FAQ for International Students

Nearly half of the graduate student population at Cornell is international, with students hailing from countries all around the world! This page will help answer your most time-sensitive questions and outline your next steps. Please contact the Cornell Graduate Admissions Office if you need additional assistance.


Complete the online Admission Supplement for International Students form

This supplemental ApplyWeb form collects the information we need to finalize your admission. You will use the form to securely upload a copy of your passport, demonstrate that you have adequate financial resources to enroll in your degree program, update your mailing address, and inform us about any dependent family members who may be coming with you to Ithaca.

Where can I find the form and when should I fill it out?

Shortly after you accept your offer of admission, you will receive an email from the Graduate School Admissions Office with a link to the online form and a list of documents to prepare. The email will indicate your estimated costs of attendance and the total funds you will need to certify if you are not fully funded by Cornell.

If you plan to attend Cornell on a student visa, you must complete and submit this form before we can issue the Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 or DS-2019) for your visa application. We recommend that you submit the form as soon as possible and at least six weeks before you plan to arrive in Ithaca.

I do not need an I-20 or DS-2019, should I still fill out the form?

Yes. All international students, regardless of expected visa status, are asked to complete the Admission Supplement and certify adequate financial resources. You will be asked to indicate your expected visa status on the form. If you do not select F-1 or J-1, we will not produce a visa document for you. If your visa status type is not listed, please select “other”. 

I have a pending Green Card application, am I still an international student?

Yes. When your Green Card application is approved, International Services, in the Office of Global Learning, will help you update your status in the university’s systems.

Is there a fee for submitting the form?

At the time you submit the Admission Supplement, you may be asked to pay a $30 fee to cover the costs of shipping your I-20 or DS-2019. You will not be charged a fee if you do not need us to prepare or ship documents to you.

Financial Certification

To comply with U.S. law, the Graduate School requires all international students to provide evidence of adequate financial resources. These resources must be sufficient to cover the costs of attendance, including living expenses, for the minimum expected duration of your degree program. You will be asked to upload financial documents with your Admission Supplement.

How much do I need to certify?

Your Admission Supplement email will provide a summary of your estimated expenses, the certification period, and the total certification amount. If your admission letter guarantees full financial support from Cornell, you will only need to certify funds if you plan to bring a dependent spouse or children with you to the U.S. Providing incomplete documents or certifying less than the total requested will cause a delay in processing your Admission Supplement.

What types of funding are acceptable?

Personal/Family Funds—

  • All funds must be liquid and held in accounts from which funds can be easily withdrawn to pay your tuition bill. We cannot accept statements regarding invested funds, such as those held in stocks or real estate, tax return forms, letters offering on-campus employment or a summer internship, or letters indicating an annual salary.
  • Provide a bank statement or official signed letter from your bank verifying the amounts.
  • All bank statements must have been issued within the last three (3) months, be written in English (or be accompanied by a certified translation), and the type of currency should be indicated. The funds do not need to be frozen at the time the statement is prepared.
  • If the bank account is not in your name, you must also provide a simple letter from the account holder (in English) confirming their willingness to financially support you for the purposes of your education.

External Sponsorship—If you will receive external funding (e.g., funding from your government, an NGO, your employer, etc.), you will need to provide a letter, written in English, from your sponsor which certifies: the total amount of funding in U.S. dollars; sponsor contact information; the start and end dates of sponsorship; and a representative’s signature.

Loans—Provide an approval notice from your lender, written in English, certifying the loan holder’s name and the purpose and amount of the loan (in USD). We can also accept a pre-approval letter from the lender stating that the loan is expected to be sanctioned once you provide them with a copy of your I-20 or DS-2019.

I am bringing my spouse or children, how much extra money do I need to certify?

Your Admission Supplement email will provide information about how to calculate the certification amount for dependents. While the total amount will vary based on your circumstances, you should expect to certify an additional $10,000-$12,500 per year for your spouse, and $6,500-$8,000 per year for each child, for a maximum of three years. If your annual fellowship or assistantship stipend exceeds our estimated living expenses for students, you may apply the difference to your dependents’ expenses. Please note, you do not need to certify funds for dependents who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. 

Visas: Special Topics

What kind of visa do I need? F-1 or J-1?

Most international students at Cornell (including visiting non-degree and exchange students) have an F-1 student visa. Nearly all students with a J-1 visa are sponsored by their government or another external agency and are required to have J-1 status to receive their funding. In fact, you are only eligible for a J-1 visa if more than 50% of your funding comes from a source other than personal or family funds. (Students with full Cornell funding are eligible to request J-1 status, if preferred.)

What is the SEVIS School Code or Program Code?

For F-1 students, the SEVIS School Code for Cornell’s Ithaca campus is BUF214F00067000. For J-1 students with a D-2019 issued by Cornell, Cornell’s Program Code is P-1-00043. 

The visa application asks for a DSO or school contact, whose name should I use?

Your contact will be:

Hersh Sisodia
Associate Director of Student Immigration Services
Office of Global Learning
300 Caldwell Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
+1 (607) 255-5243

How and when should I transfer my SEVIS record to Cornell?

If you are already in the U.S. in active F-1 or J-1 student status, you will need to have your SEVIS record transferred to Cornell from your current school before classes begin. Talk to your current international student advisor about your travel and employment plans, then have them complete the Graduate School’s F-1 Transfer Form or J-1 Transfer Form. Upload your transfer form with your Admission Supplement. You are encouraged to submit your Admission Supplement before your transfer release date.

We will not be able to issue your new immigration documents until after your transfer release date. However, your NetID will be issued and you will receive activation instructions after we process and complete your Admission Supplement. You can track your status using the Admission Supplement checklist on your ApplyWeb activity page. You will have the same SEVIS ID and will not need to pay the SEVIS fee again. If you have questions about applying for a new visa, contact International Services within the Office of Global Learning or visit their Transferring to Cornell webpage.

I am already a Cornell student, how do I change my I-20 or DS-2019 for my new degree program?

If you are currently enrolled in or recently completed an academic program at Cornell, and are about to begin a new graduate program, complete the top portion of the Change of Level/Program Application form and upload it with your Admission Supplement. You do not need to get a signature from our office or anyone else before uploading the form. We will complete the form for you and ask you to pick it up and take it to International Services to receive your new I-20 or DS-2019.

Can I pick up my I-20 or DS-2019 at the Graduate School?

Yes. If you are already in the U.S. and would prefer to pick up your I-20 or DS-2019 in person at the Graduate School, enter your mailing address on the Admission Supplement as ‘In care of Graduate Admissions, 143 Caldwell Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853’. We will notify you when your document is ready to be picked up.

Can you mail my I-20 or DS-2019 to Iran?

We contract with FedEx to deliver most of our I-20s and DS-2019s worldwide. Neither FedEx nor UPS currently deliver to Iran. Most of our Iranian students prefer to have us FedEx documents to a friend or family member with an address in another country. The recipient will then hand-deliver or mail the documents to the student using a courier that delivers to Iran. If this option will not work for you, please contact the Graduate School Admissions Office for other options. 


When will I receive my NetID?

NetIDs, the username you will use to log into most Cornell systems, are generated daily beginning in March for summer admits, April for fall admits, and October for spring admits. Once the university begins generating NetIDs for the next term, you can expect to receive activation instructions at your admissions email address within 24 hours after we process and complete your Admission Supplement. You can track your status using the Admission Supplement checklist on your ApplyWeb activity page.


What is CertiFile? Is it required?

CertiFile is a credential verification and delivery service offered by ApplyWeb (CollegeNET) in partnership with Educational Perspectives and Digitary. A CertiFile Detailed Evaluation provides Cornell with verified official transcripts and other required documents, and prevents the submission of fraudulent or unsuitable international credentials. Using CertiFile is optional. However, it is strongly recommended as it will fully satisfy the Graduate School Admissions Office transcript and degree certificate requirements for admitted students. The service is currently only available to international students.

I already submitted my Admission Supplement, can I still use CertiFile?

Yes. You can initiate a CertiFile order at any time through your ApplyWeb activity page.

How much does it cost?

You will pay $150 to have your credentials verified and evaluated, $12 for the evaluation report, and $10 per credential category, per school that you wish to have delivered to Cornell. The average total cost per student is typically $182-$192 to have undergraduate degree credentials delivered. All amounts are in USD.

I already have credentials stored in my Digitary or MyEquals account. What should I do?

Initiate a CertiFile order through the Admission Supplement or your ApplyWeb account. When prompted, indicate that you want to attach existing academic credentials from your Digitary or MyEquals account, then follow the directions to select the documents you wish to have delivered to Cornell. The cost will be $12 for the first credential category and $10 per additional credential category. The CertiFile service will deliver the credentials directly to Cornell on your behalf.

Who should I contact for help with my order?

You can find the answers to many of your questions using ApplyWeb’s CertiFile help page. For additional technical assistance, email help@applyweb.com.

Summer Program for English and Culture (SPEAC)

What is SPEAC? Who can participate?

SPEAC is a four-week summer program specifically designed to help international M.Eng, M.S., and M.P.S. students in Engineering or CIS fields succeed at Cornell. SPEAC can help you:

  • improve your English communication skills,
  • learn about and explore academic culture at Cornell,
  • prepare to look for and apply for a job or internship,
  • acclimatize to local life,
  • make friends, and
  • be ready to start your program.

What are the program dates?

July 12 – August 9, 2019

How much does SPEAC cost?

The standard SPEAC program fee is $3,950 USD. Register by April 15 and the program fee will be $3,850. Register from May 16 to May 31 and the program fee will be $4,050. You will also need to certify an additional $2,500 for living expenses.

How do I register for the program?

If you are eligible to participate, you will find the registration form on page 4 of the Admission Supplement for International Students.

I already received my I-20 or DS-2019, can I still register for the program?

Yes. Simply submit a second Admissions Supplement. You should be able to access the form by clicking the link in the original Admission Supplement email you received from our office. Complete the registration on page 4 of the form, upload a new financial document to certify additional financial resources, and submit the form again. You may be asked to pay a second $30 shipping fee. We will update your SEVIS record and print and mail a new I-20 or DS-2019 with an earlier start date. Your SEVIS ID number and academic program details will not change.

What is the registration deadline?

April 15, 2019 – Early Registration Deadline. Register by April 15, 2019 and get a $100 discount.

May 15, 2019 – Standard Registration Deadline.

May 31, 2019 – Extended Registration Deadline. If you wait and register from May 16 to May 31, an extra $100 will be added to your program fee, and you may have more difficulty obtaining a visa on time.  

Where can I learn more?

If you have any questions, email SPEAC Director Nathan Lindberg at nathanlindberg@cornell.edu or visit the SPEAC webpage.