Admitted International Students

After your acceptance to the College of Charleston (CofC), the staff of the Center for International Education (CIE) will contact you regarding appropriate procedures and timelines for completion of pre-arrival tasks. These topics are covered extensively in the International Student OAKS Course, which you are enrolled in upon your acceptance to CofC.

Get Prepared

Learn more about your time in Charleston!
  • Applying for an F1 or J1 Visa

    F-1 students (degree-seeking and non-degree visiting students)

    Once you are admitted to the College of Charleston, you will receive a packet that contains your immigration form I-20.  You will need this form to apply for your F-1 Non-Immigrant Student visa at the nearest US consulate.

    J-1 students (students on exchange programs)

    Once you are admitted to the College of Charleston, you will receive a packet that contains your form DS-2019.  You will need this form to apply for your J-1 Non-Immigrant Student visa at the nearest US consulate.

    For both F-1 and J-1 Applicants

    STEP 1: Pay the Student/Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) Processing Fee
    The U.S. Department of Homeland requires that all F-1 and J-1 non-immigrants seeking initial attendance visas from a U.S. Embassy to pay a processing fee of $350 for F-1 students and $220 for J-1 students. For details regarding these fees please visit the I-901 Fee Processing Website.
    STEP 2:  Make a visa interview appointment
    Once you have paid the SEVIS processing fee, you will need to make an appointment for a visa interview. Student visa applicants are required to appear in person at the US Embassy in their home country. Click here for a full list of US Embassies. In some circumstances, it may be possible to apply in another country, but students will have ask the specific Embassy or Consulate.
    The wait time to receive a visa appointment will vary by location; therefore we strongly recommend that students apply early. Click here to view the current visa wait time at your local consulate. Please note that the US Embassy or Consulate cannot issue a visa more than 120 days before the program start date listed on your DS-2019 or I-20. However, they may allow you to schedule an appointment before 120 days.
    Do not make a visa appointment prior to getting your I-20 or DS-2019 form and paying the SEVIS fee.
    For additional information on how to apply for your visa, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s Student Visa page.
    STEP 3: Interview process
    What You Should Bring to Your Visa Interview:
    •       Form DS-160 confirmation page (Online Non-Immigrant Visa Application)
    •       Official acceptance letter from the College of Charleston
    •       SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
    •       Your I-20 or DS-2019
    •       Passport valid for at least 6 months in the future
    •       Proof of financial support
    The visa officer at the embassy or consulate in your home country may request additional application materials. We recommend that you contact the Embassy or Consulate prior to your interview to ensure that you have all the required documentation for your visa.
    Please note that this is primarily an interview and not a document review. You should be prepared to answer these sorts of questions:
    • Why do you want to study at the College of Charleston?
    • What you plan to study?
    • How will you use your education when you return to your home country?
    • What are your plans after finishing the degree?
    • Who is (financially) sponsoring your education?
    The questions above are meant to give you an idea about what you may be asked and may differ from your actual interview. You should be able to respond to these sorts of questions in a few sentences. You may want to practice your responses in English with family and friends until you become comfortable.

  • Arrival Information

    If you wish to be picked up at the Charleston airport by the Center for International Education (a service that is free of charge for our incoming students) you must book your transportation to arrive in Charleston on the REQUIRED date for arrival set by CIE: Wednesday, August 14th. CIE works closely with the CofC campus to coordinate international student move-ins. Please note, if you choose to arrive on another date, you will need to arrange your own transportation from the airport, secure a place to stay off-campus, and arrange for transportation to your residence hall once it opens. The only exception for arriving on a date other than the required date is if you will be living off campus and do not wish to be picked up from the airport. Degree seeking students: you must register for CofC New Student Orientation. CIE will work with you to make appropriate arrangements, but you must complete the travel form linked below for us to be able to coordinate your arrival.

    Travel to Charleston

    As you begin to make plans for your travel to Charleston, you may find the following information helpful. Charleston can be reached easily by commercial airline from major ports of entry such as New York, Washington DC, Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, Los Angeles or San Francisco. The city is also served by the Greyhound bus company and Amtrak train service. Several major airlines serve Charleston such as Delta, US Air, and United. The airport is approximately 20 minutes from the College of Charleston campus by taxi. Taxi/Shuttle service is also available from the railroad and bus station. Students regularly experience delays in the North Eastern airports (New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia) so we recommend you try to connect through the Atlanta, GA airport.

    If you cannot be met upon your arrival to the airport because of unexpected schedule changes and you will be living on campus, take a taxi/shuttle from the airport to the Public Safety Office on campus. The telephone number there is 1.843.953.4980 Public Safety is located at 81 B St Philip Street in the ground floor of the St Philip parking garage. An officer will assist you with your on-campus housing.

    Travel Plans:

    Once you have made your travel plans to Charleston, please share them with CIE and register them here. This form must completed by Tuesday, December 12th so that we can know when to expect you and and coordinate arrangements accordingly.

    Traveling to the United States:

    If you are F or J status and are entering from outside of the United States, you can enter up to 30 days before the program start date listed on your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 form.
    Always hand-carry your immigration documents!  Do NOT check the following documents in your baggage:
    • Your passport
    • Your SEVIS form I-20 or DS-2019
    • Acceptance letter from the College of Charleston
    • SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
    • Name and contact information for your "Designated School Official" as listed on your I-20, or "Responsible Officer" as listed on your DS-2019. This is Melissa Ochal, Associate Director at the Center for International Education and you will receive her contact information via email. 
    They must be completed prior to landing. Students will need to print off their I-94 record online after they have arrived in the United States.
    As you arrive at the Port of Entry have the following documents ready:
    • Passport
    • SEVIS form I-20 or DS-2019
    • Arrival/Departure Record Form I-94
    • Proof of funding
    • Acceptance Letter
    All visitors entering the U.S. must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You may also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell them that you will be a student at the College of Charleston.
    If you forget any of these documents or you have packed them in your checked luggage, you may be asked to go into secondary inspection. There is a chance that you will not be admitted to the United States because you do not have proper documentation or you may be given a I-515A. If you receive an I-515A, please notify Melissa Ochal at the CIE upon your arrival in Charleston.
    You can find additional information about what to expect upon arriving the United States through the Study in the States website.
  • Mandatory Orientation

    MANDATORY Fall 2024 Orientation:

    Friday, August 16th | 8:45am | Location TBD

    The Center for International Education holds an orientation for new international students at the beginning of each semester.  The Orientation covers important information about CofC academics and U.S. immigration policies, as well as practical matters such a housing, meal plans, health insurance, transportation, and other topics. Please make sure to plan accordingly as every new international student must attend. CIE will send out more information as the time approaches.

    International student orientation is also a wonderful opportunity to meet and make friends with other new students perhaps from your country and from all over the world.

  • Health Insurance

    The College of Charleston has its own international student health insurance plan that all international students will enroll in and pay for which will provide coverage for the duration of studies at the College of Charleston. As this cost is outlined on your Certificate of Finance and is a requirement of the College you will need to plan your expenses accordingly.

    Highlights of the CofC plan:

    • Provides preventative care for no cost.
    • If you use a preapproved doctor or care facility ("in-network") the deductible is $90/policy year. This is the amount you have to pay for services before the insurance company will begin paying for your medical care. After that, the plan will cover 80% of the preferred allowance and the out of pocket maximum will $6,350 for the student.
    • Prescription drugs are also covered and students will pay no more than $30 per prescrption

    Enrollment information:

    Students will be enrolled by the Center for International Education through the insurance company, AHP. The fee for your health insurance will be added to your CofC eBill and due based on the normal billing schedule set by the Treasurer's Office.

    Waiver information:

    If you have an existing medical policy that has no maximum limit on injury and sickness coverage which was issued to you individually, you can request to be waived out of the College’s international student health care plan through the AHP website. The Center for International Education will be in contact with each student prior to the start of the semester to provide instructions on how to purchase health insurance or apply to be waived out of the College’s plan. We highly recommend using the College’s plan as it is compliant with the requirements mandated by the U.S. Department of State for exchange students. In many cases, travel insurance policies issued from countries outside of the U.S. do not meet these requirements and offer significantly less coverage that the College’s international student plan. Students who purchased those types of plans are therefore required to also purchase the College’s plan. Healthcare in the United States is very expensive and having sufficient medical coverage is essential.

    If your waiver is granted, you must also submit your personal health insurance policy to the CIE to keep on file and it must be in English. It can take some time to receive documentation in English from your insurance company, so you may want to request this documentation before departure.

    For current students, the College of Charleston offers the professionally staffed Student Health Services to provide treatment for basic medical conditions. They do not, however, conduct major surgery, treat major illnesses or provide overnight care. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Twenty-four hour care is available at several nearby hospitals. For life-threatening emergencies dial 843.953.5611 if on campus or 911 anywhere else in the United States.

  • Cougar Ambassadors

    Our buddy program will match you with a current College of Charleston student who will serve as a friendly face and resource for you as you begin your journey to study at the College of Charleston!

For more information about maintaining status, health insurance, taxes, and employment authorization (CPT & OPT), current students should visit the HUB.

Learn more on the HUB