Preparing for Travel to the U.S.
Prior to departure to the United States, international students should be sure that they obtain a proper nonimmigrant visa at a United States Embassy or Consulate. Students who receive a Form I-20 issued by Pace University will acquire an F-1 visa, provided they meet the criteria set by the visa-issuing consular officer (i.e. financial documentation, intent to return to the home country, etc.). Students should not enter the United States with a B-2 tourist visa, as it may be impossible to change it to F-1 visa status at a later date.
In addition to reading the content on this page to prepare for your arrival to the U.S., please watch the Online Pre-arrival Orientation.
Your visa is the computer-generated entry-permit that is issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad for you to enter the U.S. to begin a degree program. For more information on the visa application, visit the U.S. Department of State. For scheduling a visa appointment, find the consulate or embassy nearest you.
Visa processing times vary widely depending on the country and time of year, and some applications may experience a time-consuming background check. Therefore, we suggest scheduling your appointment as soon as you receive your Form I-20 from Pace University, but no earlier than 120 days prior to the program start date listed on the Form I-20.
*Canadian and Bermudian citizens are exempt from obtaining a physical visa, but must present their valid passport, Form I-20, and SEVIS fee payment receipt at the port of entry to the U.S. and obtain an I-94 arrival record annotated by class of admission as F-1.
Things to Remember:
- Check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which you will apply for a student visa about requirements for F-1 visa applicants.
- Your personal information on your Form I-20, F-1 visa application, and all other forms you complete must always match the information in your passport. Contact your admissions counselor immediately if the personal information on your Form I-20 does not match your passport.
- Apply for your F-1 visa as soon as possible! There may be considerable wait time for both a visa interview and visa processing. Visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which you will apply for information about wait times and to schedule your appointment. You may also check Travel.State.Gov for current wait-times at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide. F-1 visas may be issued up to 120 days before your program start date, as indicated on your Form I-20.
- When you appear for your visa interview, you should expect that it will be brief. A visa-issuing consular officer will likely ask you about your reasons to study at Pace University and in the U.S., about your degree program, and about your professional goals upon returning to your home country. It is very important that you are prepared to answer these and other questions briefly and to the point.
Dependents of F-1 students will be issued an F-2 visa if they are accompanying or joining the F-1 student in the U.S. You must be able to show that sufficient funds are available to cover the entire family’s living expenses. A visa will not be issued without this evidentiary proof. Visit the housing website.
Once you have obtained your visa, make your travel arrangements and plan your accommodations. Learn more about Pace Housing.
Enter the United States No More than 30 Days in Advance
Enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before and no later than the program start date indicated on your I-20. This is very important. While you may want to arrive sooner to find an apartment and prepare for school, U.S. law prohibits you from doing so. The only exception is for students who have transferred their SEVIS record from another school to Pace.
You may wish to have travel insurance in case your bags are lost or damaged on the journey to New York. Speak with your airline or travel agent for information on purchasing travel insurance.
- Check with your airline regarding limits for the number of bags you may bring with you, along with weight and size restrictions. In addition, check on restrictions for carry-on baggage.
- Ensure you have a valid passport with an approved F-1 student visa. Keep your Form I-20 handy in your carry-on baggage or inside of your passport; you will need to present it at the port of entry. We encourage you to make photocopies or scan all important documents.
- Arrange for cash, credit card, and/or debit card to support yourself until you can open a U.S. bank account.
- Arrange for travel insurance.
- Check the compatibility of any electrical equipment you are bringing! Depending on the appliance you might need an adapter to fit a U.S. electrical outlet. If you come from a country where 220/240 volts is used, most of your electrical appliances such as computers and iPods should work in the U.S. (check your owner’s manuals to be certain).
Getting to Your Destination
Before arriving in the U.S. you should have a plan for how you will travel from the airport to your final destination. There are several options for ground transportation, including taxi cabs, car services, shuttle services, and trains. You should ignore offers of transportation from solicitors inside the terminal itself—soliciting of ground transportation is illegal and many illegal solicitors are unlicensed and uninsured. In addition, you should ignore non-uniformed people offering to assist you with baggage; seek out uniformed porters or airline employees for baggage assistance.
Taxi cabs are the easiest and most direct—if likely the most expensive way—to get from any of the New York City area airports to Pace University campus housing, and any location in the City and New Jersey. Taxi cabs are supervised by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and are readily available at any airport terminal, day or night. There are also numerous car and shuttle van services available to utilize, and pre-booking a vehicle or seat is strongly recommended.
Ground Transportation Options and Tips:
Public transportation from the airports to New York City is typically the least expensive, but more time-consuming way, to get to your destination, and is recommended primarily for experienced students.
Arriving in the U.S.
Initial F-1 status students will not be allowed to enter the U.S. earlier than 30 days prior to the program start date listed on the first page of the Form I-20. Therefore, please make your travel plans accordingly in the event that you plan to visit relatives or friends in the U.S. before you begin studies at Pace University.
If your Form I-20 was issued in transfer pending status, noted on the first page of your Form I-20, you may travel within and enter the U.S. with no limitation prior to your program start date listed on your Form I-20.
An electronic record of your arrival will be created by a Customs Border Protection (CBP) agent at the port of entry. Access your I-94 arrival record online and review the information to ensure that it is correct. Your record should indicate the day you entered the U.S., the class of entry (visa type), and duration of stay – which should be annotated as “D/S” (Duration of Status/Studies). If all information is correct, print the I-94 for your record. You will be required to upload a copy as part of the mandatory New International Student Check-in.
At the U.S. port of entry, an officer of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency will review your documents, including passport, F-1 visa, and Form I-20, and return them to you. You should be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What and where will you study?
- Do you have family connections in the U.S.?
- Where will you be staying while attending Pace University?
Mandatory F-1 Information Session and Orientation For New International Students
It is mandatory to check-in with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISS), as well as attend the mandatory F-1 Information Session. Pace University is required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to report international students' arrival, full-time registration, academic status and progress, and local address, as well as other information.
Mandatory F-1 Information Session for Spring 2024 Admits
Thursday, January 11 at 9:00 a.m. on Zoom. Zoom meeting ID and passcode will be sent via email.
Undergraduate International Students
All Freshman and Transfer International students must attend a New Undergraduate Student Orientation provided by the University in addition to the mandatory F-1 Information Session and the mandatory New International Student Orientation.
Mandatory Check-in Process
You are required by the U.S. Immigration law to check-in with the University International Students and Scholars Office (ISS) for activating your SEVIS record. Please complete the check-in as soon as you arrived. Remember: You are reporting your arrival to the U.S. and submitting your arrival record. Therefore, the check-in can be done ONLY after your arrival, never before.
In order to check in online, once you have arrived to the U.S., you will complete the New International F-1 Student Check-in request in ISS Connect. To access ISS Connect, log in with your Pace credentials.
In the New International F-1 Student Check-in request, you will be directed to report your arrival to the U.S. by uploading the following documents identifying you and serving as evidence of your arrival:
- Passport ID Page which includes your name, date of birth, validity dates, and photo
- F-1 Visa
- Form I-20 (pages 1 & 2) *Transfer students must also upload previous I-20s.
- Most Recent I-94
Having trouble with online document check-in through ISS Connect? Send an email to email@example.com and a description of your issue so we can help.
Like most colleges and universities in the United States, Pace University has a mandatory health insurance policy for international students. Please note that all full-time international students are automatically enrolled in the University’s international student health insurance program. The fee will automatically be added to your student invoice. If you have comparable insurance coverage under another policy, you may be able to waive the Pace University International Student Health Insurance Plan. Please read the insurance policy and instructions on applying for a waiver.
As a student at Pace University, you must provide the University with proof of immunity to certain diseases. The immunizations are mandatory for any student in the state of New York. Immunization compliance records should be uploaded to the Confidential Patient Portal. Immunization records must be translated into English. If you do not have proof of vaccinations, you will be able to get vaccines through University Health Care (UHC), located at 1 Pace Plaza, 6th Floor East on the NYC Campus and at Paton House, Ground Floor on the Pleasantville Campus.
Money and Banking
IMOs can be bought from banks in your home country. You buy the order in your local currency and your bank issues a check in U.S. Dollars. You can then deposit this check into a U.S. bank account or exchange it for cash.
The following documents are usually required to open a U.S. bank account:
- Most Recent I-94
- Form I-20
- Letter from ISS certifying student status
It may take some time before your account is set up and ready for you to access your money.
To make a wire transfer, you will need to have a U.S. bank account already. Your bank at home will transfer money electronically to your U.S. account. Wire transfers are quick and safe, but do have service charges; ask your local bank what their fees may be.
The amount you need to bring will depend on your personal spending habits. We recommend that you bring USD $500-$750 in cash, plus a Visa or Master Card issued from a bank in your home country that will work in the U.S., to cover your expenses the first few weeks in New York. Be sure to check what charges may be applied to your account at home for using these cards in the U.S. Pre-paid Visa or Master Cards are much safer than carrying large amounts of cash; you will need to know your PIN—the 4 digit Personal Identification Number used to withdraw money from a cash machine (ATM or MAC). Without this, you may not be able to use your card to pay for purchases.
It is advised that you inform your credit or debit card company that you will be studying and travelling abroad in order to avoid the risk of your account being frozen for suspicion of fraud.
New York, NY
New York City, widely known as the Big Apple, is home to America’s most populous and exciting city! As an art, business, finance, and cultural capital, New York offers a wide array of activities and entertainment, as well as opportunities for education and development. From the architectural wonders of the Empire State Building and Grand Central Terminal, to the artistic creations in the Guggenheim Museum, and across the Hudson River to the trademark of freedom—the Statue of Liberty—New York City has been an inspiration to some of the greatest entrepreneurs, entertainers, and leaders in the world.
- Population: 8.4 million in the City and 20.3 million in the Metropolitan area
- Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time
- Major airports: John F. Kennedy (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA), and Newark (EWR)
- NYC consists of 5 boroughs – Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island.
- New York City is the #1 U.S. destination for international travelers.
- Visit Wall Street, the U.S. Stock Exchange, and the U.S. Federal Reserve
- Take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
- Visit Times Square
- Go to Broadway and off-Broadway shows
- Support some of the greatest sports teams in the world! NYC is home to the Yankees and Mets baseball teams, NY Knicks and Brooklyn Nets basketball teams, Giants and Jets football teams, the Rangers and Islanders professional hockey teams, and the NY Red Bulls and the New York City Football Club soccer teams
- Go shopping in SOHO or on Fifth Avenue
- Visit world-famous museums such as the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, or the American Museum of Natural History
- Take a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge
- Bicycle or run around Central Park, followed by a picnic
- Listen to jazz music at a Greenwich Village club
- Visit Lincoln Center for a classical music, opera, or ballet performance
Temperatures on campus vary throughout the academic year, and a variety of clothing types should be considered when packing for your journey to Pace. You will also have plenty of opportunity to purchase any clothing or supplies you will need once you arrive, should you need to do so.
Lightweight clothing is recommended for the summer months when the weather is hot and humid. Temperatures from June through September range from 70°F (21°C) to more than 90°F (32°C). A raincoat, rain boots, and an umbrella are useful for rainy weather.
Winters (November through March) can be quite cold, with snow and ice a routine possibility. Be sure to bring warm and adequate clothing! Temperatures range from 20°F (-7°C) to 45°F (7°C), and sometimes may drop as low as 0°F (-18°C). A good winter coat, scarf, boots, and gloves are recommended.
Autumn (September to October) and spring (March to May) are usually moderate with temperatures ranging from 50°F (10°C) to 70°F (20°C).
We Look Forward to Meeting You!
We hope that this information has provided answers to some of your questions. We are here to make sure you feel welcome and are comfortable with your home away from home. If your plans change, and you are unable to attend Pace University, please notify your admissions counselor and return the Form I-20 to them.
We wish you a safe and pleasant journey to Pace, and we look forward to meeting you! Once you arrive on campus, if you have any questions that we can assist you with, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.