Before You Arrive

Overview

We are excited that you are interested in applying for a degree program at the University of South Florida! The Tampa Bay area is a vibrant, multicultural, metropolitan location and our institution offers a wide range of academic programs. Your first step is to apply through the university's admission offices.

  • Students seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree program at USF should apply online at International Admissions and Graduate Admissions, respectively.

  • Students with a TOEFL score below 79 or IELTS score below 6.5 may apply to the Pathway Program offered by INTO USF.

  • All websites include application checklists, link to the programs offered, and provide general information about the university.

  • International applicants are not eligible for financial aid such as Stafford Loans or Pell Grants, but may be considered for university scholarships.

  • For more information on undergraduate scholarship please contact International Admissions.

  • For more information on graduate scholarship opportunities see the Office of Graduate Studies

Upon admittance to one of our academic programs, our office will assist you with the required immigration documents necessary for applying for a student visa.

NOTE: F-1 student visa regulations allow students to enroll in only one 3 credit hour online/distance learning course per the official full-time equivalent for the degree level of study.  Therefore, the F-1 visa is not appropriate for any degree program that is offered completely via distance learning or has a a majority of online courses.

Most international students study at USF on F-1 or J-1 student visas. To apply for these visas, you will need eligibility documents (I-20s for F-1 visas or DS-2019s for J-1 visas) from our office.

F-1 Student Visa – I-20 Information

F-1 is the most commonly used student visa. Students must have a valid educational purpose for coming to the United States, be a full-time student, and provide proof of their ability to fund their education. Once admitted, students provide financial documentation and are then issued an I-20 to be used to obtain the F-1 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad.

The spouse or children of a F-1 student enter the US on F-2 visas and are not eligible to attend university or work in the US. 

Transferring F-1 Status from Another US Institution

F-1 students who are already attending a US school may transfer their immigration record/status to USF. To qualify you must be admitted to a USF program, provide proof of financial support, and have continuously maintained your immigration status while in the US. Transfer-In students must enroll in courses at USF within 5 months of their date of last attendance at the previous school or end date of OPT.  

Students must ask their current institution to transfer their SEVIS record to USF after they have been admitted and received their official USF offer letter.

Change to F-1 from Another Non-Immigrant Visa Status

Students who are in the US using a non-immigrant visa other than F-1 may choose to change their status to F-1 prior to beginning their USF academic program. This may be accomplished by traveling outside the U.S. or by applying to USCIS for a Change of Status.  

 Students traveling to obtain their F-1 visa must receive an I-20 from International Services. Students applying for a Change of Status must meet with an international student advisor to discuss the process. 

J-1 Student Visa – DS-2019 Information

The J-1 visa is an "exchange visitor" visa which is managed under the auspices of the Exchange Visitor Program of the US Department of State. The J-1 visa is used primarily by exchange students (non-degree seeking) and students sponsored by US government agencies.

Students who meet the criteria for the J-1 visa will be issued a DS-2019 by USF or a US government agency (IIE, OAS, USF, etc.).  

The spouse or children of a J-1 student enter the US on a J-2 visa. Spouses and children may attend school and a spouse may apply to USCIS for permission to work after their arrival in the U.S.

Other Visa Status Information (Non F-1/J-1 Visa Holders)

Students who do not hold a F-1 (student) or J-1 visa status may study at USF if their current visa status permits study in a degree seeking program.

Please note that individuals in F-2 and B-1/B-2 (visitor) status are PROHIBITED from studying in a degree seeking program.  

For more information about non-immigrant visas, visit US Department of State.