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Congratulations on your admission to USC International Academy! Here are
some things you can do to ensure your arrival is as smooth as possible:
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  • Prepare your immigration, health, and academic documents
  • Arrange transportation from the airport to USC
  • Know what to expect at Orientation
  • Plan how you will convert and manage your money
  • Secure your housing arrangements
  • Pay your program fees
  • Download the USC International Academy Pre-Arrival Guide

The admission packet you received by email includes your letter of admission, pre-arrival information, and a Form I-20. You will need these documents to apply for your student visa. Applying for a Student Visa & more >>


The University of Southern California requires ALL international students receive:

  • 2 doses of MMR (measles, mumps & rubella) vaccine
  • Tuberculosis screening (blood test) Tspot or Quantiferon Gold
  • 2 doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
  • Meningococcal: Menactra or Menveo, most recent dose must be on or after your 16th birthday. This requirement is for students 21 years old and under.
  • COVID-19 vaccine. To find out more about COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM go to: https://policy.usc.edu/covid-19-vaccination-program/

For more information about non-COVID-19 health requirements see below and click here.

To determine whether non-COVID-19 immunizations are required individually, the USC Health Center will administer a blood test that will be scheduled after you arrive at the International Academy (usually after Orientation Week). If immunizations are required, they will be administered by the USC Health Center, which will also administer the tuberculosis screening. The Academy and Health Center staff will help you fill out the necessary forms and create a personalized immunization schedule.


We are pleased to arrange your transportation from the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to your residence in Los Angeles. Sign Up for Free Airport Pick-Up >>


On the first and second day of the program we will provide orientation to help you understand the program and the university, and administer an English placement exam. Orientation Details >>

There are several banking options near campus. It is important to research each banking institution to see which one fits best with your financial needs. Setting Up a Bank Account >>
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  • Submit a complete application to USC International Academy. If you are admitted, you will need to declare your intent to enroll and pay the tuition deposit. You will receive a Form I-20 by mail after confirming your admission.
  • Verify that all information in I-20 is correct; sign and date page 1.
  • Schedule a visa interview for a student visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of permanent residence.
  • Pay the I-901 (SEVIS) fee.
  • Check your U.S. Embassy website for more information on which documents to prepare for visa interview.
  • Allow 1-2 weeks for processing after visa interview.

USC International Academy will send you a Form I-20 (the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant [F-1] Student Status) approximately 7-10 business days after confirming your admission and paying the tuition deposit.

When you receive the I-20, please verify that the following information is correct:

  • Name
  • Birth date
  • Country of birth
  • Country of citizenship

If you find a mistake, mark it and notify USC International Academy immediately as you will need the error corrected. We will correct the mistake and send the corrected I-20 to you.

If the information is correct, read the information on page 2, then sign and date the I-20 in the space that is provided on page 1.


Applicants for student visas should apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country of permanent residence.

For further information about how to apply for a visa, please check the website of your nearest United States Consulate or Embassy.

Related Links
Visa Wait Time – average wait time at your local embassy
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – latest rules and regulations for those traveling to the U.S.
EducationUSA – visa information
U.S. Department of State – information about student visas

  • Pay I-901 Fee
    After scheduling your visa interview, you will need to pay the I-901 Fee (also known as the SEVIS Fee). You will need to pay the $350 fee online at i901fee.

You must print the I-901 Fee Confirmation (receipt) and bring it with you to the visa interview.

  • Prepare Required Documentation
    Each applicant for a student visa must bring the following to show the interviewer:
  • An application Form DS-160, completed and signed.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application.
  • One photograph 5cm x 5cm (2 in x 2 in) for each applicant, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background.
  • Form I-20 provided by the USC International Academy
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to cover all expenses, also known as financial documentation
  • I-901 Fee Confirmation (receipt)
  • Along with the documents above you may also be asked to provide:
  • Your reason for studying English as well as your study plans while in the U.S.A.
  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended (usually for the most recent 3 years)
  • Your resume/CV
  • Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
  • Financial evidence that shows you or your sponsor has sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring income tax documents and original bank books and/or statements. If you or your sponsor own a business, please bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.

You will need to apply for an F-2 visa for any dependents who will stay in the U.S. with you. If any dependent plans to study full-time, they will also need to apply for an F-1 visa (full-time study on an F-2 visa is not possible).

When applying for an F-2 visa, the student should show:

  • Proof of the student’s relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g. marriage and birth certificates.)
  • It is preferred that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder’s passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

USC International Academy students with F-1 visas are permitted to work on campus part-time not more than 20 hours per week while enrolled in USC International Academy courses. Students also have the option to volunteer at various organizations around Los Angeles.

For further inquiries, please contact the Immigration and Admission Advisor at info-international@usc.edu.

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All students at USC International Academy receive a high quality medical insurance and access to the USC Student Health Center as part of the mandatory University Service Fee. This medical insurance policy covers students while they are participating in the program and helps cover the cost of care unavailable at the health center, including emergencies requiring hospitalization.


The health care system in the United States may be very different from the health care system in your home country. For example, in China, patients usually walk in whenever they need to see a doctor and all payments are made before they leave. International students may find the information below helpful. The points below are general to health care in the U.S. but do not apply to all cases.

1. You typically need to make an appointment to see a doctor in America. Unless you are visiting a walk in urgent care clinic or an emergency room, you will need to schedule an appointment before seeing a doctor in the U.S.

2. You typically need a referral to see a specialist, such as a dermatologist, allergist or physical therapist. This means you will need to ask your primary care doctor for a referral before you can see the specialist. You do not need a referral to see a gynecologist or mental health counselor.

3. You may have a small fee or co-pay at the time of your visit. If you are on the Aetna plan and are confused about your bill, contact the USC Student Health Insurance Office.

To find out more click here: https://studenthealth.usc.edu/getting-started/international/

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We recommend you arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) which is approximately 25 km (15.5 miles) from USC. Driving time from LAX to USC may take from 20-40 minutes.

Be sure to check with your airline for rules and regulations about baggage, limits and fees. You may also want to check with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for the latest travel information.

Due to recent changes at LAX, taxi and ride-share (Uber, Lyft, Opoli) pick-ups must occur at LAX-it Area next to Terminal 1. Find the LAX-it shuttle outside the terminal. Ride the LAX-it shuttle to LAX-it area to meet your taxi and/or ride-share driver.


No need to worry about getting from the airport to your residence in Los Angeles. We can take care of it for you!

How to Sign Up for FREE Transport from the Airport:

  • Complete the Airport Transfer Request Form (it will be sent to you with your Program Confirmation)
  • Email the completed form to the Academy at one week before your arrival: info-international@usc.edu


  • You do not need to pay for this service.
  • This airport transfer service is available from LAX to the USC area from 6am to 10pm.
  • There is a limit of 2 bags per person.
  • Drivers will not meet you at the arrival gate or at the airport terminal. You will need to pick up your luggage, exit the airport terminal and take the LAX-it Bus to LAX-it Area. Look for the “Opoli” sign in Zone 1A and check in with the ambassador.
  • You will need to give the driver the instructions and confirmation number that the Academy sends you. Please print out the Airport Transfer Confirmation you receive.
  • If you are not able to email your arrival details to the Academy at least once week before your arrival, please make your own airport transfer arrangements (read below for more information on this).

You can make your arrangements to take a taxi, shuttle or town car to USC or another Los Angeles location (hotel, apartment, etc.) any time. You can make a reservation online or by phone before you arrive or arrange service once you are at the airport.


  • ~ $45+ depending on traffic
  • You will need to pay the driver directly for this service and should include $1-5 tip.

Shuttle Van
Make Your Shuttle Reservation Using this Link and Receive a 10% Discount

  • ~$15-20 one way to USC
  • Pay the driver directly for this service and include $2-3 tip
  • You should not have to wait more than 20 minutes for your shuttle, even without a reservation
  • Expect to handle your own luggage after the driver drops you off
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On the first and second day of the program we will provide orientation to help you understand the program and the university, and administer an English placement exam. The following topics will be covered:

  • Housing
  • Identification cards
  • Health insurance
  • Safety issues
  • Class schedule
  • Navigating the campus

Detailed information about Orientation will be provided to you via email.


All students are required to complete Passport Verification (PPV) with USC International Academy to ensure that you are eligible to start an academic program at USC.

In order to complete this procedure, please make photos or scans of the following items after entering the U.S., and by the end of the first day of Orientation, send them to the email address provided to you in pre-orientation emails.

  • The data page of your passport
  • U.S. Visa
  • Front page of your USC I-20
  • I-94 Form (Please open and fill out after you enter the United States)

On the program start date during orientation, you will be given an English Placement Exam (which consists of a timed, written essay and an oral exam) to determine your placement in the program. However, Pre-Master’s students can gain an exemption from the English Placement Exam by submitting an official TOEFL iBT, IELTS or PTE Academic Test Score Report electronically by the application deadline.

Students will learn their level placement and class schedule before the first day of class.

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There is a place to change your money at the Los Angeles International Airport in the Bradley International Terminal. After leaving the airport, changing money is not easy. We advise that you bring $500 – $1000 cash ($20 bills or smaller) with you from your country.

It is not a good idea to carry large amounts of cash. Please do not bring cash to pay for your program fee or housing. Instead of cash, bring travelers checks and/or a charge card (Visa or MasterCard).


Chase Bank is located on the Jefferson Boulevard across the street from the Academy’s building. Most students use Chase Bank since there are many branch offices all over California and throughout the U.S., however there are many other banks in the area. The USC Credit Union is a bank with two branches and eight ATMs right on the university campus.

To open an account at Bank of America you need:

  • Passport
  • Documents that prove you are currently enrolled (for example, I-20, Student ID, registration fee payment receipt, or admission letter.)
  • Minimum amount to open an account is $100

To open an account at the USC Credit Union you need:

  • Passport
  • Documents that prove you are currently enrolled (for example, I-20, Student ID, or admission letter)
  • $11 to open account
  • $1 Minimum Balance

ATM cards are common in the U.S. You can apply for an ATM card when you open your account. An ATM card allows you to withdraw and deposit money, transfer funds between accounts and check your account balance. ATM machines can be found at banks, shopping centers, some supermarkets and on the USC campus. Some businesses now allow customers to use their ATM cards to pay for purchases (most often at gasoline stations and supermarkets). When using ATM machines, be sure to follow necessary security precautions to guard against theft.