Graduate RECORD
International Students
Division of Student Affairs  |  Additional Student Services  |  International Student Admission
International Student and Scholars Program  |  Summer Session
Download PDF — Student Services, International Students, and Summer Session


International Student Admission



Since 1826 when the first international student was enrolled, the University of Virginia has accepted among its responsibilities a commitment to providing opportunities to citizens from other areas of the world to study, teach, and share the atmosphere of Jeffersonian freedom. The University considers the admission of qualified students from other countries a part of its educational program. International students enhance the life of the University and contribute to the education and personal growth of American students and faculty.

Language Requirement In addition to meeting the admission requirements outlined in previous sections, international students must have an outstanding command of the English language in order to enroll at the University. In general, it does not conduct classes and exams in languages other than English; and it does not accept papers submitted in a non-English language. For this reason, applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate their English proficiency on the application for admission by submitting an acceptable score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. A score may not be more than two years old. Most admitted students attain a total score of at least 600 on the PBT TOEFL, 250 on the CBT TOEFL, or 7.0 on the IELTS. The University expects individuals who take the new iBT TOEFL to earn a score of at least 22 in writing, 22 in speaking, 23 in reading, and 23 in listening (total score: 90). Some schools and departments may require higher scores for admission. A TOEFL or IELTS exam score is required of all applicants if the language first learned and spoken in the home is not English. This is true regardless of the number of years of instruction in English or if English is the “official” language of the applicant’s home country.

In addition to the TOEFL or IELTS exam, successful applicants whose first or native language is not English must take the University of Virginia English Proficiency Exam soon after arriving at the University. The test is administered to new students just before classes begin, and results are used to determine whether supplemental classes in one or more language skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) is advisable. This test is required of all non-native speakers of English, regardless of their TOEFL or IELTS score or previous experience using English. The University offers an intensive English for Academic Purposes program in the summer for incoming international students, scholars, and research associates. For information contact the Center for American English Language and Culture, (434) 924 6552 or caelc@virginia.edu.

All prospective graduate teaching assistants whose first language is one other than English are required to take the SPEAK Test. A score of at least 55 is generally required for permission to begin teaching without oral language training. The SPEAK Test is administered in August, December, and May. Candidates for the test are identified by their department. Information about the SPEAK Test is available at www.virginia.edu/provost/caelc.

Visa Information The U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has authorized the University of Virginia to issue visa documents appropriate for the F-1 (student) and J-1 (exchange visitor) non-immigrant status. Following academic admission to a University degree program, the International Studies Office reviews the language, financial, and visa qualifications of the applicant. If all documentation is in order, and if the applicant is offered admission, a "Certificate of Eligibility" (I-20 or DS-2019) is issued to the prospective student. In order to request a visa to apply for entry into the United States as a student, this document must be submitted to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, along with a passport and other indications of purpose while in the United States. The University does not issue a Certificate of Eligibility for part-time study, or continuing and professional studies courses. Admitted students may email the Office of International Studies Office at issp@virginia.edu.

Most students enter the United States using an F-1 visa. The J-1 visa is appropriate for students receiving a significant portion of their financial support from a government agency or international foundation. Students in the United States on F-1 and J-1 status must maintain full-time student status during the fall and spring semesters. They must attend, for at least one semester, the institution that issued the Certificate of Eligibility used to apply for entry into the United States. A prospective international student must have an appropriate, current, valid, and legal non-immigrant status before he or she will be offered final admission to the University of Virginia.

International students should not enter the United States on the tourist visa, B-2 visa, or visa waiver program. Transfer from one visa type to another while in the United States is not always possible. Students should always consult with a U.S. consular officer in their home country for the most current information on visa regulations. Only those international students who are maintaining valid and lawful status in the U.S. which permits full-time study at a college or university will be permitted to enroll at the University of Virginia.

All non-immigrant visas carry restrictions about employment and length of stay in the United States. Students are advised to carefully understand their particular status. Students must be willing and able to abide by the regulations for the visa status they accept. USCIS visa regulations are subject to frequent change and re-interpretation by Service personnel. It is the foreign national’s duty to keep him or herself informed of all current visa regulations and to maintain valid status according to USCIS regulations.

Tuition/Fees Non-immigrant students pay the out-of-state full tuition rate (estimated at $21,500 for the 2005-2006 academic year).

Living Expenses The estimated cost for housing, food, books and supplies, and health and personal items is $1,000 per month for a single student. This does not include travel expenses to and from the United States, tourist excursions, furniture, or luxury items, such as automobiles and computer equipment. Basic expenses for the support of dependents (husband/wife/children) living in Charlottesville are additional.

Financial Certification Eligibility for a student or exchange visitor visa requires that the applicant demonstrate sufficient financial resources for a full course of study. The minimum required by the University of Virginia is $31,000 for 2005-2006. An additional $7,000 for spouse and $4,000 for each child is necessary if students wish to bring dependents to Charlottesville. The International Studies Office requires an acceptable financial guarantee prior to issuing the "Certificate of Eligibility." While the established minimum is considered sufficient for a basic, comfortable existence, it may not be adequate to maintain the lifestyle to which a student is accustomed.

Financial Assistance Financial awards are not furnished to undergraduates. If students must have full financial support to study abroad, they should investigate the possibility of awards offered through home governments, international foundations, and other sources. U.S.I.S. libraries and bi-national commissions in various countries can sometimes offer suggestions. Graduate students are eligible for research and teaching assistantships, as well as meritorious fellowships, through their departments. These awards are competitive.

Transfer of Funds The transfer of funds from the student’s home country to the United States may be governed by restrictions. The applicant must be fully informed of the local regulations and process for transfer. Since there may be a considerable delay in the process of transfer, early planning is vital. University expenses must be paid at the beginning of each semester. To avoid unnecessary problems, students are advised to bring sufficient funds with them to pay for tuition, housing, and medical insurance on arrival. This may amount to several thousand dollars and should be in the form of traveler’s or cashier’s checks in U.S. currency. Students must also open an account with a local bank in Charlottesville in order to accept transferred funds from home.

Employment The University of Virginia cannot admit an international student who is unable to show evidence of adequate financial support. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the U.S. government restricts the employment of non-immigrant students and scholars. Work without prior USCIS authorization is prohibited and may carry severe penalties. F-2 dependents are neither eligible to request permission to work nor to accept employment of any kind.

Family Considerations Due to the high cost of living in Charlottesville, students wishing to bring their dependent families must give thorough consideration to the added expense. Because dependents are not generally permitted to accept employment, students may find that they cannot support a family while studying at the University. In many cases, students must be prepared to leave their families at home.

Health Care and Insurance Medical care in the United States is very expensive and paid for privately. To protect against a possible medical debt arising from the need for emergency or sustained medical treatment, all students are required to purchase a basic accident and sickness hospitalization insurance plan. The yearly cost for a single student is about $1,600 and does not cover regular eye and dental care or routine physical examinations and office visits. Family coverage is more expensive but is strongly recommended. Insurance may be purchased either in Charlottesville or in the student’s home country.

University students who are enrolled full time may use the out-patient medical facilities of the University’s Student Health department free of charge. Family members are not eligible to participate. The University Hospital is located conveniently on the Grounds, and has extensive emergency facilities as well as private physicians and clinics for specialists and routine family care.

English as a Second Language

The Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC) provides an array of services to help members of the University of Virginia community attain the level of linguistic and cultural proficiency needed for success at a research university in the United States. CAELC offers a number of ESL courses free of charge to students who have matriculated in a degree program at UVa. Visiting scholars and research associates may enroll in CAELC classes as space allows. Completion of the University of Virginia English Language Proficiency Exam must precede placement in any CAELC class. Individuals can take the exam at the beginning of each semester and by appointment throughout the year. CAELC also administers the SPEAK Test in August, December, and May. The SPEAK Test is used to assess the oral proficiency of prospective graduate teaching assistants whose native language is not English. CAELC offers several courses designed to help prospective teaching assistants develop the communication skills needed for teaching in a U.S. college or university. CAELC offers an intensive English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program through the University’s Summer Language Institute, mid-July through mid-August. The EAP program is for entering students and research associates. CAELC endorses the NAFSA Principles of International Educational Exchange and the TESOL Standards for Post Secondary Programs. Information on testing, classes, and other services is available at www.virginia.edu/provost/caelc, caelc@virginia.edu, or (434) 924-924-3371.


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