Start Here - Welcome to UofL

Welcome to UofL

Greetings and Salutations,

On behalf of the International Student & Scholar Services team (ISSS), I would like to congratulate you on your admissions and welcome you to the University of Louisville community. We are excited that you have chosen to attend one of America’s top urban research universities, and we look forward to meeting you as you arrive to UofL. You will join approximately 1000 international students and scholars from over 90 countries.

The International Student & Scholar Services team is committed to facilitating and enriching your experience both before you arrive on campus and during your studies/research at UofL. We work diligently to provide immigration compliance, resources, workshops, and programming to make your stay at UofL successful on both a personal and academic level.

Once again, welcome to UofL. We are happy that you have chosen to be a part of the Cardinal family! Please contact any member of the ISSS team if you have any questions or concerns before or during your stay.

Go Cards!

Best Regards,

Thomas Beard - (Interim Director) International Student Coordinator

Barbara Jones - International Student & Scholar Coordinator

Connie Martinez - International Student Coordinator

Beverly Cooper - Program Assistant Sr.

Visa Types

F Visa (I-20)

This type of US student visa is for international students who are intending to pursue an academic degree at an accredited US college or university, or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute. There are three types of F visa:

  • F-1 visas for full-time students.
  • F-2 visas for dependents of F-1 visa holders (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21).

Students with F-1 visas can work on-campus for 20 hours a week or less. Students wishing to work longer hours and off-campus must gain prior authorization from either the ISSS office or the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – contact the ISSS office for more information.

J-1 visa (DS-2019)

The J-1 visa is for international exchange visitors participating in programs in the US that promote cultural exchange. Whether it is to obtain medical, business or other training, all applicants must meet the eligibility criteria of the program in question and be sponsored by a private sector or government program. Holders of J visas usually stay in the US for a short period of time, perhaps one or two semesters. There are two types of J visa:

  • J-1 visas for exchange students on a relevant exchange program.
  • J-2 visas for dependents of J-1 visa holders (as for F-2 visas)

J-1 visa holders will be subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement if they are part of a government-funded exchange program, doing graduate medical educational or training or if their training is listed in the Exchange Visitor Skills list (i.e. the J-1 visa holder’s home-country has deemed their field of specialized knowledge or skills as necessary to the development of the country). This requirement means J-1 visa holders will need to return to their home country for at least two years at the end of their exchange visitor program.

Do not get the exchange J-1 student visa confused with the J-1 scholar visa category.

F-2 and J-2 dependent visas

Holders of F-2 and J-2 visas are also allowed to study part-time in the US provided they meet their chosen institution’s criteria. They do not have to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa, but can apply if qualified.

J-2 visa holders can enroll as recreational or degree-seeking students, either full- or part-time, and discontinue their program at any time. J-2's can also apply for an EAD card from USCIS and be eligible to work.

F-2 visa holders are not eligible work in the US.


 After I-20 or DS-2019 Arrives:

  • Review your UofL I-20 or DS-2019 for accuracy (name must be identical to your passport)
  • Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee 
  • Ensure your passport validity, passport should be valid at all times (six months into the future)
  • Make a Visa Appointment Students from some countries are not required to obtain a visa; however the SEVIS I-901 Fee must be paid and must travel with an I-20, I-901 SEVIS receipt and proof of financials)
  • Prepare for the Student Visa Interview, Go to visa interview
  • Due to the prevalence of fraudulent I-901 fee charge-back practices in certain countries, SEVP is currently unable to accept credit card payments made on behalf of students or exchange visitors from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Kenya: The I-901 fee must be paid by cashier’s check, money order or Western Union Transfer.


After the Visa Interview:

  • Review your visa for accuracy (information must be identical to your passport and I-20 or DS-2019)
  • Mark your calendar for the ISSS Getting Connected Event
  • Make airline reservations and travel arrangements-plan to arrive a week earlier than what is listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 in order to attend the getting connected and resource fair event and find suitable housing (You may arrive in the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the program start date on your I-20 or DS-2019)
  • Make Housing arrangements (This can be challenging, so be proactive!)
  • Make airport pick up arrangements (Information below)
  • Get prescription medications you may need with a copy of your doctor’s prescription
  • Put your I-20 or DS-2019, I-901 SEVIS receipt fee, financial documents, passport and ISSS Handbook in your carry-on luggage
  • Log into ULink to make a password for your University accounts
  • Log into UL email
  • Contact your advisor
  • Register for classes


Always Hand-Carry Your Important Documents!

Keep the following documents on your person at all times during travel to the US:  passport, visa, I-20 or DS-2019.  Keep copies of your documents in a separate location.  You should also pack a change of clothes in a carry-on in case your luggage is misplaced or even lost by the airlines. 


Upon Arrival:

  • Scan your visa, I-94 and current local address to the ISSS service account . Print your I-94 Admission Number by going to
  • Update your mailing address in the ULink. Do NOT change your home address-your home address should remain your home address in your foreign country.
  • Contact your advisor in your Department for an advising appointment
  • Register for classes through ULink and visit the Registrar's Office for advising information
  • Get your UofL ID card:  Cardinal Card
  • Pay tuition and health insurance fee:  Bursar's Office
  • Maintain all your immigration documents, DO NOT discard them
  • Attend the mandatory Getting Connected and Resource Fair 


 1.      What if my visa is denied?

Please notify International Student & Scholar Services if your visa is denied or you have decided not to attend UofL.  Regretably, we are unable to reverse a visa denial.  If you wish to defer admission, you must first get permission from your deparment. 

 2.      What if my visa arrives after my start date listed on my I-20 or DS-2019? 

You must first receive permission from your department to arrive after the start of your program.  Please contact International Student & Scholar Services for an updated  DS-2019 or I-20 or a late arrival letter.

 3.      What if my visa expires after I enter the United States?

A visa is only permission to enter the United States.  When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the visa in your passport expires while you are in the United States. An F-1 student must depart within 60 days of their program completion and a J-1 scholar must depart within 30 days of their program completion regardless of what is listed on your I-20.  Please maintain contact with the International Student and Scholar Services for questions or concerns. 

Arriving in Louisville


It is recommended before departing for the United States, please obtain your immunization records for BCG (if applicable), small pox, tetanus/diphtheria, typhoid, measles, mumps, rubella, oral polio, and a history of any positive TB skin testing.  This will help you if you need medical care while in the United States.  You may also wish to bring copies of your medical records with you in case you are hospitalized or need medical treatment while you are in the United States.  If you are on medication, be sure to bring an adequate supply with you.  In order to provide a safe and healthy environment for your academic success, UofL has implemented a vaccination requirement for first time undergraduate freshman. You can find more information at:

Pack for Warm and Cold Weather

Louisville has a four season climate.  Bring appropriate winter clothing, as the temperature in Louisville can drop below 10 degrees Celsius and summer temperatures average around 37 degrees Celsius.  Dress for class is casual; however you may want to bring a few formal outfits for special events or traditional clothes for international celebrations.  

Travel from the Airport to the University of Louisville

Louisville International Airport is approximately 8 miles/13 kilometers from campus. If you will be arriving in Louisville between the hours of 10:00am – 3:00pm, Monday – Friday, then you can email  with your name, student id number, housing address or hotel information in Louisville and your flight information (time, date and flight number of arrival).  A representative from UofL’s International Center will pick you up at the airport for free and take you to your housing destination.

If you are arriving at any other time besides the above times and days, including weekends, you may contact the free shuttle service, Ambassador Transportation at least 24 hours prior to your arrival in Louisville to schedule a free pick-up.  Ambassador Transportation will pick you up on the first level at the outside lane of the airport at the time you schedule and take you to your housing destination anywhere in the city of Louisville. Their contact information is, 502-964-7139.  

You can also take a taxi ride from the airport to campus costing approximately $20.  Many student organizations help students with transportation pickups. If you need further assistance with travel from the airport to campus please email the ISSS service account.