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Pre-Arrival Information

Pre-Arrival Information

Welcome to NC State University! This webpage will provide you with some important information to help you prepare for your stay at NC State University. Please contact us if you have further questions after reading this material. The Office of International Services (OIS) provides many services for the University’s international students, scholars, and their families including advice on immigration-related matters, orientation programs, and English and cross-cultural programs for students, scholars, and spouses.

We look forward to meeting you upon your arrival!

Undergraduate Students

  • Fall 2024 Welcome Email (Sending in May 2024)

Graduate Students

  • Fall 2024 Welcome Email (Sending in May 2024)

OIS will host a number of virtual pre-arrival sessions prior to the Fall 2024 semester with campus partners like the Graduate School, Undergraduate Admissions, Academic Advising Programs & Services, and Student Health Services. Topics include admissions, immigration, academic resources at NC State, travel to the U.S., and health insurance and required vaccinations. Past sessions can also be viewed on our Packing Up webpage.

New, initial incoming international students coming to NC State on a F-1 or J-1 visa can enter the United States no earlier than 30 days prior to the program start date listed on their I-20 ( for F-1 visa holders) or DS-2019 (for J-1 visa holders) document. For F-1 student this should be noted as the “Earliest Admission Date” on the I-20 issued by NC State. New, initial incoming international students will not be permitted to enter the United States if they appear at a port of entry sooner than 30 days prior to the program start date, despite having a valid F-1 or J-1 visa.

You should plan your travel to the United States accordingly and also consider when you will be able to access housing as you finalize your travel plans. NC State does not offer free temporary accommodations and has limited guest housing available for a fee.

If you arrive late (on or after the first day of classes) please know that our experience shows that late-arriving students have a difficult time catching up academically and a stressful time settling in. This may adversely affect your grades and in turn, jeopardize your F-1 or J-1 status. Culturally and academically, it is expected that students attend all classes, arrive on campus and participate in Orientation activities, and are present and in attendance for the start of the semester. OIS cannot give students “permission” to arrive late or write a letter (or update the SEVIS record) indicating a later program start date or late arrival date.

Students who arrive late are required to maintain full-time enrollment throughout the semester (no reduced course loads will be approved for students who are not able to find the right classes or are unable to catch up or are likely to make a poor grade).

Graduate Students

In consultation with the Graduate School, new international graduate students should be aware of the following late arrival policy for Fall 2024:

  • New students should make every effort to arrive by August 14, 2024 to participate in the International Student Orientation. Note that the New International Student Orientation Fee is automatically charged to all new international students regardless of the date of arrival or whether or not any services are utilized.
  • If delays or a personal situation occur, you can arrive until August 19, 2024 (first day of classes) without permission.
  • If delays or a personal situation will cause you to arrive after classes begin on August 19, 2024, new graduate students may arrive in Raleigh by August 23, 2024 ONLY IF they have permission from their Director of Graduate Programs (DGP) or Graduate Services Coordinator to arrive late. Permission from individual course professors is not sufficient and not all academic departments allow late arrival.
  • Arrival after August 23, 2024 will not be permitted. If you cannot arrive by this date or if your academic department does not allow arrival after August 19, 2024, you must defer your admission.

If you request a late arrival letter from your academic department, in general, a scanned and printed image of the letter should be sufficient and should state the following:

  • How late the department is willing to let you start the semester.
  • That you are pre-registered for full-time enrollment and that you will be able to catch up with your classes.
  • If applicable, that your late arrival will not negatively impact your eligibility for and ability to do your graduate assistantship (TA/RA position).

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students should plan to arrive by August 14, 2024 to participate in orientation. Note that the New International Student Orientation Fee is automatically charged to all new international students regardless of the date of arrival or whether or not any services are utilized.

If you will arrive after August 19, 2024, you must consult with your academic advisorArrival after August 23, 2024 will not be permitted.

If you cannot arrive by this date, you must defer your admission.

Once you are issued an I-20 or DS-2019 from Admissions, you can apply for a student visa to facilitate your travel to the U.S. This page offers a brief overview of how to apply for a student visa. However, your closest U.S. embassy is the best source of information about the visa application process.

NC State requires students to complete their immunization requirements before arriving on campus. To ensure compliance with North Carolina immunization laws, all students must submit information about their health history and an immunization record to NC State’s Student Health Services via HealthyPack Portal.

For immunization-related questions, please contact the Immunizations Coordinator through the HealthyPack Portal.  You can find more information about Immunization Requirements on the Student Health Services website.

All international students on F-1 and J-1 visas are required to maintain health insurance throughout the duration of their status. The UNC System has a health insurance plan available for purchase for all degree-seeking international students, regardless of semester credit hour level.

Please note: Students on Teaching and Research Assistantships will be provided NC State health insurance through the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP) which satisfies the health insurance requirement.

Once you have your Unity ID and password, you can register for courses in MyPack Portal. Consult with your Academic Advisor or Director of Graduate Program (DGP) for advice on course load and requirements. Note that you may see an “advising hold” when you attempt to register for classes if your academic department or academic program requires you to consult with your academic advisor before registering. If you are not sure who your advisor is, graduate students can locate contact information for the Director of Graduate Programs (DGP) here and undergraduate students can identify who their academic advisor is here.

Keep in mind that all international students are required to be enrolled at full-time status. The Student Services Center provides more detailed information on how to register for classes on their website.

There are two main options when considering where to live in Raleigh: On-Campus Housing and Off-Campus Housing.  The major difference is that on-campus housing is housing owned by NC State and off-campus housing is owned by a third party and not associated with the university.

NC State requires that first-year undergraduate students live on-campus their first year.  All other students have the option of living on-campus or off-campus but note that on-campus housing is very limited for the 2024-25 school year.  If you want to live on-campus, you should apply as soon as possible after admission.

On-Campus Housing Options

NC State University Housing is owned and managed by the university. The cost of on-campus housing is usually comparable to off-campus housing and comes with several benefits. Students must apply in order to live on campus and space is limited for those not required to live on campus.

Undergraduate students can apply to traditional residence halls and students categorized as upperclassmen may be able to apply to on-campus apartment communities as well.  OIS encourages undergraduate students to consider living in a Living and Learning Village on-campus where you have access to specialized support, events, and activities.  Living and Learning Villages like the Global Village pair American and international students as roommates. The Global Village offers unique cross-cultural programs such as ethnic dinners, lectures, and cultural events. 

Please note that NC State University has a requirement that first-year undergraduate students live in on-campus housing. An appeals process exists if you have a situation that exempts you from the requirement.  You can learn more about the appeals process here.

Graduate students are able to apply to university apartments like E.S. King VillageWestern ManorWolf Village, and Wolf Ridge.  E.S. King Village and Western Manor, in particular, are more suitable for family housing.  Graduate housing is expected to be very limited for the 2024-25 academic year.  Students wishing to live on campus should apply as soon as possible.

Off-Campus Housing Options

Raleigh is a rapidly developing city and securing affordable off-campus housing may be a challenge due to the current demand and expense of rental units. Therefore it is important to try and secure accommodations as early as possible. These accommodation options can include rooms in private residences, private apartments, apartments shared by multiple (2-4) occupants, and more. 

It is reasonable to expect off-campus housing to cost between $500 to $1200 per month depending on the number of people sharing the expenses. When looking for housing make sure to consider whether or not the price includes utilities (water, sewer, electricity, gas, internet, etc.).  Utilities that are not included will obviously increase your monthly expenses beyond just your rent cost.

Raleigh is a large city geographically so it is also important to consider location when choosing an apartment.  Some apartments may be in Raleigh but could be a 30 minute drive by car away from campus.  We strongly suggest that you use a map to determine proximity to campus and consider your transportation options and how that will impact how far away you are comfortably able to live from campus.  Some things to consider:

  • Will you be getting a car shortly after arrival?  If so, it may be possible to live farther from campus.
  • If you will rely primarily on NC State Wolfine buses or GoRaleigh city buses, it will be important to check whether apartments of interest are located on or near bus routes.  If you are unsure, ask the apartment complex or the person renting the space.

Off-campus apartments will also require that you sign a lease (contract) and pay  a security deposit, usually one month’s rent, to secure the apartment. In addition, utility companies may require an advance deposit to activate their services. Please note that a lease is a legally binding document.  Once signed it is unlikely that the rental agency will allow you out of the lease without penalty.  Lawyers at NC State’s Student Legal Services can review your lease for free before you sign it to make sure everything is in proper order. More information about your rights as a tenant leasing an apartment can be found on the Student Legal Services website.  They also led a Packing Up Pre-Arrival Session on this topic which you can view.  If you have questions about lease agreements, email

NC State University now also provides information about off-campus housing options, including a roommate search portal and suggested resources when considering an off-campus apartment.

Temporary Accommodations

It is also important to consider your move-in date when you book your travel to Raleigh.  NC State has very limited guest housing at ES King Village which is usually full weeks before the semester begins. 

Certain cultural or country-based student organizations may provide temporary accommodation support for newly arriving students. 

Otherwise you should evaluate temporary accommodation options via AirbnbVRBO, or local hotels.  NC State Parents and Families Services provides a comprehensive list of local hotels that offer a NC State discount

Like mentioned above though, Raleigh is a geographically large city so we recommend comparing the location of short-term  housing to the university’s location so you do not end up on the other side of the city.

OIS does not handle student accounts. Students are billed for tuition and fees by the University Cashier’s Office. Please visit the Cashier’s Office website for information on payment options. If you have a question about your account or payment, please contact the Cashier’s Office directly at  Please note that Fall 2024 tuition and fee billing will post to student accounts in July.

All new international students are charged a one-time International Orientation Fee, which will be automatically added to your Student Account.  This mandatory fee covers the costs of developing and facilitating International Orientation, as well as programs and events for international students throughout your time at NC State.

The Port of Entry is the first city in which you arrive in the United States. You will be asked to show your immigration documents to be given permission to enter the country.

You will need to carry the following documents with you in your carry-on bag, NOT in your checked bags:

  • Valid Passport With Your F-1 Or J-1 Visa
  • I-20 or DS-2019 Form
  • Supporting documentation that you showed to the United States Embassy to obtain your visa.

You Have Arrived is a short video produced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that explains what to expect at the Port of Entry. Please note that international students are not eligible to use the Global Entry system. Our office also provides additional information on immigration and travel on our website.

If you need assistance locating your baggage or transportation when you arrive at the Raleigh Durham (RDU) airport, please visit the information desk located in the baggage claim area of both terminals. The RDU information desks are staffed daily and their staff will be happy to assist you.

NC State is approximately 15 miles (24 km) from the airport. Ample transportation is available from RDU International Airport and airport staff continue to update their transportation webpage with transportation providers that are permitted to serve RDU International Airport. Available shared transportation services include shuttles and taxis as well as shared ride services like Uber and Lyft. If you plan to book a taxi or shuttle, OIS recommends that you reserve your airport transportation BEFORE you leave your home country to ensure that your chosen transportation method will be available upon arrival to Raleigh.

The RDU information desks referenced above have courtesy phones for airport customer use if you are required to call your transportation service once you have your luggage and are ready to be picked up.

Whether you are an incoming undergraduate or graduate student, you will be required to participate in orientation events. More information about OIS Orientation events can be found on the Orientation Schedule webpage.

ALL STUDENTS MUST CHECK IN WITH OIS as soon as possible after arriving in the United States. This is a requirement to maintain your immigration status.

Check-In is required by law for all new international students so that we may meet you and have a record of your arrival. At Check-In we will make copies of your immigration documents and provide useful information and a check list to help you accomplish important tasks upon your arrival to NC State.