For International Students

Welcome to Brown!

Each year, Brown welcomes students from around the world who seek a college experience in the United States. They come to Brown to experience the challenges of college-level learning, the independence and self-discipline necessary for life on a college campus, and to meet new friends from around the US and the world who share their academic interests and goals. To prepare yourself for success at Brown, please carefully read the following information regarding language proficiency and visa requirements for studying in the US.

Language Proficiency

When choosing a course or program, give serious consideration not only to your interest in and familiarity with the subject matter, but just as importantly, to your level of English proficiency. Students who participate in these programs must have a strong command of the English language in order to succeed in rigorous academic study, involving:

  • listening to lectures
  • engaging actively in class discussion, and
  • fast-paced reading and writing in English

You will also need to be able to communicate effectively with your peers in social settings. Because these programs provide both academic challenges typical of college-level study and opportunities for you to experience the academic and social aspects of American college life, your proficiency in English is crucial to having a positive experience. Students who struggle with their skills in listening, speaking, reading, or writing, will find that their challenges with the language itself can present significant obstacles to their learning the subject matter, no matter how well prepared or interested in that subject matter they may be. Determining that your level of English language proficiency is appropriate for your chosen program and courses is essential to a successful outcome at Brown. While some courses may require substantially more reading and writing than others, all will require listening and speaking skills at a high level.

Students for whom a language other than English is the primary language of instruction will be required, as part of their application, to submit an English Language Assessment, to be completed and submitted by their English teacher.

We do not require the TOEFL or any other language exam as part of the application process. We will carefully review all application materials in order to determine if a student's English language proficiency is aligned with the level needed for our course and program offerings.

Some classes may employ a writing exercise to assess student language proficiency on the first day of class. If, in our judgment, the student’s level of proficiency does not meet the minimum necessary for succeeding in the course or program of their choice, we may direct the student to a more appropriate course or program.


Student applicants are encouraged to review our Financial Policies. Please note that there is a $50 international processing fee and a $75 health insurance fee required for all non-credit international students. The international processing covers various costs associated with foreign delivery of completion materials, I-20 documents and refunds where applicable as well as other costs associated with foreign bank fees, etc.

International students are considered non-United States citizens or permanent residents of the United States. United States citizens living abroad are charged neither the processing fee nor the health insurance fee, unless insurance is requested.

Important: Immigration Guidelines

Enrollment in credit courses, or courses that entail greater than 18 hours per week of in-class time, requires that nonimmigrant students obtain an F-1 student visa, specifically:

  1. Nonimmigrant students enrolling in Brown University Summer Session or the Pre-Baccalaureate Program, must obtain an F-1 student visa and, as stipulated by federal regulations , must also be enrolled full-time in two concurrent courses.
  2. Students wishing to enroll in two or more courses require an F-1 visa unless the courses are taken consecutively. Any overlap in courses will entail greater than 18 hours per week of in-class time, and therefore will require that nonimmigrant students obtain an F-1 student visa. Please note once in the US, nonimmigrant students cannot change their course enrollments by adding or dropping courses, shortening or extending their enrollment, without potentially jeopardizing their visa status. Students should therefore choose their courses carefully.

For programs, courses, or combination of courses that require I-20 documentation, please ensure that you adhere to appropriate deadlines to submit application and immigration related materials:

Deadlines for Submitting Documentation – 2019

If your course begins on: Your complete application and immigration-related materials must be received by:
June 17 April 19
June 24 April 26
July 8 May 3
July 15 May 10
July 22 May 17
July 29 May 24

Tourist Visas

Immigration rules allow visitors on a tourist visa (B-2 or Visa Waiver Program (VWP)), who are coming to the U.S. primarily for tourism to take a short course of study which is not for credit and is less than 18 hours per week. A consular officer will determine the Visa that may be appropriate based on the purpose of a visitor’s travel and supporting documentation.

Brown University does not provide formal supporting documentation to enable students to acquire a tourist visa. Your acceptance letter to our programs can serve as proof of initial visit.

IMPORTANT: If your enrollment is full-time, meets in excess of 18 hours per week, do not enter the U.S. as a tourist (e.g. B-2 or Visa Waiver Program). If you enter the country in the wrong status, you may be detained at the Port of Entry or risk future entry attempts into the country.

Application Instructions for International Students Requiring an F-1 Visa

  1. Complete your application
    • A complete application includes:
      • A completed online application form;
        The name on your application materials must match the name on your passport.
      • A transcript from your current school
      • In some circumstances, a recommendation form completed by an instructor; and
      • The application fee, payable online
  2. Await an admission decision. We make every effort to inform you via email of your admissions status within 10 business days.
  3. Confirm your attendance and choose your courses. Accepted students must confirm their attendance with a $300 deposit, payable online. We cannot accept international checks for deposit payments. Once this deposit is received and processed (usually 24 hours), students may enroll in courses using our Course Catalog. We can accept payments via Flywire, please see the International Wire Transfer section below.
  4. After making your course choices, you should make full payment of fees. Fees include: the course(s) selected, room and board, international processing fee (non-credit students only), health insurance fee, and any additional material/lab fees). If attending a full-time program or enrolled in a combination of courses that together meet in excess of 18 hours per week, you will also need to submit the below documents (select option that applies to you)::
    A) Students outside the U.S. and in need of an F-1 Form I-20 to attend a full-time program
    • A copy of the student’s biographical passport page(s)
    • PLEASE NOTE: You must pay in full before we can process your I-20. The I-20 is required for the visa application process. Delays in payment will result in delays in arranging for a timely F-1 visa interview at a U.S. consulate.
    • We will send the I-20 to you via international courier. I-20 forms take several weeks to process, so please be sure to send in your required materials as soon as is possible. See below for visa application instructions.
    • F-1 students can enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to the start date of their program (see #5 on Form I-20 issued by Brown).
    B) Students currently studying in the U.S. with an I-20 and F-1 visa:
    If you currently have an I-20 from another school in the U.S. and intend to return to that school after the summer, submit copies of your:
    • I-20
    • A copy of the student’s biographical passport page(s);
    • F-1 visa; and
    • A letter from your current school confirming your lawful status and eligibility to continue your education there after completion of your summer courses at Brown
    C) Students currently in the U.S. in status other than F-1:
    If you are currently in the U.S. in an immigration status other than F-1 you will need to submit copies of your:
    • A copy of the student’s biographical page(s) of their passport
    • Visa
    • I-797 approval notice (if applicable)

F-1 Visa Application Instructions


For Canadian Citizens

Although you do not need an F-1 visa to enter the United States in F-1 status, you will need a Form I-20 and should follow the instructions above for obtaining that document. You must also pay the SEVIS fee and present your SEVIS receipt and I-20 at the U.S.—Canada land border or at the airport for lawful entry to the U.S. as an F-1 student. Please make sure at the Port of Entry that you receive an I-94 arrival/departure record (small white card) stamped “F-1 D/S” (D/S – Duration of Status).

To apply for an F-1 visa:

  1. Review Form I-20 and sign bottom of page 1 if all information is correct.
  2. If student is under the age of 18, parent must co-sign on bottom of page 1. If there are any questions about the Form I-20, please contact the School of Professional Studies as soon as possible.
  3. Pay the required SEVIS fee to the U.S. Government, and obtain a receipt.
  4. In order to apply for the F-1 Visa, you will need to provide receipt of payment of a $200 SEVIS fee to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For payment instructions, please go to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Form I-901 Online Completion website at For more detailed information go to the SEVP website and review Frequently Asked Questions. This site also contains a link to Form I-901.
  5. Complete online visa application forms and set up an F-1 visa appointment with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  6. Once you receive your I-20 from Brown University and have paid your SEVIS fee, you will be able to set up an appointment at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy nearest you. Please follow the guidelines of the individual U.S. Embassy or Consulate for requesting your F-1 visa. Appropriate visa application fees will be assessed at the time of your appointment. Detailed instructions for the F-1 visa application can be found at the website of the U.S. consulate where you will apply. Aisting of U.S. consulates can be found here

Remember - At your visa appointment, you must present:

  • SEVIS Form I-20
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • Brown University Admissions Letter
  • Official proof of funding or receipt of full payment for program; and
  • Valid Passport

F-1 Visa Verification Instructions

Students who have been issued a Brown Sponsored F-1 visa are required to send an electronic copy of the visa to Failure to do so could result in registration complications.


About the F-1 Student Visa

Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

General Questions About Student Visas: Please consult the U.S. Department of State Visa Page where you will find links to specific consular locations and other helpful information at

Listing of U.S. consulates:

Visa Appointment Wait Times and Processing Times

Official DHS I-94 Retrieval Page

Please plan ahead as processing times vary at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

Entering the U.S.

If requesting admission to enter the United States in F-1 status with an I-20 from Brown, you must present to the Port of Entry Officer:

  • SEVIS Form I-20,
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt,
  • Brown Pre-College Admission Letter,
  • Official proof of funding or receipt of full payment for program,
  • Valid Passport, and
  • I-94 Arrival / Departure card (received from the airline during the flight, or can find online)

If requesting admission to enter the United States in a status other than F-1 or with an F-1 I-20 from another U.S. academic institution, please contact the appropriate party responsible for your immigration status about travel information.

International Wire Transfers

Brown University has partnered with Flywire to offer a streamlined and cost-saving way to make international tuition payments. With this partnership, students and families are offered favorable foreign exchange rates, the ability to pay in your home currency (in most cases) and savings compared to traditional banks. In addition, you will be able to track your payment via Flywire's dashboard and you will be notified via email (and/or text) when your payment is received by Brown University.

Visit the Flywire website to make an international student account payment.

Additional Questions

Please contact us by email:

Or by phone: (401) 863-7900 Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 4:45pm EST

Back to Top