Information for New International Students


Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UH Hilo)! We look forward to seeing all of you on campus this coming semester. This webpage is designed to help you achieve the necessary tasks required to come to the United States as a student. Below is a summary of the steps required to do this.

Where You Are Now

At this point in your journey of coming to UH Hilo you should have received the following from the UH Hilo Admissions Office:

  • Letter of acceptance from the UH Hilo Admissions Office
  • Admissions packet including information on such topics as housing and orientation (if you have not received a packet yet, all of the information in the packet can be found here)
  • Form I-20 ("Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - For Academic and Language Students" )(for students coming to UH Hilo on F-1 student visas only)

If you have not received one of the items above, please contact the Admissions Office.

What To Do Next

Now you can begin completing the following tasks:

  • Obtain a U.S. Student Visa
  • Enter the U.S.
  • Join the "UH - Hilo International Student Association" Facebook Page
  • Attend the "Required Meeting for New International Students" at UH Hilo
  • Acquaint Yourself with Hilo

Click here for a checklist of things to do before you come to Hilo, along with detailed important information for new international students, including registering for classes, paying for tuition and fees, things to bring, preparing for your arrival in Hilo, orientation, placement testing, housing, transportation, health requirements, visa information, working on campus, banking, and helpful websites.

Obtain a U.S. Student Visa

If you are coming from any country besides Canada, follow the steps below to obtain a U.S. visa. (Students from Canada: See below for special instructions.)

  1. Pay the SEVIS fee.
  2. Complete and submit the visa application form. For a detailed description of the visa application process, click here.
  3. Schedule an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate nearest to you. To find the nearest embassy or consulate, click here. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants varies, so applying for a visa early is strongly recommended. 
  4. Go to your scheduled visa appointment to apply for your visa. At this appointment you will need the following documents:
    • Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
    • I-20 form ("Certificate of Eligibility")
    • Your letter of acceptance from UH Hilo
    • Evidence of sufficient financial support
    • Visa application(DS-160 form) confirmation page and application fee payment receipt (if you are required to pay before your interview)
    • Photo: You will upload your photos when completing the visa application form (DS-160) online. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained here.
    • SEVIS fee receipt (you can print a copy of your receipt after you pay the fee online)
    • Any other documents required by your specific embassy or consulate (please visit their specific website for these requirements)

Enter the U.S.

When you have obtained your U.S. student visa, you are eligible to enter the U.S. If you are entering the U.S. for a new program you may not enter the U.S. sooner than 30 days before the date on you Form I-20 (Item 5 on your Form I-20). When traveling you should be prepared to present the following documents upon request by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer:

  • Passport with visa
  • Form I-20
  • Evidence of financial support

Note: Never pack your travel documents in your checked baggage; have them readily available at all times.

Check out this video message for students planning on studying in the U.S.

Special Instructions for Canadian Students

Canadian students are not required to obtain a student visa to enter the U.S. for studies. However, Canadian students must still be able to present the following to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer:

  • Form I-20 issued by UH Hilo
  • Proof of financial support
  • Evidence of Canadian citizenship (passport)
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt

Ensure that you are processed at the border with the proper student designation and that you receive an I-94 reflecting that designation. Do not enter the U.S. as a tourist!

Join the "UH Hilo International Student Association" Facebook Page


This Facebook page will serve as one of two primary contact points between you and the International Student Services office, the other being your university ( email address. Information that is important to your stay at UH Hilo will be communicated via Facebook (and your email account), along with information about events and activities. If you are already on Facebook, please visit our Facebook page and click the "Like" icon. If you are not on Facebook yet, visit Facebook to set up a free account and then visit our page and click the "Like" icon.

Attend the Required Meeting for New International Students

All new international students must attend this meeting. It is an important meeting in which topics regarding maintaining your status and complying with federal regulations will be discussed. For the Fall 2013 semester this event is scheduled for:

Tuesday, August 19, 2013, 9:00 am at Campus Center Room 301

Staff will present information about immigration regulations, life at UH Hilo, health issues, social activities and more. You will meet with other new international students and learn how to make a successful transition to your college life here.

Acquaint Yourself With Hilo and Meet New People

There is a great deal of information about Hilo throughout the UH Hilo website as well as on the internet in general. International Student Services realizes that it is often difficult for students to transition to a new environment and make new friends. To help facilitate your ability to create connections with fellow students and get to know others who are going through the same transition, make sure you attend orientation, join our Facebook page, and join the International Student Association and other student clubs and organizations. Through our Facebook page you will be able to chat with current students, meet other incoming students, and communicate with our office regarding any questions you may have about transitioning to life in Hilo. For information about getting around in Hilo, click here.

Questions or Problems

If you have any questions regarding the information on this page or experience any complications in the process outlined here, feel free to contact us. Our contact information can be found at the top of the page in the contact box to the left. It is our goal to make the transition to UH Hilo as smooth as possible. We look forward to seeing you in person soon!