• Pre-Arrival

International Student Services

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  • Pre-Arrival

    For an international student to study at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM), there are a variety of special requirements to fulfill that need careful attention prior to arriving on campus. Please read the information below that includes the necessary steps to follow to become an MSUM student. Please note: Due to immigration reasons you can only arrive 30-days prior to your start date listed on your I-20 or DS2019. Please do not enter the US under F-1 visa before 30-days of your start date. If you have questions regarding your arrival, please email International Student Services We look forward to meeting you this semester. Good luck and bon voyage!

  • Visa

    Visa is an entry permit that allows you to enter the U.S. You will receive a U.S. visa valid for 1-5 years. Your visa can expire as long as your immigration document (i.e. I-20/DS-2019) is valid. You will need to consult your country's local U.S. Embassy for more information on how to apply for a U.S. F-1/J-1 visa. Visa application times may vary from country to country. Please consult your local embassy ahead of time for your visa application. If you are in the process of obtaining your F-1 or J-1 visa, the following websites maybe of help to you as you prepare for your visit to the U.S.Embassy/Consulate:

    U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions
    U.S. Department of State

    SEVIS Fee

    Those who wish to enter the United States either as a student or an exchange visitor with a Form I-20 or DS-2019 must pay the SEVIS fee of $180 (for J-1) and $200 (for F-1) before you visit the U.S. consular for an interview. Spouses and dependents of F-1/J-1 (F-2/J-2) will not pay this fee. Please visit the SEVIS website for more information. To learn more about the SEVIS fee or to submit your payment of the SEVIS fee, please visit the SEVIS I-901 fee processing website.

    Entering the U.S.

    The visa issued by the consulate does not guarantee entry to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has authority to deny admissions at the port of entry, therefore, please have all your documents in order when you arrive to the U.S. Prior departing from the airplane, the flight attendant will pass out a customs document. You will need to fill-out all the pertinent information regarding your arrival and items you are bringing in to the U.S. At the port of entry, a DHS/CBP officer inspector will review your documents ask few questions and then stamp your passport with the  location and non-immigrant classification and the length of your stay in the U.S. Once you have arrived to MSUM during orientation we will print a document called "I-94". The document will be printed only one time and you must keep that document I-94 once you arrive to MSUM. Keep all of these documents in a safe place!

    Important Information:

    • Canadian students do not need visa stamps to enter the U.S., but they must present the Form I-20 or DS-2019 at the port of entry to be properly classified as a non-immigrant student status.
    • Students who are eligible to enter the U.S. under the visa waiver program should not choose this travel option. Please apply for the appropriate student visa.
    • Students are not allowed to enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the start date of their I-20 or DS-2019.

    Students Already in the U.S.

    If you are a student who is already in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, you will need to have your documents processed by International Student Services upon your arrival at Minnesota State University Moorhead. If you are J-1 and you want to transfer or change to F-1, please contact International Student Services at MSUM and your current institution international student adviser. For F-1 students: Once you are admitted to MSUM, you will need to contact your current institution's international student office and request them to release your SEVIS information to MSUM. This is an easy process. We will hold your I-20 until you arrive at MSUM. If you are planning to leave the U.S. before arriving at MSUM, you need to arrive to the U.S. with MSUM's I-20. In this case, please plan your travel and admissions accordingly. For more information, contact International Student Services.

    U.S. Customs

    On the airplane you will be given a white card (I-94) and a U.S. Custom Declaration Form to complete before you land at your first U.S. destination. This is a customs card to complete and submit saying what you have in your luggage. After you go through the immigration/documentation inspection (Port of Entry) you will need to collect your luggage. Even though your luggage will go to the final destination, you will need to pull your luggage and go through customs. You will then take your luggage and the Custom Declaration Form to a U.S. Customs Officer. You will be asked to declare to a U.S. Customs Inspector what you have brought into the U.S. You may have to open your luggage to Customs Officers before it goes through the scanning machines. Customs Officers will also ask from you verbally what you have in your luggage. You can bring in anything for your personal use without paying duty. Quantity limitations are placed on alcoholic beverages (must be over 21 and 1 liter), Cigarettes (1 carton), Cigars (100) and smoking tobacco (2 kilograms). A total of $400 worth of gifts may be brought in duty free every six months. Any value over $400 will be assessed duty. Please visit the Customs and Border Protection website for more information.

    Any amount of money may be brought into the U.S. without paying duty, however, you must declare any amount over $10,000. Certain articles may not be brought into the U.S. including meats, vegetables, lottery tickets, drugs without a prescription, articles made from endangered species, pornographic materials, copy written DVDs/CDs and switchable knives. Food items that are canned or otherwise processed or sealed food are acceptable. For more information contact your local U.S. Consular or visit the Customs Clearing at CBP website.

    Arriving at Fargo-Moorhead

    Minnesota State University Moorhead is easily accessible from Hector International Airport (Airport Code: FAR) located in Fargo, North Dakota. This airport is 5 miles away from MSUM. If you fly into Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (Airport Code: MSP), please note that you have another 4-6 hour bus or car drive to Moorhead or a 45 minute airplane ride to reach Moorhead. Taxis from Hector International Airport to MSUM are about $25-$30. Doyle Cab has a free phone located in front of the public phones. Just pick the receiver and tell them you need a taxi. Be sure to inform the driver that you want to go to Moorhead via town (this is much cheaper than taking the freeway).

    Transportation assistance is also available through International Student Services to pick you up from the Fargo Hector International Airport or the bus/train station in Fargo, North Dakota. You must provide complete arrival information at least 24 hours prior to your departure from your home country. Please fill out the arrival form as soon as you confirm your airline ticket. Our airport pick-up phone number is 218.790.1325. Free rides are only available during specific time frames.

    If you are living on-campus and if you are checking in to your dorm room early, please email Housing and Residential Life Department.  You will be charged a $15 per night from the day you check-in to your dorm until the move-in day of the semester. The early move-in charged will be added to your semester bill. Remember, you have to sign the housing and residential life contract and pay the $150 deposit in order to check-in to the dorm.

    Local Hotels/Motels

    If you have not made housing arrangements prior to your departure, there are few hotels and motels close to MSUM. You can inquire if the hotels and motels have special discounts for international students and their families. Below are a few local hotel/motels. Remember to mention that you are a MSUM student/family:

    Red River Inn
    $65 per night

    Super 8 Motel
    $65 per night

    Motel 7
    $65 per night


    Courtyard Marriott

    $120-130 per night
    Please note: Prices may change without notice. Please call ahead and make your reservations to reserve your room.

    The above listed hotels/motels are the ones closest to MSUM. You can select hotels/motels in Fargo, ND as well.

    On-Campus Housing

    Please note: As of Fall 2015 all freshman students (including international) students are REQUIRED to live on-campus. The Spring 2016 housing move-in date is Friday January 8th at 12:00pm. However since you are an international student you are required to attend mandatory international student orientation from January 4th- January 8th, which means you will be moving in to your assigned on-campus room assignment before Friday, January 8th at 12:00 pm housing move-in day. All international students with an on-campus housing contract will be able to move-in early for %15 per night on Friday January 8th at 12:00pm. Early move-in option is only available to students who made housing arrangements (application and deposit) prior to their arrival to MSUM. For those of you planning to live on-campus, please contact Housing and Residential Life Department to make arrangements for you to check-in to your housing assignment earlier than the move-in date. You cannot live on campus temporarily and decide to cancel the contract. In order to reserve your on-campus housing room assignment you need to submit the housing application, housing contract and the $150 deposit. For more information visit the Housing and Residential Life website.


    Off-Campus Housing

    All freshman (1st year) International students are  required to live on-campus.  If you are a U.S. transfer If you wish to live off-campus you are more than welcome to do so. MSUM is not responsible for finding off-campus accommodations for our international students. We will help you in providing you with resources on how to find off-campus housing. We strongly encourage students to secure off-campus housing before arriving to Fargo-Moorhead. Renting an apartment can be difficult if you plan to do so while living abroad. You will be required to sign a contract and pay a deposit before you are able to move-in. You may be able to make special arrangements with the landlord if you contact them directly. If you do not find off-campus housing before you arrive, you will need to check-in to a local hotel/motel until you find housing. Below are a few resources:


    Goldmark Property Management

     Apartment Finder

     Apartment List


    Starter Pack Programs

    MSUM International Student Services (ISS) offers a program called the "Starter Pack Program" for our new international students. We know when you are traveling it is very hard to pack everything and limit to one or two suitcases. However, we offer this program to make you feel less stressed when packing. If you wish, ISS can purchase certain necessary items for you before you arrive at MSUM. This way you will have more space in your suitcases to bring other necessary items, and once you arrive at MSUM you do not have to worry about not having a pillow or blanket, and not worry about doing your shopping right after you arrive after a very long and tiring journey. You can complete the Starter Pack Form online. If you would like a Starter Pack, please email to our ISS email address to confirm your order.

    Money and Payments

    All  international students must make sure the financial arrangements are met before departing your home country. MSUM cannot and does not assume financial responsibilities for international students and their families. While in the U.S., you are responsible for all financial obligations: tuition, health insurance, books, rent, telephone bills, credit card expenses, food, shelter etc., and for all the bills owed to MSUM. This is a serious matter and it is critically important that you maintain your financial matters accordingly, as you will not be able to register or continue courses at MSUM until your MSUM bill is paid in full. All new entering international students must pay approximately $1,800 to MSUM before course registration date (orientation date). This amount will cover the mandatory health insurance (August 2016 - August 2017), International student fee  and pre-registration  to save your classes. Once you pay the first $1,800 you can enter into a payment plan from MSUM Business Office.

    It is recommended that you have immediate access to at least $5,000 in cashier's or traveler's checks or credit card to cover part of your first semester's immediate expenses at MSUM.
    If you wish to deposit your money at the MUSM Business Office, the check must be made payable to "Minnesota State University Moorhead". We do not encourage students to carry large sums of cash. You can also contact the international office to receive information on how wire the funds directly to MSUM. This option is available only if you have received your US visa to MSUM. Prior to visiting your bank for funds, please check your I-20 and the orientation page for the actual total cost and payment deadlines for the semester.

    Below are additional recommendations:

    • Have travelers checks to cover immediate expenses (books, rent, food, clothes, etc.) 
    • Bring U.S. currency in small denominations. Approximately a $100-$500 (in $10, $20, $50) 
    • Purchase a money belt or a neck pouch to carry your valuables like your passport, I-20/DS-2019, cash, checks and credit cards 

    Math/English Placement Test

    Math placement test is mandatory for all international students. You will not be able to register for math courses without taking the math placement test. International Student Services has certain dates reserved for international students to take the math placement test. Please check the orientation schedule for the math placement test. If you have scored 460 or above for the Math section for your SATs, the Math Placement Test will be waived for you. If you score 430 of better for SAT verbal, then English Placement Test will be waived for you. You must bring an official copy of your SAT score report if you did not submit to ISS. Until we have an official SAT report, we are unable to waive the MATH and/or ENGLISH placement test. All freshman international students will take the English placement test. Please check the orientation schedule for more information.

    All international students will take the English Placement Test. Students exempt from English Math Placement Test ( U.S. transfer students who completed English composition).

    Immunization Record

    It is important that you provide immunization records. Please complete the immunization form online or you can submit a paper copy during orientation. The username is your Dragon ID and your password is your date of birth in YYMMDD format. It is compulsory that you provide the following vaccinations: Diphtheria & Tetanus, Measles (rubella, red measles), Mumps, Rubella (German measles). Complete all that applies to you and make sure you have supporting documents when you arrive at MSUM.

    Immunization Form

    All students must complete the immunization form during orientation or prior to your arrival. Please visit the Hendrix Clinic and Counseling Center to access the appropriate forms and to see a sample of a completed immunization form to understand how to complete the form.

    Mandatory Health Screening Test

    All international students MUST participate the mandatory health screening test. The health screening test will be administered during the mandatory International Student Orientation. Following the health screening test, a TB test will be made required or optional for students depending on the the results of your health screening test. During Orientation you will be provided all the necessary information. All students (new and transfer) must participate in the Health Screening Test. If you have done medical tests in your home country please bring supporting documents/doctors notes/chest X-rays for MSUM nurses to check. International Student Services and staff will not determine to waive the Health Screening Test. Hendrix Health Center will determine to waive your Health Screening Test and possible other requirements.

    This is mandatory. If you do not complete the entire Health Screening Test process, a hold will placed from Hendrix Health Center preventing from future course registrations. For more information on the Health Screening Test,  please visit MN Health Department website.


    Fargo-Moorhead will go through weather extremes during summer and winter. The summer months of June through September can be very warm and humid with temperatures between 20-40 C. The average summer temperature is 36 C, but the humidity can be very high. During winter times November through March the weather can go from -10 C to -20 C. It gets extremely cold. The most difficult cold months are December, January and February.


    We strongly recommend that students bring clothes for all the four seasons here in Fargo-Moorhead. You will need warm jackets, mittens, scarves, hats, thick socks, ear mittens, insulated coats or jackets with many layers (sweater inside), boots, thermal underwear, etc. And during summer times you should bring shorts, cotton shirts, vests, slippers, t-shirts, etc. We also recommend that you bring a rain coat, rubber boots and a spring jacket (light jacket) as well. You can also buy clothes once you arrive.

    Late Arrival

    International students are required to arrive to MSUM on the date listed on your I-20/DS-2019. International students are required to attend the mandatory International Student Orientation. If your arrival date is going to be later than is listed on your I-20/DS-2019 you may need a permissions letter from MSUM to enter the U.S. If you are arriving late (i.e. delay of visa, flight delays, airline busy schedules) please check with International Student Services and request a letter to arrive late (via email) for your records. When you arrive make sure you have the late arrival letter with you at all times.

    We recommend that all of our new arriving international students print this webpage and bring along with them when traveling. The pre-arrival handout contains lots of important information. Also remember MSUM International Student Services airport pick-up/orientation phone number 218.790.1325.