I have been accepted to Towson University. How can I check to see if my I-20 is ready?
We recommend that you email our office at : email@example.com to check if your I-20 is ready rather than telephoning. Please be sure to include your Towson University ID number in any communication with our office.
What is the SEVIS fee (I-901) and do I need to pay for it?
The SEVIS fee is a U.S. Government fee that supports the operation of the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In order to pay the SEVIS fee you will need to have your SEVIS ID Number and Towson University’s school code. Both are printed on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. You will also need to have Towson University’s school code to pay your SEVIS. TU’s school code is for F-1 status and for J-1 status. Read more about the SEVIS fee.
I applied for my visa and was denied. Can you help me in any way?
Obtaining a visa to come study in the U.S. can be challenging, but we ask you not to be discouraged. Many students try more than once to get a visa, and many are successful in their subsequent attempts. If you receive a denial, you should request a letter in writing from the consulate prior to leaving.
In most cases, prospective students are denied a visa due to failure to demonstrate intent to return to their home county to the satisfaction of the consulate. Consular officers assume that all non-immigrant applicants intend to immigrate and the burden of proof falls to the applicant. Therefore, you must prove beyond doubt that you have strong ties to your home country and intend to return upon the completion of your studies. Unfortunately, the ISSO cannot do anything to help in this regard, as we cannot certify your future plans or intentions. We recommend that you try again to get your visa, and that you provide as much documentation as possible to prove your intention to return to your home country once you complete your studies at Towson University. Anything that you can provide that shows continuing family, educational, vocational, or related ties to your home country will be helpful. For example, if you have any evidence of a job that you will be returning to once you complete your studies, or anything that demonstrates family ties such as ownership of land, relatives who live and work there, you should definitely provide it for your interview. And of course any and all proof of adequate financial funding for your studies in the US is always critical.
I am studying at another university in the U.S. as an F-1 student. Do I need to get a new I-20 to come study at Towson University?
If you are attending another school in the U.S. but are planning to begin studies at Towson, you must complete a Transfer Eligibility Certificate (TEC) and submit it to the ISSO by fax at 410-704-6040 or via regular mail at: International Student & Scholar Office; 8000 York Road; Towson, MD 21252. Your current school will need to release your SEVIS record to Towson University. The TEC is required even if you have already graduated from your U.S. institution and are in the U.S. on OPT
I’m transferring to Towson University. How long does it take to get my transfer I-20?
The ISSO cannot process your I-20 form until we receive and review your admission documents, including your financial documents, and have access to your SEVIS record. You should discuss your transfer release date and travel plans with your current international student advisor when submitting the transfer form to them.
Classes are starting soon. Am I allowed to come to the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 “Prospective Student” visa and start studying?
Casual, short-term, part-time classes that are not the primary purpose of your stay in the U.S., such as a single English language or crafts course, are allowed. Full-time study, or study that is focused toward a degree or vocational objective, is not permitted. Such study is a violation of B status and may be reason to deny an F-1 status application. Individuals who enter on a "visa-waiver" are prohibited from study of any kind.
The best option for those with a B visa is to return to their home country and apply there for an F-1 visa. More information about visa application requirements and procedures is available from the U.S. Department of State.
Although unlikely, you may be able to change status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 in the U.S. if the expiration date of your B status is less than 30 days before the start of the semester. If the expiration date of your B status is more than 30 days before the start of the semester you cannot apply for a Change of Status from B-2 (or B-1) to F-1. Check the hand-written or stamped expiration date on your Form I-94 (small white card placed in your passport by the US Customs & Border Protection [USCBP] officer when you entered the U.S.) or lower section of your I-797 to determine the expiration of your B-1 or B-2 status.
Please contact an ISSO advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are uncertain whether your plans would be acceptable under immigration regulations.
I’m in the U.S. on a temporary non-immigrant visa (e.g. H-4) and have been accepted to a TU degree seeking program. Do I need an F-1 student visa?
Individuals may enroll in school under a variety of immigration statuses. If you have questions about whether you are eligible to enroll in a degree seeking program with your current visa status, please email the ISSO at: email@example.com.
If you are interested in F-1 status because you would like to obtain Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) employment authorization, please note that you will need to be in F-1 status for at least one academic year before you will be eligible.
Please also note that the acceptable timing of a Change of Status to F-1 application is complex. There is a 30-day “window” within which the start date of the new F-1 status must occur. You must be able to legally maintain your current nonimmigrant status up until (or beyond) 30 days before the start date on the Form I-20. The Change of Status request may be submitted to Immigration up to 90 days early. For a change to F-1, then, that means it can be received at Immigration as many as 120 days prior to the program start date on the I-20.
How do I get from the airport/train station to TU?
Students arriving from the Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) can use the following transportation options to arrive at Towson University:
SuperShuttle: First passenger: $33, each additional passenger: $12 Light Rail to Timonium, MD and then a taxi: Light rail: $1.60 Taxi: $15-20
**Students should note that the Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) is the most convenient and cost efficient airport for arriving at Towson. Transportation to and from any other airport in the area is extremely expensive and hard to find**
Students arriving from the Penn Station train station can use these options:
MTA 11 Towson Bus: $1.60
Baltimore Collegetown Shuttle - *Please note that this service is free for students only after they have obtained their Towson University OneCard (ID).
Also, please be aware that ALL students must attend a special ISSO workshop about F-1 immigration regulation during the first week of classes. For more information about the time and location of this workshop, as well as information about how to sign up, please contact the ISSO.
Where can I live?
There are a number of on and off-campus housing options for students. Undergraduate students are able to live on campus in a variety of residential styles and learning communities. International students often live in the Global Village which is a residential learning community located in Residence Tower with both international and domestic students. The features of Global Village include the following:
• Opportunity to make friends with people from around the world
• Only dormitory on campus that is open all year round
• Special programming
• Full kitchen available
• Fully furnished rooms
• Specially trained staff to support the needs of the residents
Where can I park on campus?
Visitors are able to park in the following Visitor Lots which can all be found on the TU Campus Map.
• Towsontown Garage Ground Level entrance ramp
• West Village Garage Ground Level
• Administration Building Front Lot
• Lot 11 Outside of the Union Garage
• Lot 12 Center for the Arts
• Glen Garage Ground Level
• Towson Center lots 13, 19, 20 & 21, pay stations are located at lots 13 & 21.
• Lot 2 Stephens Hall - Restricted to guest with a department code or handicap plates/placard.
• Lot 17 - visitors and department guests with handicap plate/placard
• Department guest code spaces are available in all visitor lots.
Where can I get a bank account?
There are several banks in the Towson area where you can start a bank account. Located directly on campus on the first floor of the University Union is PNC Bank which is available for students. You will need a passport in order to open up a bank account. You do not need a social security number.
How do I get a Towson University ID?
Your official Towson University ID card is called the OneCard. The OneCard provides access to many university services: library privileges at Cook Library, use of the university's athletic facilities, free or reduced-priced tickets at Towson University cultural and athletic events, access to recreational facilities and a free e-mail account through the Office of Technology Services. In addition, if you live on campus it provides access to your residence hall and dining meal points.
You can obtain your OneCard at Auxiliary Services located across from the University Store, on the 1st floor of the University Union. Read more about the OneCard.
How can I get a driver’s license or non-driver photo ID card?
If you do not have a valid international driver’s license, you will first need to be issued a Learner’s Permit. If you have a valid international driver’s license issued in your home country and you are a new Maryland resident, you MUST be issued a Maryland Driver’s License within 60 days.
If you do not already have a driver’s license from your home country, you must first complete a Maryland approved driver education course of no less than 30 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours of behind-the-wheel driver training. After completing this course, you will receive a certificate. You must then pass a written test and obtain a learner’s permit. If you are 18 or older, you must also complete a three-hour drug and alcohol course. For questions regarding applying for a driver’s license for the first time, including fees and locations of local driver’s education schools, contact the Motor Vehicle Administration for more information.
To obtain a Maryland driver’s license, you must be at least 16-years-old. You do not need a social security number to get a driver’s license. As long as you have the following valid, up-to-date documents, you do not need to schedule an appointment. Please bring the documents to the Motor Vehicle Administration office nearest you:
• a Social Security card or a letter from U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA-L676) stating you are ineligible for a Social Security number
• your passport
• your Form I-94 card
• your current Form I-20 (and any previous I-20s you may have)
• your driver’s license from your country or international license, if you have one
• proof of your Maryland address—for example, mail which shows your address, such as a telephone bill, electric bill, credit card bill, or a copy of your lease, etc. You can also order stamps from the U.S. post office and use that as proof of residence once you receive the stamps in the mail.
• another form of identification with your signature on it (for example, a picture ID, cancelled check, credit card)
All documents must be in the same name as your immigration documents. Do not use nicknames for leases, utility bills, or other billing statements.
At the Motor Vehicle Administration, you will take a 20-question, multiple choice, written test in order for you obtain a Learner’s Permit. The written test is available in various languages. A vision test, a road/driving test, and a three-hour drug & alcohol class is needed as well. You must provide your own car/test vehicle to be used during the road test.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION! - To begin the processes for a driver’s license or identification card; you will need to submit an electronic S.A.V.E. Verification Request Form online.Please refer to the instructions for filling out this form before you begin. Upon completion of this form, a MVA official will contact you within two (2) business days with the verification results and information to continue the process. If you experience any difficulties with the form, or do not receive a response within 2 days, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(** Note: These forms were designed for Internet Explorer, therefore, it will not work in other browsers, such as Safari and Firefox. Also, the confirmation of the email is not compatible with Windows XP or Vista. The form may be submitted using either of these operating systems, however, you will receive an error message instead of a confirmation. The form has been sent, do not resubmit.)
You can get more information about drivers licenses for international students and scholars from the MVA. Driving manuals are available at the MVA office or online. You can also obtain a non-driver photo ID card from the Maryland MVA. A non-driver photo ID may be helpful as proof of identity for renting an apartment, gaining entry to certain venues or applying for credit.
How do I register for classes?
If you are a new graduate student, please contact your Program Advisor regarding how you should register for classes. If you are an undergraduate student, you may be pre-registered for some courses and you will complete your course registration in person at the International Admissions TU Cares orientation program the week before classes start.
How much is tuition? How do I pay for it?
Through the Bursar's office website, you can view tuition and fees for each semester. All payments are made online through an ebill system. What about health insurance?
All international students are required to have health insurance. All F and J students are automatically enrolled in the University’s health insurance plan. If you have your own health insurance and do not want the Towson University plan, you must fill out an online waiver application form and bring it with a copy of your health insurance plan in English to the Dowell Health Center (Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm). Your own health coverage must be comparable to TU’s coverage. Please remember that if you have your own health coverage that you must apply for a new waiver each semester. What dining plans are offered on campus?
Dining Services provides information aboutl dining options for students.There are a variety of options for on and off-campus students with varying academic and eating schedules.
How can I get involved on campus?
There are over 200 student organizations at Towson University. We have everything from cultural groups to sports clubs to dance crews to get involved with! Take a look at all of your options!
As an undergraduate student, you can also participate in a special mentoring program for students through SAGE –Students Achieve Goals through Education. By becoming involved in SAGE, you will receive a mentor that helps you pursue your academic and personal goals while sharing cultural backgrounds and interests.
Where can I find the academic dates for the semester?
Towson University posts an academic calendar for each semester on the Registrar's website.
Am I allowed to work?
F-1 or J-1 full-time students are allowed to work on-campus, for any Towson University department or office, on a part-time basis, up to 20 hours per week during the school year and full-time during school vacation periods. Off-campus employment requires special permission and usually can be done only after the first academic year (9 months) of full-time study at Towson University.
Where can I find information about on-campus and off-campus jobs?
You can search for on-campus jobs using the Career Center’s web portal. Also, speak to your department or academic advisor about possible job openings.
In addition, the Career Center has a new job search database, "Going Global."
Access "Going Global" for 600,000 worldwide job/internship postings, 35 country career guides, searchable H1B Plus database and MORE! The link to "Going Global can be found on the Career Center's home page.
How do I get a Social Security number (SSN)?
F-1 students are permitted to apply for a Social Security Number provided they have an on-campus job offer. A Social Security Number is intended for individuals who will work in the United States and cannot be issued simply for identification purposes. For more details about getting a SSN if you have an on-campus job offer, please check the "Working" section of the ISSO website.
Can I work as a volunteer?
While volunteering can be a great experience, you need to be careful that the experience is truly considered volunteer work. In order to be a “volunteer,” you cannot accept any type of payment or compensation for your work. That means that you cannot be paid money for your work, and you also cannot work in exchange for housing, food, transportation or clothing. Nor can you accept things like parking passes, free meals etc.
Unpaid internships are acceptable in most situations if:
• The company or organization offers unpaid internship positions on a regular basis.
• The internship activities are not the same as those of a regular, paid employee.
• The services are entirely voluntary or solely for internship credit, with no promise of advancement or future employment relationship.
• The activities are predominantly for the student’s benefit.
• Remember, an unpaid internship is only acceptable if no form of compensation is provided – e.g. stipend, parking pass, lunch, etc.
Please note that if you have applied for OPT, have secured a job and are waiting for your work authorization, you cannot volunteer for the company until your work authorization arrives.
I’m interested in learning about Optional Practical Training (OPT). Where should I start?
.First please pick up a detailed OPT information packet from our office. After picking up an OPT information packet, reading it and starting to work on the required application items, you should plan on coming to an OPT workshop at the ISSO. The OPT workshop answers questions like:
-When should I apply for OPT?
-What beginning date/ending date should I chose?
-How long does it take to be approved?
-Can I travel?
-Where can I work?
-Can I be self-employed? Volunteer?
Please check with our office about the day and time of these workshops as they change every semester. OPT workshops are MANDATORY for those students requesting an issuance of an OPT I-20 from the ISSO. Once you attend a workshop, you may request and OPT I-20 from the ISSO and ask that we review your application to the USCIS. You can also chose to have your application reviewed at an OPT workshop.
Can I travel to Canada or Mexico if my visa is expired? Will I need an entry visa for Canada?
Most students/scholars may travel as a tourist to Canada (and Mexico and the islands near the U.S. except for Cuba) and return to the U.S. with an expired U.S. entry visa, as long as the time abroad is less than 30 days. This is a convenient benefit, called “automatic visa revalidation.” However, please be aware that the U.S. Department of State has eliminated this benefit for some foreigners, effective April 1, 2002. Any student/scholar who applies for a U.S. visa in Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands is no longer eligible for the “automatic revalidation” benefit. Also, citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba are no longer eligible for this benefit. Please come to the ISSO and pick up the handout entitled “Visas and Travel” for more information.
I need to withdraw from the University and return home. Whom do I need to notify?
Please notify the ISSO in writing that you are withdrawing for the semester so that we can take the appropriate action on your SEVIS record. You will also need to submit an ‘Official Withdrawal from Towson University’ form to the Registrar’s Office, in room 223 of the Enrollment Services Center.
The Registrar's office has more detailed information about how to withdraw from the university.
International Student & Scholar Office
Administration Building, Room 246
7720 York Road
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM