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.

We understand that due to COVID-19, some of our students may not be attending the fall 2021 semester in-person in the U.S. In that case some of these FAQs will not apply to you until you arrive at Rutgers. Please check our COVID related Incoming International Student FAQ for more information. 

Also visit the University's central COVID related website for the latest updates, announcements, and information:

STEP 1: Activate NetID and often Check Email

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 (ran through Google)

Activate your NetID here.

You should plan to check your personal and Rutgers email inboxes multiple times a week. Rutgers communicates important deadlines and notices with you through emails, so this is critical! Make sure that any emails from our office ( and other important Rutgers offices do not get filed into your spam/junk email folder.

STEP 2: Obtain a Passport

You must have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of your travel. Please check your current passport expiration date and make sure you meet this requirement. Your passport should always be valid while inside of the United States.

STEP 3: 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 (other than Rutgers), 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.

-- Undergraduate Students
-- Graduate Students
-- Short-Term Non-Degree Students

For RBHS students, submit this online form for our office to create a new international profile for you in our database. Once your profile is ready (you'll receive an email confirmation), submit the Request for Initial I-20 e-form group via the RGlobal portal. This should be submitted at least three (3) months prior to start of the first academic term to ensure you receive your I-20 in time for a visa interview and arrival prior to your program start.

STEP 4: 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. 

Students that already have an active SEVIS ID/SEVIS record at another US school will instead need to have their record transferred to Rutgers. SEVIS transfer students do not need to pay the I-901 fee again if they are keeping the same SEVIS ID #. Learn how to have your record sent to Rutgers here.

STEP 5: 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. A list of forms is found here

Applicants will also need to appear for an in-person interview in English and will have to pay a visa application fee. You must bring printed copies of your documents with you. Students under 18 years of age will also need to have documentation from their legal guardian. 

STEP 6: Submit a Photo Online for the Rutgers University ID (RUID) Card

The Rutgers University ID (RUID) card is the official photo identification card issued to all Rutgers students. This photo ID card serves as the primary form of identity verification throughout the university.

In order to obtain your card, you must first activate your Rutgers NetID, register for classes, and submit a photo online. For more information and where to submit your photo, please visit this link.

You will be notified via email if your photo was accepted or rejected. You can pick up your ID card when you arrive to campus at one of the IDCard Services Centers. Please note that COVID precautions have slightly changed this process, and more information will be available soon.

STEP 7: Plan 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 information on:

Planning your Stay

Preparing to Enter the United States: What to Expect at a U.S. Port of Entry - we recommend reviewing this page closely to prepare for the process at the US airport. It also lists our office contact information if you experience an issue at the airport customs. 

Life Around Rutgers

For information on getting to Rutgers from the airport, see Getting to Campus from the Airport

STEP 8: Login and begin the check-in form on your RGLOBAL account

Use your Rutgers NetID and password to login to your RGLOBAL account. Access the check-in form (available under “Orientation” in the RGLOBAL portal) and begin to enter your data—you can start this form even before you arrive in the United States with the information and documents you have available. Save a draft of the form and complete the form immediately after your arrival and before the start of classes.

For detailed instructions, please review the RGlobal Check-in Tutorial >

Once you arrive at Rutgers, you will need to complete additional steps to activate your F-1 or J-1 status. See these steps in our post-arrival guide.