Pre-Arrival Guide

Once you have been admitted to Rutgers University for a full-time academic program, you will be eligible for a Rutgers or an authorized agency (such as IIE) sponsored F-1 or J-1 visa. You will receive an official letter of admission from the admissions office along with a University ID number.

STEP 1: Activate NetID

All Rutgers students are assigned a unique identifier known as a NetID, comprised of initials and a unique number (e.g. jqs23). Your NetID is automatically created but you still need to activate it in order to access many of the online services available to you at Rutgers. Your assigned NetID will appear on the activation screen. Through this activation process, you will:

  • Set your NetID password
  • Set your security questions and answers
  • Activate your official Rutgers email address, known as your ScarletMail account

Activate your NetID here.

STEP 2: Request an I-20 or a DS-2019

All admitted degree seeking international students will receive information and instructions from the office of Graduate and Undergraduate Admissions about how to request their I-20 or DS-2019. If you receive an I-20 or a DS-2019 from more than one school, please inform the schools you have decided not to attend so your records can be appropriately updated and to avoid any confusion in the visa process and in your arrival in the US.

STEP 3: Pay the SEVIS Fee

Once you’ve received your I-20 or DS-2019, you will need to pay a SEVIS fee to the US Department of Homeland Security. In order to pay, complete the Form I-901 along with the payment via mail or the Internet (dependents in F-2 or J-2 status are not required to pay the fee).The SEVIS fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to a visa interview or the filing of the change of status application in the US. Learn more about the SEVIS fee. Make sure you keep a printout of the receipt confirming the I-901 fee payment.

STEP 4: Apply for and receive an F-1 or J-1 student visa

Use your I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Rutgers to apply for your visa. Review these tips on applying for a student visa, then apply for a student visa from a United States consulate in your country of citizenship or country of permanent residence.

Be Prepared: Find out in advance what information you will need to supply on your visa application. All non-immigrant visa applicants must complete Forms DS-160 (online non-immigrant visa application) and DS-158 (contact information and work history for non-immigrant visa applicant). Others will need to submit DS-157 (supplemental non-immigrant visa application) as well. You can access all of these forms at:

Applicants will also need to appear for an in-person interview in English and will have to pay a visa application fee.

STEP 5: Map your Arrival
Once you have received your F-1 or J-1 visa, you can travel to the US with your valid passport and your I-20 or DS-2019. You can enter the US no more than 30 days prior to the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. For more information on planning your arrival, view our online module on Mapping your Arrival to the US.

STEP 6: Create your iSTART@RU Account, login and complete your data (COMING SOON)

(COMING SOON- please check back in mid-August) Create an iSTART@RU account and complete your data information. After you arrive to the U.S., you will need to complete an online check-in using iStart@RU. This is also a legal requirement of your F-1 or J-1 status. This process can be started before arrival and then completed once you arrive in the US.