New F-1 Students

Welcome to Florida International University!

At this point, you should have received your acceptance letter and FIU I-20 (to obtain your F-1 Visa) or DS-2019 (to obtain your J-1 Visa). If you have not, please contact the Admissions Office.

Pre-Arrival Information

Please make sure you read all this information BEFORE you embark on your academic journey to the United States!

Before you arrive in the U.S.

» Pay SEVIS I-901 Fee

If you are a newly admitted international student entering the U.S. for the first time and a first-time F-1/J-1 visa applicant, you must pay the SEVIS Fee.

  • When you receive your I-20 go to to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee online or to get information about other payment options.
  • For more information access this SEVIS Fee Information document.
  • Print your receipt as proof of payment.

» Obtain a Student Visa

Schedule an appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa. You will need to present these documents:

  • I-20 issued by FIU or DS-2019 issued by your agency sponsor or FIU
  • Passport (must be valid at least 6 months into the future)
  • Financial documents to prove availability of funds to support your education (includes bank letter, sponsor’s letter, etc.).
  • Proof of payment of SEVIS I-901 Fee (see above)
  • Please see your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for other requirements.
DO NOT ENTER IN B-1/B-2 STATUS: B-1/B-2 (tourist) visa holders and those who have entered on a visa waiver are prohibited from enrolling in academic courses.

» Arrange either On-Campus or Off-Campus Housing

ISSS cannot make housing arrangements for you. Please make such arrangements before your arrival.

On-Campus Housing

If you would like to live on campus, space is limited so submit your Housing Agreement and required fee as soon as possible. See Housing & Residential Life for complete information.

  • The Housing Agreement is a legally binding document and once signed, you may not be able to cancel or break it.

Check-In (when you arrive) usually occurs only the weekend prior to the beginning of classes. See below for information on arranging Short-Term Housing.

Off-Campus Housing

For information about off-campus housing, please check

Off-Campus Housing

Off-Campus Classifieds

Many websites to search for rentals in the local community exist. FIU is not responsible in any way for the accuracy or availability of information on such sites and ISSS is not recommending or endorsing any of these companies but merely giving examples of the type of information that is available online. Please use caution when giving out personal information or payment to avoid internet scams, identity theft, and fraud.

When searching by zip code, keep in mind that zip codes for areas near the Modesto Maidique Campus include 33172 and 33174; zip codes for areas near the Biscayne Bay Campus include 33181 and 33160.

Short-Term Housing

If you arrive before your On Campus Check In time or have not secured housing before your arrival, you may need to stay in a hotel. Average hotel rates per night run from $105 – $160 and they may not be in easy walking distance to campus.

It is a good idea to make reservations before you arrive. Please see the listing of hotels near each campus.

» Take Care of Medical Requirements (Immunizations & Insurance)

You will NOT be able to register for classes without submitting this information to Student Health Services (SHS). You are REQUIRED to have APPROVED medical insurance. There are no exceptions to this policy.

» Sexual Assault Prevention Program

As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure a safe and healthy University community, all students admitted to FIU beginning Spring 2017 must complete the sexual assault prevention program. The program is completed fully online. New students who do not complete the program will have a registration hold placed on their student account that will prevent enrollment for future terms. To complete the training, please visit the websites listed below:

» Prepare for Money Matters

You are expected to have sufficient funds for the period of your studies at FIU as you have shown on your Declaration & Certification of Finances. Do not depend on employment here in the U.S. to cover any significant part of your expenses.

  • When you arrive, you will need to cover your expenses. It may take weeks to open a bank account and transfer funds, so plan ahead.
  • You may want to bring cash, a bankcard (find out first if it is valid in the United States), prepaid debit card, or traveler’s checks. We suggest you have at least $7,000 available to use immediately.
  • Expenses may include, but are not limited to:
    • FIU Tuition & Fees
    • Medical Insurance Payment
    • Books and school supplies
    • Payment for on campus housing or off campus rent (note: you may be required to pay a security deposit plus your first two months’ rent before you move in)Avoid carrying large sums of money with you when it is not necessary
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money with you when it is not necessary
  • To make tuition payments visit
For additional information visit International Student.

» Prepare for Travel

Which airport?

When to arrive?

  • You should arrive before the semester begins, but remember that you may NOT enter the United States more than 30 days prior to the start of classes.
  • Graduate students should check with their academic department for the dates of any required orientations prior to the semester.
  • Undergraduate students may check with the Office of Orientation and Parent Programs for either Freshman or Transfer Orientation dates (note: some of these orientations you must sign up for in advance).

What to bring to the U.S.?

  • In your carry-on luggage:
    • Immigration Documents: Make sure to take all your immigration documents (FIU I-20 or DS-2019, valid passport with F-1 or J-1 visa stamp, and original financial documents) and that they are packed in an accessible place. Do not pack these documents in your checked luggage.
    • A change of clothes and essentials in case your luggage is lost or delayed
    • Medication you may need right away
    • Contact information for someone in the U.S. and for FIU

Other things to consider:

  • Place clear labels with your name and address both inside and outside each piece of luggage.
  • Make several copies of your important documents and pack them in different places in case one bag is lost.
  • Consider pre-arranging your transportation from the airport (see Arrival in the U.S. below).

Arrival in the U.S.

» Arriving at a U.S. Port of Entry (Immigration and Customs)

Please have the following documents ready:

  • Passport with F-1 or J-1 Visa Stamp
  • FIU I-20 (If you plan to attend FIU, you MUST enter with an FIU I-20)
  • It is also recommended that you carry with you:
    • Evidence of financial resources
    • Paper receipt of SEVIS I-901 Fee
    • Contact information of the FIU ISSS Office
IMPORTANT: Make sure your passport is stamped F-1 or J-1 (according to your visa) and length of stay is indicated as “D/S” (duration of status) instead of a specific expiration date.
You MUST NOT enter the U.S. using a B-1/B-2 visa or W-T (Visa Waiver)

» Transportation from the Airport (Taxis and Shared Shuttle Rides)

IMPORTANT: FIU has several campuses. Please determine which campus you are going to before you arrive. Refer to the list of all FIU Campuses on FIU’s main site.

For airport-specific transportation information please visit:

You may also reserve a Super Shuttle (shared van service) prior to your arrival.

Arrival at Florida International University

1. You MUST check in upon your arrival

In order to keep your I-20 or DS-2019  active, and to keep your status in the US, all new international students are required to check in using the New Panther Portal immediately after they arrive in the United States! (no later than 30 days after arriving)

You can upload documents, confirm your student information, and complete your mandatory information session online! You will be directed to a sign in page (see link below), where you will need to use your panther ID and password to sign in. Follow the directions on the home page very carefully and you will be done with this process easily!

The ISSS Office now has a simple and easier way for new international students to check in upon their arrival. You MUST access this link to obtain instructions to check in.

2. Attend All REQUIRED and MANDATORY International Student Sessions

3. Submit Medical Documentation (Proof of Immunizations & Insurance)

If you have not already done so, provide Student Health Services with your Immunization documents and purchase an approved Medical Insurance policy.

4. Register for Classes

  • Make sure that you have removed all registration holds (“service indicators”) on your record in order to register.
  • Meet with an academic advisor in your department to determine which courses you should take (if you are a lower-division undergraduate student, see an academic advisor in the Undergraduate Education Academic Advising Center).
  • To refer to registration information and the course catalog visit the Office of the Registrar
  • Note important deadlines (last day to register, last day to drop ,etc.) on the Academic Calendar
  • You may be able to register in your student portal at
IMPORTANT: You must be ALWAYS be registered FULL TIME.

Register as follows to be considered a FULL-TIME student:

12 credits
(Fall & Spring)
(Allowed to take 3 credits online)
9 graduate credits
(Fall & Spring)
(Allowed to take 3 credits online)
SUMMER A/C 12 credits
(Allowed to take 3 credits online)
6 graduate credits
(Allowed to take 3 credits online)
SUMMER B 6 credits
(Allowed to take 3 credits online)
3 graduate credits
Course must be IN PERSON
Please access our Frequently Asked Questions section because the online/in-person/hybrid enrollment requirements have varied for Fall 2020.

5. Pay Tuition and Fees

  • Pay your tuition and fees IN FULL by the appropriate deadline (usually within the first week of classes) to avoid late fees and cancellation.
  • For payment information, see Student Financials on FIU’s OneStop website.
  • You may pay in person at the Cashier’s and Student Financials Office or online in your MyFIU account.
  • Please consider using Flywire, FIU’s preferred method for receiving international payments:
    • Pay from any country and any bank
    • Save on bank fees and exchange rates in over 48 currencies
    • Track your payment from start to finish

6. Get your FIU One Card

  • This card will be your student ID and can be used for a variety of purposes.
  • It can be linked to a Checking Account (with Wells Fargo Bank) if you wish.
  • You will need to bring identification and proof of registration to the Card Office.
  • For more information, visit the FIU One Card page.

7. Set Up your FIU Account and Email Address

8. Open a Bank Account

  • It is not advisable for you to carry large sums of money with you. We recommend that you open a bank account as soon as possible.
  • FIU has partnerships with the following banks (although you may join any bank):

9. Getting a Florida’s DRIVER’S LICENSE

  • To get a Driver’s License in Florida, you must schedule an appointment with the Department of Motor Vehicles Please visit the site to learn about the documents you need to bring and the fee.
  • Division of Motor Vehicles will not issue a license until your F-1 SEVIS record is ACTIVE.  You must complete the new student virtual check-in via the FIU ISSS Portal to initiate setting your record to active
  • Due to USCIS limitations – your SEVIS record may not be set to active until the semester starts and this registration is performed in the order your virtual check in occurred. This process may take up to 10 business days after you check in.
  • You will receive an email notification from ISSS confirming your record is active. You must then wait 48 hours before visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • For more information visit: Florida Department of Motor Vehicles 

9. Contact us with any questions you may have!

Modesto Maidique Campus
In person: Student Academic Success Center, Room 230
Telephone: 305-348-2421

Biscayne Bay Campus:
In person: Wolfe University Center (WUC) 363
Telephone: 305-919-5813

Immigration & Enrollment Policies

All international students MUST register FULL TIME or will fall out of status and become ineligible for immigration benefits.
Please access our Frequently Asked Questions section because the online/in-person/hybrid enrollment requirements have varied for Fall 2020.

» Undergraduate (Bachelors Degree)

FALL and SPRING semesters

  • Full Time = minimum total twelve (12) undergraduate credit hours
  • Minimum of nine (9) credits must be in-person (NOT online) classes; only 3 online credits may be counted toward the 12 credit total
  • You MUST be enrolled full-time from the beginning of each semester (Fall or Spring Term A).
  • You MUST be enrolled in at least one course in person in Term A/C.

SUMMER semester

  • If Summer A is your FIRST semester
    • Full Time = minimum twelve (12) credit hours
    • Minimum of nine (9) credits must be in-person (NOT online) classes; only 3 online credits may be counted toward the 12 credit total
  • If Summer B is your FIRST semester
    • Full Time = minimum six (6) undergraduate credit hours
    • Minimum of three (3) credits must be in-person (NOT online) classes
  • Summer is OPTIONAL (no class requirements) for most continuing students

» Graduate (Masters and/or Doctoral Degree)

FALL and SPRING semesters

  • Full Time = minimum nine (9) graduate credit hours
  • Minimum of six (6) credits must be in-person (NOT online) classes; only 3 online credits may be counted toward the 9 credit total

SUMMER semester

  • If Summer A is your FIRST semester
    • Full Time = minimum six> (6) graduate credit hours
    • Minimum of three (3) credits must be in-person (NOT online) classes
  • If Summer B is your FIRST semester
    • Full Time = minimum three (3) graduate credit hours
    • Minimum of three (3) credits must be in-person (NOT online) classes
  • Summer is OPTIONAL (no class requirements) for most continuing students
Education USA

For in-depth information about Studying in the United States, access the free “Getting Ready To Go” Booklet.

For more information, visit Homeland Security – Study in the States.