As you begin your journey to the United States, we hope that you use this portal for all the necessary information that you will need in order to have a successful transition. The outlined steps below will help you prepare for everything from obtaining your visa and packing, to arriving in New Orleans, orientation, registration, and starting your studies. We look forward to welcoming you to Tulane University!
OISS Online Orientation is an online course made up of educational modules created to help international students learn about immigration regulations, adjusting to being a student in the United States, Tulane University resources and more. New international students will be able to work through the content at their own pace while asking questions and sharing with current international student moderators as well as their fellow other new international students.
The following modules are required for you to complete your online check-in. We encourage you to review all of the content in order to better prepare you to be a Tulane University student.
- Rights, Responsibilities and Benefits of F-1/ J-1 Student Status
- Title IX Essentials for International Students
- OISS Important Tips Quiz
If you are coming to Tulane University from outside the U.S., you will need to have a F-1 student visa or J-1 exchange visitor visa to enter the U.S. You cannot study full-time at the university on either a B-2 tourist visa or the visa waiver program.
Visa procedures vary from one consulate or embassy to another, so it is very important that you check the website of the U.S. consulate or embassy in your country for specific instructions. Find your local U.S. embassy or consulate and contact them to learn the visa requirements and make an appointment. There are also EducationUSA advising centers in many countries that provide resources and assistance with the visa application process. Some centers can even help you practice for your visa interview!
How to obtain a U.S. Visa
Three main phases are involved in the visa application process:
- Gain admission to Tulane
- Receive the immigration document
- Apply for a visa
Once you have gained admission and received your immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019), you can apply for a U.S. Visa.
Standard items required for the visa application:
- A current passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the U.S.;
- A form I-20 for the F-1 visa or a DS-2019 for the J-1 visa;
- Evidence of financial support for the period of time and the amount indicated on the I-20 or DS-2019 form;
- An application Form DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application is available on the State Department website;
- Proof of SEVIS fee payment (if you are from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon or Kenya you will need to remit payment by cashier's check, money order or Western Union transfer);
- A receipt for visa processing fee (see the website for the U.S. Consulate in your country for specific instructions on paying this fee.)
- One 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained on the State Department website.
You should also be prepared to provide:
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended;
- Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.;
- Financial evidence that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you have 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 bankbooks 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;
- Proof that you have a residence abroad that you have no intention of abandoning.
- Any additional evidence that may be requested from the specific U.S. Consulate where you will request the visa. (You should reach out by email or phone or check their website for more information.)
- A short interview will be required. If you are looking for some interview tips you can visit the resources below:
After you apply for a visa:
- The consular officer will place a visa in your passport.
- If you receive a multiple-entry visa, you may use it to reenter the United States up to the date of the visa’s expiration as long as you have a valid I-20 or DS-2019. If this is your first time attending school in the U.S., your student visa must list Tulane University as the school that you will be attending.
- You can enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the beginning of the program.
If you encounter any problems obtaining your visa, contact Office of International Students and Scholars, (504) 865-5208 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you expect to arrive later than the start date on the I-20/ DS-2019 form, you must notify your department and OISS of the new expected date of arrival. We might need to update your I-20/ DS-2019 or recommend supporting documentation in order for you to enter the country
Unlike many countries around the world, the United States does not have a nationalized healthcare system. This means that individuals are responsible to either pay for their own treatment out of pocket or purchase health insurance to help cover the cost of their medical bills. In addition, in the current healthcare environment in the United States, medical costs are perhaps the highest in the world. Universities in the United States have developed multi-tiered strategies to ensure the health of its students so that the overall university community is as health as can be and also so that students can maintain their own health as they pursue their academic endeavors.
Tulane University has a 3-tiered student health strategy:
- Requiring immunizations from all students
- Providing on-campus health and wellness services
- Requiring students to have appropriate student health insurance
Please take the time to read about this important topic. Many decisions should be made before you leave your country. If you have questions, contact us. We would be happy to point you in the right direction!
Overview of United States Health System Video
Before Classes Start
Registering for classes
As international students it is required that you are taking a full course load/satisfying the full-time student requirement. Most of you will have probably received an e-mail from your academic departments and advisors. It is important that you communicate with them in order to make sure that you are able to register for courses.
- Undergraduate Students - Visit the Advising Center for more information.
- Graduate Students - Contact your department directly.
- J-1 Exchange Students in the Business or Law School - Contact your department.
- Other J-1 Exchange Students - Contact Dolores Hemphill in the Advising Center.
Remember that you need to complete your immunizations before being able to successfully register for courses.
U.S. Classroom Culture
Your previous academic experience was in a culture you are familiar with. It is normal that there will be an adjustment to the academic styles at Tulane University.
Planning for Academic Success
Think about how you will work for academic success. Learn about resources to help you along the way.
Academic rules and expectations differ greatly among cultures. Learn more about academic integrity and your responsibility as a student in the Tulane community.
Make the most of your time at Tulane University and get involved outside of the classroom. In addition to relevant education, internships and job experiences, U.S. employers also value well-rounded students with extracurricular activities and leadership experiences. Getting involved can result in gaining transferable skills that you can use in your career field of interest.
What to Pack
- Copies of your immigration documents: Carry these items separate from your passport and original immigration documents (Passport, I-20/DS-2019, Visa).
- Letter of acceptance from Tulane: Keep it accessible in your carry-on in case the United States Customs and Border Patrol (USCBP) request to view it at your port of entry into the United States.
- Money: Bring enough accessible money (approximately U.S.$900)in cash, debit cards, or travelers checks for initial living expenses such as food, household items, and transportation. Please note that while traveler’s checks are a safer way to bring in money, they are hard to cash in shops and may need to be done in a bank. Textbooks are quite expensive in the U.S. Budget for U.S. $300 to $600 for books per semester after the initial semester. It is NOT recommended that you bring large sums of money with you in cash and you are not legally allowed to enter the U.S. with more than $10,000 in cash. If you do bring substantial amounts of money with you, we strongly recommend that you open a bank account as soon as possible for safe-keeping.
- Your driver's license/international driver's license: These can be used as alternative forms of ID. (Once you are settled in the U.S. and if you’re not planning on getting a local driver’s license, we do suggest you acquire and use a State ID so that you can keep your other personal documents somewhere safe.)
- Photographs, souvenirs, music, crafts, videos, picture books, recipes and clothing from your home country: You can use these items to share your culture with your friends and during campus festivals. Research what the weather in New Orleans is like throughout the year. Remember that you might be away from home for an extended period of time and it's always good to come prepared.
Protect Yourself from Scams
The United States Department of Homeland Security continues to see an increase in the number of scams targeting unsuspecting international students.
Scammers contact their targets in different ways, often by making threatening phone calls or leaving intimidating messages on social media. Students should be aware that a government agency would never contact them by telephone to demand immediate payment and would never request that the student wire money for immediate payment.
Transportation and Parking in New Orleans
There are various ways to move around New Orleans. The convenient Tulane Shuttles are free and take you to vital locations throughout the city. If you're not driving, the city is also quite accessible by bike, bus, and of course our signature streetcars!
New Orleans Visitor's Guide
There are few places in the U.S. with the same cultural and historical significance as New Orleans. As international students you will be living in the epicenter of incredible food, music, festivals, and various other forms of entertainment. During your time at Tulane, not only will you be working towards your academic goals, but you will also be discovering the many faces of this vital American city.
Being Safe in New Orleans
Like many places around the world, it is important to know how to be safe and also becoming acquainted with the different cultural norms around that. Tulane University has it's own Police Department (TUPD), and you will be getting information during your orientation and throughout your time at Tulane regarding this topic.
All incoming international students and scholars go through the orientation process in which we cover the topic of cultural adjustment. The information below has been used by the University of Texas and a few other universities, however it efficiently summarizes the process.
Living in a culture that is different from your own can be both an exciting adventure and a challenging process. Regardless of what country you are from, it is common for all international students to go through a period of cultural adjustment. Understanding this adjustment process and getting support through this transition will help you to have a more fulfilling experience, both academically and personally.
The values, social norms, and traditions in the U.S. may be very different from beliefs about "how things should be" in the country where you grew up. When individuals move to another culture, they naturally carry their own background and life experiences with them, and these shape how they perceive and adjust to their new environment. For example, some of you may find American classroom culture easy to adjust to, while others may struggle significantly in this area. "Culture shock" is a common experience that describes the feelings of confusion, stress and disorientation that occur when entering an unfamiliar culture. Keep in mind that not everyone has the same reactions to cultural adjustment and may experience the symptoms of culture shock in varying degrees, and at different times. Common reactions to culture shock include:
- Extreme homesickness
- Avoiding social situations
- Physical complaints and sleep difficulties
- Difficulty with coursework and inability to concentrate
- Becoming angry over minor irritations
- Significant nervousness or exhaustion
Strategies to help you cope with the adjustment process
- Culture is relative: Culture is relative, which explains why individuals from different cultures may perceive American norms differently. For some, the American communication style may seem too direct, while others may find it not direct enough. As an international student, you will be exposed to many new customs, habits and ideas. Try to avoid labeling them as "good" or "bad" according to the culture you are from. Remember that there may be parts of a culture you dislike or disapprove of, but these are part of a broader social system, and therefore make more sense inside that system.
- Be open-minded and curious: Adjusting to a new culture does not mean that you have to change your own values, but it is important to respect those of other people. When you find yourself in an unfamiliar situation, try to think of it as a new adventure. Allow yourself to be curious about the way things are perceived and done in this new environment.
- Use your observation skills: Since you will encounter unfamiliar rules and norms, observing how others are acting in situations can help you understand what behavior is expected of you. Pay attention to both the verbal and nonverbal communication of others in order to get a more complete picture of what is going on.
- Ask questions: Ask for help when you need it. Asking for assistance or an explanation does not have to be considered a sign of weakness. Understanding others and making yourself understood in a new language (or context) requires lots of rephrasing, repeating and clarification. It may be helpful to ask questions like "as I understand it you are saying... Is that correct?"
- It's ok to experience anxiety: Learning to function in a new environment is not easy. It is natural to feel anxious or frustrated sometimes. The key is to remind yourself that these feelings are normal and are likely to be situational and temporary.
- Give yourself (and others) permission to make mistakes: You will inevitably make mistakes as you explore a new culture. If you can find the humor in these situations and laugh at them, others will likely respond to you with friendliness and support. Keep in mind that others will probably make mistakes, too; when someone makes an inaccurate assumption or a generalized statement about your culture, it may be due to a lack of information. If you're comfortable with doing so, this can be an opportunity to share information with others about yourself and your culture.
- Take care of your physical health: Be mindful about keeping a healthy diet and getting enough exercise and rest. Try to find an activity that you enjoy and make it part of your routine. Being physically active can help reduce your stress level.
- Find a cultural ally: An American friend (or another international student who has been in the U.S. for several years) can be a great consultant on cultural expectations. When you have questions or need a second opinion on something, this person can help clarify confusions and provide support as you adjust to your new environment.
- Seek out support from other international students: Many international students find it helpful to discuss their concerns with others who are going through similar transitions. Talking with others about their adjustment to the new culture can provide ideas and insights about your own experience.
- Be patient: Don't try to understand everything immediately The process of adjusting to a new culture requires time. It may also require a different amount of time for different areas of adjustment. Try to encourage yourself to be patient with this experience and not be overly critical of yourself.
Adapting to a new culture is an ongoing process. It may be challenging at times, but most students who experience culture shock agree that going through this transition helped them to learn more about themselves and to develop greater confidence in their ability to navigate new situations. It can also lead to a renewed appreciation of one's own culture. There are many people in the university community who are available to provide you with support. Keep in mind that you do not have to struggle alone.
At the Start of the Semester
Traveling to the United States
For information about the documents needed to enter the United States in F or J status as well as information regarding your rights at the airport and the types of law enforcement officers you could encounter at the port of entry, click here.
Arriving in New Orleans
The New Orleans International Airport is located approximately 10 miles from Tulane. You can take a taxi or the airport shuttle to the university.
The airport shuttle costs $24.00, and tickets can be purchased by the door near the baggage claim exit. You can only take the airport shuttle to specific destinations, including Tulane and some hotels downtown. Taxis costs about $36.00 and are located outside the baggage claim area. Please note that it is customary to tip at least 10% to your taxi driver. Click here for more information.
Arriving at Tulane
- Submit Immunizations: If you have not already done so, please follow the instructions to submit your immunizations here: https://campushealth.tulane.edu/patient-portal/immunization-compliance. You will not be able to register or move onto campus until you complete this step!
- Get Your Tulane ID: Visit Campus Services in Room 107 of the LBC (Building #29) to get your Splash Card. Downtown students, please go to Tidewater Building, Room 802.
- Paying Your Tulane Tuition Bill: Your Gibson account shows your tuition, on-campus housing fees, dining plan fees, and other university fees. It allows electronic payment of university fees, and you can authorize parents or others to access the account and pay fees. In general, fees are due 30 days after they appear in your account. Learn More
- Open a Bank Account: It is recommended that you open a bank account because it is not safe to store cash in your apartment or residence hall. If you have checks, you will need to deposit them immediately so that they have time to “clear” (be verified by the U.S. bank) before you withdraw funds to pay your bills. Whitney Bank has a branch on campus, and CapitalOne, Chase, and other banks are available near campus.
- Photocopy and Safeguard Your Documents: Make copies of your passport, visa page, and I-20 or DS-2019 immediately and keep them in a safe place separate from the original documents. It is much easier to replace lost or stolen items if you have a copy of them.
- Emergency Planning: It is important to educate yourself about Tulane's emergency plans and to make a plan yourself in case of hurricane evacuation. Learn More
Moving into Residence Halls
Special Note for graduate students living in Deming.
Note: Before leaving your (home country) confirm you do have an apartment in the Deming Pavilion. Failure to confirm your accommodations may result in you showing up and not having an apartment ready for you.
Multi-Cultural Student Organizations
Tulane students have formed a variety of multi-cultural student organizations. A great way to adjust and get involved in campus life is by participating in these student organizations. Below are a few examples of such organizations.
- The Tulane International Society (TIS): TIS focuses on bringing an awareness of global affairs to Tulane's campus, especially relating to issues that affect women's lives around the world. They organize discussions, speakers, and culture-sharing events that touch on a multitude of interests and majors, including Public Health, Latin American Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies and International Development. In doing so, they strive to create friendships and connections between international students and the greater Tulane community. TIS ultimately serves as a forum for the exchange of culturally and intellectually stimulating ideas, discussions, and projects. For more information, email email@example.com.
- Indian Association of Tulane University (IATU): Spreading the culture, traditions, and arts of India at Tulane University.
- Queer Student Association (QSA): Formerly known as MOSAIC, the LGBTQA student organization seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQ students on campus.
- Muslim Students Association (MSA): MSA seeks to gather Muslim students in a variety of religious, social, and educational events, as well as to serve the student body and community at large. Our major events are: providing Iftaar dinners during Ramadaan, lunch meetings to educate the student body about Islam and its relevance to medicine, and an annual “Fast-a-thon” charity drive and banquet.
- Tulane African Students Association (TASA): Dedicated to spreading the culture and traditions of the many African cultures represented at Tulane.
- Tulane Chinese Student Association (TCSA): Opening a channel of communication for members (mostly Taiwanese), as well as play a meaningful and visible role among other organizations and clubs at Tulane
- Tulane Chinese Students & Scholars Association (TCSSA): Dedicated to broadening communication between the Tulane Chinese community and various other cultural, academic and professional communities in the greater New Orleans area
- Tulane University Vietnamese Association (TUVA): Committed to exposing and promoting the rich Vietnamese culture to the diverse community of Tulane
The OISS hosts a special orientation program designed to cover all of the information that you need to know as an international student, whether this is your first time in the U.S. or you have studied here already. The orientation also provides a wonderful opportunity for you to meet other international students and it is a great way for you to begin your Tulane experience.
During Orientation, you will have a chance to meet the OISS Orientation Leaders. These are international students at Tulane who have already gone through the adjustment process and currently study at Tulane. In addition to OISS staff, these students can help you transition to life at Tulane.
International Student Orientation is designed to help you:
- Adjust to academic and social life at Tulane:
- Comply with government regulations pertaining to your stay in the U.S.:
- Learning about on and off campus resources and support services;
- Learn how to navigate the campus;
- Become comfortable with the local community and U.S. culture; and
- Meet people from around the world.
Studies show the benefits of participating in orientation programs. Faculty members and advisors see a marked difference in the preparedness and success of students who have participated in orientation.
All international students must attend International Student Orientation.
Please plan accordingly and make sure you attend orientation and also note that you may also be required to attend other orientation sessions for your academic program. If this is the case, you will be notified by your academic program of the time and location.
You must check in upon arrival. Failure to check-in can result in the termination of your student status. To complete the check-in, you must complete the OISS Online Orientation including 3 mandatory quizzes. (More information above in the section titled OISS Online Orientation,) Read the information here to learn how to check-in after you arrive at Tulane.
If you have difficulties checking in, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 504-865-5208.
Meet Current International Students at Tulane
If you would like to be connected with a current Tulane international student, you can send an email to the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB): email@example.com. Learn more on the ISAB webpage.