Information toolkits for new international students
Last updated on March 3, 2022
Before finishing your application, waive your application fee as you can( see here). EPS is not among the specific programs that provide automatic waiver to its applicants, but you can still waive it if you want. Whether you pay this fee or waive it results in no difference for your admission.
Travel to the US (COVID-19 Specific Information)
F-1 Visa Application
Always check out OISS. For most incoming international students, you would need to apply for a F-1 visa. As soon as you have accepted an offer to study at Yale, obtain the I-20/DS-2019 form from the OISS as soon as possible. This form includes information which is required for all further steps.
Use this link to start your process.
The second step is to fill out the DS-160 form. This form can be quite confusing and can therefore take several days to complete as you gather information. Always check with the OISS before submitting this form.
You will also need to pay the SEVIS fee. It is vital that you keep the receipt for this. This fee is used by the US embassy to process your application.
Finally, you need to obtain two 2”x2” (two inch by two inch) color photos of yourself. It is generally advised that these are done professionally to ensure pictures are of the correct size and meet the requirements of the embassy.
After this you will need to book a visa interview at your nearest embassy. Some countries have more than one US embassy. Do this ASAP because appointment wait times can be several months or longer.
Print Out all your documents before the actual interview. Carefully go through this list for a complete check.
At the embassy: This can be stressful. You will need to bring all the aforementioned documents with you. Other useful documents include your Yale offer letter, proof of residence in your home country, college transcript, additional ID such as a driver’s license. Remember this is essentially an interview to live in the US. It is also recommended that you bring any other material that can support your application. At the embassy, you will hand your documents over for inspection twice. It is imperative that you do not lose any documents. If you forget to bring some vital documents, you will be asked to come at another time at no additional cost. However, rescheduling another appointment can be difficult and may disturb your travel plan.
If you have applied for the US. visa before, under some circumstances you may be eligible to re-apply the visa not in person.
Whenever you leave the US., make sure to let the OISS to sign your I-20/DS-2019 so that you are allowed for re-entry. Also keep in mind that the expiration date on your visa marks the expiration date for your ability to enter the US., not the expiration date for your legal stay.
J-1 visa application
Travel to the US
After exiting the plane, you will need to stand in line at border control. When you are seen by your border patrol officer, at a minimum they will inspect your passport and I-20 form (sometimes they call this the SEVIS form, not to be confused with the SEVIS fee receipt), although they may ask to inspect all the essential documents. They will also stamp your passport.
Sometimes the border patrol officers need to call the school to confirm your information and you will be led to a waiting room. Please don’t panic as it is just a regulatory inspection.
Most of us will arrive at an airport in New York City. You can use public transportation to New Haven (see appendix 1). Direct Uber/taxi is convenient, but the cost is inflated (140-200$). If it is the first time you have come to the US., please don’t hesitate to ask folks in your group for a pickup.
Once settled, you will need to print off an I-94 form. This form is critical so do it as soon as possible. At every re-entry your I-94 form will be updated. I-94 can be printed here.
First things in the US
If you are a non-US citizen, you will need to attend an I-9 interview. This basically is to inform the Homeland Security about your arrival. Even though it rarely happens, failure to comply may result in deportation.
Get your phone. Apps such as Google maps can make life much easier if you are new to the area. The three biggest wireless providers are AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. They all have stores in downtown New Haven.
Set up your direct deposit through the workday. Yale directly depositing your biweekly stipends is generally considered more convenient than mailing the check to you. If you haven’t had one before, open a US-based bank account to avoid unnecessary complications. Keep in mind that you do not need a social security number to do this.
Get your Social Security Number ( link is here). This might take a few weeks and it is essential to get your credit cards, setting up utility accounts, and paying your taxes.
Living in the US
1. The tax system in the US. can be tricky and don’t have a uniform format for everyone. Check out the OISS website for more information. In an overly simplified way, if you are a non-US citizen who has lived in the US. for more than 5 years, you need to file out the W-2 form. Otherwise, you need to file forms 1042-S and/or 1099. All these forms will be provided by Yale on a yearly basis, and you need to file your taxes by yourself, together with your other US. based income.
2. Driver’s license is recommended even if you don’t want to buy a car. In the US, it is a form of ID, for example, for hotel registration. For travel in the US., it is recommended to bring your visa, passport, and I-20 with you. Car rental is common among grad students. Relevant information can be found here. Note that you must be at least 21 to rent a car and rental insurance can be very expensive between 21 and 25 years of age.
3. The US. is a country on wheels but you are not required to own a car to commute. Most of the grad students live within walking/biking distance to the department. Yale provides a free bus shuttle to most grad students’ residential areas( check out the shuttle here).
4. For more information, check out this website.
1. Graduate students have the option of private renting, or Yale graduate dormitories or apartments (link is here).
2. The Yale community has a Facebook page for Off-campus housing, Rentals, sublets, roommates and furniture. Also, once you get admitted all new prospective students will be in the same Facebook page where you can explore potential roommates.
3. Zillow can be a good option for locating apartments currently looking for rent. Pay attention to the price, deposition and security fees, including whether the housing is furnished. Sometimes the housing is listed by the landlord, otherwise by an agent. Both landlords and companies can exploit you, so we recommend consulting with current grad students before making a decision. Don’t be afraid to email fellow graduate students to ask if they are looking for roommates!
4. East Rock, Westville, Wooster Square, and maybe Prospect Hill are popular neighborhoods for graduate student rentals.
Families, Spouses, and Partners
GSAS offers a comprehensive list of resources for families, spouses and partners moving to New Haven( link is here).