Requirements for International Students

International students must demonstrate English proficiency, possess a valid visa, and be enrolled in the Major Medical Hospitalization/Surgicial Insurance Plan approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR).  Find more information below.

English Proficiency Requirements
Visa Requirements
Health Insurance Requirements
Financial Documents

English Proficiency Requirements

All international applicants must provide evidence of English proficiency, with the exception of applicants from countries where English is the native language. 


Visa Requirements Start Early!

International students must attend the college or university specified on their visa or they may be refused admittance to the United States. Prospective students must not enter the United States on B-1 or B-2 visitor's visa, as the Immigration and Naturalization Service will not approve a change to F-1 or J-1 student status. Prospective international students must not, under any circumstances, enter the United States on a WT visa if they are planning to become a full-time student. The WT visa status cannot be changed, under any circumstances, once you are in the United States. A student entering the United States for study must maintain his or her F-1 or J-1 status. More information is available at the Ivanhoe International Center. Please be aware that it is now taking up to two months to have the visa approved. There are a number of security checks required before the visa will be approved, and this process is time-consuming.

Where to apply:  In order to apply for a visa, you must go to the US embassy or the US consulate nearest to you. Be sure to take all pertinent documents for your visa interview, including the I-20 or DS-2019 form, financial documentation, a valid passport, proof of a permanent residence outside the US, one or more passport type photos, and a nonimmigrant visa application. Each consular post may have slightly different requirements for the visa application. Check with the office where you plan to apply prior to your application & interview.  It may be helpful to visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

Deadlines: The deadline for application for undergraduate students is at least ninety days prior to the beginning of the term for which admission is desired; for graduate students, the deadline for fall is April 1, and the deadline for spring is September 1. Please be advised that recent events will affect the visa process and the length of time necessary to obtain a visa. Be thoroughly prepared when applying. Also, you may not enter the US more than thirty days before the start date on the I-20 form.

Applying for a Visa:  Once you have received the I-20 or DS-2019 form, you should start making arrangements to apply for the F-1 or J-1 visa. You will need to register in the SEVIS system in order to apply for the visa. Instructions are available at https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.jsp. There is a fee to register, and as of October 27, 2008, that fee is $200. The fee is payable to the US government, NOT our university.  We STRONGLY encourage you to visit an EducationUSA (http://educationusa.state.gov) office in your country or region. They will help you through the process of applying for a visa. This web site will help you find an office near you. You may also visit the US embassy or consulate web site for help with the visa application process. To find the embassy or consulate nearest to you, please visit this web site: http://www.usembassy.gov/


Health Insurance Requirements

All international students and dependents are required to enroll in the major medical hospitalization/surgical insurance plan approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR). No outside insurance policies will be accepted as substitutes for the SDBOR policy. The only exception to this rule is if you are covered by your government's insurance. Documentation of this is necessary. If any of your dependents are with you here in the United States, it is required that you purchase insurance coverage for them also. Again, the only acceptable policy for you and your dependents is the SDBOR policy. Questions about health insurance should be directed to the Ivanhoe International Center.  Medical costs in the US are very high; any hospitalization or surgery or major medical problem could lead to the curtailment of your study and stay in the US. Contact the Ivanhoe International Center for more information

SDBOR Health Plan  |   Health Plan Enrollment  |  SDBOR Policy (.pdf)  


Financial Documentation

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) requires that US colleges or universities must establish that a student is able to pay all educational and incidental expenses BEFORE issuing the I-20 form. International students applying for admissions can find more information on the financial documents needed to satisfy this requirement here.