13: Student Affairs and Student Services

Student Affairs | Student Services | International Student Admission

International Student Admission

Since 1826 when the first international student was enrolled, the University of Virginia has accepted among its responsibilities a commitment to international students by 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 members.

Language Requirement In addition to meeting the admission requirements outlined in the previous sections, international students must have an outstanding command of the English language in order to enroll at the University. Since the University does not have a program of intensive English language study, and since English is the language of instruction for most classes and exams, and written papers must be submitted in English, applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate their proficiency in English. A score, not more than two years old, on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), must be submitted as part of the application for admission. Most admitted students score at least 600. The TOEFL exam 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 exam, successful applicants whose first or native language is not English must take the Virginia English Proficiency Exam soon after their arrival at the University. This test is administered to new students during the first week of classes. Test results are used to determine whether or not supplemental classes in one or more of the language skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) is advisable for the student's academic program. This test is required of all non-native speakers of English, regardless of their TOEFL score or their previous experience using English.

Visa Information The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) 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 Office of International Student and Scholar Programs reviews the language, financial, and visa qualifications of the applicant. If all documentation is in order, and if the applicant so requests, a "Certificate of Eligibility" (I-20 or IAP-66) is issued to the prospective 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, to request a visa to apply for entry to the United States as a student. The University does not issue a Certificate of Eligibility for part-time study, English language study, or Continuing Education courses.

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 which 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/she can be offered final admission to the University of Virginia.

International students should not plan to enter the United States on the tourist, B-2 visa, or visa waiver program if they wish to pursue a full course of academic study. Transfer from one visa type to another while in the United States is not always possible. If visa documents are delayed by the postal service, it may be possible to obtain a B-2, Prospective Student visa. Students always should consult with a U.S. consular officer in the home country for the most current information on visa regulations.

All non-immigrant visas carry restrictions about employment and length of stay in the United States. Read carefully the Certificate of Eligibility before accepting a particular status. Students must be willing and able to abide by the regulations for the visa status they accept. INS 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 be responsible for maintaining valid status according to INS regulations.

Tuition/Fees Non-immigrant students pay the out-of-state full tuition rate (estimated at $14,406) for the 1997-98 academic year. Tuition is higher for Darden, Law, and Medical students.

Living Expenses The estimated cost for housing, food, books and supplies, health and personal items, etc., is $600 per month for a single student. This does not include expenses of travel to and from the United States, tourist excursions, furniture, or luxury items such as automobiles and stereo 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. The minimum required by the University of Virginia is $22,500 for 1997-98. An additional $6,000 for spouse and $3,000 for each child is necessary if you wish to bring dependents to Charlottesville. The Office of International Student and Scholar Programs requires an acceptable financial guarantee prior to issuing the "Certificate of Eligibility." Note that the established minimum may not be adequate to maintain the lifestyle to which you are accustomed; however, it is considered sufficient for a basic, comfortable existence.

Financial Assistance Financial awards are not made to undergraduates. International students cannot accept part-time employment off campus during the first year of study. If students must have full financial support to study abroad, they should investigate the posibility 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 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 trouble, bring sufficient ready funds with you on arrival to pay tuition, housing, and medical insurance. This may amount to several thousand dollars. Bring traveler or cashier's checks in U.S. currency. You need to open an account with a local bank in Charlottesville 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 Immigration and Naturalization Service of the U.S. government restricts the employment of non-immigrant students and scholars. Work without prior INS authorization is prohibited and may carry severe penalties. F-2 dependents are not 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 spouse and children must give thorough consideration to the added expense. Dependents are not generally permitted to accept employment. Because of this, students may find that they cannot support a family while studying at the University, and must be prepared to leave the family in the home country.

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 $650. Family coverage is more expensive, but is strongly recommended. Insurance can be purchased in Charlottesville or in your home country. It does not pay for regular eye and dental care, nor for routine physical examinations and office visits.

University students, who are enrolled and are paying either full or partial required fees, can use the out-patient medical facilities of the University's Student Health office 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 (ESL) Programs At the present time the University of Virginia does not have an intensive English program for non-native speakers. However, non-credit supplementary courses in advanced writing and oral work are offered to assist students who are registered full-time in University programs and who want additional help with their English. Some international students may be required to attend these courses in addition to their regular classes. Further information may be obtained by contacting Professor Marion Ross, Director of Programs in English as a Second Language, 303 Brooks Hall, P.O. Box 9024, Charlottesville, VA 22906-9024.

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