CoomencementInformation for Admitting Departments

International students who are outside of the United States and need to apply for a student visa have a long road ahead of them after being officially admitted to LSU by the Graduate School. The U.S. visa application process can be a lengthy one, taking anywhere from 2-3 weeks (for most Western European countries) to any number of months (for countries including – but not limited to – China, India, Iran and Nigeria).

The summer months are particularly busy at all U.S. Consulates abroad due to the high number of students admitted to colleges/universities for the fall semester as well as other travelers seeking tourist visas. November and December are also busy due to holiday closures.

In view of the above, we recommend that your department accept international applicants into your program as early as possible in order for these individuals to obtain official and unconditional  admission from the Graduate School, to complete necessary visa-related paperwork and to arrive on campus in time for International Orientation and course enrollment.

We hope that this and the following information will be helpful to your department. If you have questions about a prospective or recently admitted applicant, e-mail or call 578-3191.

How international applicants obtain an I-20/DS-2019

In order to receive an I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility (COE), U.S. Immigration regulations state that applicants:

  • must be admitted to a degree/exchange program on campus. (This means being officially and unconditionally admitted based on University standards for admission. The official admission must appear in mainframe.)
  • must have sufficient funds to cover all estimated expenses for at least one academic year. (“Sufficient funds” can be in the form of LSU financial assistance, personal/family funding, government/company sponsorships, etc.)

The processing of the admitted applicant’s COE differs if he/she is outside of the U.S. or is already in the U.S. in F-1 student status. For more details, click here.

Conditional Admission and English proficiency requirement

In October 2016 the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued policy guidance for Conditional Admission. This guidance instructs that “[Designated School Officials] can only issue a Form I-20 when students have met all standards for admission for the program of study listed on the Form I-20. These standards for admission include any English proficiency requirements.” Click here for a chart that further explains this matter.

Additional items to note:

  1. International Services is following SEVP’s policy guidance as SEVP Designated School Officials.  All schools across the United States must comply with this SEVP guidance per their standards for admission.
  2. A departmental petition to the Graduate School to waive the English proficiency requirement for academic admission  purposes does not waive the English proficiency requirement for I-20 purposes based on General Catalog admission  standards.
  3. The Graduate School admissions staff members are the experts to evaluate admissions materials, considering the departmental committee’s acceptance decisions and the current LSU General Catalog when determining the final admission decisions for graduate applicants.

How your department can help your applicants

It is to your department’s advantage to accept international applicants into your program as early as possible in order for:

  • the Graduate School to complete the official admission process;
  • International Services to communicate with and receive from the admitted applicants what may be needed to process the I-20/DS-2019 COE;
  • and the admitted applicants to have enough time to apply for and receive the U.S. student visa, and arrive on campus to complete course registration.

If the applicant has been offered any kind of LSU financial assistance (i.e. assistantship, Tuition Award, etc.), provide a copy of the assistantship offer letter to International Services as soon as the offer has been made. For our office’s purposes, the offer letter does not need to be signed by the student but must be signed by someone from the department indicating that the offer has been made. A copy of the offer letter can be e-mailed to

Note: If the admitted applicant does not have any or enough funding from the University, he or she will be required to submit an Affidavit of Support and proof of funding to International Services in order to be considered for a COE. (International Services will e-mail the admitted applicant directly if any additional financial support documentation is required.)

Some departments pay for express mail delivery of the I-20/DS-2019 COE for graduate assistants to ensure that the admit receives the COE faster, applies for the visa sooner and (hopefully) makes it to LSU in more than enough time to register for classes and begin assistantship appointment duties.

Note: If the admitted applicant has an assistantship offer and the department will pay for express mail delivery of the I-20/DS-2019, International Services will contact the department after the documents are ready for collection from our office’s reception desk (101 Hatcher Hall).

Frequently Asked Questions

It is likely that the student’s visa application needs to undergo additional administrative processing, meaning that the U.S. Consular officer is requesting additional documentation about the student’s program of study and/or research.

Since International Services does not know what types of research/classes each academic department on LSU’s campus provides to its students, your department should provide the student and/or U.S. Consulate with a letter explaining the types of research and/or coursework that the student will be involved in during his studies at LSU. U.S. Consulates also want to know the applicability of the coursework/research. Please note that administrative processing can add about 2-3 months to the visa application process so the sooner this letter can be written, the better.

Note: Unfortunately, our office (and LSU) cannot get involved in these types of administrative processes since they are done by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Also, due to confidentiality laws, the U.S. Department of State cannot give information about a student’s case to any third party. However, International Services can provide the student with contact information if he/she is having difficulties finding out about his particular case.


According to U.S. Immigration, new students are allowed to enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the program start date listed on the I-20/DS-2019 COE.

Note: The program start date on the COE for any given semester is the day before the International Student Orientation program.

However, just because a student can arrive in the U.S. that early does not mean that he can work right away. U.S. Immigration regulations stipulate that the earliest that a student can begin working on campus is 30 days before the first day of classes for the semester to which he has been admitted. If the student meets these criteria, he/she must come to International Services to process the work authorization before the student can begin working.

Please review the information on our website regarding On-Campus Employment Instructions for Hiring Departments for more details or e-mail


According to U.S. Immigration regulations, individuals in F-2 dependent status are not allowed to enroll in a degree program or accept employment.

U.S. Immigration regulations allow individuals in H-4 dependent status to enroll in classes. However, those in H-4 status cannot accept employment.

Note: Employment includes departmental assistantships.

U.S. Immigration regulations specifically prohibit study and employment in the U.S. while in B-1/B-2 tourist status.


There are two ways that an individual can change to the F-1 student status:

  1. Leaving the U.S. with an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility and re-entering as an F-1 student. The individual will need to apply for and obtain an F-1 visa stamp before returning to the U.S. In most cases this is a faster way to change to F-1 status (depending on the country where he/she will apply for F-1 visa, time of the year, etc.).
  2. Submitting an LSU I-20 COE along with a change of status application to USCIS while remaining in the U.S. This application may take a number of months to be approved by U.S. Immigration, and the individual may not be able to start the new program until the change of status is approved. This means that the individual may not be able to register for classes or work on an assistantship while the change of status application is pending.

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Graduate School

Applicants who hope to earn a master’s or doctoral degree from Louisiana State University should apply for graduate studies. Staff members with LSU’s Graduate School receive and review all transcripts and test scores to determine academic admissibility to the University for graduate applicants. To view the admission requirements, visit the Graduate School’s website and look under the “Prospective Students” section. You also can access the online application at the Graduate School’s website. If you have any questions regarding the graduate application or admission requirements, please contact the Graduate School at

In addition to the Graduate School’s admission requirements, individual academic departments may have additional requirements that you must meet to gain acceptance to the academic department. You should refer to the graduate programs offered for those additional requirements.

Please be aware that when you apply for academic admission to LSU at the graduate level, your application undergoes a two-fold process. You must be: 1. accepted by an academic department and 2. officially admitted to the University by the Graduate School.

Note: International Service cannot begin processing a Certificate of Eligibility until after an applicant has been officially admitted to the University by the Graduate School.

Exchange Program

If LSU is a partner university of the university at which you pursue your degree, you may be able to participate in a semester- or yearlong-exchange program. If you are interested in such a program, please contact the study abroad office at your university.

Also, LSU’s Academic Programs Abroad (APA) website can provide you with more information about International Exchange. If you have any questions, please contact APA at

LSU Online

LSU offers a number of fully online programs, allowing you to work toward earning an LSU degree from wherever you may be in the world. To learn more about the online programs that are currently being offered, visit LSU Online.

Note: LSU online degree programs do not allow for F-1 or J-1 sponsorship.