Preparing for Arrival

Connect with Us!

OIE serves students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders with a hybrid approach that includes both virtual and in-person services.  While most services are provided virtually, some matters require in-person meetings. When meeting in-person is required, an OIE staff member will contact you directly to schedule a mutually agreeable day and time for the meeting. OIE is respecting social distancing and cleaning protocols as described in “Tech Moving Forward”. 

International Students and Scholars: Group AdvisingMake an AppointmentAdvising Information info@oie.gatech.edu
Education Abroad: Make an Appointment  education.abroad@oie.gatech.edu
Global Research & Internship Program: Make an Appointment  education.abroad@oie.gatech.edu
International Plan Undergraduate Designation Program: Make an Appointment internationalplan@oie.gatech.edu
On-Campus Internationalization : Information Contact Page
For all other inquiries:  Refer to our staff list

Accepted Students
Students who have been accepted to Georgia Tech may find information about getting an I-20 or DS-2019 for your studies on our Obtaining an Initial Student Georgia Tech I-20 or DS-2019 website.

J Scholar DS-2019 Request Process
If you are interested in coming to Georgia Tech as a J-1 scholar, you will work with a host department to determine your purpose and research. After a supervising or partner faculty has been identified, the Human Resources administrator for the host department will submit a DS-2019 request on your behalf. Please work with your host department directly for information regarding your DS-2019 request.

J Student Intern DS-2019 Request Process
If you are interested in coming to Georgia Tech as a J-1 student intern, you will work with a host department to determine your research project. After a supervising faculty has been identified, the Human Resources administrator for the host department will submit a DS-2019 request on your behalf. Please work with your host department directly for information regarding your DS-2019 request.

iStart is the software application the Office of International Education uses to manage international student records. iStart is a comprehensive tool that allows our office to:

  • Maintain an electronic file for each student and allow for a paperless office
  • Update student records in SEVIS, the USCIS database that manages all international students and scholars in the United States
  • Efficiently manage requests by international students, GT faculty, and GT administration

All new international students, scholars, and student interns will use iStart to complete a mandatory check-in process and continue to use iStart throughout their time at Georgia Tech. Nearly all requests you will make to OIE during your time here will be made thorugh iStart: you will use it when requesting changes to your I-20 or DS-2019, when submitting documents to OIE, etc.

How do I log into iStart?

If you have received an I-20 or DS-2019 from Georgia Tech, you already have an iStart record. To log in, visit www.istart.gatech.edu. Click the blue “Login” button, then enter the Georgia Tech username and password given to you by OIE, your graduate coordinator, or the administrator from your host department. This is the username and password you will use on campus for any computer.

If you have trouble logging into iStart using your Georgia Tech username and password, please email info@oie.gatech.edu with a screenshot of what you see when you attempt to log in and your SEVIS number.

OIE Financial Document Requirements

All financial documents must meet the following requirements:

  1. Show liquid assets that can be readily converted into cash if needed
  2. Show the date of issuance and be less than 6 months old at the time the I-20 or DS-2019 is issued
  3. Be written in English, or accompanied by official translation
  4. Clearly state the currency of funds

 
1) Financial Certification Form

In order to receive an I-20/DS-2019, all international students must download a financial certification form and submit the completed form with neccessary financial documentation of funding to the e-form in iStart. The forms that are incomplete or have insufficient funds will be denied.

 

2) Acceptable Types of Financial Documents
Bank letters/statements
  • Name of bank account holder
  • Total available balance 
  • Official letterhead and include the bank's name, address logo, and heading
  • Bank official's signature or stamp 
  • Maturity date must be before the start of the semester if applicable
Loan Letters
  • Must show student is approved or pre-approved for the loan
  • Must clearly state the total approved/pre-approved amount
Awards/ grants/scholarship/ employer sponsor Letters
  • Must clearly state what the scholarship includes, such as tuition, fees, books, and insurance. If includes a stipend, it must state the dollar amount per month or per year
Provident Fund Statement
  • Name of account holder
  • Must clearly state the amount that can be withdrawn before the start date of classes. Just showing a total available balance is not sufficient.
Employment letters or Salary statement

 

 

  NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Thse types of funds are not considered as liquid assets.

Unliquid Investments 
Credit card statements
Real estate statements
Life insurance statements
Stock market statements
Valuation statements
Tax return documents

 

3) Sponsor Funds (i.e. Family/relative/friend/colleague/family friend)

If the student is not using a personal bank account in their name, sponsor verification is required. Please have your sponsor verify their sponsorship by signing under "Sponsor Verification" in the financial certification form. 

 

4) Dependents

If you have dependents who need a visa, you will be required to provide additional proof of funding for each dependent: $600 per month for a spouse and $400 per month for each child. 


 

HOW TO SUBMIT FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS

1) New Students or Transfer Students
Incoming students who need an I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Georgia Tech MUST WAIT to receive an email from info@oie.gatech.edu with a link to an e-form to upload a Financial Certification Form and Financial Documents in iStart.

***Office of Undergraduate Admissions will initiate this process for UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
***Graduate Coordinators in academic departments will initiate this process for GRADUATE STUDENTS

2) New Scholars or Student Interns
New scholars or student interns will submit financial information to their host department, who will submit it to iStart. All communication regarding financial documents for new scholars or student interns will be done by the department. OIE can accept "Salary Statement" as proof of personal funding only for new scholars. 

3) Continuing Students
Instructions for submitting Financial Documents will be on the e-form that you submit through iStart. Be sure to read the information on the e-form to understand how to submit your financial documents.

If you are having trouble uploading your financial documents, please see OIE's Steps on Resolving E-Form PDF Upload Issues.

 

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a federal U.S. government database that maintains and manages data about international students and exchange visitors during their stay in the U.S. SEVIS is the system in which Georgia Tech issues immigration documents (I-20s and DS-2019s) and where OIE updates and makes changes to international students, scholars, and student interns' information.

For more information about SEVIS, please see the U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement website.

What is the SEVIS I-901 fee?
From the time that it was created, the maintenance of SEVIS was required to be financed by a fee paid by all international visitors to the U.S. Therefore, all international students, scholars, and student interns must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before applying for a visa or entering the U.S. if no U.S. visa is required. For information on the fee and updated amounts, please see ICE's website.

When must the fee be paid?

  • If an F-1/J-1 visa is required: The fee must be paid and processed at least three business days before going to the consulate to get a visa.
  • If a visa is NOT required because the individual is a national of Canada or Bermuda: The fee must be paid before entering the U.S.

How is the fee paid?
For information on how to pay the fee, please see ICE's website. Many GT students in the past have been successful paying via www.fmjfee.com.

I am currently in the U.S. Am I required to pay the fee?
If you maintain your F or J status and stay within the U.S., you are not required to pay the fee. F and J visa holders would be required to pay the SEVIS fee in the following situations:

  • After leaving the U.S. for more than 5 months (F-1).
  • If applying for reinstatement after being out-of-status for more than 5 months (F-1) or 121 days (J-1).
  • If entering the U.S. with a new I-20 (with a new SEVIS number) because of a break in status.

What if I change to F-1/J-1 status in the U.S.?
You must pay the fee before submitting the I-539 application. You should include the receipt with the change of status application.

What advice can be offered for those who must pay the SEVIS fee?

  • The Georgia Tech Atlanta campus school code is ATL214F00102000: you will need this number to pay the fee.
  • Pay the fee on-line if possible, and print out the receipt. You will be required to present this receipt at your visa appointment in order to receive your visa.
  • Take a paper receipt of the fee to the consulate and port-of-entry.
  • Pay the fee as soon as possible.
  • DO NOT apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa if you are subject to the SEVIS fee and you have not paid the fee.

SEVIS FEE HELPDESK
If you have a problem paying the SEVIS fee, you are able to e-mail the Student and Exchange Vistor Program to resolve the issue at fmjfee.SEVIS@dhs.gov.

This website has detailed information about getting an initial F-1 or J-1 visa. Continuing students or scholars should see OIE's Renewing Visa website for Continuing Students and Scholars for information on renewing visas.


The U.S. State Department’s website has detailed information explaining the requirements for applying for an F-1 visa or J-1 visa. You are eligible to apply for a visa up to 120 days before the Program Start Date listed on your I-20/DS-2019. Please note, wait times for visa appointments differ, so please plan accordingly based on the embassy or consulate where you will apply. You can find average visa wait times at the State Department's website.

Note: You should not make your appointment with the U.S. embassy or consulate until after you have received your I-20 or DS-2019 from Georgia Tech.

Please note that citizens of Canada and Bermuda are not required to obtain F or J visas. You will use the Georgia Tech issued immigration documents to enter the U.S., but are not required to apply and be approved for a visa.

 

Preparing for Your Appointment

You will be required to complete the following steps before your visa appointment:

1. Pay the I-901 “SEVIS Fee.” The easiest way to do this is through www.fmjfee.com, but you can do so by mail as well- see the I-901 FAQ for more information. To pay the I-901 fee, you will need your SEVIS Identification number (N000_ _ _ _ _ _ _) found at the top, right corner of your I-20 or DS-2019. Make sure to bring your payment receipt to your visa application appointment.
2. Complete the online Visa application (DS-160).
3. Pay the Visa Application Processing Fee. Students from certain countries will also have to pay a Visa Reciprocity Fee.

*ISSS suggests that graduate students and scholars come to the visa appointment with the following documents: a CV with a complete list of publications, summary of research activities current and past, official academic records, and an abstract of thesis when applicable.

During Your Appointment

You will be required to bring the following items to the Embassy or Consulate for your appointment:

1. I-20/DS-2019 from Georgia Tech
2. Passport (valid at least 6 months beyond your Program Start Date)
3. I-901 Fee payment receipt
4. Visa Application Fee
5. DS-160 confirmation receipt
6. Admission letter from Georgia Tech
7. Verification of financial resources (this should be the same documentation that you sent to Georgia Tech)
8. Proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS score, for example)

*During the appointment, you should be prepared to discuss your purpose of being in the U.S. Simply handing a Consular Officer your documents will not suffice; you should be able to explain your goals and objectives of your time in the U.S.

After Your Appointment

Once your visa is issued, check to make sure that all of the information is correct. If the spelling of your name, your date of birth, or country of citizenship differs from your passport, you could experience delays entering the United States. Contact the embassy or consulate if you notice any errors on your visa.

Students may use the U.S. Department of State website to check their U.S. visa application status using an 'Immigrant Visa Case Number.'

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Administrative Processing

Administrative processing may be required of an applicant for a variety of reasons: a "hit" during a name check; being a national of certain countries; studying/researching a field on the Technology Alert List (TAL); or based on the "intuition" of the interviewing consular.

Georgia Tech and the Office of International Education are not able to assist with any process expeditions. Administrative processing can take anywhere from 2 weeks to several months.

Name check: every applicant for a visa must undergo a name check through the Consolidated Consular Database (CCD). If the applicant's name matches a name in the database noted as a "problem," administrative processing may be required.

Nationality: being a national of particular countries may also require administrative procesing. National may mean the applicant has dual citizenship, was once a citizen of certain countries, or was born in one of those countries. The only way to avoid this is if proof of renunciation of a particular citizenship is in writing.

Technology Alert List (TAL): many of the fields of study listed on the TAL are broadly stated, which results in a number of administrative processing cases. Detailed and concise explanations of the specific research that the applicant will engage in may decrease the need for administrative processing, if the research is clearly not of strategic importance.

Institution: consular officers are asked to use their own impressions to request administrative processing if they are at all unsure of whether it is necessary or not.

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Change of Status From F-1

F students interested in changing to a status other than F2, J1 or J2 should consult an immigration attorney.  OIE does not have the expertise to advise students on other statuses. 

However, it is important that students notify OIE when they change immigration status or would like to abandon their F status while a change of status application is pending.

Login to iStart and review the information in the Change of Status from F1/F2 e-form.

If the change of status has been approved or you would like to abandon your F-1 status while an application is pending, complete the e-form.  In the e-form, upload proof of your pending/approved change of status.  Examples include:

paper I-94 card issued by Customs and Border Protection along with the corresponding entry visa

electronic I-94 card along with the corresponding entry visa

I-797 notice of action containing the I-94 card issued by USCIS

front and back of the U.S. permanent residency card (green card)

U.S passport or naturalization documents

An International Student Advisor will review your request within 5 business days and either terminate or complete your SEVIS record depending on your individual situation and remove your F-1 status from the Georgia Tech information system.

Important Reminders for All Students with Terminated/Completed F-1 SEVIS Records Due to a Change of Status:

Not eligible for F-1 benefits such as on-campus work benefit or off-campus work authorization (OPT or CPT).

No longer automatically enrolled in Georgia Tech's international student health insurance plan.

Are responsible for providing the Registrar's Office with proof of the change of status.

If employed on-campus, are responsible for providing Human Resources with proof of the approved/pending change of status to update their tax and employment documentation.

Important: It is possible to possess an approved change of status application but the change of status is not yet effective (i.e. an H1B application approved in May but an effective date of October 1st). If a change in employment occurs between the approval notice date and effective date (i.e. discontinuation of employment by H1B sponsor), students must contact the OIE immediately to prevent the termination of their F1 status. 

Additional Considerations for Students with Pending U.S Permanent Residency Applications and Requesting a Termination of Their F-1 Status:

Consult an immigration attorney before choosing to terminate F-1 status prior to receiving legal permanent residency.

Will require a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS in order to be employed.

OIE will no longer be able to make updates to your student visa status

If the permanent residency application is denied, you will be considered to be out of status (that is, unlawfully in the U.S.)

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the premier research universities in the United States, was established by an Act of the Georgia Legislature on October 13, 1885. The Institute is best known for its top-ranked academics, world-renowned faculty, and highly motivated students. The U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Georgia Tech as one of the top 10 public universities in the country.

Over the years, Georgia Tech has expanded its resources to serve over 20,000 students, more than 6,000 of whom are seeking graduate degrees. Our students come from more than 120 countries to pursue studies in the Colleges of Management, Architecture, Engineering, Computing, Sciences, and Liberal Arts. These six colleges offer 35 undergraduate and over 100 masters and doctoral programs, representing a wide range of traditional and interdisciplinary studies.

The Institute occupies more than 450 acres and 237 buildings. A great addition to Georgia Tech is Technology Square, a $180 million-dollar multi-facility complex that is home to the College of Management. Technology Square is located in the heart of Midtown, Atlanta’s vibrant and growing technology corridor that offers students and faculty extensive exposure to the Atlanta business community.

You can learn more about Georgia Tech’s history, traditions, facilities, and students from the Georgia Tech Factbook.

 

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is the capital of the state of Georgia, the site of the 1996 Olympic Games, and one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. It is home to nearly 5.5 million people and boasts the busiest airport in the world.

Atlanta, the undisputed business and cultural center of the southeast, is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 places to for high-tech and international career opportunities. More than 1,600 international businesses are in Atlanta along with many Fortune 500 companies, including Coca Cola Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Home Depot, Newell Rubbermaid, SunTrust Bank and UPS, are headquartered in the area.

The city combines classic small-town southern hospitality with all the amenities of a cosmopolitan city. The moderate cost of living, which is below the national average, and the pleasant climate, which permits year-round outdoor activities, makes Atlanta appealing to many.

 

Climate

When you arrive in Atlanta in August, the probable temperature range will be from an average high in the upper 80s to lower 90s Fahrenheit (lower to mid-30s C) during the day to a low at night of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees C).  It also rains often in Atlanta throughout the school year. 

The city has four distinct seasons, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy a range of comfortable climates. During the fall and spring, Atlanta is quite comfortable with temperatures of 70-80° F (21-26° C). Summers can be quite hot and humid, with temperatures sometimes reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), and winters are normally mild with a few colder spells. The annual rainfall is about 48 in (122 cm).

We suggest buying as much of your wardrobe as possible here unless you feel the cost would be prohibitive. Student dress on campus is casual and entirely according to your personal taste. 

Requesting a Dependent

New Students/Scholars/Student Interns: You will be able to request a dependent on your initial application to the school.

Continuing Students/Scholars/Student Interns: If you would like your spouse and/or children (under age 21) to join you in the U.S., you should submit the corresponding Student or Scholar Request for Dependent e-form in iStart.


Both new and continuing students and scholars will be required to verify that you have sufficient funds to cover your family's expenses for a minimum of one year.  The estimated cost of living for a spouse is $600 per month and $400 per child per month.  ISSS will provide you with the F-2 immigration form I-20 or J-2 immigration form DS-2019 when evidence of financial support is presented.

While ISSS issues the I-20s/DS-2019s to facilitate the F-2/J-2 visa application at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the decision to issue or deny visas is made solely by the consular officer.

Visiting Family Members or Friends

Georgia Tech is not inviting the individual to the U.S., you are! Therefore, the Office of International Education, Office of the Registrar, and Communications and Marketing are not able to provide invitation letters requesting visitor (B-1/B-2) visas for friends or family coming to visit you. Instead, you will provide an invitation letter and supporting documentation for your family member or friend to visit.

For information about what you as the international student or scholar should provide for your family member or friend to be issued a visiting visa, please see our Friends and Family:Tourist Visa handout.