Before You Arrive

Checklist for planning your arrival

We are so excited you've decided to join the DU community. International Student & Scholar Services is here for you as you prepare to move to Denver and begin your international education. On this page, you can explore checklists, resources, and tips for a smooth transition.

On this page:

Before You Leave

  • Visit the International Students' Webpage

    Well in advance of your departure, you'll want to spend some time exploring the international students' website. We offer a variety of information regarding what it's like to live in Denver and attend DU, which you may find useful as you prepare and pack for your trip.

  • Pay the SEVIS Fee

    All F-1 and J-1 applicants are required to pay the SEVIS fee. The SEVIS fee is used to operate and maintain the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.

    Learn More

  • Make appointment for US visa

    Make an appointment at a U.S. consular office or embassy to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa. 

    Citizens of Canada are exempt from this requirement. Citizens of Bermuda are typically exempt (see details).

  • Request copies of your immunization records

    You'll need to prove that you've received the required vaccinations and immunizations in order to attend DU.

    Learn More

  • Speak to your doctor

    You need to ensure that you have treatment set up for any conditions that will require management while you are in the U.S. Speak to your doctor to make a plan.

  • Secure Housing

    There is a range of housing options in Denver. Whether you're going to be living on campus or securing housing elsewhere, you need to ensure your living situation is confirmed before you leave your home country.

    Learn More

  • Book Airline Ticket to the U.S.

    The Denver International Airport is the closest airport to DU. However, you can enter the U.S. via any U.S. port of entry. Denver International Airport does not need to be your first stop in the U.S.

    You must arrive in the United States no later than the program start date listed on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. We strongly recommend you arrive several days early so you can settle into Denver and attend International Student Orientation.

    You may enter no more than 30 days before the program start date printed on the I-20 or DS-2019. On Form I-20 page 1, the Program of Study section lists the Earliest Admission Date.

    NOTE: Students who have an I-20 with the Form Issuance Reasons of Transfer Pending or Change of Educational Level are not subject to the 30-day rule and will not have an Earliest Admission Date listed on the I-20.

  • Arrange Transportation From Airport

    You'll need a ride from the airport to your housing when you get to Denver. Taxis, ride-shares, and public transportation are all viable options.

    Learn More

Travel to Denver and Arrival

  • Keep Your Immigration Documents With You

    Keep your immigration documents (passport, U.S. visa, I-20/DS-2019, SEVIS I-901 Fee payment receipt) with you while traveling. 

    Do not place your immigration documents in checked baggage. You will need to present these documents at the U.S. Port of Entry before you will have access to your checked bags. 

  • Report Your Arrival

    Report your arrival in the United States to ISSS.

    Students who are new or who are returning to the University of Denver will need to complete the Immigration Check In. NOTE that this process cannot be completed until AFTER you arrive in the United States.

    You can access the instructions and submit the request through the ISSS Portal. Once logged in, go to the Control Center tab and click on the Check-In request.

    You will need to login in with your DU ID (87xxxxxxx) and password. The login credentials are the same ones that you use when you check your DU email or access MyDU.

Your Stuff

  • What to Bring

    When you pack, make sure you have the following items in your carry-on baggage or personal items:

    • All immigration documents that you will present at the Port of Entry.
    • Basic toiletries and any medications.
    • Food or snacks to have until you can purchase them from a dining hall or grocery store
    • A credit card that will work in the US, or at least $250 USD in cash. This is to get you through the first few days until you can open a bank account. Note that bring more than $10,000 into the U.S. must be declared at the Port of Entry.


    In addition to the items listed above, we recommend that you pack the following items or purchase shortly after arrival:

    • Clothing appropriate for the time of year (Average temperatures)
    • Sunscreen (we have 300 days of sunshine!)
    • Water bottle (Denver is a high-altitude city)
    • Comfortable walking shoes

    The University of Denver does not provide the following items. You may want to consider buying them after you arrive:

    • Bedding (sheets, blankets, pillows)
    • Towels
    • Cleaning supplies
    • Dishes & cooking supplies
    • School supplies
    • Television, microwave, extension cords, & other electronics

    If you will be living on-campus, please review the What to Bring page from Housing & Residential Education.

  • Mailing Services

    If you are shipping items to Denver, make arrangements with a local shipping or storage company, or a trusted acquaintance already in Denver. Be sure to use a reliable carrier service (such as FedEx, UPS or DHL) that will ensure proper customs clearance and allow you to track the shipment. You should also consider purchasing insurance protection for your package, in case it is lost or damaged during transit.

    The International House is unable to store boxes or other items for students prior to arrival or over the summer because we do not have sufficient locked storage in our building.

What to Expect on Arrival

To legally enter the United States, you must pass through a Port of Entry. Typically, this will be at the first airport you arrive at in the U.S.

At the Port of Entry, a Customs and Border Protection officer will review your documents to admit you to the United States. Below is an image of the stamp that will be placed in your passport.

Once you have been allowed entry into the United States, review your immigration documents. If you notice any errors, notify an immigration officer immediately. Once you leave the Port of Entry, it can be difficult to correct errors on your documents.

Important Note: With a new emphasis on screening at the Port of Entry, your electronic devices (phone, tablets, computers) may be searched and you may be asked sensitive questions.

Please refer to American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Know Your Rights. Please also reach out to ISSS with any questions.

Documents You'll Need

  • Be prepared to present the following documents at the Port of Entry:
  • Passport
  • U.S. visa (unless visa exempt)
  • Original I-20 or DS-2019
  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt printout
  • University of Denver admission letter
  • Financial documentation used to obtain I-20 or DS-2019
  • Customs Declaration Form (this will be issued to you on the airplane by a flight attendant)

It is very important that you keep these documents in a secure location while traveling, such as your personal or carry-on bag. Do not place any personal documents in your checked luggage.