Going to University, especially in the US, is very exciting and also intimidating. We know you have plenty of questions and we are here to help guide you. Please take your time to review the information on this page and let us know what questions arise by emailing us at [email protected]
On this page:
When to apply:
You will be able to apply for your visa as soon as you have received your I-20, paid the required SEVIS fee at www.fmjfee.com, AND the US Embassy in your country has opened for non-immigrant visa appointments. Please check the US Embassy website in your country for details: www.state.gov
Issues applying on time:
Please email Chris Hendree [email protected] for details on how to defer or apply for a future semester at GVSU.
Recommendations for the interview:
Be prepared to show that you are academically and financially a strong candidate to enter the US. You must be able to convince the Visa Officer that your specific degree at GVSU will make a difference in your future in your home country. We believe that finances will be heavily scrutinized during this time, because the pandemic has been devastating to families around the world
Detailed process and advice can be found on the Visa Advice powerpoint on the Get Ready page.
Designated Arrival Dates: August 19, 20, and 21
We highly recommend new students fly into Grand Rapids airport: Gerald R. Ford International, code GRR. Flying into a larger airport such as Chicago or Detroit and then taking public transportation is not recommended for first-time travelers as the US public transportation is not always convenient or easy to navigate.
We ask all new international students to submit their flight information online by August 10.
Airport Transportation for On-Campus Students
Students who will be living in GVSU Housing can choose to use our free airport transportation service if they are arriving to the Grand Rapids [GRR] airport on one of the designated arrival dates (August 19,20,21). To request transportation, submit your flight details using the link above. This service is operated as a shuttle. Once the August 10 submission deadline has passed, you will be notified the details of your assigned shuttle by email. There may be up to 6 new international students on each shuttle as flights and space allow. Students will be collected from the airport and taken directly to GVSU, where GVSU staff will assist students to move into their GVSU Housing. Any flight arrival time submitted by August 10 is acceptable for shuttle transportation. If flights are delayed or cancelled and the new arrival date and time cannot be accommodated by our shuttle service, students may have to stay at a hotel at their own expense or pay for transportation as detailed below.
Airport Transportation for Off-Campus Students
Students living Off-Campus or students living on-campus but arriving outside the designated arrival days should organize their own transportation using:
Keep all important documents with you at all times. This includes passport, I-20, flight itinerary, prescriptions, insurance cards, etc. Do not put these items in your checked bags. They should be with you in a carry-on item or on your person.
If you are bringing any prescription drugs to the United States, you must bring an English translation of the prescription with them. Keep these with you in your carry on (not in your checked bag). In case any prescriptions are needed while you are here, MetroHealth at the Campus Health Center can assist you.
Let your family know it might take up to 24 hours after your planned arrival time to get in touch with them. Although this isn't the usually case, sometimes flights are delayed, phones are dropped in toilets, the wi-fi goes down and your communication plan is changed. Reassure yourself and your family that even if it takes longer than expected, you will be in touch as soon as you can be!
GVSU On-Campus Housing
We encourage you, as an international student, to live on-campus at Grand Valley. Visit the Grand Valley Housing website to apply. When applying, use the transfer application to gain access to apartment style options which include kitchens. Students who apply as freshman are required to live in dorm-style units. Laker Village is strongly recommended since most international students live in this community, it is at the midway price point, and it is home to the International House. For students beginning during a Fall semester, the priority application deadline is July 1. You will find out your housing placement in July. You will need to provide your home address if possible. If the application will not accept your address, please use the Padnos International Center address: Padnos International Center ,130 LOH Allendale, MI 49401.
If on-campus housing does not fit your needs, off campus housing is also available. In addition to the linked page, the ISS Team has put together this list of off-campus apartments hear our Allendale, Health, and Grand Rapids/Pew Campuses:
Please note, living off-campus requires students to be entirely responsible for their housing situation--we have very limited abilities to support students who choose off-campus housing.
Undergraduate students will be contacted by their academic advisor in May or June (for FALL) or November (for WINTER) to register for classes. Be sure you respond to emails in a timely manner, as it is important to have a set class schedule before arriving to Grand Valley.
Graduate students should contact their own academic advisor in May or June (for FALL) or November (for WINTER). All students should have their classes before International student orientation. There will be a chance during orientation to make last minute changes, but you should have a solid schedule by the time you arrive to Grand Valley.
GVSU does require all students, including International Students, to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19 with a WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine to attend the University. Fully vaccinated students are not required to quarantine upon arrival, but testing is recommended. Your can read more about GVSU's COVID policies on the Lakers Together website.
Standard vaccinations are recommended (Tuberculosis, Polio, Tetans, MMR, Varicella, etc).
US Customs and Immigration requires anyone entering the USA with $10,000 USD cash or more to declare this money with Form FinCEN 105 when entering the country. If you intend to pay your tuition with cash, please instead consider sending the money via Western Union instead or bringing a demand draft. These are much safer methods. If you do not declare the money you are bringing with you, you may be fined and all the money may be seized (taken away permanently).
To connect with other international students at Grand Valley through ISS, we recommend you follow GViStudents on Instagram. We also have a Slack with channels on new student topics. New students are emailed invitations to join.
Take a look at our International and Domestic Student run Organization, 'Bringing Together the World' (BTW), to connect with GVSU students and other Internationals. Check them out on Facebook and Instagram. You should also visit Laker Link to find other student organizations you may be interested in joining.
We recommend you purchase a pay-as-you-go plan upon arrival to Grand Valley. After you have applied for and received your Social Security number, you will be able to purchase a service contract for your cell phone if you wish.
J-1 international students are required to have Health Insurance. F-1 students are not required to have health insruance, although we HIGHLY recommend purchasing a policy. Health care in the USA is very costly.
All GVSU students, including F-1 and J-1, are able to purchase policy GVSU brokers. Details can be found on the GVSU Health Hub page.
New International Students are required to pay the full balance of their Student Account by August 26, at 5pm; payment plans are only permitted after the first semester. Log into MyBanner to view your student account. Please note that accounts are not billed tuition until after students have registered for courses.
Details on payment methods are on the Tuition page.