Loyola University Chicago

International Student and Scholar Services

Prospective Students

Are you a newly-admitted international student? Here are some general tips and information on the next steps towards becoming a Rambler.

The Office of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) assists international students with immigration documents, but it does not admit international students. To attend Loyola University Chicago, you must first be admitted through one of Loyola's admission offices.

For information about admission requirements, tuition and program offerings, visit the appropriate admission office:

All new F-1 and J-1 international students need a Loyola University Chicago certificate of eligibility Form I-20 or DS-2019. Students need this document to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa, to transfer to Loyola in F-1 or J-1 status, or to change their status to F-1 or J-1. After being admitted to a Loyola program, ISSS will process your I-20 or DS-2019. If you have questions about the status of your immigration documents, please contact us at isss@luc.edu.

Here are the general steps to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa:

  • Get your I-20/DS-2019 from the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) team. If you have not yet received your I-20/DS-2019 it may be because you are missing required documents. Please contact isss@luc.edu for questions.
  • Apply early for your F-1 or J-1 visa as there can be a lengthy waiting period (Canadian citizens do not need a visa, but must use the I-20 when clearing customs)
  • Pay your SEVIS fee before you go to the United States embassy or consulate. For more information on how to pay this fee, visit https://www.fmjfee.com/index.html.
  • Make Appointment with US Embassy or US Consulate in your home country. To learn more about obtaining a US Visa visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html.

Be sure to bring all of your supporting documents with you to your visa interview; these include but are not limited to:

  • Your I-20
  • Your I-901 fee receipt
  • Your passport
  • Your acceptance letter
  • Any scholarship letters you've received
  • Financial support documents

Here are some general tips to keep in mind at your visa interview; please note that these are general suggestions (not hard rules) and every visa experience is different:

  1. Dress appropriately -- think of your visa appointment as a job interview and dress accordingly.
  2. Be sure to establish ties to your home country -- F-1 and J-1 visas are non-immigrant visas, so applicants must therefore show that they have reasons to return home following the completion of their studies.
  3. If possible, use English during the interview.
  4. Present clear and understandable financial documentation.
  5. Do not bring parents or family members to your interview and speak for yourself.
  6. Be able to explain how the degree you're pursuing at Loyola University Chicago supports your long-term personal or professional goals.
  7. Be concise. Your visa interview may not be long, so try to explain yourself as clearly and simply as possible.

International students should make their housing arrangements several months before they arrive in Chicago. Students who plan ahead have more housing choices than students who wait until they arrive in the U.S. Students who wait may also incur the cost of staying in a hostel or a hotel while they search for housing.

Undergraduate Students

You are considered an undergraduate student if you are seeking a bachelor's degree. If you are married, you are not permitted to live in on-campus housing and should make off-campus housing arrangements.

With some exceptions, Loyola generally requires all undergraduate students in their first or second year to live on campus in residence halls. For detailed information about on-campus housing, please contact the Department of Residence Life at 773.508.3300, e-mail res-life@luc.edu, or visit www.luc.edu/reslife/.

Graduate Students

You are considered a graduate student if you are seeking a master's degree or higher. The Department of Residence Life is currently not offering graduate student housing. Residence Life can refer you to off-campus housing resources.

General Housing Information

When searching for an apartment, be sure to keep in mind the distance to campus and/or public transportation like the El system. Prices can vary widely based on location, amenities, and size so shop around to find the best fit for you. ISSS recommends first visiting Loyola’s student classifieds website at https://lucweb.luc.edu/iggy/index.cfm as people in the Loyola community post ads for apartments or roommates here. You can also use our Off Campus Housing resources here: https://www.luc.edu/reslife/resources/off-campushousing/. Please keep in mind that going through Loyola's resources for off-campus housing is beneficial to international students since they are accustomed to accepting your Form I-20 as credit and proof of financial means. Buildings in Chicago that are not associated with Loyola or do not typically rent to international students may require that you provide a credit score, which you will not have if you are new to the U.S.

Entering the United States

You will need to bring the following documents with you in the plane:

  • Passport valid for at least 6 months after arrival
  • F-1 or J-1 visa stamp for entry
  • Immigration documents, printed and signed (I-20/DS-2019)
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Letter of acceptance from Loyola
  • Receipt of I-901 fee payment
  • ISSS contact information -- tel. 773-508-3899 or email isss@luc.edu

Keep these documents with you -- do not check them in your bags.

Getting to Chicago

You may travel to Chicago by plane, train or bus. For more information about these travel options, click one of the following links:

Getting to Loyola

A taxi, Uber, or Lyft is the easiest way to travel to Loyola. A one way trip from O'Hare International Airport should cost about $35-50. Since Midway Airport is much farther from campus than O'Hare, a one way fare will cost at least $50; for this reason we recommend flying into O'Hare if possible. You can also travel to Loyola by using the Chicago Transit Authority(CTA) system of buses and trains. While this is a much cheaper option, there is no direct route to Loyola and so you will have to make at least one transfer along the way.

Use these windy city resources to get around town, find good food, sign an apartment, and more!

Megabus—A great way to get around the region and see some sights.

Transit Chicago—Your best option to get around the city.

Ventra Card—Questions about your Ventra card…go here!

Metra—Need to go to the suburbs? This is how you do it!

Chicago Weather—Keep an eye out, Chicago weather can change quickly!

Chicago Tribune—One of Chicago’s newspapers.

Chicago Sun Times—Another newspaper.

Chicago Reader—This newspaper explores more alternative stories.

Chicago Metromix—Find something fun to do!

Chicago's Best—Highlights some of the best Chicago restaurants!

Time Out Chicago—Full of helpful reviews of activities and restaurants.


Once you have arrived in Illinois you may want to establish a U.S. bank account and utilize other local financial resources.

Which bank you choose is up to you and the decision is often based on personal preferences. Some things to consider when selecting a bank in the U.S. include:

  • Global reach – Does the bank have branches in Illinois and your home country? You may find that a bank with a global reach is most convenient for your situation.
  • Location – Does the bank have branches near the LUC campus or in the neighborhood where you plan to live? Having a physical branch office near where you plan to spend time can be helpful. 
  • ATM availability – If you expect to use cash often, a bank with widespread ATM availability and low ATM fees could work best for you.
  • Familiarity with international clients – Not all banks or branch locations will have staff familiar with the needs of international clients. You may find that banks with international branches or locations near the LUC campus may have more experience working with non-U.S. citizens and helping you through transactions such as international wire transfers or opening an account with a U.S. Social Security Number.
  • Mobile banking options – Does the bank offer mobile banking and are the features highly rated?

Again, the bank you select will depend on your personal circumstances. You may like to research and visit more than one branch before making a final decision.

Opening an Account

The exact process for opening an account will depend on the bank you select. However, these are the basic documents you may need to present:

  • Photo identification
  • Proof of address
  • U.S. Social Security Number (if available) – The bank will ask you for an SSN and you should share the number if you have one. However, an SSN is typically not required to open a savings or checking account. Ask the bank for alternatives if you do not yet have an SSN.
  • Money to deposit – You may need to have funds available to deposit into your new account. The funds could be in cash, check, or available by wire transfer. The minimum amount of money you need to deposit and maintain your account will depend on the bank and account type you choose.

Types of Accounts

Your bank will offer many different types of accounts, but the two basic account types used for saving and spending money in the U.S. are savings and checking accounts. At some point, you may be presented with the need for a credit account. However, know that an SSN is required to open a credit account and it is extremely important to understand the terms for repayment before opening one.

  • Savings – Savings accounts safeguard your money for a prolonged period of time. There are typically limits on the number of withdrawals you can make from the account each month. Interest is paid on the account but generally at low rates. You may be able to earn a higher interest rate in a Money Market account or with a Certificate of Deposit but these accounts may require larger initial deposits and can restrict your access to the funds for longer periods of time.
  • Checking – Checking accounts safeguard your money while allowing for frequent and easy access for everyday expenses like food, clothing, books, and supplies. Checking accounts are also commonly used as a place to deposit funds you may receive from earnings, scholarships, or money from home. Some banks may require you to maintain a minimum amount of money in your checking account or link it to a savings account to avoid an account maintenance fee. Additionally, you can be charged significant fees for spending more money than the current balance in your checking account. This is called “overdrawing” your account or “bouncing a check” if the payment was made by written check. Make sure to discuss account features that can protect you from overdraft fees when opening your account.
  • Joint – If your spouse has joined you in the U.S., you may like to open a joint savings, checking, or credit account. A joint account means that both you and your spouse have access to the account and can make deposits and withdrawals. Discuss your options for joint accounts with your bank and consider whether sharing an account with your spouse makes sense for your situation.
  • Credit – If you have a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) your bank may offer you a credit card in addition to your savings and checking accounts. If you do not have an SSN, your bank may allow you to open a credit account with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) or offer you a secured credit account that requires a deposit. Credit accounts can be tempting, especially when they come with high spending limits or a 0% interest rate for the first year. However, please use caution when opening a credit account. Credit accounts are basically short-term loans from the bank. Any money you spend must be paid back in full according to the deadlines specified in your contract. If you do not pay the full amount back on time, you will be charged interest, which is typically very high for credit cards. If you miss a payment, you will be charged a fee. Credit cards can be convenient, and if managed properly, there can be benefits associated with having one. That said, many, many people in the U.S. go into significant debt due to credit card spending and that debt never goes away. If you decide to open a credit account, make sure you educate yourself first so that you can select the best account for you and manage it successfully.


Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit number used as an employment identification number for tax purposes. You are eligible to obtain a U.S. Social Security Number if you have been authorized to work.


Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

If you are ineligible to receive a SSN, you will need to apply for an ITIN in order to complete your taxes. ALL international students are required to file taxes regardless of whether you are employed or not.


Who is Eligible

You must be employed or have an offer of employment to receive a Social Security Number. That means you must have work authorization which includes:

  • On-campus employment at Loyola University Chicago
  • Off-campus employment with approved Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Having an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with approved Optional Practical Training (OPT)


How to Apply

Step 1: Get a job offer or work authorization though OPT.

  • If you have a job offer on campus, please request an SSN Letter from ISSS in the ISSS Portal.
  • If you have a job offer off campus, apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) in the ISSS Portal. The I-20 with CPT Approval will take the place of the SSN Letter.
  • If you apply for OPT and you do not have an SSN, you can request that an SSN be assigned to you along with your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS.

Step 2: Apply for an SSN at your local Social Security Administration office.

  • Read through the International Students and Social Security Numberinfo-sheet.
  • Download and complete the SSN Application form.
  • Collect the documents required according to the type of work authorization you have (see chart). Submit documents directly at the Social Security Administration (SSA). You will need to provide originaldocuments showing proof of immigration status, identity, age, and work eligibility.


List of SSA office addresses:

Documents required

On- Campus





AT Approved

Completed SSN Application





Valid Passport





Most current I-94 (retrieve from i94.cbp.dhs.gov)





Proof of residency (rental lease, utility bill, bank statement etc.)





Most current I-20/DS-2019





I-20 with CPT authorization





I-20 with OPT authorization





DS-2019 with AT authorization





Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card





Job offer letter





Academic Training Letter from ISSS





ISSS Letter of Support (request in ISSS Portal)







1. Illinois Driver’s License 

If you plan to drive or own a vehicle while studying in the United States, you are legally required to have a state-issued Driver’s License. A state-issued driver’s license serves as both a license to drive and a form of identification. In order to obtain a driver’s license, you must pass a written exam and a road test. If you are under 21 years old, please refer to the steps for Graduated Drivers Licenses. 

2. Illinois State I.D. 

Although a local State I.D. is not required, it can be very useful to carry for purposes such as banking, traveling domestically, etc. However, a State I.D. serves as a form of identification ONLY and does not authorize you to drive. There is no minimum age to obtain a State I.D. 


For the most updated and detailed instructions on how to attain the State I.D., Drivers’ License, or Temporary Visitors Driver’s License, please refer to Secretary of State Website. Illinois Driver’s Licenses and State I.D.s are processed directly at a local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You must wait at least 10 days after your Immigration Check-In at Loyola University Chicago to be able to apply for a Driver’s License or State I.D. As international students, your Driver’s License or State I.D. will be valid up to three years, or up to your program end date stated in your I-20 (whichever is sooner). Please note that if you are pending any changes to your immigration status, it may be difficult to obtain or renew a driver’s license. 


To apply at the DMV, you must present: 

  • Your most current and signed I-20, 
  • Your most current I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, 
  • A form of payment (cash or check) for processing fees, and 
  • Documents that satisfy each of classified groups (see chart below) 

Please see the complete list of required documents issued by the Secretary of State. The chart below is a summarized list of documents that may be applicable to international students. One document may satisfy more than one group. 


Group A: 

Written Signature

(one document) 

Group B: 

Date of Birth

(one document) 

Group C: 

Social Security Number

(one document) 

Group D: 


(two documents) 

  • Valid passport 
  • I-94 
  • SSN Card 
  • Credit Card/debit Card (major U.S bank) 
  • Driver Education Certificate 
  • I-766 Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Current Driver’s License or State I.D. (for renewal only) 
  • Valid passport 
  • U.S. Visa 
  • I-94 
  • Birth certificate
  • Certified School Transcripts 
  • SSN Card 
  • If you do not have a social security card, please call 217-524-0879 or visit the Secretary of State website to determine your eligibility for a temporary driver’s license. 
  • Certified School Transcripts 
  • Bank statement (issued within the last 90 days) 
  • Rental or lease agreement, insurance policy, medical claim 
  • Official mail from school, tuition invoice, official mail received from state, county, city, federal agency, (issued within the last 90 days.
  • Mailed bills (electric, utilities, telephone, cable, gas, etc. – issued within the last 90 days)