International Students MENU


The Office of International Affairs is located on the first floor of Wallace Hall in room 114. Office hours through the fall and spring semesters are Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:00pm. During summer session, office hours are Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:00pm. 

For any questions, please call 304-766-3084 or email us at


West Virginia State University's Office of International Affairs (OIA) is the university-wide resource for information regarding academic exchanges, overseas opportunities, and international research for students, faculty, and staff. In accordance with our University mission, the OIA seeks to promote cross-cultural efforts within the campus community. We provide advice and council to WVSU faculty, staff, students and researchers traveling abroad and support to international university students and faculty coming to WVSU for academic or professional goals. OIA works hard to provide opportunities for students to grow in an exciting new environment.

Apart from their regular studies, WVSU’s international student body can enjoy a vast range of planned activities. Cultural festivals, outdoor excursions to beautiful destinations like Hawk’s Nest State Park, and on-campus events give our visiting students a rich educational experience. Our open-minded program encourages students to share their cultural traditions within the community, as we look forward to sharing our American culture with them. Living in a different country isn't easy, especially at first, so WVSU strives to create fun, educational, and affordable trips that help international college students with the adjustment process.

WVSU’s Office of International Affairs also offers a wide variety of exchanges and specialized programs for all students. The OIA also offers study abroad programs around the globe. Depending on the country, there are plenty of valuable opportunities for language study, internships, and other degree-specific programs.

For those who seek a refreshing, small-town university experience, we invite you to learn more about our programs. Thank you for visiting WVSU’s Office of International Affairs.

For more information, contact us at

Before you arrive:

Please complete everything on this checklist before you leave home.
  • Confirm your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you arrive in the US.
  • Apply for and receive your F-1 Student Visa.
  • If you receive your Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine before coming to the US, bring confirmation of the vaccination (in English) from your doctor with you to orientation.
  • Provide OIA with arrival information into Charleston, West Virginia (Airport code - CRW)– please email

What to Carry with You on the Plane
  • Valid passport and F-1 Visa
  • Original I-20
  • All papers from the WVSU Office of International Affairs
  • Evidence of funding for your tuition fees and living costs, including sponsor letter if appropriate
  • Enough money for your first few weeks
  • Health forms and immunization documentation
  • Official transcripts or test scores 
  • Insurance documents
  • Any valuable items
  • A copy of all prescriptions for medicines, eyeglasses and contact lenses, written in English
  • The WVSU arrival contact phone number (304) 766-3084

What to Pack
  • Weather – West Virginia’s climate has four seasons with moderate temperatures ranging from 5°C in January, 20°C in April, 30°C in July, to 20°C in October. You will need clothing for both warm and cold seasons.
  • Cultural Items – There are many opportunities for international students to share their culture on campus during festivals and special events. Please consider bringing your national dress or other clothes associated with a hobby or sport you enjoy in your country such as sports attire, dance costumes, etc. You may also wish to bring items such as photos, books, souvenirs, recorded music, and musical instruments.

Getting Your F-1 Visa
  • You must have a valid passport to obtain a U.S. visa. Your passport should not expire for at least six months while in the US. Before visiting the U.S. Consulate for your visa interview, please read the instructions on the I-20 Certificate of Eligibility.
  • Your spouse or child(ren) may be able to accompany you on an F-2 dependent visa. F-2 dependent visa holders are not allowed to work or study at an institution.
  • Sevis I-901 Fee
  • Pay the fee at least three business days before you apply for your visa interview. You will need to pay with a credit or debit card and print the receipt as it is required at your interview. This fee is in addition to the visa application fee. Continuing students transferring from another U.S. institution and dependents applying for an F-2 visa usually do not need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
Graduate WVSU F-1 school code: PHI214F10263001

Undergraduate and English as a Second Language WVSU F-1 school code: PHI214F10263000

The WVSU J-1 school code is: P-1-14079
  • Your U.S. Embassy or Consulate:
  • US Department of State: (for Google Chrome users) (for Internet Explorer users)
  • Additional resource on getting a US student visa:

Immunization/Vaccine Requirements
WVSU requires all students (except 4-week ESL students) to have Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination. You must bring proof of receiving this vaccination or start the vaccination series during your first week of class.
Proof of MMR must:
  • Include your name and birth date
  • Show proof of two vaccinations for MMR
  • Be at least 28 calendar days between the two vaccinations
  • Include day, month and year of vaccinations
  • Be signed by a doctor, nurse or school official and dated after the last MMR
  • Be translated into English
Immunization Recommendations
Review your records with your doctor before departing to ensure they are up to date. The following are vaccinations recommended by the American College Health Association:
  • Tetanus and Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)
  • Tuberculin Skin Test (TB Screening)
The screening for tuberculosis is recommended for all students from regions where TB is common (areas of Africa, Asia, Central and South America). Individuals with a positive skin test will be referred for medical evaluation.

Please provide your flight details (flight number, airline name, arrival date and time) no less than 14 days before arrival via email to

When booking flights, remember that you should arrive in Charleston (CRW) at least one day before New Student Orientation (register here).

Entering the United States
As an F-1 student, you are allowed to enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the program start date listed on the item on #5 of your I-20. If you arrive after the start date listed on your I-20, you may be denied entry to the US. Be sure to have the following documents with you on the plane and ready to present at the U.S. port of entry:
  • Original I-20
  • Valid passport
  • F-1 Visa
  • SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt
  • Documentation of finances for your first year of studies
Form I-94
Customs and Border Patrol has automated the I-94 process for travelers applying for admission at U.S. ports of entry. Air and sea travelers no longer need to complete paper form I-94. If the I-94 number is needed, you may obtain and print a paper I-94 at:

US Customs Declaration Form

You also will receive the U.S. Customs Declaration form to complete during your flight. You must complete this form and present it to the immigration official when you enter the US.

Arriving in West Virginia

Yeager Airport (CRW)
The airport is approximately 20 minutes by car to campus. Be sure you are arriving in Charleston, West Virginia NOT Charleston, South Carolina. Confirm the airport code is CRW.

If you need an airport transportation, you must email your arrival details no less than 14 days prior to arrival to If you have arranged airport pick-up with WVSU, please wait by the baggage claim area and a WVSU staff member will meet you at the designated time.

If your flight is delayed, you cannot find the WVSU staff member for pick-up, your baggage is lost, or you experience any other problems during your travel to West Virginia, contact the WVSU Office of International Affairs at during regularly scheduled office hours. Your airport pickup will be confirmed and a phone number will be provided closer to your arrival time if it is outside of office hours.

Residence Halls & Moving In
​Undergraduate are required to live on campus for their first two years at WVSU.

On-campus housing accommodations in the residence halls will not be available until the week before New Student Orientation. The specific move-in date for your program will be sent to you with confirmation of your housing reservation. If you arrive before your on-campus housing is ready, you will need to stay at a local hotel.

To fill out the housing application (required), click here or contact Housing and Residence life at or (304) 766-3037. 

If you arrive before the move-in date for your program, you will need to make arrangements with campus housing for a temporary assignment at a daily rate or stay in a local hotel.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites
410 New Goff Mountain Rd, Cross Lanes, WV 25313

You will need to open a checking or savings account with a bank after arriving. You usually need two pieces of picture identification (passport and WVSU ID card), your local mailing address, I-20, and a small amount of money to open an account.

Cash and Credit/Debit Cards

You should not carry large amounts of cash. Carry smaller bills when you arrive for food, phone calls, and other inexpensive purchases.

The most accepted credit cards in the U.S. are Visa and MasterCard. It is best to apply for a credit card in your home country, as it is not easy for international students to obtain credit cards in the US.

If you would like to take cash from your credit or debit account, we have ATMs on campus. There are a number of other banks locally to the area and in Charleston to choose from. 

Transferring Money

Some countries have strict rules about transferring money to the US.
  • Learn your bank’s procedures for transferring funds abroad.
  • Transfer enough money to cover expenses for one term in addition to tuition paid. The amount of money you will need each term varies with your living situation and lifestyle. Plan for approximately $15,000 or more per semester.
  • Books and health insurance are not included in tuition.
  • You should have access to at least $500 or more to cover cell phone deposit and plan and other living expenses.

Cell Phones
Many students need changes to their cell phone plans or SIM cards once they arrive in the US. While some companies require a two-year contract to get service, there are also monthly plans available with some carriers. 

We will provide you with information about your textbook needs after you arrive. The cost of textbooks may be $500-$2,000 per year. Books can be purchased on campus at the university bookstore. This cost is not included in the cost of tuition.
There are several questions that come up each semester from students. To quickly answer them, see the sections below.

Obtaining a Social Security Number
You do not need a social security number unless you have a job offer. You will need to have both a job offer letter (from your potential employer) and proof of enrollment letter (from your DSO). For F-1 students, you must complete two full-time semesters before you are able to obtain a job off-campus.

For more information about obtaining a social security number, please visit the United States Social Security Administration website here.

Obtaining a Drivers License
For information regarding obtaining a West Virginia Driver's License, please visit the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles webpage (WV DMV).

Jobs on Campus
There are a small number of jobs available on-campus. At West Virginia State University, there are two types of jobs available to students. Regular student worker positions and work-study positions. Work-study positions are not available to international students because you must receive federal financial aid in order to qualify. The regular student worker positions are available to all students at a maximum of 20 hours per week during the semesters. 

Maintaining I-20 Status
Below are actions to take in order to properly maintain your status.


When arriving to the United States, both F and M students must:
  • Enter the United States no more than 30 days before your program of study begins.
  • Immediately contact your designated school official (DSO) when you enter the United States.
  • When you arrive at school, you need to contact your DSO again, no later than the program start date listed on your Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status."


While studying in the United States, both F and M students must:
  • Attend and pass all your classes. If school is too difficult, speak with your DSO immediately.
  • If you believe that you will be unable to complete your program by the end date listed on your Form I-20, talk with your DSO about requesting a possible program extension.
  • You must take a full course of study each term; if you cannot study full-time, contact your DSO immediately.
  • Do not drop a class without first speaking with your DSO.

All international students who have not taken SAT/ACT exam will be automatically enrolled in English 101E and Math 119E. If you wish to be placed in a higher level English or math course, you will need to take the Accuplacer exam. Additionally, students who feel that their ACT/SAT scores do not reflect their ability in math or English can also take the ACCUPLACER exams to improve their placement in these areas.

The ACCUPLACER exams are online and self-paced, and we recommend you allocate at least an hour to take each exam. You get your score at the conclusion of the exam so that you can make the appropriate changes to your schedule if necessary.  

The fee for testing is $28.00. You must pay this fee at the Cashier's Office, located at 117 Ferrell Hall. Please bring your receipt to 112 Wallace Hall, at the time of your appointment. You can schedule your ACCUPLACER exam by contacting the Office of Retention and Student Succes at 304-766-3022. 

WVSU requires all international students to acquire health insurance. Students entering the 2020-2021 academic year will be automatically enrolled into a healthcare program. The charges (approximately $405 per academic year) will be charged to the student account. If students have comparable health coverage, they must provide proof of coverage within the first two weeks of the semester. Beyond this time, the health insurance charges will not be removed. 

Most travel insurance policies purchased in your home country will not meet the university’s insurance requirements.

Bring a copy in English of ALL prescriptions for medicines, eyeglasses and contact lenses with you to the US.

Student Health Services
Health care services are provided on campus at the FamilyCare Center in the lower level of the Student Union for illnesses affecting students such as cold, flu, upset stomach, etc. Services are available at WVSU on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-4pm. There are some costs students will be individually responsible for, should the need arise including:
  • Cost of any medication
  • Cost of any dental services
  • Cost of X-rays or laboratory work done outside the Care Clinic
  • Cost of referred specialist
  • Cost of hospital services
  • Cost of emergency transportation (ambulance)
  • Cost of optical services (glasses, etc)

Safety on Campus

West Virginia Safety Information can also be found on the Public Safety webpage.

WVSU is generally very safe and West Virginia has one of the lowest crime rates in the US. However, this does not mean crime does not happen. Your safety is largely your responsibility and you should not engage in any activity that puts you in danger. Here are some tips on how to stay safe:

Review our Emergency Procedures Guide

Do NOT walk alone late at night.

At night, use well-lit and well-traveled routes. Avoid dark, vacant areas.

Always lock your doors and windows.

Trust your instincts. If you do not feel comfortable in a situation, leave.

Use the WVSU Help Phones, identified by a blue light, located on campus.

Use the buddy system or the WVSU Public Safety officers if an escort is needed.
•          All Emergencies:  911
•          University Police Department: (304) 766-3353, (304) 766-3181 (after business hours)

Visiting Scholars

West Virginia State University encourages scholars from all over the world to pursue academic research projects (1-2 semesters) as a visiting scholar to the WVSU campus. Visiting scholars may receive an appointment and title of Research Associate in a particular field. Prerequisites are a Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree, and in some cases Ph.D. candidates currently engaged in dissertation research.

For more than 100 years, students, staff, and faculty from around the world have found their way to West Virginia State University, recognized as the most culturally and racially diverse institution of higher education in West Virginia. West Virginia State University, located in Institute, a suburb of Charleston, the State capital, is the largest institution of higher education in the Kanawha Valley, and serves as a major resource center for this metropolitan area. The University provides a large spectrum of undergraduate degree programs, both baccalaureate and associate.

Founded in 1891 as a Land-Grant institution, West Virginia State University attained national prominence as an institution for higher education for blacks and continues to serve as a center of black culture in the state of West Virginia. Voluntary desegregation in 1954 created a distinctive "living laboratory of human relations," attracting a racially and culturally diverse student body, faculty, and staff. The University cherishes its unique history and its reputation for safeguarding academic freedom, for being innovative in its scholarly programs, for removing barriers to education, and providing leadership for women, minorities, and the handicapped. As the university has grown and evolved, to an enrollment of nearly 5,000 students, it has retained a degree of diversity unique among other West Virginia colleges & universities.

Passport & Visa

A J-1 visa is issued to scholars according to a request submitted by their sponsoring agencies or institutions for special program work. The J-1 visa is managed under the auspices of the United States Department of State.

To qualify for a J -1 visa, you must be "sponsored," in other words funded by one or several of the following: your home University, WVSU, a government, an agency, a foundation, an employer, or an international organization authorized to conduct an exchange visitor program. Research scholars may use personal funds but still must be sponsored by an academic department of WVSU. If you qualify for a J-1 visa, your spouse and dependents will be given a J-2 visa. Spouses in J-2 status may apply to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for permission to work after their arrival in the U.S. Do not plan on income from spouse employment, however, since employment authorization is not guaranteed and jobs are sometimes difficult to acquire..

Health Insurance

All J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents are required to have health insurance. It is ill-advised to be in the United States without adequate health insurance. Although in many countries the government bears the expense of health care for its citizens, and sometimes even for visitors, individuals and families in the United States are responsible for these costs themselves. Since a single day of hospitalization and medical treatment can cost thousands of dollars, many hospitals and doctors refuse to treat uninsured patients except in life threatening emergencies. Insurance gives you access to better and more timely health care, and provides the only protection against the enormous costs of health care in this country.


Visiting Scholars will be responsible for their own source of funds.

On Campus Housing

West Virginia State University will provide, at a reasonable price, a studio apartment with private kitchen and bathroom facilities on campus suitable for a single person. Although Visiting Scholars will be responsible for their meals, they will have access to the University cafeteria at the subsidized faculty/staff price.


Library & Research Facilities

In addition to having a computer and office, visiting scholars will have full access to the WVSU Drain-Jordan library. There are more than 200,000 books and 900 current periodical subscriptions available in the Drain-Jordan Library. More than 9,000 bound periodical volumes and 200,000 items are available in microfilm and fiche. An Instructional Materials Production Center and Archives Department are located in the building.

The Drain-Jordan Library has been a selective depository for United States public documents since 1907. Special archive collections include US Government Documents, Regional and Local History, African-American History in Appalachia (noted African-Americans, John W. Davis and John Frederick Matheus), and the forthcoming Republic of Benin, West Africa special collection (Summer 2002).


A bus line links the WVSU campus with the downtown and greater Charleston area and major shopping centers.

Charleston is linked by major interstate highways and has bus and train service for travel within state and nationally. Contact Greyhound Bus (1-800-231-2222) and Amtrak (1-800-872-7245).

Yeager Airport, located 5 minutes from downtown Charleston, offers direct flights to over a dozen cities and connections to all parts of the world.


Activities at WVSU

In addition to his/her own research, Visiting Scholars may also be invited from time to time to take part in academic activity at the WVSU campus, and to lead or participate in lectures in the greater community. The Faculty Lecture Series, held weekly on the WVSU campus offers a general forum for discussion. Lecture topics cover a wide range of interest for presentation and discussion. Visiting Scholars may also be asked periodically to visit classes according to the needs of WVSU professors.

Community Groups

The Friendship Force International, founded in 1977 by a WVSU alumnus, is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. The organization sponsors homestays for groups of members to and from many countries around the world. Members of the Charleston Friendship Force chapter could be contacted for information about the area. Local number: 1-304-344-4069, Atlanta number: 1-800-554-6715.

Partners of the Americas is another international organization with a particular interest in links between the United States and South America. The West Virginia chapter has a sister State in Espirito Santo, Brazil. See Local numbers: (304) 346-1172 or (304) 357-4745.

The International Club of Charleston is a local organization whose members could also be contacted for information. Local numbers: (304) 344-4069 and (304) 346-2123.

WVSU Office of International Affairs
International Affairs
114 Wallace Hall
Institute, WV 25112-1000
Tel: 304-204-4094
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