Before You Arrive

In this section prospective international students will find information about requesting or refusing an I-20 or DS-2019, insurance and financial requirements, and other essential pre-arrival information.

Our goal is to assist and advise incoming international students on U.S. immigration related issues and regulations.  We also help direct students to finding answers to many questions about the transition to Penn State as a newly admitted student.

For Frequently Asked Questions, visit the Pre-Arrival FAQs page.

Immigration and Customs

Like the United States, most countries have rules and restrictions about who can enter, what activities are permitted and what is required for each length of stay. Travelers should be aware of the requirements for entry, stay and exit from each destination and transit country on their itinerary. To find country-specific requirements, contact the country's consulate or embassy in the United States. Below is a link which will allow you to search for the relevant consulate or embassy.

U.S. Customs


Some items may not be brought into the United States. Others may require permits, and yet others may only be restricted from certain locations. Special restrictions apply to products made from endangered wildlife.

Taking Cash Abroad

Under U.S. law, travelers may bring into, or take out of, the United States as much money as they wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, it must be reported to Customs and Border Patrol. In addition, destination and transit country requirements may apply. Please see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency’s Currency Reporting Advice for more information.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Resources

Country-Specific Requirements

Passports and Visas

Some countries require passports of travelers to be valid for a certain period of time after entry into their country. Others require the student to have a certain level of international health insurance coverage. Travelers should confirm passport and visa requirements for all transit and destination countries.

Entry/Exit or Import/Export Requirements

Some countries also impose vaccination requirements, entry/exit taxes, or other requirements that you should be aware of before departure. Many countries have restrictions on which items you can bring to, or take from, the country. Many times, this includes medication. More information can be found at the CBP Customs and Import Restrictions Advice page.

International Students Going Abroad

International students at Penn State may face unique requirements for travel outside of the United States. These students should consult with an international student adviser at the International Student and Scholar Advising (ISSA) to determine how overseas study will affect their current immigration status. Click here to Contact ISSA