Questions and answers for international students regarding arrival at Towson University, work in the US, travel, and other topics.

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Before you arrive at Towson

When the ISSO has been notified of your admission, we will invite you to the ISSO Portal, where you can begin your request for an I-20 document. As part of your request, you will need to upload a copy of your passport and financial documents that meet our requirements.

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.

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.

If you are attending another school in the U.S. but are planning to begin studies at Towson, you will need to transfer your SEVIS record from your current school to Towson. Once you have been admitted to Towson and invited to the ISSO Portal, as part of your I-20 request in the ISSO Portal, you will fill out information for your current school, and the ISSO Portal will send an approval request to your current school, informing them that you intend to transfer to Towson. Your current school will need to release your SEVIS record to Towson University. Please note that your current school may have their own policies and procedures about the transfer of your SEVIS record to another school, so you should check in with them to see if they have a Transfer-Out process.

The ISSO cannot process your I-20 form until your SEVIS record has been released to us AND you have submitted your I-20 request with your passport and sufficient financial documentation. If we have your financial documents but your SEVIS record has not been released to Towson, we cannot create the I-20 for you. If your SEVIS record has been released to Towson, but you have not provided sufficient financial documentation, we cannot create the I-20 for you. You should discuss your transfer release date and travel plans with your current international student advisor when requesting a transfer out from your current school.

When you Arrive

Students arriving from the Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) can use the following transportation options to arrive at Towson University:

Light Rail to Timonium, MD and then a taxi: Light rail: $2.00 Taxi: $15-20
Taxi: $80-90, ride share applications like Lyft or Uber: $40-50

**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 41 Towson Bus: $1.80
Taxi: $30-40


Information about orientation activities can be found on the Undergraduate Enrolled Students To-Do List, Graduate Enrolled Students to-Do List and the Exchange Student orientation page. 

Also, please be aware that ALL students must attend a special ISSO workshop about F-1 /J-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 via email at or via phone at 410-704-2421

You will also need to complete the new student immigration check-in online 

There are several banks in the Towson area where you can open an 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. 

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 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.

The English Language Center offers programs with full and part-time intensive English instruction for international students. See information about ELC programs


Working, Traveling, and Leaving TU

F-1 and 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. Any and all 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.

You can search for on-campus jobs using the Career Center’s Handshake web portal . You may wish to speak to your department or academic advisor about possible job openings. Additionally, we highly recommend working with the Career Center on your resume and interview skills.

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.

The ISSO no longer provides invitation letters.  It is best for students to write an invitation.  The ISSO has prepared a sample invitation letter that you may use.