Welcome to Wilkes!

Before your arrival here at the school there are certain steps that you will need to take. The Office of International Student & Scholar Services is here to help you make the transition to Wilkes as easy as possible.

Admitted Student Checklist

The Form I-20 will enable you to apply for the F-1 visa necessary to study in the United States. The F-1 application should be completed immediately as it is difficult to determine the length of time for processing. We will issue the Form I-20 and your official letter of admission after your supporting documents have been received.

I-20 Required Documents

  1. A copy of your passport.
  2. Completed Financial Verification Form.
  3. Financial support document indicating source of expected funding (e.g. bank statement issued in English, personal sponsor) to show you can meet estimated costs for first year of program. Must be from within the last 3 months.
  4. Your home mailing address and phone number for your I-20 to be shipped
  5. If you currently reside in the U.S. with an F/J Visa and will transfer your SEVIS record to Wilkes, complete the SEVIS Transfer Form with your current school's DSO.

The Department of Homeland Security requires that all students obtaining an F-1 visa for the first time pay a fee of $350 in U.S. currency to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Proof of payment will be required before going to the U.S Embassy or Consulate for the F-1 visa interview. For more information about this process and required fees (such as the SEVIS I-901 fee) log into the ice.gov SERVIS fee payment page.

For electronic payment using a credit card log into FMJfee.com.

Download the Visa Fact Sheet (.pdf)

When to Apply for your Visa

If you are currently abroad, and do not yet have a valid U.S. student visa, you generally apply for one at the U.S. embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it is generally more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

You should apply for your student visa well in advance of the date you would like to depart for Wilkes-Barre. Remember that you are required to show proof of having paid the Federal SEVIS fee when you appear for your visa interview. Holiday and vacation periods are very busy times at the U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, and it is important for you to have your visa in time to arrive and begin orientation and registration activities no later than the start date on your I-20. Appointments are now mandatory for all student visas, and some U.S. embassies and consulates require that appointments be made at least four to eight weeks in advance. The actual visa interview may be as early as 120 days prior to your planned arrival date in the United States.

All U.S. embassies and consulates have a website where you can read the latest information on visa procedures. Visit usembassy.gov to locate the embassy or consulate near you. For information on waiting times for student visa appointments, visit travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/student-visa.html.

What to Bring to the Interview

Be sure to bring the following with you to the visa appointment:
  • Passport
  • Required photo(s)
  • Visa fee or proof of visa fee payment
  • Federal SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • U.S. non-immigrant visa application forms (unless you will be completing it at the consulate or embassy)
  • Wilkes University admission letter
  • Wilkes University SEVIS I-20
  • Test scores and academic records
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Proof of financial support
  • Evidence of ties to your home country
  • Any other documents required by the embassy or consulate

Remember that if you plan to attend Wilkes, you must present the visa officer with an I-20 issued by Wilkes University. You cannot apply for a U.S. visa using another school’s I-20 and then try to attend Wilkes as that is considered to be a fraudulent entry by the U.S. Immigration authorities.

Strategies

You are well advised to consider the following matters prior to your visa appointment, as you may be asked about each item.
  1. Academics: Be definite and clear about your educational plans. You should be able to explain precisely what you wish to study and why you chose Wilkes for your education. Be especially prepared to explain reasons for studying in the United States rather than your country.
  2. English: Anticipate that the visa interview will be conducted in English. Do not bring parents or family members with you to the visa interview. The consular officer will want to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.
  3. Ties to Your Home Country: Demonstrate convincing reasons for consular officials to believe that you intend to return home after studies in the United States. Emphasize ties to your home country such as employment, family, obligations, property or investments that you own or will inherit, and clear explanations of how you plan to use your education to help your country or pursue a career when you return home.
  4. Financial Documentation: Be prepared to prove financial ability to pay for your education and living expenses. While some students will be able to work part-time during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their education. You must show the consular officer that you have the annual amount in United States dollars listed on your I-20 form. Your financial evidence should be in the form of bank statements, affidavits of support, scholarship award letters, etc.
  5. Be Concise: Because of the volume of visa applications, all consular officers are under considerable pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impression they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers short and to the point.
  6. Not All Countries are the Same: Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from these countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities in the United States.
  7. Dependents Remaining at Home: If you have a spouse and/or children remaining behind in your home country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family members will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support them, your student visa will almost surely be denied.

Visa Denial or Delay

The vast majority of Wilkes University students will be successful in obtaining their student visas. Despite this, a small number of students may have their visa applications denied.

The most common reasons for visa denial are:
  • Failure to prove sufficient ties to your home country.
  • Failure to provide sufficient evidence of financial support.

The visa officer must verbally inform you of the reason for the visa denial. If your visa is denied, please send an email message to crystal.cool@wilkes.edu and provide the date and location of your visa interview, and details regarding the reason given by the visa officer for the denial.

Much more common than a visa denial is a visa delay. This is why it is important to apply for your visa EARLY!

Here are some of the most common reasons for visa delays:
  • Closings or reduced hours at U.S. visa issuing posts abroad due to security concerns.
  • Closings or reduced hours at U.S. visa issuing posts abroad due to political instability in the host country.
  • Student’s record does not appear in the SEVIS system at the U.S. embassy or consulate, even though the student or scholar presents a SEVIS I-20.
    • If you are told that you record does not appear in the visa officer’s SEVIS system, immediately contact the International Student Services Office at crystal.cool@wilkes.edu and provide the date and location of your visa interview. We will, in turn, contact the appropriate authority to have your SEVIS record resubmitted directly to the location where you have applied for your visa.
  • Student not presenting proof of Federal SEVIS fee payment.
  • The need for a security advisory opinion prior to visa issuance if the visa applicant is determined to be pursuing a “sensitive area of study” as indicated on the State Department’s Technology Alert List. The fields of study usually include the sciences and engineering.
  • The need for a security clearance prior to visa issuance if the visa applicant has ever been arrested in the United States, or if the applicant has a name identical to or similar to a person with a previous arrest record.
  • The need for a security clearance prior to visa issuance if the visa applicant is male, between the ages of 16-46 and a citizen of or born in one of the designated countries requiring security clearances (Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen).
  • The need for a security clearance for any non-immigrant visa applicant male or female, age 16 or older who is a national of or permanently residing in Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan or Syria. Such individuals will not be issued visas unless the applicant can show evidence that he or she is not a threat to U.S. national security.

The new U.S. Department of State requirement that all applicants for non-immigrant visas be interviewed can cause delay. This new policy has slowed the visa issuance process around the world.

Similar to visa denial, the visa officer must verbally inform you of the reason for the visa delay. If your visa is delayed, please send an email message to crystal.cool@wilkes.edu and provide the date and location of your visa interview, and details regarding the reason given by the visa officer for the delay.

The U.S. State Department has prepared information on student visas on its website that may be useful to you.

Special Note for Canadian Citizens

Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain a U.S. visa to enter the United States. However, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will inspect your papers, either at a pre-inspection site in Canada or upon entry to the United States.

You must have with you:
  • Your Canadian passport.
  • Your admission letter to Wilkes University.
  • Proof of Federal SEVIS fee payment.
  • Your Wilkes University Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20).
  • Proof of financial support that corresponds to the information on your I-20.

It is essential that you enter the United States in the appropriate status. Be sure to have complete documentation with you.

If You are Currently in the United States

F-1 Students

If you already have valid F-1 student status by being enrolled at another U.S. college or university, by now you have already completed the required Transfer Verification Form and requested that the international student advisor at your current school release your SEVIS record to Wilkes University. Your new Wilkes I-20, endorsed and pending transfer, is mailed to you as soon as the release date for your SEVIS record (as determined by your previous school) is reached.

Once you are enrolled at Wilkes University and we have confirmed your registration, the transfer process will be complete. If you are in F-1 status, a new I-20 will be issued to you. Be sure to report to the International Student Services Office as soon as possible after your arrival.

Other Non-Immigrant Visa Classifications

If you are currently in the United States in a visa classification other than F-1, you should contact the International Student Services Office for information.

Ready to start your Wilkes adventure?

With Wilkes University’s 98% job placement rate, your deposit is an investment in your future. Confirm your enrollment by making your deposit today. The fastest and easiest way to submit your deposit is through your admissions portal. Login and secure your Colonel status!

Pay Your Deposit

Once you have paid your deposit you will receive an email notification with your official username and temporary password to log into your Wilkes portal and email.

We are getting excited to welcome you into our Family of Colonels! We know you're excited too, so we wanted to give you a jump start on checking out our variety of residence halls and housing options.

There's so many ways to view our housing options: (link to the specific housing pages / videos

  • View our Virtual Tour for an in-depth look at the residence halls.
  • Visit our residence life section to see 360° photos, floorplans, and more.
  • Check out our YouTube channel for videos on student life.

If you are an international student planning to live off campus please contact Crystal Cool at crystal.cool@wilkes.edu for information on how to start your off campus housing search.

All students must submit a completed health history form provided by the University. All health information is held in the strictest confidence.

Download the Health History Form (.pdf)

Health Requirements and Health Report

You will be informed of any health and immigration requirements when you apply for your visa. The University further requires, as a condition of enrollment, that all students fill out a Health Form and that all students purchase health insurance upon arrival in the United States. The Health Form is included in your admission packet; information about health insurance is available from the International Student Services Office on campus. You must comply with certain immunization requirements in order to attend Wilkes University. For example, you must show proof of receiving the vaccination for Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) and Meningitis as part of this form and complete submission of this information is a pre-requisite to class registration. It is best for you to complete this form with your own physician at home before coming to the U.S.

Please note that the tuberculin skin test or chest x-ray must be performed in the United States or Canada. University Health Services is prepared to provide the skin test for you.

Please note as well that you will not be allowed to register (enroll) for classes without having a completed health form.

Your official final high school/secondary school transcript, including graduation date, must be submitted to Wilkes University directly from the secondary institution either electronically or by mail in a sealed envelope before the end of the first week of classes. If you are a transfer student, an official final transcript from the institution most recently attended must be received as soon as possible to receive transfer credit. Transcripts should be submitted to Wilkes directly from the institution either electronically through an authorized provider such as Parchment, eSCRIP or National Clearinghouse or by postal mail in a sealed envelope. Students who attended an institution outside of the United States where the transcript is in a language other than English must submit both an official transcript in the native language as well as a certified English translation. Students transcripts that are from outside the United States must bring the transcripts with them in a sealed envelope, the university can email them directly to us, or mail them in a sealed envelope to us.

Traveling to the US

  • Plan to arrive in the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to the start date listed on your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 visa or I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 visa.
  • Carry your passport with valid F or J student visa in your carry-on luggage.
  • If you have any other visas in your passport, be sure to present the F or J student visa issued for your Wilkes program of study to the Customs and Border Patrol agent.

Arrival in the United States

Port of Entry Procedures

Once you have obtained your U.S. student visa, you are ready to finalize your travel plans. Be sure to have your I-20 and your proof of Federal SEVIS fee payment with your passport and visa when you go through your immigration inspection at the U.S. port of entry. Remember that if you plan to attend Wilkes University, you must present a certificate of eligibility (your I-20) endorsed for study at Wilkes.

DO NOT enter on another school’s certificate of eligibility, as that is considered to be a fraudulent entry by the U.S. Immigration authorities.

DO NOT attempt to enter the United States on a visitor/tourist visa (B-2) unless it is designated “Prospective Student” by a consular officer. The U.S. Immigration Service rarely authorizes a change of status from B-2 to F-1, and you will be prevented from enrolling in school until your change of status application is approved, which could take several months.

DO NOT attempt to enter the United States under the visa waiver program, available to citizens from nearly thirty countries throughout the world. The waiver program is designed for tourists only, and attending school under the waiver program is a clear violation of U.S. Immigration law.

Expect to go through both immigration and customs inspection at the U.S. port of entry. You may also be required to go through a pre-inspection procedure at certain airports abroad. At the immigration booth, present your passport, visa, I-20, your proof of Federal SEVIS fee payment, and your completed I-94 arrival/departure card (if the card was distributed on the airplane). Expect to have your index fingers scanned for fingerprint purposes and a digital photograph taken, as required by U.S. federal regulations. In the vast majority of cases, there will be no difficulty. In certain cases, if there is some problem with your documents, you may be issued a 30-day entry on your I-94 card and issued a form I-515, usually with instructions to see your international student advisor. Examine your I-94 card and I-20 carefully as you leave the immigration booth. F-1 students should have their I-94 cards marked “D/S” which means “Duration of Status,” along with a stamp indicating the date you entered the United States. The same stamp and “D/S” notation should also be on the I-20. If an expiration date is written on the I-94 instead of “D/S,” and you are in F status, come to the International Student Services Office as soon as possible.

Anyone who is denied admission at a U.S. port of entry should be very cautious about arguing with the immigration official. You may risk being issued “expedited removal,” which now entails a five-year ban on admission to the United States. If you are denied admission, first try to contact the International Student Services Office for assistance, but also make it known to the immigration official that you are willing to withdraw your application for admission to the country rather than be subject to expedited removal.

After arriving at Wilkes, it is required that all new international students attend the International Student Orientation. Orientation will be held before classes start each semester.

You will be emailed  regarding the schedule, so make sure you are checking your email regularly. At orientation you will learn about Wilkes University and the U.S., meet new people and have some fun. You will also receive information on immigration, Wilkes University resources, health care, and other logistical support items. We will also ensure you get acquainted to campus so that you are prepared for your first day of classes. 

What to Bring to Orientation

  • Your copy of I-20
  • I-94 admission number (print out) retrieved from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Website. For more information, please visit the United States' I-94 Retrival Site.
  • Passport
  • U.S. Visa
  • Health Insurance (If you have it, if not you will be required to get the school’s)
  • Health Form
  • Financial Guarantee (if applicable)
  • TOEFL and IELTS score (if an academic student)

For more information about orientation please contact either Crystal Cool at crystal.cool@wilkes.edu or Georgia Costalas at georgia.costalas@wilkes.edu.

Review of Important Information

Climate and Clothing

Temperatures vary considerably from year to year. During spring, summer and fall, moderate periods of rainfall occur; snow falls periodically throughout the winter months. Three basic types of outerwear are essential. In winter, heavy jackets or overcoats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots are needed. During chilly autumn and spring days, raincoats or medium-weight jackets or coats are worn outdoors and sweaters are often worn indoors. A light-weight jacket is sometimes necessary for cool nights during spring, summer and fall.

Northeastern Pennsylvania has a varying climate with four distinct seasons.

Season Months Temp. in Fahrenheit Temp. in Centigrade
Summer June-September 50 to 90 degrees 10 to 32 degrees
Fall September-November 20 to 80 degrees -7 to 26 degrees
Winter December-March 0 to 45 degrees -18 to 7 degrees
Spring April-June 40 to 72 degrees 4 to 22 degrees

If you are an undergraduate who will live on campus, basic furniture is provided in campus residence halls (bed and mattress, desk, chair, closet) but bed linens, blankets, pillows and towels are not. You will have the chance to purchase these items at a local mall during Orientation before classes start. If you will miss Orientation, you may want to bring a bed sheet, light blanket and towel with you from home so that you can use them immediately.

Personal Items

Most students like to bring examples of arts, crafts, traditional dress, photographs, tapes or CDs, maps or other items descriptive of their country and culture, both to show interested Americans and to provide a touch of home decoration in their new homes. You may want to bring items you use regularly that may not be readily available, or may be more expensive, in the United States—for example, eyeglasses, cameras, watches, or portable radios. You may also have the opportunity to visit a duty-free port in the United States where such items may be purchased at a reduced cost.

Things to Leave at Home

You can obtain a booklet on customs regulations at the consulate or embassy where you acquire your visa. Prohibited items include some foodstuffs, narcotics and items for resale. For more information you can also visit the website of the U.S. Customs Service

Since students are expected to buy required textbooks for all courses, and supplemental reading materials for review and research are available in libraries, you need not bring any books used in previous study.

It is best to purchase electrical appliances after you arrive: appliances manufactured outside the U.S. may not be compatible with the power supply or may not be allowed inside the residence halls.

Arranging for Mail

Until you have a mailing address in Wilkes-Barre, you may have your letters (NOT PARCELS) mailed to you in care of the International Student Services Office. The address is:

International Student Services Office
Wilkes University
84 West South Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766 USA

“Hold for Arrival” should be marked on the envelope.DO NOT send baggage to the International Student Services Office. The University cannot be responsible for the security of any forwarded mail.

We hope this information is helpful to you as you arrange for your new educational experience. You are encouraged to re-read it and carefully note the items that pertain to your situation. Please pay careful attention to your requirements and obligations.

  • Make sure your travel documents are in order. Do not finalize your arrangements until you have your passport, form I-20, SEVIS fee receipt and visa stamp. You may enter the United States only if your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) is endorsed by the university in which you intend to enroll.
  • Take care of your financial obligation and arrange for proper monetary transfer. Carefully review requirements for obtaining foreign exchange. Make sure you have adequate funds.
  • Plan to arrive on campus on the date designated. If you are an undergraduate and wish to live on campus, contact Crystal Cool, Assistant Director of International Student Services, at crystal.cool@wilkes.edu to apply for residence hall accommodations promptly.
  • Be prepared to discuss your academic plans and interests with your department or program. Do not rely on others to plan your program for you, but at the same time do not register for classes without seeing an advisor during the orientation period.
  • If you do not plan to enroll at Wilkes University in the semester for which you have been admitted, return the form I-20 to the International Student Services Office as notification of your decision.

Again, we wish you a warm welcome to Wilkes University. If you arrive on campus after working hours (5 p.m.) or on a Saturday or Sunday, and need emergency assistance, please call the Wilkes University Public Safety Office at 570-408-2349.