Plan the next steps of your liberal arts education at Concordia University Chicago.
Admitted International Student Resources
Planning for Arrival
Ready yourself with important details like packing lists, travel requirements and critical travel documents.
Planning Your Travel to and Arrival in the U.S.
- Arrange your travel around your orientation date—attendance at orientation is mandatory.
- Contact the CISS office at CISS@CUChicago.edu to schedule your orientation.
- Make your flight reservations in advance and reconfirm your reservations before arriving at the airport.
- When entering the United States, have the following documents ready. Do not put these documents in your checked baggage, because you will be expected to present them to immigration officials for review when you arrive at the airport.
- Your passport
- Your I-20 or DS-2019 form
- Your acceptance letter from Concordia-Chicago
- Declaration of finances
- University contact information (address and phone)
- Arrive at Concordia University Chicago no later than the date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. Only under special circumstances will you be allowed to arrive after this date.
Health Insurance and Immunizations
If you are either an F-1 or a J-1 student, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the Concordia-Chicago Student Health Insurance Plan when you register for classes. The charge for this coverage will be added to your tuition bill. Please note: F-1 and J-1 students are not permitted to waive the Student Health Insurance Plan. You won’t need to purchase any supplemental health insurance before coming to campus, because supplemental health insurance can’t be used while you are a student at Concordia University Chicago.
Illinois state law and Concordia-Chicago require any university students who are enrolled at least half-time to be immunized against certain communicable diseases. You are required to submit proof of your immunizations to the Concordia Health Services office, and the clinical staff there can provide additional immunizations, should you need them.
Weather in Chicago
The weather in Chicago ranges significantly between seasons. In the summer (June through September), temperatures range from 20°C to 40°C, and it’s generally very warm and humid. In the fall, winter and spring (October through May), the weather becomes gradually colder, with an average temperature of 0°C. At times, temperatures can drop to –10°C or even –20°C.
You will need the below items to stay warm in the colder winter weather:
- Insulated coats and jackets
- Warm boots and snow boots
- Thermal innerwear
What to Pack (and What Not to Pack)
Some guidelines and tips on what to bring with you:
- Contact your airline for information about any security restrictions for what you may bring on the plane. Packing guidelines are listed at the website of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
- Bring $1,000 to $2,000, partially in cash and partially in travel cards, credit cards, Forex cards or traveler’s checks. It may take several days before you are able to open a bank account in the U.S. Your orientation sessions will cover how to open a bank account.
- If you take prescription medication on a regular basis, you’ll want to bring a sufficient supply to last you through your stay in the U.S. Be sure to have a list of all your medications, signed by a doctor, when you present yourself at airport immigration control.
- If you need to purchase new or weather-related clothing items, it may be cheaper to purchase them after you arrive in the U.S., where winter clothes are reasonably priced. Check the exchange rate before you decide.
- If you are studying abroad for your full degree, you’ll want to bring your official transcripts or certificates from secondary schools, colleges and universities.
- If you depend on eyeglasses or contact lenses, consider bringing an extra pair and a copy of your vision prescription.
- You should also bring copies of detailed, up-to-date medical and dental records for yourself and any dependents traveling with you. This can help you avoid duplicating costly tests and examinations in the U.S.
- Bring a copy of your immunization record with you, as requested by the University.
- If you do bring your own electronic items, don’t forget to bring both an adapter for U.S. outlets and a voltage converter.
A few things you DO NOT need to bring with you:
- Don’t bring bed linens (sheets and pillowcases), as bed sizes differ.
- You won’t need to pack books or stationery: The University has both a library and bookstore on campus where you can get essentials, or you can purchase books through online vendors and have your items delivered directly to your U.S. address.
- Over-the-counter medications are easy to find and purchase in the U.S., so you don’t need to bring them with you.
You’ll need to wait until after you’ve arrived and attended orientation to set up bank accounts and mobile phone plans. A few details to note for each:
- In the U.S., there are two primary types of bank accounts.
- Checking accounts allow you to deposit and withdraw money frequently. We recommend them for all students: they’re a great way to pay monthly bills and cover day-to-day expenses.
- Savings accounts are primarily for interest-earning, long-term deposits—a smart choice if you want to save money. A savings account usually requires a minimum balance and provides a modest interest rate of return.
- The CISS office can offer you guidance on opening a bank account.
- There are two primary types of mobile phone plans: monthly plans with a contract, and prepaid plans. U.S. mobile phone carriers include Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Metro PCS. Consider researching a number of mobile phone options before making a decision.
Discover how the first day check-in process works.
After orientation on your first day, you must immediately contact the designated school official (DSO), who is based in the Center for International Student Services. The DSO will ask for your passport and Form I-94, and will inform the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) that you have started your program. Failure to report puts your visa at risk, so meeting your DSO on your first day is very important.
To complete your check-in, visit CISS and bring the following documents:
- Your passport
- Your visa
- Your I-20, DS-2019 or approval notice of current status
- Your I-94 card
- Your I-901 SEVIS fee receipt (F-1 and J-1 students only)
The CISS office will make a copy of these documents for your file, and will release the SEVIS hold on your student account within 24 business hours. This will allow you to register for classes. You must be registered as a full-time student.
For students with immigration documents sponsored by Concordia-Chicago, if you fail to check in within 30 days of the start of classes, your non-immigrant status will be terminated.
Receive expert guidance at your Concordia-Chicago orientation session.
Orientation at Concordia-Chicago will help you prepare for the new experiences that await you. The topics are tailored to the needs of international students, and include the following
- Maintaining your non-immigrant status
- Cultural differences
- Changes from your home environment
- Language levels
- Class formats and expectations
- Coping in a new cultural setting
Orientation also covers many basic details to prepare you for your time at Concordia-Chicago:
- Welcome and introduction to life at Concordia-Chicago
- How to find academic support on campus and work effectively with tutors
- How to use our instructional technology systems to access your individualized student portal, courses and the digital library
- How to get involved in student organizations
- Meal plans and dining options
- An assessment of your current knowledge of college-level or graduate-level writing, to help identify what skills you need to work on
- Guidance on how to pay your course fees, which are due before your first class date
You will need the following documents for orientation:
- Your I-20
- Your passport
Visa and I-20
Learn how the visa process works and find helpful resources for studying in the United States.
Applying for a Visa
To study at Concordia University Chicago, you will need to apply for an F-1 student visa. Only students who have been admitted to the University are eligible.
Once you’re admitted to Concordia-Chicago, you will receive a Form I-20 from the Center for International Student Services (CISS) to present when you apply for your student visa. Once you receive your form, visit these websites:
- U.S. Department of State -Consular Affairs (Student Visas)
- U.S. Department of State -U.S. Embassies and Consulates
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security -Study in the States
The U.S. embassy in your home country is responsible for the visa application process and issuing the visa. Visa interviews are short, so you’ll need to prepare to explain why you want to study in the United States, how you plan to support yourself financially while you attend school, and what your plans are when your studies are finished.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is the responsible agency once you arrive in the United States, by issuing and enforcing international student regulations. Please read information from all three sources above before applying for a U.S. student visa.
Below are the documents required to apply for a visa:
- Passport, valid for at least 6 months
- I-20 or DS-2019 form prepared by Concordia-Chicago
- Your admission letter to Concordia-Chicago
- One passport-size photograph (2x2 inches)
- Receipt for SEVIS fee payment
- DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses
- Evidence of English ability sufficient for course of study
- Evidence of intent to exit the U.S. after completion of studies
- Any other documents listed on the website of your country’s consulate or embassy
Prior to arriving in the United States, all international students are required to make one deposit and one payment in order to secure a spot at Concordia University Chicago. These amounts will be credited toward your tuition, housing and fees at the time of registration. These pre-arrival payments signify a serious commitment to attend Concordia University Chicago.
These pre-arrival payments are:
- Initial Deposit: must be submitted upon admission decision
- Tuition Deposit: must be submitted prior to the orientation date
All payments must be submitted online via FlyWire. Your CUC admission representative can answer any questions about payment options.
Note: All deposits are applied toward the cost of your tuition fees for the program. If your visa application is refused, your deposit will be refunded, minus the I-20 shipping fees. All requests for refunds must be submitted no later than 90 days after the start of the intended semester.
The request for a refund must be accompanied by the following evidence:
- Visa denial letter issued by the embassy
- Form DS-160 (visa appointment confirmation)
To enroll students from other nations, U.S. colleges and universities must be approved by the School Certification Branch of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented a one-time SEVIS Fee for all F-1 and J-1 visa applicants.
Fees are as follows:
- F-1 Students: $200
- J-1 Students and Scholars: $180
Note: If you have applied to and been accepted to several institutions, you must decide which institution you want to attend before you apply for a visa. This is important because the name of the institution on your I-20 or DS-2019 must match the visa in your passport for your initial entry to the U.S.
Prepare yourself financially to live in the U.S.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services requires all students on F-1 or J-1 visas to verify that they have funds available to pay for educational, living and other expenses. Below are some guidelines for managing your finances when coming to study in the United States.
- If you are bringing immediate family (husband, wife or children), they are considered “dependents.” You’ll have to provide proof of funds for each of your dependents. For each individual dependent, you must show available funds of $3,000 for each year that you plan to live in the U.S.
- You can plan ahead for your tuition and expenses by working directly with your International Education Consultant.
- Concordia University Chicago requires all students on an F-1 or J-1 visa to have health insurance.
Financial Support Documents
Examples of sources for financial support and documentation are as follows:
- Personal funds
- Family funds
- Government, company, or organization sponsor
You may have more than one type of financial support. Added together, the amounts must meet or exceed the total amount required for proof of funding.
Proof-of-funding documents must be submitted to the University before your I-20 or DS-2019 document can be issued.
Financial support documents:
- Must be written in English (or we must have the original language version plus a certified English translation stamped by the financial institution).
- Must display a signature and official seal and must be on letterhead from an official agency.
- Must clearly state the available account type and account balance (accounts must contain currently accessible cash).
- Must be either sent by fax or postal mail, or scanned and attached to an email to Grad.Admission@CUChicago.edu.
- Must be dated and current. Financial documents more than three months old will not be accepted.
- Must include the account holder’s name, date, account type, account balance and currency type.
Note: The designated school official (DSO) at the Center for International Student Services reserves the right to reject any financial documentation submitted for I-20 or DS-2019 issuance.
Funding source bank statements for two months are to be submitted in a proper format:
- Checking or savings accounts.
- Term, fixed, or time deposits. (The statement must specify a maturity date which has already passed.)
- Certificate of deposit (CD) funds, mutual funds or bond funds. (The statement must show the total amount currently available for withdrawal after penalty.)
Note: Credit cards, life insurance, retirement funds and pension funds are not acceptable sources of financial support.
If you’ve been awarded a scholarship, you may be eligible for a smaller required fund amount. Scholarship recipients should submit an official letter of sponsorship that details the following:
- Date of issue
- Dates or terms when your funding is provided
- If your dependents will be covered
- What majors you are permitted to study
- What costs will be covered and/or the amount of funding awarded
There are two primary types of bank accounts in the U.S.:
- Checking accounts (recommended) allow you to deposit and withdraw money frequently. Checking accounts are a great way to pay your monthly bills and cover day-to-day expenses.
- Savings accounts are appropriate for interest-earning, long-term deposits—a smart choice if you want to save money. A savings account usually requires a minimum balance and provides a modest interest rate of return.
The CISS office can provide guidance on opening a bank account.
Insurance and Immunization
Make sure you’re covered by health insurance and meet U.S. government immunization requirements.
You are required by law to have health insurance coverage from the day you arrive in the United States. As a student at Concordia-Chicago, you will be automatically enrolled in the University’s health insurance plan and the charge will be added to your student account.
As an international student at Concordia-Chicago, you must, by Illinois state law and University policy, be immunized with the following vaccinations, and provide proof of the immunizations:
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
Note: You will be charged $75 if you fail to submit the immunization form within 30 days after the start of classes. Before you arrive, please complete the forms and send them to CISS@CUChicago.edu. Bring a second copy of the forms with you when you travel.
Living on Campus
Explore the many benefits of living on our campus, just minutes from Chicago.
What To Expect From Campus Life
Enjoy living in the safe, charming neighborhood of River Forest as a residential student. You can find everything you need just a few steps away, and you’ll be just 10 miles from the many opportunities offered in the world-class city of Chicago. From your residence hall, you can easily participate in campus activities such as athletics, the arts, intramurals and spiritual life.
When it comes to dining, Concordia-Chicago offers four different meal plan options for residential students. The campus features a number of different dining locations, ranging in style from all-you-can-eat cafeterias to quick grab-and-go options.For answers to specific questions about living on campus, contact:
- Ben Aalderink
Director, University Housing Services
Most students choose to have a personal mobile phone to place calls, access the Internet and more. There are two basic types of mobile phone plans available in the U.S.
- Monthly plans with a contract
- Prepaid plans
Major U.S. Cell Phone Carriers
Due to the large number of providers and plans, it is recommended that you research several options before making a final decision.
Get the basics about working while studying at Concordia-Chicago.
Considerations for Student Employment
Some international students at Concordia-Chicago are permitted to work, but finding a job is not always easy, so the university requires all students to bring enough money to study without working. Below are some basics about employment while studying at CUC.
- F-1 students are not allowed to work off campus during their first academic year, but they can accept on-campus employment (with some conditions).
- After their first year, F-1 students can participate in two categories of off-campus employment: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).
- CPT is any type of work-study, internship, cooperative education or other type of internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. CPT must integrate with an established curriculum.
- OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to your major area of study. If you are eligible, you can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization either before or after completing your academic studies. If you are studying in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering or mathematics), you may be eligible to receive a one-time 24-month OPT extension.