Before You Arrive

Immigration and Visas

Students in the International Student Exchange (ISE) Program at FIU enter the U.S. with a J-1 Exchange Visa. In order to obtain a J-1 visa, students must provide:

  • Declaration of finances and proof of funds to cover the estimated costs of living and attendance for their term of study at FIU. Estimated costs of living and attendance are established according to information provided by FIU’s Office of Admissions and International Student and Scholar Services, and is included in the ISE Application Packet.
  • DS-2019 form is also required to obtain a J-1 visa. After a student is accepted into the ISE program, a DS-2019 form will be issued and mailed to his or her home university.
  • Valid passport
  • A letter from FIU confirming their participation in the ISE program. This letter will be mailed to students’ home universities along with the DS-2019 form.

Students should take all of these documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to apply for a J-1 visa. The Embassy or Consulate will grant or deny the request.

If this is your first time to enter the U.S. and your first time applying for a J visa, you must pay a SEVIS fee. For payment information, click here .

Note for Canadian Students: If you are a Canadian citizen, you are not required to obtain a visa from the Embassy or Consulate, but you still must enter the U.S. under J-1 status. Keep your DS-2019 with you while you travel, because you must present it with your passport upon entering the U.S.

Money Matters

Students must have sufficient funds to support themselves during their exchange term at FIU. Here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for the International Student Exchange (ISE) program.

Miami’s cost of living is comparable of other major American cities. Costs may be on the higher side because Miami is an important economic, cultural and touristic center.

U.S. currency is dollars. You can pay for things with an ATM card, credit card, cash or traveler’s checks. (Note that traveler’s checks are not accepted everywhere.) Be sure to check with your bank and/or credit card company to ensure that your card(s) will be accepted in the U.S.

We recommend bringing $200-$500 in cash (U.S. dollars) to cover expenses in the first few days. Bring enough small bills ($1, $5, $10) to tip your taxi driver, buy snacks, and purchase any other small items you need upon arrival. Be mindful of your money! Store it in a safe place and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

You can open a U.S. bank account if you want! For your convenience, FIU has two banks on campus: Wells Fargo and the University Credit Union. (You can also open an account at any bank in the city.) A banker can help you open an account using your passport as identification. If you need to verify your status as an exchange student, our office is happy to provide appropriate documentation for you.

At FIU, your OneCard is your student ID, but it also works like a debit card! You can load money onto your OneCard to pay for on-campus purchases.

Health & Safety

It is important to us that you stay healthy and safe during your exchange term at FIU!

Health Insurance. Per university policy, all international exchange students must purchase the health insurance policy required by FIU. This policy meets all U.S. visa requirements for medical and emergency coverage for exchange students. Even if you have excellent global health insurance, you are still required to enroll in this insurance policy and the requirement cannot be waived. The insurance enrollment form will be provided to you after you submit your ISE Application.

Immunization. All FIU students (including exchange students!) are required to provide proof of the following vaccines:

  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubells)
  • Hepatitis B – a waiver is available if you decline this vaccine.
  • Meningitis – a waiver is available if you decline this vaccine.

University Health Services (UHS). UHS is located at FIU’s MMC campus and provides low-cost medical care to students including routine exams, laboratory tests, and pharmacy services. For more information about UHS, click here .

Campus Security. The FIU Police Department is committed to providing a safe environment for students, faculty and staff. Officers routinely patrol FIU campuses and emergency assistance is always available. For more information about FIU PD, click here .

What to Pack

  • Campus attire is casual and informal for both men and women at FIU. Short-sleeve shirts, lightweight pants or shorts, skirts and dresses are common year-round. Consider bringing some professional and/or dressy clothes as well for special occasions. (Note: Miami weather is warm year-round. Temperatures vary from around 90˚F in the summer to 60˚F in the winter. Occasionally—but rarely—temperatures may drop to 40˚F. Miami’s climate is humid with occasional heavy rain, so you might want to pack a light jacket, a raincoat, waterproof shoes and a mini umbrella.)
  • Toiletries, linens and apartment supplies. You can easily purchase these items when you arrive in Miami! FIU Housing does not provide any bed linens, pillows, towels, toilet paper, dishes, or other apartment supplies, so you should bring these things or plan to buy them upon arrival. The OSA will host a shopping trip during your first week at FIU. Click here for a recommended packing list published by FIU Housing.
  • Study tools. Notebooks, pens, textbooks, etc. are available for purchase at the FIU Bookstore.

Orientation

All exchange students are required to attend orientation with the Office of Study Abroad (OSA) and International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). The date and time will be included in your acceptance packet so you can plan your arrival in Miami.