Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions - General

Prospective Students - Click on the questions to reveal answers

  • How do I start?

    Congratulations on your decision to study in the United States! A very rewarding and life-changing experience awaits you! If you need more information about the types of American education that are available to you, please see EducationUSA.

    If you already know what you want to do, the first step is to apply to a school in the United States. The school must be an SEVP-certified school.

    Once you are formally accepted for admission to an SEVP-certified school and you submit any required documents, your school will give you a document called a Form I-20. The Form I-20 is a paper record of your information in a US government database called SEVIS. Each school that accepts you will mail you a Form I-20.  Before you apply for your visa, you must select one school’s Form I-20 to use.

    Check your Form I-20 against your passport information to make sure that your name and date of birth (DOB) are correctly listed and spelled.  If it is not correct, contact the school official who sent you the Form 1-20.

    Once you have your Form I-20, you are ready for the next step – paying your SEVIS I-901 fee.

  • How do I pay my SEVIS I-901 fee?
    The SEVIS I-901 fee is required for all F and M students as well as J exchange visitors. Paying your SEVIS I-901 fee is very important. Without this fee, you will not be eligible to apply for a visa. Learn more about SEVIS I-901 fee. – This is the website to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • How do I get a visa to enter the United States?
    After paying the I-901 fee and getting a receipt, you can apply for a visa at any American embassy or consulate before you leave for the United States. Visit our visa interview page for useful links.

    Check to see that you received the right type of visa. Make sure your name and date of birth are also correct.
  • How should I prepare for my trip to the United States?

    Before you leave for the United States, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different kinds of documents you might need. It is always a good idea to carry your original documents at all times. Do not put them in your checked baggage.

    It is also a good idea to make at least two sets of copies of these documents: one copy to leave with your family or friends before you depart and one copy to give to your school officials on their request. Here is a list of the important immigration documents for your entry:

    Required documents

    Strongly advised to also bring a copy of your:

    • I-901 Fee Receipt
    • Proof of financial ability
    • Your Lamar University acceptance letter

    Obtain these documents after your successful US entry:

    If your school official has not given you a pre-arrival packet that explains the Form I-94, please consider reviewing the following: Form I-94 fact sheet and retrieval instructions

  • What should I do when I arrive?

    Arriving in the United States is a very important step which you should to prepare for. If you have everything ready, it should be a very smooth experience. The following documents give a good outline of the arrival processes and exceptions:

    If the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry cannot initially verify your information, or if you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers.

    The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in your being denied entry to the United States. It is always the final decision of the CBP officer at your port of entry to allow entry to any visitor requesting admission into the US.

    The port of entry gave me a Form I-515A. What does that mean?

    Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue a “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor” Form (I-515A), which authorizes temporary admission into the United States. Work with your school without delay to submit the proper documentation required by the Form I-515A.

    Form I-515A Tool Kit will help to ensure a smooth travel experience for International Students and Exchange Visitors.

  • When do I have to report to my school?

    You are permitted to enter the US no more than 30 days before the Program Start Date printed on your I-20, which is registered in SEVIS by an official at your school. The earliest date you will be allowed to enter the US is also printed directly on your I-20 as the “Earliest Admission Date,” which is only left blank on very select circumstances.

    You must report to your school by your Program Start Date or you are not maintaining your status. We suggest that you contact your school immediately once you enter the country so that there is no question of your arrival.

    To best prepare in maintaining your F-1 visa status on entry, we advise you to review our guidance on our webpage here.

    If you cannot enter the United States for the term listed on your Form I-20 or if you will be late by a few days, immediately contact your school officials so that they can accurately reflect this information in your SEVIS record.

  • What are my benefits? Can I work or drive in the United States?

    F-1 Students are eligible for a range of benefits while they study within the US. Some of these benefits are working during study, getting a Social Security number, training after your program is completed (OPT – optional practical training), and getting a driver’s license.

    Social Security Number (SSN)

    Driver’s License

    Practical Training

    If you are an F student, you have the option of working in the United States by doing practical training during your program or after it ends. Click on one of the links below for more information.

    Working in the United States

    Travel and Re-entry to the United States

Pre-Admission Checklist

Use this list for advisement on your possible application requirements after you apply through

1. Transcript evaluation of foreign transcripts

Plan to have any available foreign high school and university-level transcripts/certificates converted to a US GPA scale.

  • Freshman (no university level hours): Have a document-by-document evaluation completed that includes the following: You have (or will) complete the equivalent of a US high school completion certificate diploma and include a US-based cumulative GPA of your high school work.

  • First-year Transfer (less than 18 credit hours): Have both your high-school level documents and your available undergraduate documents evaluated. University level courses must have a full course-by-course evaluation to be eligible for transfer credit.

  • Transfers (more than 18 credit hours): Those who have completed their first year of university level study generally don’t need to have high school transcript evaluated. The evaluation must confirm you have (or will soon) obtain the equivalent of a US high school completion and include a US-based cumulative GPA of your high school work.

2. Submit any official US university transcripts

Contact your previous US universities to request official transcripts be sent to Lamar University.

3. English Proficiency scores

We accept TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores. TOEFL scores must be submitted directly from ETS. IELTS scores can be verified by providing a scan of your green scoresheet. PTE scores must be authorized to be released to Lamar University, and the Admission office must be notified.

4. Wait for an Admissions office representative to review your complete application and approve your admission.

You will receive an emailed notice within 24 hours of an admit decision.

Frequently Asked Questions - Pre-Admission Related

  • Should I submit an International or Domestic application?
    Any applicants holding a valid visa letter status should apply as “International” on the ApplyTexas website. US citizens, Permanent Residents (and those applying), Asylees, and undocumented applicants should apply as “US Domestic.”
  • I’m an International student, but I only want to take a few classes for credit. How should I apply?
    Students who only wish to take a few classes with Lamar University but do not intend to obtain a degree from here should submit a Transient application on the website. This type of admit will only allow you to enroll for the semester you apply for, and you will be expected to submit a letter of approval from your current US school which recognizes that you are allowed to enroll at Lamar.
  • Are there Scholarship opportunities for International students?
    All admitted and accepted students are welcome to submit a separate application to the Scholarships Office. The Scholarships office can use that application to see you might qualify for hundreds of available university scholarships. In addition, the academic department may decide to offer you direct funding while enrolled into their program, but you will need to contact them directly to ask for such opportunities.

    Financial Aid funding from either the US or Texas is very restricted for Non-US citizens or Permanent Residents. International students should not expect to qualify for all funding that US citizens might be able to receive. However, students are strongly encouraged to review and apply for any available funding through EducationUSA and the Fulbright Program.
  • Can I receive in-state (Texas Resident) tuition rates?

    Domestic applicants and some International applicants can qualify for in-state tuition rates based on their residency within the state of Texas. Certain visa and immigration status holders cannot qualify to in-state tuition based on residency alone, such as F-1 Student Visa holders. For a F-1 holder to qualify for in-state tuition rates, they must receive at least $1,000 per year in university scholarship.

  • Can I receive an exemption from _______ ?

    In the effort to ensure we are lawfully following the published policies set by Lamar University and the rules and regulations set forth by the state of Texas and the United States, students cannot be automatically considered for exemption from our admission requirements.

    English Proficiency test requirements will require that you meet one or more of the criteria listed by the Admission office on their webpage:

    • Are from an English waiver country
    • Have completed 48 credits of secondary/post-secondary school from an English waiver country
    • Have completed 48 credits of secondary/post-secondary school, taught in English
    • Have completed a level 112 of Intensive English at a U.S. institution
    • Have completed English Composition I and II, or the equivalent, from an accredited US institution with a grade of "B" or better on a 4.0 scale.
    • Have earned a degree from or have attended two consecutive years at an accredited U.S. institution.

    Those asking for a possible exemption based on the list above should directly contact the Admissions Office to request the exemption.

    Academic requirements (Transcripts, evaluations, SAT scores, etc.) will require extraordinary circumstances for exemption. Undergraduate applicants should contact the Admissions Office directly.

Post-Admission Checklist

Use this list to check that you have taken care of all essential arrangements before you depart for the United States.

 1. Obtain your I-20 from the International Admissions office (

  • Submit a scanned copy of financial ability guarantee that clearly indicates you or your sponsor’s ability and willingness to fund your education expenses.
  • Submit a scanned copy of your current and valid passport.
  • Order/purchase your courier details to have the original and official I-20 mailed to you.

2. Prepare for your F-1 Visa interview

  • Schedule a visa interview appointment with your local US consulate or embassy.
  • Pay the I-901 fee of your I-20/SEVIS record at
  • Bring the following documents to your Visa interview:
Original and signed I-20 I-901 payment receipt Your passport booklet
Any financial ability guarantees and documents Copies of your transcripts and test scores Copies of immunization records

Campus Arrival Checklist

1. Review the information available in the International Student Handbook.

This comprehensive guide includes links to many resources, but focus on the sections labeled “Pre-Arrival” and “New Arrival Information.

2. Plan your travel and housing arrangements

  • Learn how to reach the university from your expected city of entry (airport or otherwise) from within the United States.

  • It is advisable to arrive on campus a few days to one week before orientation and registration begin.

  • Contact the Office of International Education and Services with details of your arrival plans, and confirm details of the orientation for new international students held by the university.

  • Finalize arrangements for housing with the university. Inquire about temporary housing, hotel, motel, or other arrangements that need to be made if arriving early or during the weekend. Don’t forget the International Student Handbook can be referred to for guidance.

3. Organize finances for education expenses

  • Arrange to transfer funds to a U.S. bank through wire transfer or other means in order to make sure you have funds for travel and expenses on arrival. Note that you cannot bring more than $10,000 in cash or financial instruments with you without declaring it with US Customs.

  • Consider buying traveler's checks to cover costs during your first month in the United States, and consider obtaining a credit card, if possible.

  • If you will be bringing Bank Drafts or Cashier's Check, please make sure that it can be drawn at a U.S. banking institution and it is payable to "Lamar University."