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International Programs

East Tennessee State University

New Students

New students title photo

Welcome to the Office of International Programs and Services and congratulations on your acceptance to ETSU.  We look forward to welcoming you to our campus.

The purpose of this page is to provide pre-arrival information and a checklist of things you must do before and upon arriving in the United States.

Review the Pre-Arrival Checklist

Read all the New Students pre-arrival information provided.

Please e-mail the Office of International Programs & Services (IPS) at or call 001-423-439-7737, anytime, if you have questions or need assistance.

See you soon.  

The Pre-Arrival Meeting is an online meeting with the International Student Advisors, who go over the necessary steps to prepare and arrive to ETSU's campus. The format is WebEx, which is similar to Skype. 

Whether or not you have applied or completed the I-20/DS-2019 request, we welcome you to join us! Following the presentation, students are able to speak directly with the advisors and ask questions. 

Meeting times are always in Eastern Standard Time (EST) or New York time. Follow the below instructions to join!

Next meeting to take place is December 20 at 8:30 AM.  

You can join the Pre-Arrival Meeting by using the link below or by phone. For both options, you will need either the meeting number/password or access code.

Join WebEx meeting
Meeting number:
315 522 451
Meeting password:

Join by phone:
+1-855-282-6330 US TOLL FREE
+1-415-655-0003 US TOLL
Access code: 315 522 451

In preparation for requesting your form I-20 or DS-2019 please follow these instructions:

  • Activate/set up your ETSU account here.  You cannot proceed with the I-20 request until you complete this step.
  • Check your ETSU email account for a message with detailed information on how to request your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • If you have deferred your admission, make sure that you requested an update admission letter from the Admissions Office or School of Graduate Studies, as appropriate. You will not be able to request your updated I-20 until after the updated admission letters are issued.

Have the following documents ready:

  • Picture page of your valid passport
    • If you have dependents, picture page of their valid passports
  • ETSU admission/acceptance Letter
    • A copy of updated admission/acceptance letter, if you have deferred your  enrollment
  • Financial documents that meet or exceed the Estimated Cost of Attendance
    •  Support Affidavit form completed and shipped with bank statements (see   form and form instructions located in Dynamic Forms)
    • Current bank statements:
      • Showing at least 3 months of account transactions. Please note, we are not accepting financial documentation from businesses.  
      • In English and identify:
        1. The account holder
        2. Currency
        3. Name of bank
      • Must be in liquid funds
  • Scholarship award letter or email. Make sure letter/email shows the scholarship $ value.
    • SACM students only need to provide the Scholarship Financial Guarantee Letter. 
    • Most ETSU scholarships do not cover the cost of living expenses. As such, you must provide financial documentation for the difference between your scholarship value and the ETSU cost of attendance for international students. 

Please note, the estimated cost of attendance is for 9 months only (fall and spring terms). If you do not plan to return home for the summer,  it will be your responsibility to make sure you have funds to support yourself during the summer vacation.

Permanent vs. Mailing Address:

On the request form, we ask for both a permanent and a mailing address. We cannot use a post office box as a permanent address.  

Begin I-20 or DS2019 Request:

• Follow the link emailed to you.
• Use your ETSU login information to sign in.

○ DO NOT Create an Account

• Click "Complete This Form" to begin 

 Forms login 1

Form login 2


Now that you have an I-20 or DS-2019 from ETSU, you must prepare to apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa.  Please follow the steps below to to prepare your apply for your student visa. 

As per immigration regulations, international students with an Initial I-20 or DS-2019 may not enter the United States more than 30 days before the reporting date on those forms.  Please take this into consideration when making your travel plans.

Students entering ETSU in the fall term 2017 may apply for entry into the U.S. starting on July 22.

A. Pay SEVIS I-901 Fee:

All international students applying for the F-1 or J-1 visas must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. This fee is currently $200.00 USD for the F-1 visa and $180.00 USD for the J-1 visa. The fee MUST be paid a minimum of 3 business days prior to applying for the visa. You must have the receipt of the payment when you go for your visa interview appointment.

Please visit the SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment Website to pay this fee.


B. Apply for Visa:

Visa application procedures vary somewhat among Consulates in various countries. The US Visas Website will help you through the process of applying for the student visa.  Once you are on that web page, select the appropriate visa type (i.e. F or J), then read and follow the instructions.

Generally, there are several steps in this process including:

• Completing the Online Visa Application (Form DS-160)
• Scheduling a Visa Interview Appointment
• Preparing appropriate documentation for the Interview

○ Required documentation varies depending on which country you are in.
○ Be sure to check with the consulate for which documents you should bring with you BEFORE your interview).

Tips for the Visa Interview:

1. Take all required and requested documents including:

• Passport
• I-20 or DS-2019
• Financial documents (i.e. bank statements, scholarship letter/guarantee, etc.)
• ETSU admission letter
• Any other documents requested by the Consulate

○ NOTE: If you have F-2 or J-2 dependents accompanying you to the US, be sure to take their Passports, I-20s or DS-2019s, Marriage/Birth Certificates, etc. as well.

2. Make sure your financial documents match what is listed on the I-20 or DS-2019 for your financial support.

3. Remember to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee at least 3 business days prior to your interview! 

4. If you are transferring to ETSU from another U.S. institutions, please review information onTransfer Students.

5. If you are planning to apply for a change of status, please review the following information: Change of Status


A. Planning Your Flight

As per immigration regulations, international students with an Initial I-20 or DS-2019 may not enter the United States more than 30 days before the reporting date on their form I-20.  Please take this into consideration when making your travel plans.

Students entering ETSU in the fall term 2017 ma seek entry into the U.S. starting on July 22.

Make your travel arrangements as soon as possible. Please note that there is only one airport close to ETSU. Please fly into this airport, which is the Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI):

Make sure you know your flight itinerary and be sure to carry with you contact information for our office. Also, and this is critically important, you must have your passport and travel documents (I-20 or DS-2019) readily accessible for immigration officials, so keep these with you and not in your checked-in luggage. 

Please educate yourself on the flight regulations set by the U. S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and any equivalent in your home country.  Before your flight to the United States, please view

B. Port of Entry

When you land at the first United States airport, you will be required to go through a U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection.  Please view Arriving at US Port of Entry for information on what to expect. 

It is very important that you have your immigration documents (I-20 or DS-2019 and passport) in your possession -- NOT in your checked luggage. 

C. Transportation from TRI airport to Johnson City

These are the options for getting from the Tri-Cities Regional Airport to Johnson City.

1. Sign up to participate in the International Friends Program (Host Friend Program). Your host friend would pick you up from the airport, host you in their home for a night or two and help you move to your apartment or on campus dormitores; and drive you to the store so that you can purchase supplies. Please complete the International International Friends Program Application if interested in participating. We highly recommend this opportunity, but apply early because spots are limited! 

2. Hire a taxi or Uber driver

F&L Limo and Taxi Service (recommended if traveling to Tri-Cities Airport)

○ Phone: 423-245-0856
○ A taxi will be cheaper than a limo

Uber services are available in the Tri-Cities are. 


 A. Health Insurance

ETSU requires that all international, non-immigrant students and scholars under the F and J status maintain accident, illness, medical evacuation, and repatriation insurance on themselves as a condition to their admission, enrollment, research duties, and employment at ETSU. Applicants under any of the J status categories must also carry accident, illness, medical evacuation, and repatriation insurance for spouses and dependents. 

The short video below offers information on the U.S. Health Care System.

DISCLAIMER TO VIDEO: The video below was produced by We find the information within the video helpful for a general overview of the United Statues medical system and what international students and scholars should expect. 


Please note you are required to purchase health insurance coverage directly from the insurance provider selected by TBR. Therefore, an Insurance Hold is in effect until this insurance is purchased. No private health insurance policy [with limited exemption] will be accepted.

The cost for insurance coverage per semester is approximately  $700.

The health insurance coverage that you purchase at ETSU  will not provide you with dental or eye coverage. We strongly recommend that you have a dental and eye examination before departing for the United States. 

The current insurance provider for ETSU international student health insurance is United Health Care through PGH Global.

 B. Immunizations

All ETSU students cannot register for full-time classes or move into campus dorms until proof of immunizations has been provided to the Student Health Services Office. Information and detailed requirements can be found by visiting their website.

Students under the age of 18 must submit the Parental Medical Consent Form to Student Health Services. 

Proof of immunizations are required for students living on campus and documentation must be received before the move-in date.

After you arrive,  it is required to have a test for tuberculosis (TB). Do not have this test done at home. See information on the Tubercelosis test on Student Health Services website. Please note, these tests may require an appointment. Contact Student Health Services to schedule an appointment. 

This section will provide guidance on how to register for classes. Note that there are different registration procedures depending on your degree level. 

Note:  Once you register for classes, you can obtain your ETSU id card. Please visit the  ID Services web site for information on obtaining and using your ID card.

A. Undergraduate Students:

The Academic Advisor will assist you with any questions or concerns regarding your academic program. To find your advisor click here; advisors are listed by major. 

The International Student Advisor will advise you on regulations pertaining to your F-1 or J-1 immigration status. To contact your ISA, email: .  


  • F-1 degree-seeking undergraduate international students are required to complete  ETSU online LAUNCH orientation before you are allowed to register for classes. The Orientation Office will send an invite to your ETSU email. The orientation fee is $30.

  • Once you complete LAUNCH, contact your academic advisor for assistance in registering for classes. The earlier you register, the better your chances of getting a seat in courses that you need. 


• J-1 visiting/exchange students, your academic advisor will contact you via your ETSU email account. If your academic advisor does not contact you, please find the advisor for your major by clicking here and contact him or her by email.

B. Graduate Students:

• The Graduate Coordinator,  listed in your admission letter, will serve as your academic advisor. Please contact him or her by email for assistance in registering for classes.
• The International Student Advisor will advise you on regulations pertaining to your F-1 or J-1 immigration status. To contact your ISA, email: .  


 International Friendship Program    International Friendship Program

IBB Schedule Fall 2017

      Week of  Activity
       August 27th Welcome Event
      September 2nd Bays Mountain Hike
      October 2nd Corn Maze Trip
      October 28th Halloween Costume Party
      December 9th Farewell Social


 Attention New International Students

The Office of International Programs and Services at ETSU encourages you to apply for our International Friends Program (IFP) and our Buccaneer Buddy Program (IBB).  You may apply for either or both programs.  If you apply for the IFP, you will be paired with an ETSU faculty or staff, or community, volunteer family who will help you during the first few days after your arrival. Please note that this program is only available to new students coming to ETSU for the first time and hosts cannot accommodate family or friends traveling with the student. The benefits of applying for the program are:

  • You would have someone to pick you up at the airport, feed and house you for a night or two, help you move into your new campus housing, and take you shopping for the things you might need for your housing.
  • You would quickly know someone in the community who could answer your questions and help you as you adjust to life here.
  • You will have someone to show you around the campus and the city when you first arrive, so you can more quickly become familiar with your new home.

If you apply for the IBB, you will be paired with a volunteer student buddy who will assist you during the first month you are here, and you will be able to do activities and trips with many other IBB students that includes both American students and other international students. The benefits of applying for IBB are:

  • You will have American students to show you around campus and help answer questions about campus life and American culture.
  • You will have the opportunity to engage in new and fun activities and experiences with other students
  • You will be able to make new friends from around the world.
  • You will more quickly adapt to the life and culture here and have a richer experience of life in the USA.

There are limited openings for the program so the earlier you apply the better the chance of being served.  The deadline for applying for Fall semester is August 10 and the deadline for Spring semester is December 10.  Following the applications below you can read what recent international students said about their experience with IFP and IBB.

International Friendship Program application

International Buccaneer Buddy application

International Buccaneer Buddy application for returning international students only

This section provides information about on- and off-campus housing, as well as optional meal plans offered by ETSU Dining Services. 

A. Housing

• On-Campus Housing

All the housing facilities available to you on campus are described in great detail on the ETSU Housing and Residence Life web page. Apply as soon as possible, as housing assignments are made on a first-come-first-served basis. Please note, a meal plan is required if you live on campus.

Online Housing Application

Move in dates for Fall 2017 are August 25th-27th any time between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. However, by special arrangement, international students may move in as early as (date to be determined). If you wish to take advantage of this, contact the in advance. 


• Off-Campus Housing

Off-campus apartments may rent from $500 - $800 per month and requires deposits for rent, electricity, internet and or telephone connections. In addition, setup and monthly fee may be applicable. 

The ETSU Housing Office does not provide individual assistance for off-campus housing. However, you may find a list of rental/lease units available at this website. Please contact the individual advertising the vacancy directly for more information. 

Alternatively, you can view off-campus housing options by searching "Johnson City TN apartments near ETSU" on the website.  

Since public transportation in Johnson City is very limited, you should search for off campus housing within walking distance from the ETSU campus.

B. On-Campus Meal Plans

For those who choose to live on campus, a meal plan is required.

For students who choose to live off campus, a meal plan is not required; however, off-campus students are eligible to purchase a meal plan if they wish to.

ETSU dining plans are a great value, help students eat regular healthy and delicious meals, and are a great way to meet friends on campus. Whether you choose to live on or off campus, one of the meal plans offered will fit your needs.

Only ETSU on-campus residents can participate in the Resident Advantage meal plans designed to work with your on-campus life and save you money. If you opt for the Resident Advantage plan, it is billed directly to your student Goldlink account as a part of your room and board fees, which means that it is sales tax exempt (approximately 10% savings).

You will be required to sign a housing and a meal plan contract.  Contracts cannot be canceled.

 Please visit the ETSU Dining Services website for detailed information.

Fall 2018

All new students are required to Check-in. The Check-in is a 2 step process:

Step 1: Attend the Check-In Immigration Presentation

• We have limited seating and therefore you must reserve your spot
• To reserve a seat an invite with instructions will be sent to your ETSU email

Step 2: Submit immigration documents for Check-in online

• You cannot submit documentation until after you arrive into the US
• Link will be provided at a later date
• Documents to submit (CLEAR SCANNED COPIES):

○ Picture page of passport
○ Visa
○ Entry Stamp
○ I-94 (you receive this after you enter the US)
○ Dependent(s) documents if applicable

Below are the dates and times of the Check-In Presentation:

Check-In Presentation

Location: Yoakley Hall, Room 109

Time: 9:00 am -- 11:30 am (EST-New York Time)

• Meeting begins promptly at 9:00 am
• Ending time is approximate 


  • Thursday, August 16
  • Friday, August 17
  • Monday, August 20
  • Tuesday, August 21
  • Wednesday, August 22
  • Thursday, August 23 

Shortly after your arrival, there will be financial obligations you must be prepared to meet. Knowing about these ahead of time and thinking about how you will take care of them will help you to have a smoother transition to studying in the United States. 

Be aware, estimations are based on an academic year of 9 months. If your do not plan to return home for the summer it is your responsibility to secure financing for a full 12 months. 

Please note, financial support is not a mere formality to obtain an I-20 or DS-2019. Nor is it to facilitate your entry into the United States. Rather, financial support must ensure that you will not become a public charge or take unauthorized employment while studying in the United States. This obligation begins when you, under an F or J visa, enter the United States and continues until the completion of your program or departure. 

1. Tuition and Fees

After you have registered for your classes for the semester, you will be able to view your student account balance on Goldlink. What you'll see reflected here are your total charges (tuition, fees, required health insurance, and room & board costs if you're living on campus or have a meal plan), minus the value of any tuition scholarships you might have received.

The amount shown will be what you owe. You may pay the entire at balance at once, or choose a payment plan in which you pay 50% of the total at the beginning of the semester, and then make two more payments of 25% each on specified dates during the semester.

Important: Please be aware that you will be purged from the class rosters if you have not either paid your bill in full or set up a payment plan by the Friday before classes begin! (If you are not yet registered by that Friday, then you will be purged from class rosters on census day -- the 10th day of classes -- if you have not paid in full or set up a payment plan.) 

You should also keep in mind that, even if you receive a tuition scholarship or graduate assistant position, you will still be responsible for the payment of the "Fees" portion of your "Tuition and Fees." You will have to pay a portion of your costs at ETSU with your own money, in other words. 

Please visit the Bursar's Office webpage for additional information and details about paying your student account balance:

Estimated Annual Cost of Attendance for Purposes of I-20 or DS-2019

2. Room & Board

For information about the accommodations and meal plans available on campus, please visit:

For information on the cost of on campus housing, please see:

For information on the cost of meal plans, please see:

It is very important that you do not overlook or underestimate the cost of living in Johnson City when considering how much money you need to have available. The cost of living in  Johnson City  is less expensive than in many other cities in the U.S. it may be expensive compared to your home country living costs.  Whether you choose to live on or off campus, you should plan to spend a minimum of $1500 per month on food, shelter, books and supplies, and personal care items while you are in the United States.

You do not have to live on campus, although doing so is a great way to meet new friends and to really become part of the ETSU community as well as to experience all that university life in the United States has to offer. 

Financial Aid

1. Scholarships

There are some scholarships designed specifically for international students. Scholarships reduce the amount you have to pay for tuition. For information about scholarship opportunities available to international students, please visit:  Scholarships

Please note that the Merit Scholarships and Tuition Scholarships, for undergraduate and graduate students, have different values. The Merit Scholarship covers one half of the in-and out-of-tuition cost but does not cover fees. The Tuition Scholarship covers the total cost of the in- and out-of-state graduate tuition cost,  but does not cover fees.

2. Sponsorships

If you are sponsored by a government, education institution or official agency, these entities must provide the following:

  • provide an official Scholarship Award letter with clearly defined scholarship terms and/or any measures that would affect the student’s scholarship

  • have an agreement to pay ETSU directly for the student’s tuition and if applicable, fees including housing and meal plan (we will verify this agreement with ETSU’s Bursar’s Office before issuing an I-20)
  • provide a stipend to cover living expenses, books, housing and meal plan (if applicable) and other related educational costs

  •  will cover the insurance fee via the stipend or provide medical insurance that meets or exceeds ETSU’s requirements

If you are sponsored by SACM, Kuwait Cultural Division, Huddersfield, Fulbright, etc. your sponsors meet the above-required criteria.

If sponsoring entities cannot meet the above-mentioned criteria, the student needs to follow the instructions on the Support Affidavit which includes submitting financial documentation that meets or exceeds the most current Estimated Cost-of-Living.

 3. Graduate Assistantship

For graduate students, some departments offer graduate assistantships, which reduce the amount of tuition you have to pay, plus provide a stipend in exchange for work you do for the department. The stipend may be used to assist you in meeting your living expenses, purchasing books and supplies, or for any other costs you incur while studying in the United States. 

For information on graduate assistantships, please contact your academic department's Graduate Program Coordinator.

You can find a list of GA and TS vacancies here:

 4. On-Campus Employment 

International students are limited in the types of employment they may pursue while studying in the United States. In general, as an international student, you may work on campus only, and for no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. Jobs are not guaranteed to international students. There are a limited number of positions available; you can view these at:

Available student worker positions are list here:  Student Worker Positions

Please note when searching that international students are eligible only for "RSWP" (Regular Student Work Study) positions.


This section is designed to provide you with information which does not "fit" into the other sections. Please be sure to go over each of the items below, as each has important information that will be helpful for you to know.

1. ETSU Campus Map
2. Hotels and Banks near ETSU
3. Johnson City, Quick Facts
4. Student Organizations


Regular office hours:  Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
Call  Office of International Programs and Services: 001-423-439-7737
Non-office hours: (after 4:30 p.m. or during weekends and holidays)
Call  Office of Public Safety: 001-423-439-4480

Give the Dispatcher your name, a general explanation of your problem, your phone number and tell him/her that you need to contact the International Programs and Services Director. The International Programs and Services Director or a designee will contact you as soon as possible.

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