the Center for International Programs at least 4-6 weeks prior to travel.

A.International Travel Authorization Form

B. Technology Control Plan Forms (signed only by you and emailed directly to international@wcupa.edu)

Any questions? Contact the Center for International Programs (x3515 or international@wcupa.edu). Detailed instruction and helpful hints for completing the International Travel Authorization form and the Technology Control Plan Form are found below.

 

Note:  All Faculty or Staff led study abroad programs (credit or non-credit, sports, club, and music performances etc.) that involve students travelling internationally must be in communication 6-8 months prior to departure with Dr. Peter Loedel (ploedel@wcupa.edu) and/or Jeff Conradi (jconradi@wcupa.edu) in the Center for International Programs. A program proposal form is required.  More detailed information and deadlines can be found at:
www.wcupa.edu/international/facultyled/

 

A. International Travel Authorization Form:

Please take note of the following:

  • The traveler should prepare the authorization form at least 4-6 weeks before departure, and before any reservations are made (if University funds will be used). The authorization form is required regardless of the source of funds for the trip.  If the authorization form is received in the Provost/President Office after the traveler has departed, travel will not be approved and expenses will not be reimbursed.
  • In all instances, the Department Chair or Manager/supervisor must sign and date the Advance Travel Authorization Form, after which the Dean or Director signs and dates. 
  • Please include the source of funding for the trip (SAP Cost Center or other). If no university funds are being used, please state briefly that “No university funding is being used for this trip.”
  • Additional signatures may be required by the Associate Vice President of Sponsored Research if funding is provided by a Federal granting agency or by the local Faculty Grants Development (FGD) Committee.
  • The signature of the Assistant Vice President for International Programs is required for all international travel.
  • After signatures are obtained from the department and funding unit(s), forms must be sent to the Provost/President’s Office.  
  • When all approvals have been obtained, the Provost Office will notify the relevant Dean/Director’s Office that the forms may be picked up.

 

The same process should be followed upon return and when filing for reimbursement using the travel expense form.

B. The Technology Control Plan Form  

 

PASSHE and WCU developed procedures that will ensure that each of the System schools is in compliance with Federal government regulations regarding Embargo and Export Controls (see PASSHE’s Export Control Website). The Center for International Programs, WCU's Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) and the Division of Information Services (IS) has developed a Technology Control Plan that will ensure your international travel compliance with Export Control Laws. WCU employees traveling overseas are required to review and sign the Technology Control Plan Form(s).  The traveler is the only person that signs this form and it is emailed directly to international@wcupa.edu.
As a general rule of thumb:

  1. If traveling on university business, AND carrying university technology/equipment, you are required to fill out both the “TMP” and “BAG” Forms
  2. If traveling on university business, but carrying personal equipment, you are required to only fill out the one form labeled “BAG”.

The federal rules require all travelers ensure that sensitive digital research data is appropriately protected.  If you believe you are traveling with sensitive digital research data or to an embargoed country, the IS Division will need at least a two week notice to review the software and data contained on the laptop (or any other technical device) being taken out of the country.  If you have any questions, please contact the University Designated Officer (UDO) for IS - Mr. JT Singh. He may be reached at: E-Mail: Jsingh@wcupa.edu or Voice: 610) 436-1045.

Undergraduate Admissions

China, India, Kenya, Korea, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are just a few of the more than 60 countries represented in West Chester University's student body. Students come to WCU from around the world for many reasons. Our reputation for educational excellence is global and our proximity to Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C., is unbeatable. The opportunities and experiences we offer are transformational!

Application Procedures

International students are required to submit their application and all supporting documents to the Office of Admissions six months prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment.

First-Year and Transfer International Applicants must complete the online International Undergraduate Admissions application, as well as supply the following:

  • Evaluated/Translated Transcript(s) - all applicants must submit official, English-translated copies of all secondary course work completed, including subjects listed and marks earned. Acceptable evaluation services include:

    West Chester University requires that you request a "course by course" equivalency summary and have the evaluation mailed directly from one of the acceptable evaluation services.

  • English Proficiency Score Report - all non-native speakers of English must submit an official report from one of the following organizations:

    • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) - applicants must score a minimum of 80 on the internet based test (ibt), a minimum of 550 on the written test or a minimum of a 213 on the computer based test. SAT or ACT scores can also be submitted and will be considered as a supplement to the TOEFL; or
    • IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) - applicants must receive an overall IELTS score at band 6.5 or above, and minimum scores of 6.0 for speaking, listening, reading and writing are preferred; or
    • INTERLINK Language Center. Completion of the INTERLINK program substitutes for TOEFL and IELTS requirements at West Chester University.

West Chester University requires that the evaluated/translated transcript(s) and the English-proficiency score report be mailed directly to:

Office of Undergraduate Admissions
West Chester University
100 West Rosedale Avenue
West Chester, PA 19383

Application Fee

All candidates for admissions must submit a $45 application fee when completing the online International Undergraduate Admissions application, which can not be waived.

Financial Aid

We sincerely regret that West Chester University does not have the resources required to offer financial aid to students from other countries.

Education Majors

In order to become certified as a teacher in Pennsylvania, you must be a US citizen or US permanent resident.

Undergraduate Admissions

Please contact Summer Davey, Assistant Director for International and Transfer Student Admissions at (610) 430-4966 or uginternational@wcupa.edu for any admissions related questions.

Additional Information for International Students

The Center for International Programs seeks to develop, serve and support international education at West Chester University. In addition to dealing with practical necessities of foreign students (such as immigration, orientation, housing, personal and academic counseling), this office promotes increased regional and global understanding through a variety of endeavors in the University and the community which it serves.

Center for International Programs INTERLINK Language Center
Angela Howard
Assistant Director, International Programs
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
101B Old Library - 775 South Church Street
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610-436-3515
Email: AHoward@wcupa.edu

Mariana Syrotiak
Director, INTERLINK Language Center
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
809 Roslyn Ave.
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610-436-1067
Email: MSyrotiak@wcupa.edu

Graduate Admissions

International students seeking admission to a master's degree program must complete an admission application via the online Graduate Admissions Application.

Students from international countries may be admitted to the graduate program, provided they meet certain special requirements in addition to the University and program admission requirements. International students, like other out-of-state students, are accepted only when space is available.

Applications and supporting documents must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies no later than May 1 for admission the following fall semester, and October 15 for admission the following spring semester.

Note: These application deadlines are for international students residing outside the United States and requiring the issuance of immigration documents. If you are currently residing in the United States, your deadlines are the same as a domestic applicant.

English Proficiency Score Report - all non-native speakers of English must submit an official report from one of the following organizations:
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) - applicants must score a minimum of 80 on the internet based test (ibt), a minimum of 550 on the written test or a minimum of a 213 on the computer based test. SAT or ACT scores can also be submitted and will be considered as a supplement to the TOEFL; or
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) - applicants must receive an overall IELTS score at band 6.5 or above, and minimum scores of 6.0 for speaking, listening, reading and writing are preferred; or
  • INTERLINK Language Center. Completion of the INTERLINK program substitutes for TOEFL and IELTS requirements at West Chester University.

The following official education documents must be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies

  • A completed application form.
  • A transcript evaluated by the World Educational Services (WES) or a NACES member institution. The transcript evaluations should be a course-by-course evaluation.
  • Documents in a language other than English must be accompanied by English translations certified by a University official. Original documents must accompany the certified translations.
  • Those under the British system of education must submit results of external examinations issued by the university administering the examinations. The college record alone is not sufficient. All educational documents must be signed and sealed by a university or college official. Handwritten documents are not acceptable.
  • TOEFL or ILETS scores, or a completion letter from the INTERLINK Language Center, must be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies. After the application and supporting documents have been reviewed, the Office of Graduate Studies will notify the applicant of its action. If accepted, students must file the following information and documents with the Center for International Programs Office.

After the application and supporting documents have been reviewed, the Office of Graduate Studies will notify the applicant of its action. International students are urged to remain in their own countries until they receive notice of acceptance. The University cannot assume responsibility for the housing or welfare of international students

Upon admission, you will be sent information regarding the issuance of your visa document (I-20 or DS2019). No I-20 will be issued until the Office of Graduate Studies has received proof that your degree has been completed. Orientation and pre-arrival information will be forwarded to you after admission.

Please note: The Center for International Programs does not process applications or make admissions decisions. Students inquiring about the status of an application should contact either the Office of Graduate Studies at gradstudy@wcupa.edu (master's degree) or the Office of Undergraduate Admission at ugadmiss@wcupa.edu (bachelor's degree).

You are considered an international applicant if you need a visa in order to reside and study in the United States. If you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, refugee or asylee, you will be considered a domestic applicant even if you currently reside outside the U.S.

Transfer Students

If you are currently enrolled in a college or university in the United States, or you are currently completing Optional Practical Training (OPT), you are considered a “transfer student.” In addition to applying for admission as a graduate or undergraduate student, you must have your SEVIS record transferred from your current school. Once you have received a letter of admission, you will need to have your current school submit our transfer form Transfer Form PDF to the Center for International Programs.


You are considered an international applicant if you need a visa in order to reside and study in the United States. If you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, refugee or asylee, you will be considered a domestic applicant even if you currently reside outside the U.S.

FAQs

  1. How do I get my immigration documents?
  2. What is required for proof of financial support?
  3. What is the amount of financial support that I must show?
  4. What is the climate/weather like in West Chester, PA?
  5. What do I need to bring with me to WCU?

How do I get my immigration documents?
Back to Questions

Students must have received a formal admission letter to West Chester University before any immigration document will be issued. Once a formal offer of admission is received, it is necessary to pay the acceptance fee as outlined in the acceptance letter. Upon the paying the acceptance fee, please submit the Certificate of Eligibility to the Center for International Programs.

All I-20s are mailed Foreign Air Mail and takes on average 7-10 days to reach you. We do not Fed EX or express mail any I-20s. We will email your SEVIS number to you once your I-20 has been issued. This number will allow you to make a visa appointment at the US Embassy.

What is required for proof of financial support?
Back to Questions

Proof of financial support must be a financial statement or letter from your financial institution. The statement must have your name or the name of your sponsor. If you have a sponsor, a letter from his/her employer is required that must include the sponsor's annual income and length of employment. It must be a current statement that shows evidence of funding to cover the estimated annual education expenses.

Note: If a student is being sponsored by a US citizen or legal permanent resident financial guarantee materials must be accompanied by a notarized form I-34 Affidavit of Support

What is the amount of financial support that I must show?
Back to Questions

The amount of financial support varies each year depending on the tuition costs. Tuition is set each year in July for the following academic year. For the 2009-2010 academic year, the estimated expenses posted on your I-20 and for which you must show support, is as follows

2009-2010 Graduate Undergraduate
Tuition and Fees $12,300 $15,646
Living Expenses $9,600 $10,000
Health Insurance $1,000 $1,000
     
Total $22,900 $26,649

What is the climate/weather like in West Chester, PA?
Back to Questions

West Chester University is located in West Chester, Pennsylvania which is 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and 17 miles (27 kilometers) north of Wilmington, Delaware. Most international students arrive in the United States through the International airports at either New York City or Philadelphia.

West Chester is a town with a population of about 20,000 and is part of the rapidly growing suburban complex surrounding Philadelphia. The climate is considered moderate with low temperatures in winter ranging from 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17C) to summer high temperatures around 90 degrees F (32C). Students will need an assortment of clothing to accommodate these differing seasons and there are many stores where items may be purchased.

What do I need to bring with me to WCU?
Back to Questions

What to bring to West Chester depends on two major factors, your personal needs and the cost and convenience of bringing the item with you. Bulky items like a pillow can be purchased in the United States saving valuable room for other items. Heavy items such as reference books can be shipped separately or may be available through other sources. You should evaluate what to bring based on your needs. The check list that follows is not intended to be inclusive, but a general guide of items to bring. Be sure to include personal items, such as your favorite pictures, music, etc. that will make you feel closer to home.

Clothes: Dress is usually casual, although you may wish to include one formal outfit and an outfit which reflects your national heritage. If you will be in the country for a full year, keep in mind the seasonal changes and activities such as sports.

Medicines: Check with your physician before leaving your country. There are differences in medication and the availability of certain items.

Documents: Be sure to bring any necessary documents, such as Visas, I-20, transcript of courses and correspondence.

Address Book: Bring the names and addresses of people you want to correspond with while you are in the United States. Also the names and addresses of people you want to see while in this country.

Personal Items: If you have a favorite music tape or an item which makes you feel closer to home, be sure to bring it with you. Don't forget grooming or make-up items that may not be found in the United States.

Driver’s License: If you anticipate driving while in the United States, you may wish to obtain an International Driver's License which is available from you home country.

You are considered an international applicant if you need a visa in order to reside and study in the United States. If you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, refugee or asylee, you will be considered a domestic applicant even if you currently reside outside the U.S.

FAQs

  1. What should I bring with me?
  2. How can I register for course work?
  3. How do I pay my tuition?
  4. How much money should I bring with me?
  5. What banking options are there around campus?
  6. What do I need to do if I want to drive in the US?

What should I bring with me?
Back to Questions

What to bring to West Chester depends on two major factors, your personal needs and the cost and convenience of bringing the item with you. Bulky items like a pillow can be purchased in the United States saving valuable room for other items. Heavy items such as reference books can be shipped separately or may be available through other sources. You should evaluate what to bring based on your needs. The check list that follows is not intended to be inclusive, but a general guide of items to bring. Be sure to include personal items, such as your favorite pictures, music, etc. that will make you feel closer to home.

Clothes: The weather in the West Chester area is quite variable. We experience very cold winters, hot summers, and pleasant days in between. The temperatures often drop to 30°F (-7°C) in the winter and rise above 90°F (32°) in the summer. Summertime also brings high humidity. If you are admitted for the fall semester, you can arrive in lightweight clothes but will need heavier clothes (heavy jacket, gloves, boots) as the season changes from summer to fall and then winter. The reverse is true if you are admitted to the spring semester.

Medicines: If you take medication regularly, we recommend you bring one month’s supply with you. Make sure they are labeled clearly for customs inspections. Check with your physician, before leaving your country, about any prescription medications.

Documents: Be sure to bring any necessary documents, such as Visas, I–20, transcript of courses and correspondence. Do not pack them in a suitcase, but carry them with you during travel.

Personal Items: If you have a favorite music tape or an item which makes you feel closer to home, be sure to bring it with you. Don’t forget grooming or make–up items that may not be found in the United States.

Driver's License: If you anticipate driving while in the United States, you may wish to obtain an International Driver’s License which is available from you home country.

How can I register for course work?
Back to Questions

Once you pay your acceptance fee, West Chester University creates a myWCU account. This account will give you access to the computer network and student email accounts. Use this link to obtain instructions about using your new student account.
http://wcupa.edu/infoservices/acc/NewStudentAccountInformation.asp

After you have successfully accessed your myWCU account, use the following instructions to register courses. The instructions can be found here: http://wcupa.edu/registrar/documents/SchedulingClassesInYourMYWCU.pdf

How do I pay my tuition?
Back to Questions

All students are expected to pay their tuition bills by the due date indicated on the bill or their schedules will be canceled by the university.

Non-receipt or readjustment of a bill does not relieve the student from paying/submitting the bill by the due date. Only one bill is sent out per semester. Therefore, if it is lost or the student’s course load is modified, the student may access their account via myWCU.

Fall Semester bills are due in early to mid-August and Spring Semester bills are due in mid-December.

For students experiencing financial difficulty, which includes pending financial aid, the Partial Payment Plan is a viable option.

Payment Methods

Check or Money Order

  • Checks or Money Orders must be made payable to West Chester University. You can also pay with an e-check on-line at QuikPAY.
  • The canceled check or money order serves as the receipt for payment.
  • Checks or Money Orders can be mailed in the pre–addressed envelope included with the bill, hand–delivered, or dropped in the night depository at the Office of the Bursar.
  • Post–dated checks will not be processed.

Credit Cards

  • Credit card payments can only be made online through QuikPay.
  • WCU will accept MasterCard, American Express and Discover Card.
  • If paying with a credit card, a convenience fee of 2.75% will be accessed by our vendor. You will receive two charges on your card; one for West Chester University and one for the convenience fee from our vendor.

Cash

  • Please DO NOT MAIL CASH.
  • Cash must be hand-delivered to the Office of the Bursar.

Company or Agency Billing

  • Bills that are paid by an employer or an outside agency require documentation indicating the billing address and amount authorized to be billed.
  • This documentation and any amount not covered by company or agency must be returned with the bill by the due date.
  • Students, who receive tuition reimbursement upon completion of the course, are not eligible for this service and must pay their bill by the due date.

Financial Holds

  • Financial Holds are placed on student accounts with any unpaid balance.

How much money should I bring with me?
Back to Questions

It is important to remember that you should NOT carry large amounts of money with you to the United States. You should have some money in U.S. dollars and coins (not more than $500) for meals, transportation, phone calls, and other things that you may need along the way. There are money exchange banks located in nearly all the U.S. ports of entry.

What banking options are there around campus?
Back to Questions

You will want to open a bank account with a U.S. bank. It is possible to transfer or wire money, but establishing connections with a U.S. bank is integral to ensuring you have access to your money whenever you need it. In order to open a bank account in the United States, you will need to provide proof of identification. When you go to the bank to open the account, bring whatever funds you plan to deposit in the account as well as your passport to show proof of identification. You may also want to bring your I–20 form, your I–94 card and your student ID card from West Chester University. All banks have different policies for opening new accounts and may ask for additional identification.

Banks in the United States are similar to banks in other countries. However, the terms to describe the different services may differ. The most common confusion is between US savings accounts, checking accounts and ATMs.

A savings account allows you to save money and accumulate interest on those savings. The rate of interest on your savings account varies from bank to bank. You can transfer money from savings to checking or checking to savings. You cannot write checks of payment from your savings account.

Checking accounts allow you to pay for purchases and services without carrying cash on you. Checks are most often used to pay monthly expenses such as electric bills and phone bills. Your checks should have your name, address, and phone number printed on them in order for them to be accepted in your transaction. You will be issued these printed checks when you open your account. Cost and terms of opening and maintain checking accounts vary between banks. You will need to keep an accurate accounting of the money in your checking account. Writing a check without enough money in your account (bouncing a check) results in additional charges or legal consequences (if you bounce checks repeatedly).

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) or Money Access Centers (MACs) are computerized banking machines, available 24 hours a day. These machines are operated with a special card and secret access number. They can be used for basic banking such as deposits, transferring and withdrawing money. West Chester University has several of these machines on campus.

If you want to make banking connections prior to arriving in the US, the following is a list of banks within walking distance from campus.

1n Bank of Chester County

9 North High Street, West Chester, PA 19380
877 – 362–0100
http://fnbchestercounty.com

Fulton Bank

116 W Market Street, West Chester, PA 19382
610 – 918–8810
http://fultonbank.com

National Penn Bank

200 N High Street, #100, West Chester, PA 19380
610 – 430–2120
http://natpennbank.com

Sovereign Bank

50 W Market Street, West Chester, PA 19382
610 – 431–9330
http://www.sovereignbank.com

Wachovia Bank West Chester

17 N High Street, West Chester, PA 19380
610 – 436–7748
www.wachovia.com

Wachovia Bank Parkway Center

929 S High Street, West Chester, PA 19382
610 – 431–8816
www.wachovia.com

What do I need to do if I want to drive in the US?
Back to Questions

If you are planning on driving as soon as you arrive in the United States, consider obtaining an International Driver’s License before you depart your home country. Further information about obtaining a driver’s license will be covered at the orientation session.

General Information

Information for Current Students

If you are currently enrolled, you will find information on rules and regulations governing international students, services to international students, and important links in this section.  The information included on these pages will help you in maintain valid student status as it pertains to your legal stay within the U.S.  You will find information on the processes of applying for various F-1 and J-1 benefits such as employment, travel, and enrollment.

The CIP is available to assist you on matters about immigration and visa concerns, employment, academic issues, financial issues, health and health insurance, and other concerns.  On occasion, the CIP may refer you to other resources.


Terms to Know
Back to Questions

DHS = Department of Homeland Security.

DOS = Department of State, the overseeing department of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

D/S = (Duration of Status) means that you may remain in the U.S. until completion of your current program of study. (Your graduation date plus 60 days for F-1 students or your graduation date plus 30 days if you are in J-1 status.)

DS-2019 = The immigration document for students and visiting scholars in J-1 status.  It is used for entry to the U.S. and to record academic training.  Keep this with your passport and do not surrender it when leaving the United States.  Your SEVIS ID is located in the upper right hand corner of your DS-2019.  It is a 10 digit number beginning with an N.

I-20 = The immigration document for students in F-1 status.  It is used for entry to the U.S. and to record work authorization, practical training, and transfer approval, among other things.  Your SEVIS ID is located in the upper right hand corner of your DS-2019.  It is a 10 digit number beginning with an N.

I-94 = This is the white card that shows your arrival date in the United States.  It should be stapled to your passport until you leave the country.  It shows your status (e.g. F-1, J-1, B-2, etc) and your expected departure date from the U.S.

SEVIS = Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, a database administered by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

USCIS = United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a branch of DHS.

USICE = United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a branch of DHS

Maintaining Immigration Status
Back to Questions

The Importance of Maintaining Your Immigration Status

It’s important for students and exchange visitors to understand the concept of immigration status and the consequences of violating that status. Being aware of the requirements and possible consequences will make it more likely that you can avoid problems with maintaining your status.

Every visa is issued for a particular purpose and for a specific class of visitor. Each visa classification has a set of requirements that the visa holder must follow and maintain. Those who follow the requirements maintain their status and ensure their ability to remain in the United States. Those who do not follow the requirements violate their status and are considered “out of status.”

Failure to maintain status can result in arrest, and violators may be required to leave the United States. Violation of status also can affect the prospect of readmission to the United States for a period of time. Most people who violate the terms of their status are barred from lawfully returning to the United States for years.

A major responsibility of all international students is to maintain their immigration status.  This is not hard, but you need to be aware of what is required to be considered “in-status.”

You must:

  1. Maintain Full-time Enrollment in Coursework
    If you cannot maintain the number of credits appropriate for your level, you must make an appointment with the Center for International Programs.  Failure to do so may result in being terminated in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Database - SEVIS.
    At West Chester University you must enroll in the following number of credits each fall and spring semester to be considered as having “full-time” enrollment.  If, for any reason, you are not enrolling in a full course load, you must contact the CIP.  We will help you determine if you are eligible for a reduced course load (RCL).
    • Undergraduate – over 12 credits
    • Graduate Student – over 9 credits
    • Reduced Course Load (RCL)

      There are only a few exceptions to the full time enrollment requirement for the Fall and Spring semesters. Each exception has its own criteria, which are outlined below. 
      Students who drop below full time enrollment without the proper authorization from the CIP will be considered out of status.

      Academic Difficulty RCL

      Students may request an RCL due to academic difficulty only once per degree level.  Academic difficulty could be due to the following reasons:

      • Difficulty with English language or reading requirements
      • Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods or
      • Improper course placement

      Students who receive an academic difficulty RCL must resume a full course of study in the next available semester in order to maintain status.

      Medical RCL

      The Center for International Programs may authorize a medical RCL due to a temporary medical condition with an appropriate doctor’s letter recommending the RCL for medical reasons.  Students must receive prior approval from the CIP for the medical RCL. 
      Requirements of Medical RCL:

      • Letter from licensed physician, medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist that recommends student to take less than the minimum units required for full time enrollment
      • Receive prior approval from the Office of International Education.
      • No more than 12 months (3 semesters) total of Medical RCL is permitted per degree level
      • Must take a minimum of:
        • 6 units for undergraduate students
        • 4 units for Master's students

      If a doctor believes that a student is unable to meet this minimum unit enrollment, then the student should consider a Medical Leave of Absence.

      Final Semester RCL

      Students may request an RCL due to final semester only once per degree program.

      Thesis, Project or Qualifying Exam Stage

      Graduate students who register for thesis, project or qualifying exams are considered to be enrolled full time although the number of units enrolled will be below the normal full-time course load.

  2. Notify CIP of any address, name, or major change
    You must notify the CIP within 10 days of an address, name, or major course of study change.  This information must be recorded in the SEVIS database. In some cases, a new I-20 will be issued.
  3. Do not let your passport expire.
    If your passport is within 6 months of expiring, it is time to renew it.  Passports are renewed through your country’s embassy in the United States.  Each country has different rules/regulations.  You can find your embassy’s website at the following address:
    http://www.usembassy.gov/
  4. Maintain immigration documents I-20/DS-2019:  International students must be aware of the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019. If it is not possible to complete their academic program by that date, students must request a program extension before (30-45 days) the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who do not file a program extension in a timely manner will be considered out of status.
    Students must notify CIP and obtain a new I-20 if they change their program or academic level.
  5. Unauthorized employment during your stay.
  6. Leave country when studies are complete
    Grace Periods
    International students have a set of grace period regulations that are appropriate to their visa status. 
    • F-1 students who complete an academic program or OPT have a 60-day grace period.
    • J-1 students who complete an academic program or AT have a 30-day grace period.

    More information can be found at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website
    http://www.ice.gov/sevis/SEVISFactSheet.htm

Social Security Information
Back to Questions

The social security number is used for employment purposes in the United States in order to report wages to the government. The Social Security Administration will only issue a social security number for employment purposes only. If you have problems in establishing a bank account, renting an apartment, opening a cell phone account, please see the Center for International Programs.

The Social Security Administration will require that you prove your identity, age, immigration status, and eligibility to work. In addition, F-1 students must provide evidence of on-campus employment from the campus department and Employment Verification Letter from International Programs. J-1 students must provide evidence of employment eligibility from the sponsor: if WCU issued the DS-2019, the CIP will issue the letter; if a programming agency such as IIE or AMIDEAST issued the DS-2019, that agency must issue the letter.

Social Security Administration
1101 West Chester Pike
West Chester, PA 19382
(610) 431-0795
MONDAY – FRIDAY: 09:00 AM – 04:00 PM – Except Federal Holidays

General Directions:
FROM NORTH OR SOUTH USING RT 202, TAKE THE PA ROUTE 3 EXIT FOR NEWTOWN SQUARE. AT THE 2ND TRAFFIC LIGHT, TURN LEFT INTO THE WEST GOSHEN TOWN CENTER (APPLEBEE'S AND SHOP RITE) AND MAKE FIRST LEFT. FOLLOW ROAD BEHIN D APPLEBEE'S. BEAR LEFT AT THE STOP SIGN. OFFICE FACES WEST CHESTER PK. FROM THE EAST, TAKE PA ROUTE 3 TO THE WEST GOSHEN TOWN CENTER WHICH IS 3 MILES WEST OF RT 352. MAKE RIGHT TURN INTO SHOPPING CENTER AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS ABOVE.

PA Driver's License
Back to Questions

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Information on Driver's Licenses, Car Registration, Insurance

Eligibility Requirements for Non-US Citizens
F-1 and J-1 Students and Spouses Obtaining a Driver's License in Pennsylvania

Foreign Students and their husbands and wives must provide the following documents to get a driver's license:

  1. A letter from the CIP confirming the student's enrollment in classes at WCU.

  2. Complete the "Driver's License Letter" form.To request a Driver's License letter form, please email: international@wcupa.edu and include your complete name, WCUID number, and contact information. In the subject line, please type: drivers license letter.
  3. Passport, visa, and I-94 card. (It does not matter if the visa in your passport has expired.)
  4. The student's I-20 for those in F status; or the student's DS-2019 for those in J status.
  5. Two documents showing where you live. Preferred documents include leases, housing contracts or mortgage papers; utility bills; and W-2 tax forms. However, when students don't have two of these, the Driver's License Office has been willing to accept other documents, such as a letter from the University Housing Office mailed to their on-campus residence.
  6. Social Security Card if you are eligible for a Social Security Number. If you cannot obtain a Social Security Number, you must obtain a letter from the Social Security Office stating that you are ineligible for one. The Driver's License Office will then use the Admission number on your I-94.
  7. Students and spouses must have at least one year left before the completion date in section 5 of the I-20 or the end date in section 3 of the DS-2019 in order to qualify for an initial driver's license.
  8. Students applying for Optional Practical Training qualify for a license if the end date of the OPT on page 3 of the I-20 is more than one year from the date they apply for a license.

Dependents/Family Members
Back to Questions

Students in F-1 status may wish to have spouses and/or children accompany them while studying in the U.S. Each dependent must have his or her own I-20, and they enter the U.S. in F-2 status.
F-2 dependents cannot attend school except for children attending kindergarten through high school (K-12). In other words, F-2 dependents cannot attend school beyond high school.

F-2 Overview

Employment
F-2 dependents-spouse and/or children-of F-1 students cannot work under any circumstances.

Study
The F-2 spouse may only be a non-degree student in a course that is recreational or avocational*. In addition, the study must be part-time. The F-2 spouse who wishes to study full time must apply for a change of status to F-1.

Note: &dlquo;If a student engages in a study to pursue a hobby or if the study is that of an occasional, casual, or recreational nature, such study may be considered as avocational or recreational.&drquo;

F-2 children may study full time in elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade). F-2 children who have completed high school and are under 21 may only be part-time, non-degree students in a course that is recreational or avocational. F-2 children who wish to study full time beyond high school level must apply for a change of status to F-1.

J-2 Overview
Dependents (spouse and/or children) who accompany J-1 exchange visitor students will have generally come into the US in J-2 status. The J-2 may remain in the U.S. in J-2 status as long as the J-1 remains in the U.S.

You may apply for work permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as long as the income from the employment does not support the J-1 student. Information on applying for work permission is found below.

J-2 dependents may be part-time or full-time students. If you (as a J-2 dependent) are offered a graduate assistantship, you may remain in J-2 status and work as a graduate assistant if you have work permission or apply for a change of status to student status. You should speak to an international student adviser.

J-2 dependents will have the two-year home residency requirement if the J-1 exchange visitor has the two-year home residency requirement. If you are subject to the home residency requirement, this will limit any change of status within the United States. You should speak to an international student adviser.

Exchange visitor dependents (J-2) may apply for work permission as long as they hold valid J-2 status and the exchange visitor (J-1) holds valid J-1 status. The income from the employment of the J-2 cannot be used to support the J-1 spouse or parent.

The J-2 dependent may apply for work permission from USCIS by submitting the following documents to one of the addresses below:

  1. Check (made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) for $340.
  2. Completed I-765 (original)
  3. Completed G-1145
  4. A photocopy of Form I-94 Departure Record (front and back of the white card usually stapled in the passport).
  5. Two passport photos.
  6. Photocopy of SEVIS I-20 (all pages) with the DSO's recommendation on the back. It is wise to include copies of all I-20s (all pages) since entering the U.S. because sometimes USCIS will request copies and delay issuing the EAD.
  7. Photocopy of any previously-issued EAD (Employment Authorization Document)
  8. Photocopy of biographical page(s) of passport
  9. Photocopy of most recent visa

New Mailing Address
Mail the above documents USCIS Lockbox having jurisdiction over the address you have put on the I-765. The following addresses are from the I-765 instruction sheet (rev. 2/12/10).

USCIS Dallas Lockbox:
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS)

USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail through private courier services such as United Parcel Service (UPS) or Federal Express

USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy, 121, Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

USCIS Phoenix Lockbox:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, or Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS)

USCIS
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail through private courier services such as United Parcel Service (UPS) or Federal Express

USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

USCIS will mail your EAD card to the address on the I-765. The address you use on the I-765 should be valid for at least 90 days (and sometimes more) because our experience is that government mail forwarded to another address is frequently lost.

Taxes
J-2 dependents are not exempt from F.I.C.A.; in other words, if you work, you must pay social security (F.I.C.A.) taxes. Your earnings are subject to all applicable federal, state, and local taxes, and employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from paychecks.

Change of Address
Back to Questions

All international students and scholars in the U.S. are required by the law (INA § 262 and 261) to be registered with USCIS after arrival, and inform USCIS of their changes of address within 10 days after moving.

Currently registered F-1 and J-1 students, and scholars must notify the CIP as soon as you change your address so that the CIP can update USCIS through the SEVIS within 10 days. Please submit your change of address form to the CIP.

All WCU students on F-1 OPT are required to report to the CIP within 10 days of any change in your:

  • Residential address
  • Name and address of your employer
  • Employment status, including when you stop using OPT at anytime during the authorized period, e.g. change to H-1B, leave the U.S. etc.

Lost Immigration Documents
Back to Questions

The Center for International Programs has copies of your passport, visa and I-20s.  In the event that any of those documents are lost or stolen, please contact us.  We can provide a copy of the lost documents which will make it easier to obtain replacements

We recommend that you do not carry your original immigration documents with you on a regular basis, but only carry them when needed (travel, visit to DMV, etc.).

Expired Visas
Back to Questions

To renew your F-1 visa, you will need to submit the following documents to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (forms can be downloaded at http://www.state.gov/m/a/dir/forms/, or obtained from any U.S. consulate) You are no longer able to renew your visa within the United States.

  1. Form  DS-156, Application for Nonimmigrant Visa
  2. Form DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Generally required of all male applicants between the ages of 16 and 45.  Check with the US Embassy or Consulate where you are applying for additional requirements.)
  3. Form DS-158, Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant
  4. Application fee (check with the Consulate for the current fee amount and how it must be paid)
  5. One photograph (2 inches square, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background)
  6. Valid Passport
  7. Your I-20 from West Chester University
  8. Proof of continued enrollment West Chester University
  9. Original financial documents proving the availability of sufficient funds
  10. If you have graduated and are participating in OPT (Optional Practical Training), you must show proof that you have a job in the U.S. to which you will return.  It is recommended that you provide a letter from your employer verifying that you are currently employed.
  11. Documents that demonstrate your non-immigrant intent   (You must prove that you will return home after your studies.)

Employment Information

Curricular Practical Training

Temporary employment such as an internship, practicum, and alternative work-study or cooperative education may be authorized under certain circumstances as curricular practical training (CPT). Such training must not only be related to your major field of study but must also be an integral part of your established curriculum still in progress... more

Optional Practical Training

On April 8, 2008, The Department of Homeland Security published an interim final rule that changes several key aspects of F-1 optional practical training (OPT). The rule is effective April 8, 2008. OPT is training that is directly related to an F-1 academic student's major area of study. It is intended to provide students with practical experience in their field of study during or upon completion of a degree program... more

Orientation

Coming Soon!

FAQs

Coming Soon!

ESL Overview

INTERLINK at West Chester University provides intensive ESL (English as a Second Language) training, cultural orientation and academic preparation for speakers of other languages, especially those planning to study at an American university. With centers on US university campuses, a professional staff and highly qualified teachers, we are ready to make your educational experience in the United States memorable, enjoyable and successful. Learn more about us on this website and contact us if you have any questions.

ESL Calendar and Fees

Click here to view the program calendar and fees.

About our Program

Click here to view the program calendar and fees.

Immigration Documents

Congratulations on your admission to West Chester University. We look forward to personally welcoming you to our university community. We are sure you have a lot of questions and hope to answer them in this section of our website.

Immigration Documents

You will receive a formal admission packet either by mail (undergraduate students) or by email (graduate students). In addition to your acceptance letter, this package will include the documents you must complete and submit to us before we issue you an I-20. In order for the International Office to issue you the I-20, the International Office must submit the Certificate of Eligibility.

Remember: The International Office does not make admission decisions and we are a separate office from the Undergraduate Admissions Office and the Graduate Admissions Office. The above documents should be submitted to the International office and should not be included with your application materials.

We will verify that you have paid your acceptance deposit. Once we have received the above forms and documentation, we will issue your I-20. At the time we issue your I-20, we will send you an e-mail alerting you that your I-20 has been issued. In that e-mail we will also send you your SEVIS number. That number will allow you to pay your SEVIS FEE and make your visa appointment at the American Embassy

All I-20s are mailed by Foreign Air Mail. We do no express mail any I-20s. You should receive your I-20 within 7-10 days from the date it is mailed. If you have a trusted contact in the United States who is willing to express mail your I-20, you will need to contact the International Office via e-mail and give your permission for this individual to receive your I-20 and mail it to you.

The Visa Process

Step One

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a fee of $200 for F1 students to use the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Once you have received your I-20, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee. That can be done via the internet and a receipt of payment can be printed out. You are required to show that receipt at the time of your visa appointment. It can be paid by you or by a third party, inside or outside the US.

To Pay By Mail

  1. Obtain a Form I-901 "Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Non-immigrants."
    Download the form from www.FMJfee.com
  2. Complete the Form I-901. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form.
  3. Prepare a check, international money order or foreign draft (drawn on US banks only) in the amount of $200 USD, made payable to "The Department of Homeland Security"
  4. Mail the completed I-901 and payment to the address listed on Form I-901).
  5. A Form I-797 receipt notice should be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.

To Pay Online

  1. Find the Form I-901 at www.FMJfee.com.
  2. Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. *Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form.
  3. Print a copy of the online receipt.
  4. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents payment at the time of your visa appointment.

Step Two

Contact your American Embassy or Consulate for an appointment. To find the embassy closest to you go to http://usembassy.state.gov/ Check your embassies website for specific application procedures.

Please note: West Chester University does not have any influence over the decision of the consular officials. Therefore, it is our policy not to write, call, or fax the embassy on your behalf. Please present your acceptance letter from West Chester University at the time of your appointment.

Step Three

You will need to have the following documents for your visa appointment:

  1. West Chester University acceptance letter
  2. I-20 (make sure you sign it)
  3. Receipt of your SEVIS fee payment
  4. Proof of financial support - You submitted documentation to us in order for us to prepare your I-20. Make sure you show proof of support which matches or exceeds the amounts stated on your I-20. Take any required bank statements and letter of support.
  5. Visa application and fee - Application and current fees can be found on the embassy website. You should complete and print the application online prior to your appointment. See embassy website for specific details.
  6. Valid passport
  7. Proof of English Skills
  8. Proof of ties to your country - US law requires that as an F1 student your purpose for travel to the United States is solely for academic purposes and is temporary. It is necessary to show ties to your country and verify that your intent is to return home after you complete your studies.

Step Four

Let our international office know whether you were approved or denied for a visa. If you were approved, you can begin to make travel plans to arrive in the United States. You may arrive no sooner than 30 days prior to the start date on your I-20.

What To Do If Your Visa Is Denied

A visa denial is upsetting. You need to fully understand why your visa was denied. To better understand denial reasons, we recommend you read the information from the U.S. Bureau of Counselor Affairs regarding visa denials found at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/denials/denials_1361.html

If you would like to defer your admission to West Chester University to another semester, please notify both the International Office and the Undergraduate or Graduate Admission Office in writing as soon as possible. It is important to note that the approval to defer to another semester is based on the availability of space in the program.

Your Arrival in the United States

Students on an F visa, entering the United States for the first time, may not arrive more than 30 days before the start date on your I-20. Academic start dates are established by the University and cannot be changed.

Before boarding your international flight, students should be sure to hand carry your passport, immigration documents, and any other supporting documents, so you can present them to an immigration officer upon arrival in the US.

Arriving at a U.S. Port of Entry

What a Student Can Expect

Going through the immigration process when you enter the United States can be confusing to first time students. Below is a link to the fact sheet from US Customs and Immigration Enforcement on what students can expect on their arrival into the US. www.ice.gov/sevis/students/

B-2 Tourist to F-1 Student

Your request for change of status to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should consist of the following:

  1. Completed Form I-539 with the processing fee (check or money order made payable to Department of Homeland Security); for the most current fee information visit www.uscis.gov.
  2. Receipt for paying SEVIS I-901 Fee. Go to FMJfee.com for full details.
  3. Original Form I-94 (you are strongly encouraged to keep a copy of the front and back of the Form I-94).
  4. Copies of the pages in your passport that include biographical information, passport picture, and passport expiration date.
  5. Original form I-20 and financial verification.
  6. If &dlquo;prospective student&drquo; is not stamped on your B-2 Visa, include a letter explaining why you are entitled to change to F-1 status.

For more information please see instructions located in Form I-539.

F-1 Student to F-2 Dependent

In order to change from a student to dependent status, your F-1 spouse must be in the United States with a valid F-1 status at the time you are requesting this change. Your request for change of status to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should consist of the following:

  1. Completed Form I-539 with the processing fee (check or money order made payable to Department of Homeland Security); for the most current fee information visit www.uscis.gov.
  2. A copy of your marriage certificate.  English translation required.
  3. A copy of your spouse’s current Form I-94 (both sides) and I-20
  4. Original Form I-94 (you are strongly encouraged to keep a copy of the front and back of the Form I-94).
  5. Copy of your (F-1) I-20.
  6. Original Dependent I-20.
  7. Copies of the pages in each individual’s passport that include biographical information, passport picture, and passport expiration.
  8. Copies of financial verification in the form of a bank statement or letter from the F-1 spouse’s sponsor.

For more information please see instructions located in Form I-539.

F-2 Dependent to F-1 Student

In order to change status while in the United States from a dependent (F-2) to a student (F-1) status you will need to be admitted to a full-time academic program at a school that can issue you a Form I-20. In addition, your F-1 spouse must be in the United States and in status when you are requesting this change.
Note: If you are traveling outside the United States, you can accomplish the change of status upon re-entry if you take your Form I-20 and financial documents with you and obtain an F-1 Visa at a U.S. Consulate. Upon obtaining the F-1 visa, you can enter the United States as an F-1 student.
Your request for change of status to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should consist of the following:

  1. Completed Form I-539 with the processing fee (check or money order made payable to Department of Homeland Security);  For the most current fee information visit www.uscis.gov and scroll down to “Forms and E-Filing to find the appropriate fee.
  2. Receipt for paying SEVIS I-901 Fee.  Go to FMJfee.com for full details.
  3. Original Form I-20 signed and dated;
  4. Original Form I-94 (you are strongly encouraged to keep a copy of the front and back of the Form I-94);
  5. Financial Verification.
  6. Copies of your spouse’s valid immigration forms:  I-94, I-20.
  7. Copies of the pages in each individual’s passport that include biographical information, passport picture, and passport expiration.

H-1B or H4 to F-1 Student

In order to change status while in the U.S. from a temporary specialty worker (H-1B) or worker dependent (H-4) to a student (F-1) status you will need to be admitted to a full-time academic program at a school that can issue a Form I-20. You must also be in the U.S. and in valid H-1B/H-4 status at the time you request this change.

Valid Reason For Change

As an H-1B/H-4, you are able to attend school part-time or full-time, providing it does not interfere with your primary purpose of working in the U.S.; therefore, you will need a valid reason for requesting the change to F-1, such as:

  • An offer of a graduate student assistantship by the school you will attend;
  • A written request from your sponsor requesting your change to F-1;
  • Your H-1/H-4 status is expiring and/or you want to complete another degree; or
  • You are turning 21 and can no longer remain an H-4 dependent of your H-1B parent.

Application Procedure

Your request to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for change of status should consist of the following:

  1. Completed Form I-539 with the processing fee (check or money order made payable to Department of Homeland Security); For the most current fee information visit www.uscis.gov and scroll down to “Forms and E-Filing” to find the appropriate fee.
  2. Receipt for paying the SEVIS I-901 Fee. Go to FMJfee.com for full details.
  3. Original Form I-20 signed and dated by you and issuing school.
  4. Original Form I-94 (you are very strongly encouraged to keep a copy of the front and back of the Form I-94).
  5. Financial verification.
  6. If in H-1B status, copies of all I-797 approval notices. If in H-4 status, copies of all of spouse’s/parent’s I-797 approval notices for H-1B status, copies of both sides of their I-94 card, and copies of any I-797 approval notices for H-4 status.
  7. A letter from the employer of the H-1B confirming that the H-1B is still employed under all terms and conditions of the original H-1B petition is highly recommended.
  8. Copies of the pages in each individual’s passport that include biographical information, passport picture, and passport expiration.
  9. Statement of why you need to change from H-1B or H-4 to F-1 status.

For more information please see instructions located in Form I-539.

J-1 or J-2 to F-1 Student

This section is currently under construction.

Required Health Insurance Information

Enrolling in and maintaining adequate health insurance coverage is a requirement of the United States Government to maintain your legal visa status. All further information is located at the following link:

https://consolidatedhealthplan.com/group/185/home

Global Engagement in Action

Satya

Satya

Name:
Satya

Home Country:
India

Graduation Date:
5/2/2009

Degree:
Master of Public Health - Community Health

Statement:
"WCU gave me an excellent learning opportunity. It provided me a friendly learning environment as faculty were very friendly, easily approachable and expert in their field. It prepared me to take new job in my life. The office for international students is very helpful and will be always with you during your stay at WCU. The campus life is also great as you will have all sports facility available.


Overall my experience at WCU was excellent and I miss those days. Good luck"

Tessa

Tessa

Name:
Anastasia

Home Country:
Russian Federation

Graduation Date:
5/10/2008

Degree:
MA English

Statement
"The two years at WCU were one of the best life experiences I ever had. Awesome teaching staff, interesting classes and mainly, great support from everyone, especially from the International Office!"

Jia

Jia

Name:
Jia

Home Country:
P.R. China

Graduation Date:
August 2008

Degree:
Master degree of science in Applied Statistics

Statement
"It's my pleasure to be a member of West Chester University. Many thanks to all the people I met, all the knowledge I gained and all the experiences I earned during my two years' study abroad in WCU. They're memorable in my life"

Michael

Michael

Name:
Michael

Home Country:
UK

Graduation Date:
May 2010

Degree:
MSA: Public Administration
BA: Political Science - International Relations

Statement
"West Chester University provided me with two degrees, but more importantly, the opportunity to succeed in an increasingly challenging world. For those looking to start their academic career, West Chester University is a formidable choice when considering the state system of higher education."

International Engagement:
Events

International Department Calendar

International Engagement: International Students

SatyaSatya

TessaTessa

JiaJia