Pre-Arrival Information



OISS Orientation Group Photo

Welcome to the University of New Hampshire (UNH)! The staff at OISS are very much looking forward to meeting and working with you upon your arrival on campus. 

This page is intended to provide initial F-1 or J-1 international students with the appropriate resources to arrive at UNH. Please be sure to read through the following key information carefully to prepare for your arrival to the United States! 

Preparing for your U.S. Embassy Visa Appointment


  1. Ties to Your Home Country 
    Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, such as student visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer otherwise. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. "Ties" to your home country are the things that bind you to your hometown, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country. 

    Each person's situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter which can guarantee visa issuance. If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was available but not with a specific intent to immigrate. If you previously overstayed an authorized stay in the United States, be prepared to explain what happened clearly and concisely, with documentation, if available. 

  1. English 
    Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview, but do NOT prepare speeches! 

  1. Speak for Yourself 
    Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there in case there are questions, for example about funding, they should wait in the waiting room. 

  1. Know the Program and How It Fits Your Career Plans 
    If you are unable to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career when you return home. 

  1. Be Brief 
    Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision on the impressions they form during the first minute of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point. 

  1. Additional Documentation 
    It should be immediately clear to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time. 

  1. Difficulties Based on Country of Origin 
    Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants may have more difficulty getting visas. Applicants from these countries are more likely to be seen as intending immigrants and are likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United States. 

  1. Employment 
    Your main purpose in coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permissible F-2 activities. 

  1. Dependents Remaining at Home 
    If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support them, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa. 

  1. Maintain a Positive Attitude 
    Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing. 

First, you need your 9-digit UNH ID number, which begins with the number “9”. 


Step 1 ?-  Visit You will be presented with a login screen

Step 2 -  Click Activate Account to begin the process of activating your new account and establishing a password. 

Step 3 -  Input your username or your USNH ID. This information is included with your welcome materials. 

Step 4 -  Enter the personal email address that USNH (University System of New Hampshire) has on file for you (generally the email address used in your application). After you have put in this information, click on the Activate button. 

Step 5 -  Confirm that the email address being shown to you looks correct, and then click Continue. You will receive an email from the MyAccount?tool with the security code. 

Step 6 -  Retrieve the security code from your email and enter it into the field shown, then click Check Code

Step 7 - Set a password following the guidelines shown on the page and confirm when done. 

Step 8 - Choose and answer three security questions to use for self-service password recovery. 

  • You cannot use the same answer more than once 
  • Answers must be at least 3 characters long 
  • Answers are not case-sensitive 

Step 9 - Choose and answer two security questions for Help Desk verification; these are used in conjunction with other information about your account to confirm your identity if you call for help.

Step 10 - Review the answers to your questions and click on the Confirm button.

Note: To set up a mobile device for account recovery purposes, choose the tab relevant to your phone’s operating system and follow the instructions on the screen. MyAccount supports the Microsoft Authenticator app (recommended) and most third-party authentication apps including as SmartAuth and the Google Authenticator app.

Step 11 - Re-enter or choose a new personal email address and click Update when ready.

Step 12 - Review your Password Reset Email and click Confirm to finish the process.

Your official UNH email address will be First name.last  This is the ONLY email address to which UNH will send official notices.  Check in often!  To set up your UNH email, go to:

If you have questions about your UNH IT accounts, please contact the IT Help Desk at +1-603-862-4242 or go to and at the bottom of the page are ways to get online assistance.


Detailed information on both on- and off-campus housing can be found here

Law - Concord

Please contact if you would like to be placed on the list for housing with the law school. For more information about housing in Concord, please visit the law school’s housing webpage. This page will connect you to a special housing portal where you can search for available accommodations.

  • School-age children (ages 5 to 16) are required to attend school. You will need to provide their official birth certificates, school records, complete medical history, and immunization records to enroll them in school. See current State of New Hampshire requirements.   
  • Childcare centers (for younger children or after-school care) are expensive and usually have a waiting list, so it is essential to start researching and contacting centers early.  
  • It is strongly recommended that accompanying family members are covered by medical insurance.  
  • You need to demonstrate your ability to cover their living expenses while in the U.S. OISS estimates expenses to be $10,000 per year for the first family member and $8,000 per year for each additional family member. 


  • Graduate Students: Please contact your academic department to connect with your Academic Advisor and register for courses. 

  • Undergraduate Students: Please contact your college’s advising center to register for courses. 

  • Exchange Students: Your Academic Advisor will contact you to help you register for your courses. 

Law - Concord

  • Law Students: You will have the opportunity to connect with your academic advisor for a virtual meeting prior to arrival and will also meet with your advisor during international student orientation. If you have questions about connecting with your advisor, please contact

To complete your medical/immunization forms, go to: 

  • Scroll down to the topic Areas of Specific Interest 

  • Choose the link Medical Forms to Complete Before You Come to UNH (Entrance Requirements) 

  • Read the forms carefully and complete them accurately.  You may upload your completed forms through the MyHealth&Wellness Portal:  Note, failure to complete and submit these forms may result in a hold on your student account. 

Health insurance is REQUIRED for all F-1/J-1 students.  You MUST enroll in UNH’s Student Health Benefits Plan (SHBP) by the deadline indicated at the link below. 

  • Go to: 

  • There will be a link for you to ENROLL in SHBP.  (Note: Until you register for your semester courses, you will not have access to this system.) 

  • You may not have access to some of the online forms from your home country, so you may complete them when you arrive on campus. 

  • If you have difficulty enrolling, please email

Tuition bills need to be paid on time.  Please be aware of the extra time needed to process online payments.  Overdue bills will jeopardize your visa status. 

  • Your bill is posted to Webcat which can be accessed through (Graduate Students: Your tuition bill may not be posted until you register for your courses.) 

  • For payment options, go to: Flywire is a preferred method of payment and is secure and available using Webcat. 

  • The UNH electronic payment system requires that checks come from U.S. banks.  UNH is not able to accept checks from foreign bank accounts. 

  • If you have billing-related questions, please contact: Please be sure to include your full name and UNH ID number in any email request. 

Before You Leave Home


  • Make sure you arrange transportation from the airport to campus before you board 

  • Make sure that you have a place to stay upon arrival (whether this means staying in a local hotel for a few days, or meeting a friend), this should ALREADY be set up prior to you boarding the plane. 

  • If you are meeting a friend, make sure you have their contact information (email, phone number, a second number if applicable, their address, etc.) 

Do Not: 

  • Board your plane prior to confirming your transportation from the airport to campus 

  • Arrive in the U.S. without temporary housing (through a hotel or through a friend/family member) if you plan to look for an off-campus apartment. 

  • Arrive with a plan to meet someone whom you do not have their contact information (phone #, address, etc.) 

What to Bring to the U.S. 

How Much Money to Bring 

We recommend that you not carry any more than $300 in cash (the cash should include small bills). You may want to keep the cash in two separate areas easily accessible to you. Always be aware of your personal belongings during your travels. It is unsafe to carry a lot of cash, so please try not to carry more than $200-$300. 


Please keep the following average temperatures in mind when packing clothing for your stay in New Hampshire.  

Fall Semester: 

  • September and October: 8 to 15°C 

  • November and December: -17 to 3°C 

Spring Semester: 

  • January - March: -17 to 3°C 

  • April and May: 3 to 15°C 

Summer Semester: 

  • June - August: 15 to 35°C 

What to Expect at a U.S. Port of Entry 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) governs the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). They are charged with facilitating your entry and monitoring your status in the U.S. while you take advantage of our nation’s academic, educational, and cultural offerings. To enhance security without slowing legitimate travel, careful planning and preparation by international students and scholars will ensure minimal processing delay. 

Plan Your Arrival 

You may be refused entry into the United States if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your Form I-20 (for F-1 visitors) or Form DS-2019 (for J-1 visitors). 

Always Hand-Carry Your Documents 

Do not check the following documents in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United States. 

  1. Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay. 

  1. SEVIS Form I-20 (for F-1 visitors) 

  1. SEVIS Form DS-2019 (for J-1 visitors) 

In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also hand carry the following documentation: 

  1. Evidence of financial resources. 

  1. For new students or visiting scholars: Your UNH Invitation Letter or Admissions Letter. 

  1. For new students or visiting scholars: Paper receipt of the SEVIS fee payment. 

  1. For continuing students: Evidence of student status, such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts. 

For comprehensive information on procedures for traveling and arriving in the United States, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s webpage on Crossing U.S. Borders

Complete Your Entry Paperwork 

If Arriving by Land or Sea: Your Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94) will be able to be accessed after arrival. * Canadian students; please ensure that you present your Form I-20 and declare your entry as an F-1 Student. 

All visitors entering the United States must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your destination. It is important that you tell the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school or program where you will enroll/participate. 

I-94 Process 

A Your I-94 entry record is created by CBP (Customs and Border Protection) upon successful admission. To retrieve your I-94 after arrival, please visit and go to the “Get Most Recent I-94” section. 

Following Admission into the United States 

Students and scholars should report to their school within 30 days of the start date listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019. You are not permitted to enter the U.S. earlier than the 30-days prior to the start date. You are also not allowed to enter any later than the arrival dates listed on the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. 

Secondary Inspection Requirements 

If the CBP officer at the port of entry cannot initially verify your information or you do not have all the required documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research to satisfy any questions they may have. 

The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This is an electronic database tracking system. Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in the denial of entry to the United States. Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue a “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor” (Form I-515A), which authorizes temporary admission into the United States. If you are issued a Form I-515 upon arrival, please visit the UNH Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) immediately as this form will need immediate follow-up. 

By Air

  • Logan International Airport (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (Manchester, New Hampshire)

By Bus

  • C&J Bus Lines from Boston to Portsmouth or Dover
  • Taxi from Portsmouth or Dover to Durham: Seacoast Cab Inc. (603) 431-3320

By Shuttle

  • Mermaid Transportation from Boston to Durham. Call (800) 696-2463 (in the U.S. only) to make reservations.
  • Flight Line, Inc. from Boston, or Manchester to Durham. Call (800) 245-2525 (in the U.S. only) to make reservations.

By Train

  • Amtrak from Boston to Durham

By Car

  • Google Maps: 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824
    • This address is the center of campus, our office is in Conant Hall.

Local Accommodations

If you will be arriving in Durham before the residence halls are available, here are a few local accommodations: 

  • Holiday Inn Express
    • 2 Main Street Durham, NH 03824
    • (603) 868-1234
  • The Pines Guest House
    • 47 Dover Road Durham, NH 03824
    • (603) 868-3361
  • Days Inn by Wyndham Dover
    • 481 Central Avenue Dover, NH 03820
    • (603) 742-0400

Please see our Visit Campus page for information about traveling to Concord, New Hampshire.

For Students

  • You must attend the mandatory OISS New International Student Orientation the week prior to the start of classes. This is a requirement of your non-immigrant status in the U.S. For more information, please review our Orientation page.

For Scholars

  • Please contact the OISS prior to your arrival to schedule an orientation meeting.

Begin Your First Semester

Academic Information 

The Semester System 

  • Fall Semester: late August to December
  • Spring Semester: late January to May
  • Summer Semester: mid-May to mid-August
  • For more specific dates, see the UNH academic calendar
  • International students must maintain their full-time student status.
    • For undergraduate students, this means being registered for at least 12 credits each semester.
    • For graduate students, the minimum requirement is 9 credits unless you have a full assistantship. Students with Graduate Assistantships must register for at least 6 credits.
    • Scholars interested in taking courses should contact for more details. 

Academic Advisor  

  • Students will be assigned an academic advisor to help you plan your academic program. We recommend that you establish and maintain a good relationship with your advisor, who can guide and assist you throughout your program.  

Campus Recreation 

UNH Campus Recreation provides many opportunities to stay active and participate in different activities. Some programs that are offered include Fitness, Intramural Sports, Outdoor Adventures, and Group Exercise classes. All students also have access to the Hamel Recreation Center, which features sports courts, exercise, yoga and cycling studios, a seasonal pool, and a climbing wall. 

Employment Opportunities (for Students) 

F-1 and J-1 students are allowed to work, but ONLY on campus.   

Students can ONLY work part-time (up to 20 hours per week). 

F-2 dependents are not allowed to work. 

J-2 dependents are eligible to work with authorization from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).