International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS)

The ISSS Office is one of your most important campus resources. They are responsible for processing your immigration documents and making sure that you stay ‘in status’ while studying at American University.  They are also responsible for a number of programs and services including academic counseling and cross-cultural training.  You will become very familiar with this office while you are on campus and will meet their staff during the International Student Orientation.

Phone: 202-885-3350
Fax: 202-885-3354
Office: Butler Pavilion, Room 410 (Office of Campus Life)


In addition to completing the items on the Pre-Program Checklist, you will also have to:

Apply for your Student Visa

The difference between F-1 and J-1 Visas:

CFIS Form and Financial Documents:  If not already submitted with your application, this should be submitted to the SIS Graduate Admissions Office immediately. For more information, please visit the site for SIS Graduate Admissions: International Students.

For more information about student visa application documents and the process, please visit the ISSS website.

Once your immigration documents (either the I-20 or DS-2019) are received, you will then make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your area.  You will need to bring to your appointment:

  • your I-20 or DS-2019 form
  • a valid passport
  • financial documents
  • an application (provided by the Embassy)
  • the application fee

Each Embassy/Consulate is different so be sure to confirm in advance what other documents will be required for submission.

Book your Flight

With an F-1 visa, you can enter the U.S. up to 30 days before your program start date indicated on your immigration documents.


There are three airports located in the Metro D.C. area.  Please be aware that upon arrival in the United States you will go through U.S. Customs and Immigration.  The Customs and Immigration Official will check your travel documents as well as take your fingerprints and photo.

Washington Dulles International (IAD) located 20 miles from Washington, D.C. Dulles offers:

  • Traveler’s Aid Society – (703) 572-8296, located on the lower level at the west end of the main terminal
  • Foreign Visitors Greeting Service – (703) 572-2536, located on the east end of the terminal opposite claim area #2. Multilingual volunteers assist with hotel accommodations, connecting flights and other types of travelers’ needs
  • Foreign Currency Exchange, located at the east end of the terminal.

Baltimore-Washington International/Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) located in Maryland, 33 miles from Washington, D.C. BWI offers:

  • Two Information Desks, both are on the upper level. One is at the entrance of Pier C and the other is located near the entrance to Pier D;
  • Foreign Currency Exchange Offices, located on the upper and lower level – open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and Travelers Aid (PATH) – 410-859-7207.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) handles only domestic flights, but it is the closest and most convenient airport to AU. It is the only airport on a Metro subway line. DCA offers:

  • Customer Services Centers – (703) 417-3200/ (703) 417-3201, located in Terminals A, B, and C
  • Foreign Currency Exchange, located at all Customer Services Centers. Open between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily.

For information about how to travel around DC, including how to get to American University from the Airport, see: Getting to Campus 

Consider DC's Climate
For those moving to the city, keep in mind that Washington, D.C. has relatively mild temperatures in the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). In the summer it can be very hot and humid, especially in July and August.  The winter is cold and wet and usually brings a couple of heavy snow storms to the area.  Please be sure to bring clothes suitable for a wide range of climatic conditions. 
Secure Housing
AU does not offer graduate student housing. Therefore, all graduate students must secure their own accommodation. For assistance locating housing, please refer to the AU Off-Campus Housing Guide for information regarding D.C. neighborhoods, types of off-campus housing available and budgeting.


Working Off Campus

Due to F-1 visa regulations, international students are not allowed to work or intern off-campus until they have completed 1 academic year in full-time status. However, after this requirement is met, students may apply for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) visa which gives recipients the opportunity to work in the US for up to 12 months. If you are interested in exploring this option, please meet with an ISSS advisor to discuss your particular situation.

Working On Campus

Limited SIS Graduate Fellowships & Assistantships are awarded as part of the financial aid package for incoming graduate students only. Apart from Fellowships and Assistantships, there are other student positions on campus. However, they are also limited and are filled quickly. Some student jobs are reserved for students who received a Federal Work Study grant. Please check the position posting and with the hiring manager to determine if you are eligible to apply.

On-Campus Employment Guide for International Students

Current Student Job Openings

ISSS Events

Language Exchange, Mentorships, Social Events & More:


Career Workshop

The ISSS Office holds an annual Career Workshop for international students looking for employment.

Employment Visa

The Optional Practical Training Visa gives recipients the opportunity to work in the US for up to 12 months. Students may apply after one year of full-time academic study either before completion of the degree (Pre-Completion OPT) or after graduation (Post-Completion OPT), or through a combination of both. Please consult the ISSS office about your individual case.