Loyola University Chicago

International Student and Scholar Services

J-1 Exchange Students

As an incoming exchange student, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with Loyola University Chicago policies and J-1 regulations.

Nomination Timeline

All exchange program students must be nominated by their home institution.

Students can be nominated by emailing the primary exchange program contact in the Office of International Programs no later than the nomination deadlines listed below.

Nomination Deadlines

Fall Semester/Academic Year Nomination Deadline: March 15

Spring Semester Nomination Deadline: October 1

Eligibility and Requirements

Language: If your native language is not English and/or if your primary language of instruction has not been English, you may be required to take the TOEFL or IELTS language tests.  The minimum score for TOEFL is 79 (iBT), for IELTS is 6.5, and for Duolingo is 110.

Proof of Financial Support: All exchange program students are required to submit copies of actual financial documentation (bank statements, scholarship letters, etc.) proving the ability to pay for the tuition, fees, and living expenses associated with attending and living on-campus at Loyola University Chicago. If the documents are not in the name of the student, they will be required to provide an Affidavit of Support as well. These documents will be uploaded to the ISSS Portal as part of the DS-2019 Request. 

Health Insurance Coverage: All international students in J-1 visa status are required to have health insurance coverage. The minimum standards set by the U.S. Department of State are:  

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

Exchange program students can opt (waive) out of Loyola University Chicago student health insurance coverage; however, you will need to complete the waiver application process through the Office of the Bursar and upload your insurance forms to the ISSS Portal when you arrive on campus, prior to your SEVIS immigration record validation.  Through completion of the waiver application process and ISSS Portal confirmation, you will attest that your health insurance coverage meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of State’s minimum requirements listed above.

For more information on Loyola University Chicago’s student health insurance plan and the waiver application process, please visit the Office of the Bursar.

Immunizations: Proof of immunity is an Illinois state requirement.  All Loyola University Chicago students enrolled in seven (7) or more credit hours must fulfill immunization requirements with the Wellness Center.  More information is available here.

Application Procedure

Step 1: Once your nomination has been confirmed, we will email an application link directly to your nominating (home) institution.

Step 2: You will need to complete the Loyola University Chicago exchange program application by the applicable deadlines listed below.  Applicants should be prepared to submit the following documents:

  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Unofficial transcript(s)

Step 3: About 2-3 weeks after acceptance, you will receive your Loyola Student ID and Loyola Email Account which will allow you to access course registration, housing, and the DS-2019 Request. You will receive a separate email to your Loyola email account, inviting you to the ISSS Portal where you will upload your passport and proof of financial support in order to request the DS-2019. You will use the DS-2019 to apply for your U.S. visa.

Application Deadlines

Fall Semester/Academic Year Application Deadline: April 1
Spring Semester Application Deadline: October 15

Tuition Cost

As part of the reciprocal exchange program that Loyola University Chicago has with your home institution, you will be required to pay your home institution’s tuition rate.  For any questions about this, please contact the study abroad/exchange program office at your home institution directly.

Expected Additional Fees

You will receive information from ISSS about the estimated fees in order to receive your DS-2019. These fees typically include on-campus housing, mandatory fees, health insurance, and meals. 


Building your Budget

We encourage you to plan a smart budget for your time in Chicago and at Loyola University Chicago. Some things to consider in building your budget (in addition to the fees listed above) include:

  • Any trips of excursions you would like to take (I-House + trips and excursions, weekends around the Chicago area, etc.)
  • School Supplies (textbooks, notebooks, writing utensils, laptop computer, etc.)
  • Additional spending money (meals taken outside of your meal plan, entertainment, souvenirs, etc.)

When preparing for your stay in Chicago it is important that you carefully plan out your budget and consider your banking options.  PNC Bank and Chase Bank are reliable, local options for students wishing to open a U.S. bank account.  International Student and Scholar Services can write a letter of support for opening a U.S. bank account if you need one.  You can also consider using an international debit card through your bank in your home country.  We recommend making the appropriate health insurance, budget, and banking accommodations as early as possible prior to your arrival in the U.S.

After receiving admission as an exchange student to Loyola University Chicago, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will assist you in obtaining a J-1 visa before your entry to the U.S.

The first step in the process will be for ISSS to issue you a Form DS-2019.  In order for this document to be issued, you will be invited to the ISSS Portal via your Loyola Student Email Address where you must upload copies of the following documents:

  • Passport bio/info page
  • Declaration and Certification of Finances Form signed by you and your financial sponsor
  • Proof of funding (bank statements, scholarship letters, etc.)

Once issued, you will receive an email that your DS-2019 and Exchange Student Welcome Letter will be accessible under Documents in the ISSS Portal. 

Upon receiving your DS-2019, a cover letter will instruct you to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee, complete and submit a DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, and schedule your J-1 visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to you abroad.

More information on the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program can be found on the U.S Department of State website.


You are able to enroll in nearly any undergraduate-level course in academic departments throughout Loyola University Chicago as long as you meet the prerequisite requirements for each course.  There are a few general exceptions:

  • Certain courses are restricted to special populations at the University, such as honors students and athletes
  • Nursing and Engineering Science are academic departments whose courses students must apply for admission to, and therefore enrollment is typically restricted

Each academic department publishes a catalog for the courses that they host.  In general, undergraduate-level courses at Loyola University Chicago are worth three (3) U.S. credits.  For more information on the University’s colleges and schools, academic departments, and available courses/prerequisite requirements, please access the following links:

If you are unable to find a course description/sample syllabi, please reach out to the Office of International Programs and we will assist you in obtaining this information.

Please note that in order to maintaing your J-1 visa status, you will be required to enroll in a minimum of 12 credits (and no more than 18 credits) per semester.  It is typically recommended that you enroll in 12 to 15 credits during the semester in order to properly adjust to a U.S. university classroom and variations in teaching methods among professors.  Most courses require completion of several assignments and exams, as well as regular attendance and in-class participation.

Academic Advising

During your studies at Loyola University Chicago you will have a dedicated Academic Advisor who can help you choose your courses and build your schedule. Once you have been accepted into the exchange program, an Academic Advisor will reach out to you to discuss course registration and ensure that you build a schedule that meets your academic needs.

It is important that your academic transcript (i.e. record of past enrollment) from your home institution abroad is:

  • Up-to-date with ALL courses you have previously taken
  • Translated into English

Please make sure that you submit ALL documentation for required immunizations directly to the Wellness Center.  If you fail to do so, a hold will be placed on your student account preventing you from registering for courses or requesting an official transcript from the University.  For more information on required immunizations and appropriate documentation, please access the Wellness Center’s immunization webpage.

Academic Calendar

Important dates during each academic term (i.e. when courses begin and end, deadlines to add and drop courses, etc.) are published in the University’s Academic Calendar, available here.


Enrollment Requirements

All J-1 exchange students must be enrolled full-time during the academic year. Full-time enrollment at the undergraduate level is a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. Failure to maintain full-time enrollment may result in the loss of your J-1 status. 


J-1 students are permitted to travel within the U.S. or abroad provided that they carry appropriate documentation. Please make sure all of your documentation is valid well in advance of your travel dates.

Traveling within the U.S.

  • ISSS recommends that you carry two forms of identification (including your passport) along with your valid DS-2019.
  • You do not need an additional visa stamp or travel signature to travel within the U.S.

Traveling abroad

  • DS-2019 with a valid travel signature endorsed by your ISSS advisor within the last 12 months;
  • Valid visa stamp; and
  • Current passport, valid at least six months after the date of your re-entry to the U.S.

To obtain a travel signature, please fill out and submit the I-20/DS-2019 Document Update Request Form along with your original DS-2019 to the OIP front desk in Sullivan 206.

The ISSS team is unable to provide same day travel signature requests. Please request your travel signature one week in advance of your departure. 

Health Insurance

In order to maintain your J-1 status, you must maintain health insurance coverage that meets the minimum requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of State. Proof of valid insurance coverage must be submitted to the ISSS team during your immigration check-in. 

The minimum requirements are as follows:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

All students enrolled full-time will be automatically enrolled in and billed for Loyola's health insurance coverage. You may waive out of Loyola's coverage if you have your own insurance that meets the minimum U.S. Department of State requirements. More information on Loyola's health insurance plan, along with instructructions on how to waive out of the coverage, can be found here

Please contact ISSS if you would like a list of alternate health insurance providers that meet the U.S. Department of State J-1 visa requirements. 

Residence Halls and Meal Plans

At Loyola University Chicago, there are a variety of on-campus residence hall housing options that will allow you to engage more directly with campus culture.

For more information about on-campus housing options at the University, please refer to the Department of Residence Life.  A listing of all University residence halls is available here.  Once you have been accepted into the exchange program, the Residence Life team will determine your housing assignment and will be in contact with you.  For a current listing of housing costs, please refer to the following webpage.

All students living on the University’s Lake Shore Campus are required to purchase a meal plan with their housing placement.  More information on meal plan rates is available here.  Your meal plan will be loaded onto your Rambler (student ID) Card with funds allotted for each meal.

More information on student dining options at Lake Shore Campus is available here.



Loyola University Chicago has three main area campuses: Lake Shore, Water Tower, and Health Sciences.  We encourage you to view our campus virtual tours for a sense of what it is really like to be on-campus.  Click on the links to view campus maps for our primary Lake Shore and Water Tower Campuses.

The urban setting of the University’s Lake Shore and Water Tower Campuses provides many transit options including train, bus, taxi/car, bicycle, and walking.

Train and Bus

The Lake Shore Campus is conveniently located near the Chicago Transportation Authority’s (CTA) Red Line “Loyola” train station.  The Red Line operates 24 hours per day.  CTA bus #147 with service between the Rogers Park neighborhood and downtown Chicago also has pick-up and drop-off within the Lake Shore Campus.

The Water Tower Campus is accessible by the CTA’s Red Line “Chicago” station and numerous CTA bus routes.

To plan your trip to either campus or around Chicago, and for maps of CTA train and bus lines, please visit the Chicago Transportation Authority’s website.

Taxi and Car

Taking a taxi or hiring a private car is another option when traveling between Loyola University Chicago campuses and around Chicago.

Lake Shore and Water Tower Campus addresses are as follows (for your driver):

Lake Shore Campus
1110 W. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660

Water Tower Campus
111 E. Pearson Street
Chicago, IL 60611


With our close proximity to the Chicago Lakefront Trail, many students, staff, and faculty will bike to and from campus during the warmer months.  There are approximately 30 bike racks at Lake Shore Campus and several around Water Tower Campus as well.  Chainlinks is a student-run, one-stop bike shop that offers bike repairs at the Lake Shore Campus and hourly, daily, and monthly bike rentals.  Additionally, Chicago participates in the DIVVY bike share program with several convenient docking stations around both Lake Shore and Water Tower Campuses.

For more information on Loyola University Chicago campuses, public transportation, and parking, please visit the following link.‌


Students should come prepared to experience all four seasons in Chicago: wet, cool springs; somewhat hot, and often humid, summers; pleasantly mild autumns; and cold winters.  Chicago can be cooler and experience more precipitation than other parts of Illinois because of its proximity to the relatively cool waters of Lake Michigan.

More information about the weather in Chicago is available here.

Student Organizations

With over 200 recognized student organizations on campus, there are guaranteed involvement opportunities for any student.  Student organizations are formed by currently enrolled students sharing a common goal or interest and typically involve activities centered on themes of service/spirituality, hobbies/special interests, political/social issues, sports, culture/ethnicity, academics and honorary societies, or media.  For a full list of current student organizations, please click here.

Keep an eye out for the Student Organization Fair which happens each semester.

The City of Chicago has over 75 distinct neighborhood areas, each with their own unique cultures and histories.  For students who are curious to explore off-campus but may be unsure of where and how to start, the Exploring Chicago Neighborhoods program is a great way to discover many of those diverse cultural and historical traditions while developing new friendships with students from around the world.  Each semester, we explore neighborhood areas such as Rogers Park, Pilsen, Hyde Park, Chinatown, and Andersonville among several others throughout the city.  For more information on this program please email isss@LUC.edu.

Chai and Chat

Chai and Chat offers the opportunity for international and domestic students to meet and get to know each other on a regular basis in a casual setting.  A new conversation starter is announced each week, although students are always welcome to talk about any topic that comes to mind.  Students are encouraged to explore different opinions and perspectives from their own in a safe space, helping to build relationships, mutual understanding, and ultimately, a stronger sense of community.  Tea is provided!  For more information on this program please email isss@LUC.edu.

Campus Recreation

The Department of Campus Recreation strives to provide a diverse selection of quality recreational activities for individuals to pursue fitness, wellness, and leisure opportunities which enhance their personal development and establish habits for a healthy lifestyle.  The newly renovated Halas Recreation Center is located next to the Damen Student Center and is a part of the Student Complex.   Visit the Halas Recreation Center to make use of their exercise equipment, multipurpose courts, aquatics facilities, and group fitness classes.

Event Calendar

You will find a number of events happening daily across all University campuses.  Explore our University Calendar for a sense of the many activities accessible to you as a student at Loyola University Chicago.

Chicago, Rogers Park, and Our Favorite Activities

Chicago is home to:

  • 5 citywide music festivals, nearly 50 neighborhood music festivals and 35 neighborhood food festivals
  • 8,100 acres of green space with 580 parks and 26 beaches
  • Over 30 downtown and neighborhood parades
  • Approximately 369 landmarks and 46 historic districts
  • Over 225 miles of bike lanes and more than 13,000 bike racks
  • Over 3,000 bikes and 300 stations through Divvy bike sharing system

Did you know?

  • The title of, "The Windy City" was bestowed on Chicago in 1893 by New York Sun editor Charles Dana.  Mr. Dana was tired of listening to long-winded politicians boast about the World's Fair that was held in Chicago the same year.
  • Chicago currently has 2,704,958residents in its 228 square miles.
  • Only 58% of Chicago residents were born in Illinois. Twenty-two percent of Chicago residents were born in another country.
  • More fun facts are available here!

Rogers Park

Loyola University Chicago’s Lake Shore Campus is located in the heart of Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood.  Visit this page for more information about things to do, places to shop, eat, and more in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

Our Favorite Activities

“Chicago is famous for its legendary contributions to music from the development of Chicago style blues in the early 20th century to being the birthplace of House music in the 1980s. While you are in Chicago, you must go see some live music! I suggest checking out places like the Green Mill or Buddy Guy’s for blues music or going to one of the many neighborhood and music festivals that happen each weekend in Chicago.”

    • Jason Obin, Director of the International House

“My favorite way to explore Chicago is through the city’s food scene. The best of the city’s history and diversity can be explored through its food culture. Hungry for Indian? Head over to Devon. Vietnamese? Argyle is a great bet. The city has an amazing array of unique restaurants that run the gamut from small family-run eateries to Michelin starred restaurants known the world over. Chicago is also known for great comedy! If you need a good laugh, grab some friends and take in an improv show at one of the many comedy clubs around the city.”

    • Marian Carlson, International Student and Scholar Advisor

“One of my favorite ways to enjoy the city is by visiting the city parks. There’s a small and quaint Japanese Garden in Jackson Park that is worth a visit.”

    • Akeya Porter, Senior Academic Advisor