Two students enjoying the Newman Cross.

International Orientation

International students have a special orientation program that is designed to help you integrate not only to life at St. John's but also life in New York City.

Register for International Orientation Sign up for International Orientation Week events New Student Guide Checklist

International Orientation will cover everything you need to know as an international student, from topics like the American classroom to important information regarding your visa. There will also be a number of social events where you will meet and build relationships with student leaders and other students.

Your attendance at these events is important in helping you successfully integrate into the St. John’s University community.

Register Now

Please note that in order to register for Orientation, you must have paid your deposit. View the New Student Guide Checklist for deposit deadline and other important information.

Pre-departure and Arrival

___ Enrollment Deposit: Did you pay your enrollment deposit? Pay your deposit here.

___ Tuition Payment: Did you pay your semester term bill? Log in to MySJU and click ‘Access UIS’ to pay your bill.

If you plan to live on campus, the following items must be completed:

___ Housing Deposit: Did you pay your housing deposit? Pay your housing deposit here.

___ Housing Application: Did you complete the online housing application?

___ Roommate Questionnaire: Did you complete the roommate questionnaire?

___ Confirm Room Assignment: Did you confirm your room assignment with Residence Life? For more information, please see Housing Selection Process.

For assistance with items below, please contact ISSSO at 718-990-6083 or [email protected]:

___ Form I-20 or DS-2019 Received: Did you receive your Form I-20 or DS-2019? (Do not place this document in checked luggage when traveling.)

___ F-1 or J-1 Received: Did you get your F-1 or J-1 visa? (Do not place this document in checked luggage when traveling.)

___ SEVIS Fee Paid: Did you pay your SEVIS fee?

___ New Student Orientation Registration: Did you sign up for your mandatory New Student Orientation? Register for orientation online.

___ ESL Test Registration (if required by the University): Did you register online for your ESL test? To register for the ESL test, please visit English as a Second Language.

___ Complete and Submit Health Forms: Did you submit your required health and immunization forms? All students are required to submit their health forms in order to attend St. John’s University. Click here for more information.

Once you arrive to campus:

___ Stop into the ISSSO, St. Vincent Hall, Room B19. Visit the office and meet our staff, ask questions and get answers, and learn about the services we can offer.

___ Attend New Student Orientation: Please refer to your registration confirmation page for your orientation details. You can also contact the Orientation office at 718-990-5353 or [email protected].

Preparing to Come

To come to the United States and attend St. John’s University, you must make an appointment with your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and apply for a F-1 (if you have Form I-20) or J-1 (if you have Form DS-2019) student visa.

For in-depth information on obtaining your student visa, please visit U.S. Visas. For information about applying for a visa and coming to the United States to study, please visit Education USA.

Before you apply for your U.S. visa, you should understand the process and rules governing its issuance. Often, visa applications fail because applicants were not prepared—don’t let that happen to you.

Read the following information carefully and contact the Office if you need more information or help.

The Rules

  1. Those who wish to enter the United States as either a student or an exchange visitor with a Form I-20 or DS-2019 must pay a SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate for their visa interviews.

    Applicants who are citizens of Canada, Bermuda, Bahamas, or residents of certain other islands (see CFR 212.1a) wishing to apply for F-1, F-3, M-1, M-3, or J-1 status at a port of entry into the United States must pay the SEVIS fee before appearing at the port of entry.

    The fee is $350 for F-1 students and $220 for J-1 students or exchange visitors; the fee may be paid at FMJfee.com.
  2. To allow enough time for processing, apply for your student visa as soon as possible! The embassy/consulate will accept your application but not issue your visa more than three months before the date you are required to report to St. John’s University, as shown on your Form I-20 or DS-2019.
  3. U.S. law sees you as someone who plans to remain in the United States permanently. The person who decides whether or not to give you a visa to come to the United States is a “consul” at the U.S. embassy in your country. By U.S. law, the consul must say, “You are not coming back home when you finish your studies.” Do not be upset or take it personally if the consul says something like this to you. He or she must see you as someone who wants to immigrate to the United States. Student visas are only given to persons who can convince the consul that they intend to return permanently to their home country. This is the number one reason for visa denial.
  4. You must have a good academic or professional objective for coming to the United States and St. John’s University to study, one that will prepare you for a career back home. You must be qualified for the program of study and be able to prove that you can finance it.
  5. Consuls are impersonal when administering laws. In the United States, laws are applied equally to all people, regardless of status or gender. Do not try to negotiate or discuss personal matters with the consul.
  6. U.S. government officials like documents. Try to have papers to show the consul that prove why you are qualified for a student visa.

Be Prepared

  1. Be ready to clearly explain why you want to come to the United States to study at St. John’s University:
    • Why do you want to study in the United States?
    • Why are you going to take this program of study?
    • Why did you choose St. John’s University?
    • What career will your studies prepare you for back home?
  2. Be ready to convince the consul that you plan to return home permanently after you complete your studies. Present evidence in support of this, including:
  • A photocopy of the deed or lease to your home to prove that you have a permanent residence in your country that you do not intend to abandon.
  • A letter from the bank describing your family-owned business or property. Bring a copy of the deeds (if applicable).         
  • If you have traveled to the United States before, emphasize that you also have returned home before.
  • If you have a brother or sister who studied in the United States and then returned home, take a copy of his or her diploma and a statement from his or her employer.
  • If your program of study is in great demand in your country, get a letter from a potential employer indicating interest in hiring people with degrees like yours.
  1. Present the original copies of the financial documents you gave us. Your documents must match what appears on your Form I-20 or DS-2019.
  2. Do not emphasize any ties you have to the United States or to family members in the United States.
  3. Practice your English. Unless you are going to study English, you are expected to be able to speak it and show your TOEFL/I ELTS score to the consul. You may be asked to read aloud from a US newspaper or explain what your Form I-20 or DS-2019 says.
  4. Do not talk about working in the United States unless you have been awarded a teaching assistantship or fellowship on campus. You are required to prove that you can support the costs of studying and living in the United States. Employment is strictly controlled by the Immigration Service and is not guaranteed.
  5. Be sure your passport is valid for at least six months into the future.
  6. If you already began your studies in another nonimmigrant status and you received a change of status to F-1, be prepared to discuss how your original purpose for being in the United States changed to that of a full-time student. Bring transcripts.

Once Your Visa Has Been Issued

Once your student visa has been issued, the consul will give you an envelope containing your Form I-20 or DS-2019 stamped “For presentation at Port of Entry” and will attach it to your passport. You are not permitted to enter the US more than 30 days before the start date on your Form I-20 (item five (5) on Form I-20).

On the airplane, you will be asked to fill out a white card called a “Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.” The number that is on the Form I-94 card will become your USCIS “admission number”- a special immigration identification number. Be sure to use the exact name on your passport when completing this form.

When you arrive at the US port of entry, present your passport, sealed envelope from the embassy and Form I-94 card to the immigration inspector.

The inspector will:

  1. Stamp your passport with the date you entered the US and write either F-1 or J-1. The officer should also write “D/S” which stands for “duration of status.”
  2.  Give you your I-20 or DS-2019 form. Upon inspection at the point of entry, CBP will give you a tear sheet with instructions on how to look up your electronic Form I-94 on their website. From this website, you can print your Form I-94. You will be able to access your electronic Form I-94 by visiting https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov.

What If My Visa Is Denied?

Write to us with complete details of what was said and what documents you presented at your interview. Send us a copy of any written answer you may have been given. We will help in any way we can. If you were denied on 214(b) grounds (you did not present sufficient evidence that you will return home following completion of your studies), we only will be able to advise you on how to better prepare for your next visa application. You must be able to present new evidence to overcome this objection.

Now that you are planning to be a student, there are two things you cannot do:

  • Do not enter the US with a B-1, B-2, or B-1/2 visa unless it is marked “prospective student.” If you use a B visa to enter the US, you are saying “I’m here as a visitor only.” Since you contacted our school about study, this would be viewed as a “fraudulent entry” and you could be refused permission to stay longer than six months or to extend or change your status. Do not listen to people who say it is easy to enter the country as a visitor and change your status. It is not true! US law prohibits B-visa visitors from pursuing a full course of study prior to obtaining a change of status to F-1 student.
  • Do not enter the US without a visa (unless you are Canadian). If you come from a country from which you can enter the US as a visitor by showing a round-trip airline ticket, do not do this. If you enter without a visa, you will be permitted to stay for only 90 days. You will not be given more time or allowed to change to student status.

Helpful Websites

You need a Form I-20 to obtain an F-1 student visa or keep lawful F-1 status when transferring or changing schools within the United States

If you think there is not enough time to get your Form I-20, in some countries you can ask the visa officer for a B-2 visa with the words “Prospective Student” on it. You may also have “Prospective Student” added to your B visa if you already have one. The officer needs to see that you are qualified for a Form I-20 but cannot get it in time. You need to prepare evidence of your financial responsibility and ask us for a letter to take with you.

* Important Note: J-1 students coming for a short exchange program need to obtain a Form DS-2019 instead of a Form I-20. If you have not yet applied for your Form I-20 or DS-2019, contact our office immediately at 718-990-6083.

Housing

University Housing

A limited number of spaces are available in the University Residence Halls. If you paid your housing deposit, you will receive an e-mail from Residence Life ([email protected]) containing a link to the Housing Portal with your X number and password.

Please confirm receipt of a room assignment prior to arriving for move-in. To check in to your assigned room, you will need to have your University- issued StormCard.

To obtain your StormCard, please report to the Public Safety Building located on Goethals Avenue near Gate 6. Once you have obtained your StormCard, proceed to check in at the Residential Success Center (Donovan Hall, Room C16) between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. If you arrive after 4:30 p.m., Public Safety will direct you to a Residence Life professional who can assist.

Don’t forget to bring at least one twin-size bed sheet and toiletries (i.e., shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.) for your first night at St. John’s.

Non-University Off-Campus Housing

Student interested in non-University managed off-campus housing for the fall semester should begin their housing search as soon as possible. You can enter the United States up to 30 days before the start date of your Form I-20.

Finding non-University managed housing requires a visit to the city. The search for the right facility for you may take as little as two days or as long as two weeks, so it is wise not to wait until the last minute to start looking.

It is important to realize that a housing search must be conducted in person, because most landlords do not rent a room or an apartment without meeting you face- to-face. This means that, generally, a friend is unable to find something for you. It is important to consider a number of factors before you begin your search for a rental and sign a lease.

  • Review your finances (the monthly financial obligations you already have)
  • Decide how much you can afford to pay each month
  • Consider rent and the cost of utilities
  • Consider the neighborhood in which you want to live
  • Screen prospective areas by walking through them during the day and night to be sure that you would be comfortable there
  • Decide if you are willing to share an apartment or a house, taking your lifestyle preferences into consideration
  • Determine the amount of time it will take you to travel from your apartment/house to campus
  • Talk to current tenants if possible
  • Make appointments to see apartments of interest to you, and do not come on weekends unless you have made prior arrangements with the landlord or realtor
  • Use a checklist system and write down the details of the rentals that you see
  • Have the landlord or realtor provide you with proof that the rental has met local, state, and federal housing guidelines by showing you a prior/current certificate of occupancy
  • Carefully read the lease before you sign; whenever possible, also have an attorney look at the lease

Deciding on Sharing an Apartment

Living with other people can be an enriching or an agonizing experience. Make sure that you are compatible with your prospective housemates and choose them carefully. Whether they are strangers or friends with whom you have never lived, be sure to discuss:

  • Values concerning liquor, drugs, smoking, sexual preferences
  • Cultural differences
  • Social and recreational preferences, including personal activity patterns and schedules
  • Financial obligations and how they will be met
  • Division of household responsibilities
  • Compatibility of study and work habits
  • Time spent together for meals and leisure

Remember: Tenants signing the same lease are jointly and individually responsible for the rent and any other obligations. If your roommate skips on rent, the landlord can pursue you for the money. The Queens campus is located in the residential neighborhood of Jamaica Estates in the borough of Queens, about 35 minutes from Manhattan. A variety of apartments, including shared ones, are available in the community.

If you need information or assistance about how to conduct a housing search in the community, please feel free to contact:

Office of Residence Life
Donovan Hall, Room C16
718-990-2417
[email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

The two local airports are John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), located approximately 6.3 miles away from campus, and LaGuardia Airport (LGA), located approximately 6.7 miles from campus.

Once you have collected your baggage, follow the signs to the taxi stands (every terminal has one). Here you will take a yellow taxi. Each taxi is located with a meter that will determine the cost of your trip.

Do not accept a ride from anyone that may offer you one, or from any unmarked taxi companies.

For directions to the Queens campus, please follow the Queens campus directions.

For a list of hotels near to campus, please see Queens campus area hotels.

Up to 30 days before the start date written on your form I-20 or DS-2019.

No. You must enter the United States on a student visa if you plan to attend school.

    The last date to you can enter the US is listed as your program start date on your I-20 or DS-2019.

    It varies depending on the type of visa:

    • For students (F-1, F-3, M-1, or M-3), it is $350.
    • For spouses and dependent children (F-2, M-2, or J-2), there is no fee.
    • For exchange visitors (J-1), it is $220

    You can reach ISSSO at 718-990-6083 or [email protected].

    You must complete an online housing application and roommate questionnaire via the St. John’s University Housing Portal.

    Placement letters will be mailed in mid-July.

    Move-in day for new international students is TBD.

    tudents who live in apartment housing (with a kitchen) are not required to have a meal plan. Students who live in the residence halls are required to have a meal plan. New freshmen are required to have the carte blanche meal plan.

    There will be a full calendar of events for Red Carpet Welcome, our signature event series welcoming new students to St. John's. You will receive notifications of the full list of events as the Fall semester approaches. 

    The resident assistant is an experienced and trained student on your residence hall floor that can assist you with any of your needs on campus.

    You can reach Residence Life at 718-990-2417 or [email protected].