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Dear International Undergraduate Student,

Congratulations on your acceptance to Lehigh University! We are proud to have you as part of our growing international community of more than 500 internationals from more than 60 nations. You will occupy a special place here at Lehigh, not only in the academic field you have chosen, but also as an ambassador of goodwill from your home country. The University has stated that its first goal is to develop future leaders in our global society. You can help us attain that goal.

We have created a checklist to help you prepare for your arrival to the United States and Lehigh.

Things You Need to do Before Arriving to the United States

  1. Pay SEVIS Fee

    Beginning October 27, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires all individuals receiving a SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) Form I-20 to pay a $200 SEVIS fee ($180 for individuals receiving a Form DS-2019) before they may apply for their FIRST U.S. entry visa. For futher information please check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country on the payment procedures.

  2. Apply for a Visa

    Your United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) immigration document is enclosed. Please read and sign the SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 immigration document, then schedule an appointment with the US Embassy or Consulate. Please have the following documents with you at your appointment:

    • SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019
    • DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (submit online, print and keep the DS-160 barcode page)
    • Lehigh acceptance/admission letter
    • Original financial support documents
    • Proof that you will be returning to your home country after your stay in the U.S.
    • Valid passport
    • Please note that the SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 is not a financial guarantee from Lehigh University. It is used for immigration purposes. Please refer to Helpful Hints to Obtaining a U.S. Entry Visa which gives you additional information on how to request the visa.
    • SPECIAL NOTE: When applying for your student visa, please keep in mind the following:

      1) You cannot apply for a student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate more than 120 days before the start date of your program at Lehigh.  If you apply for your visa more than 120 days prior to your start date as provided on your I-20, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your application until it is able to issue the visa. 

      2) The Department of Homeland Security regulation requires that all initial or beginning students enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the course of study start date as shown on the I-20.  Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the U.S.

  3. Register for International Orientation

    Join us at the International Orientation. The Office of International Students & Scholars (ISS) conducts an intensive orientation program for newly arrived international students and scholars. The program includes presentations, question-and-answer sessions, and the opportunity to meet Lehigh officials who can assist you in many ways.
  4. On-Campus Housing


    1st year, 2nd year and transfer students are guaranteed housing. Information on housing is available online at http://portal.lehigh.edu on evolution tab. Refer to this website for the most updated housing information.  The Office of Residential Services makes housing assignments about two weeks before classes start. Make sure to follow the checklist and complete your Online Housing Contract/Personal Data Form at http://portal.lehigh.edu.

    All new international students can move into the residence halls on Monday, August 20, 2012 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

    **Please note that Residential Services will also mail you a booklet with important housing information**


    3rd year and 4th year students who are returning to Lehigh are NOT guaranteed housing. Please refer to the Lehigh University Housing website for the most recent information on housing options: http://www4.lehigh.edu/housing

    IMPORTANT: Process for early move in:
    If you plan on moving in before August 20, 2012, please fill out the early arrival/after hours form here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/earlyarrivalform

    For early move in:

    • You must provide a legitimate reason for requiring an early move in.
    • If early move in is approved, you will be charged $25 per night until the scheduled check-in.
    • Requests made after the August 5 deadline will incur a $25 late request fee.
    • If you arrive without prior approval, you will be fined $25 and charged $25 per night until the scheduled check-in.
    • After hours check-ins can only be arranged if you have provided a photo and your Lehigh ID card can be printed before you arrive.
    • If you will arrive at Lehigh before 4:45pm on a weekday, check in at the Residential Services in Rathbone Hall for your key
    • IMPORTANT: Process for arriving after hours and on weekends (Saturday or Sunday).
      The Residence Hall closes on weekdays at 4:45PM. If you will arrive at Lehigh after 4:45 PM or on a Saturday or Sunday, you must:

      • Send your picture to the ID office http://www.lehigh.edu/~inorient/MISC/stuid.html
      • Fill out at early arrival/after hours form (the form will be available July 2012). Indicate the date and time of your arrival. Submit this form by August 5th, 2012.
      • When you arrive your room key and ID card will be available at the Lehigh police station.

    For more information on housing, please contact Residential Services at (610) 758-3500, or visit their website.

  5. Translate Your Health Records and Complete Health Forms

    Lehigh requires all new international students to submit the following forms to the Health Center prior to your arrival:

    Tuberculosis (TB) testing is required for ALL new students. ISS will arrange for you to complete the testing during the International Graduate Orientation Week.  The fee for the test is $68.     

  6. Apply for an International Driver's License (optional)
    In Pennsylvania, international students and scholars may drive for up to one year with BOTH AN INTERNATIONAL AND HOME COUNTRY DRIVER’S LICENSE. Contact your home country’s transportation department to apply for an international license.
  7. Prepare for the weather at Lehigh

Summers are often warm and humid, with average temperatures ranging from 65°F (18°C) to 98°F (37ºC) June to August. Spring (April through June) and fall (September through November) are lovely times. These seasons are marked by pleasant days and cool evenings. The winter months are often a new experience for many. While the area is insulated from the harshest of northeastern winters, temperatures in Bethlehem can fall to 10°F (- 12°C). Snowfall is common. Normally during summer, men wear lightweight shirts and pants or shorts, while women wear light pants, shorts, or skirts, with blouses. In fall, people wear light sweaters, jackets and hats. During winter, you will need a warm coat, scarf, boots, hat, and gloves. For those people arriving in the summer or even early fall, you can buy these winter items when you arrive.

Arriving in the United States

  1. Arriving at a United States Airport

    When you enter the United States, present the SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 form, with your passport, to the Immigration Officer.

    • For F-1 SEVIS I-20 form holders: The SEVIS I-20 should be stamped and returned to you.
    • For J-1 DS-2019 form holders: Page 1 of the form will be stamped and returned to you.
    • NOTE: Please click on Info Fact Sheet for Students (F-1) or Info Fact Sheet for Exchange Visitors (J-1) issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement which is useful in what to expect upon your arrival at a U.S. port of entry.

Helpful Advice while in the Airport:

  • Patron Assistance Booths are usually available in most arrival areas of the airport terminal. Seek them out if you have questions.
  • Have some American money available after entering the country. U.S. coins will be useful for tipping (usually 10% – 15% of the total bill), telephone calls and miscellaneous expenses. If necessary, change only a small amount at the airport bank, as the exchange rate is not as good as it is in the city.
  • Keep all money, jewelry, passports and other valuables with you at all times. The best idea is to keep your passport, important documents and your money under your clothing. There have been thefts at the airports, so be very careful.
  • Travelers checks are the best means of carrying large sums of money

2. Coming to Lehigh University


  • Newark Liberty International Airport (airport code: EWR) to Bethlehem

    We urge you to use Newark International Airport as your port of entry. Newark Airport is closer to Bethlehem than John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. Upon arrival, Transbridge Bus service takes you to the South Bethlehem Terminal at Adams and Mechanic Street, which is two blocks from Lehigh University. The departure times from Newark Airport vary from 9:00AM until 12:00 midnight on weekdays. Times also vary on Saturday and Sunday. It takes approximately l hour and 45 minutes from the airport to Bethlehem. A one-way adult ticket costs $20.20. We suggest that you check for the exact times of departure at the Transbridge website.

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (airport code: JFK) to Bethlehem

    If you plan to arrive at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport, you can take a direct Transbridge bus to Bethlehem, a three-hour trip. A one-way adult ticket costs $37.85. Be sure to get the bus to South Bethlehem Terminal at Adams and Mechanic Street that lets you off just a few minutes from Lehigh campus. Please check the website for the exact times of departure from the airport.

  • Philadelphia International Airport (airport code: PHL)

    There are no direct buses from the Philadelphia Airport to Bethlehem.  However, there are buses traveling from Center City Philadelphia to Bethlehem. Please check the website for the exact times of departure from the bus stop. A one-way adult ticket costs about $13.


  • You will disembark and go through Customs at an International Airport such as Los Angeles, Chicago or Detroit. From there you can get a direct flight to Lehigh Valley International airport (ABE).

  • Travel from Lehigh Valley International - ABE Airport to Lehigh University There are no direct buses from Lehigh Valley Airport into Bethlehem. You should take a taxi, which costs approximately $16 - $20 for this ten-minute trip into Bethlehem.


After Arriving at Lehigh

  1. Report to the Office of International Students and Scholars (ISS)

    The Office is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. We are located in Coxe Hall, 32 Sayre Drive. Bring your passport and all immigration documents with you.

  2. Attend Orientation Programs

    Join us at the International Orientation. All students should attend both the regular first year orientation and the international student orientation.

  3. Registration
    1. Select your courses from the current class schedule.
    2. Visit your faculty advisor to get your course selection approved and register on-line.
    3. If selection of courses is done on paper, then please submit your course selection to the Registrar.
    4. Pay Bursar's bill.
    Registration of Classes: Monday, August 27 – Friday, September 7, 2012
  • Late Registration
    • Students unable to register during the regular registration period have ten additional days to complete the process but a $100.00 late fee will be required. The disadvantage of late registration is the availability of choice of classes as well as missed assignments.
  • Tuition, Health Insurance and Technology Fees:
    • All students are required to pay their tuition bill for each semester during the registration period. Failure to pay all required fees may result in cancellation of enrollment at Lehigh University.
  • Registrar's Office
  • Bursar's Office

4. Identification Card (Must be registered for classes first)

Lehigh University issues full-time students an identification (ID) card. It is a small card with a personal photograph, a student number, and other important information on it. A Lehigh student ID card is required to borrow materials from the libraries, to use the University meal plan, to charge items at the Bookstore, to participate in the South Mountain GOLD Plus program, and to be admitted to athletic facilities and events. You must register for classes before you can get an ID card.

Student ID Office
Ulrich Student Center – 1st Floor
Telephone: 610-758-5843

5. Email Account and LAN Account

When you receive your picture ID, you will be given instructions on how to get a network ID and email password. You will be able to open your network ID and receive your password twenty-four hours after your ID card has been activated. If you need assistance, please call the Library and Technology Services (LTS) Help Desk at 610- 758-4357.

6. Social Security Number

If you plan to work in the U.S. during your stay, you will need to apply for a Social Security number. ISS will set up a time with the Social Security Administration to be present on campus at a later date to assist you in your application. To apply for a SSN, you must have an employment offer in the US (assistantship, work-study, or other on-campus employment). Bring your passport with the I-94 card, immigration documents and your employment offer letter with you. You must have a Social Security number in order for Lehigh to be able to pay you, and for you to file U.S. taxes.

To apply for a Social Security Number, you will need a letter from ISS, an employment offer letter, your documents and an application form. If you miss the Orientation, you may apply in person to the following address.

Social Security Administration - 555 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015 (Office is located in the "Woolworth Building" 1/2 block down (south) from Intersection of Main & Broad Streets)
Monday-Friday: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Telephone: 1-800-772-1213

7. Open a Checking Account

There are several banks near campus. Wachovia has a branch office on campus at the University Center (second floor), 610-758-2265 and at 4th Street and Broadway, Bethlehem, PA 18015, 610-861-1010. For further information, please look at their website: https://www.wellsfargo.com/

To open a checking account at the university branch, you need a Lehigh ID card and a valid passport or a Social Security number.

8. Health Insurance

Lehigh has a mandatory insurance policy for all international students. University Health Plans administers Lehigh University's student health plan. Lehigh insurance can ONLY be purchased at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. The Lehigh insurance cannot be purchased for the summer sessions only. Student insurance may be purchased online at www.universityhealthplans.com before the tenth day of class. After you register online, you must go to the Bursar's Office, Alumni Memorial Building, to pay the fee. If possible, this should be done the same day you purchase the insurance. If payment for purchased health insurance is not made by the tenth day of class, you risk your registration being put on hold and dropped from the insurance. State Department regulations require all J-1 visa holders and their dependents to be covered by health and accident insurance while in the U.S. (J-1 holders see attached information). Both undergraduate and graduate student plans for 2011-2012 are $1,520. University Health Plans administers Lehigh University's student health plan. For further information or to purchase health insurance, please visit their website.

Note: If you do not have a Social Security number when you are applying for health insurance, please use this number: 999-99-9999.

9. Immunization and Tuberculosis Testing

Lehigh requires immunizations. All international students must show proof of a recent tuberculosis skin test (within ten days of test taken) or have the test performed free of charge at the Health Center. In addition, students should be immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, and rubella. Vaccines are available at the Health Center . There is a fee charged for this service.

Health Center
36 University Drive Johnson Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Telephone: 610-758-3870

10. Pennsylvania Driver's License (more info here)

In Pennsylvania, international students and scholars may drive for up to one year with BOTH AN INTERNATIONAL AND HOME COUNTRY DRIVER'S LICENSE. Once the year has past, you will be required to get a Pennsylvania driver's license. In order to request a PA driver's license, an individual's immigration documents must be valid for more than one year into the future at the time of the application.

11. Owning a Car

If you plan to own an automobile in Pennsylvania , the state law requires that you purchase liability car insurance. Proof of recent automobile insurance coverage from your own country will be extremely helpful in obtaining automobile coverage here.

Office of International Students and Scholars • Lehigh University • 32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015 • 610-758-4859 • Fax: 610-758-5156 • intnl@lehigh.edu
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