Pre-Arrival Information

Upon official acceptance to Auburn University on an exchange program, additional items will be added to the student’s online application, including specific details regarding the topics outlined below.


It is the student’s responsibility to apply for and obtain a J-1 visa prior to arriving in the United States. Once the DS-2019 (also called “Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Status”) is issued, the document and a welcome letter will be mailed to the address provided. The student’s AU immigration advisor will also send an email with instructions on paying the SEVIS fee and submitting the appropriate application to schedule a visa interview with your U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please note that students must take the original, physical copy of the DS-2019 to the visa appointment.

For specific questions regarding the visa and immigration process, please contact International Student and Scholar Services.

Upon receipt of the visa, students should verify the start and end dates and be sure to arrive in the U.S. no later than the program start date, which is the first day of classes. J-1 visa holders are allowed to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to their start date but are strongly recommended to arrive on the date sent in their acceptance materials. Students may also remain in the U.S. up to 30 days after the end date of their visa.

When you arrive in the U.S., immigration officials will request to see each of the following documents, so be sure to place them in your carry-on luggage:

  • Passport (valid for at least six months after your return date) with visa
  • Original DS-2019 document
  • Receipt for SEVIS payment
  • Copies of financial support statement and AU welcome letter

All students except those in business-related majors should email their AU faculty advisor regarding course selection and registration. Business students and those who do not know their AU faculty advisor should email the incoming exchange coordinator in Auburn Abroad. After course requests are submitted and approved, the appropriate person on campus will register students.

Please note that enrollment in specific courses cannot be guaranteed, so it is important to submit course requests as soon as possible for priority consideration.

Per the requirements of the J-1 visa, students at the undergraduate level (bachelor’s or first degree) must register for 12 credit hours, which is typically 4-5 classes. Graduate students (master’s or postgraduate) must register for 9 credit hours, or 3 classes. Any student who falls below full-time enrollment status during the exchange period will be in violation of the visa requirements.

On-campus accommodation is extremely limited and fills up quickly. If students decide to pursue a space in an on-campus residence hall, they should contact the incoming exchange coordinator in Auburn Abroad as soon as possible to inquire about availability. Please note there is no guarantee of getting a space on campus.

Off-campus accommodation options that meet the needs of exchange students are limited as well. Apartments must be close to bus routes, furnished, and able to offer a 5-month or 10-month lease.

Recommendations for both types of housing are provided after a student is accepted.

All students (international and domestic) are required to submit a medical form prior to arrival. The form is added to students’ applications after acceptance and includes instructions for completing it correctly. Early submission is encouraged because delays can impact registration times, which may affect access to preferred classes.

All J-1 students are also required to take the Auburng University Group Health Insurance Plan. This insurance policy provides health care coverage while students are in the U.S. General information is available at the link above. Questions not answered on the website can be sent to insurance@auburn.edu.

We recommend flying into the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL). Auburn is roughly 100 miles (an hour and half by car) southwest of this airport, and there are hourly shuttles that transport travelers between the two locations. Information on arranging transportation to Auburn upon arrival is provided to students after acceptance.

Please note that Atlanta is in the Eastern time zone and one hour ahead of Auburn, which is in the Central time zone. Both locations observe Daylight Savings Time.

A detailed packing list is provided to students in their online application after acceptance. The following are general tips to help with planning.

Clothes: Auburn students typically wear casual clothing to classes, such as jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and shorts. We advise bringing a few outfits that are more formal for special occasions.

Weather in Alabama can be unpredictable day-to-day, but generally summers are hot with high humidity while winters are mild. Snow flurries are possible but rare, and the temperature typically stays above 32º F (0º C). Rain is fairly frequent but may only occur as a brief shower. An umbrella or raincoat is highly recommended, and a medium-weight jacket will be sufficient for winter months in Alabama. If planning to travel farther north, students may want something heavier.

Medication: Certain prescriptions or other medication may not be available in the U.S., so students may want to bring enough to cover their stay. We advise keeping medication in original containers and obtaining a letter from the physician stating the purpose of the medication should U.S. Customs agents ask questions upon arrival. If it is not possible to bring enough to last for the entire stay, students should bring a prescription listing the generic name of the medication.

Apartment Items: Students will need to provide toiletries and other apartment items, such as linens, hair dryers, shower curtains, and kitchen utensils, but these items are inexpensive to purchase in Auburn. Immediately upon arrival, students are taken to local shops to purchase these items, so it is not necessary to bring them from home unless a student would like to do so.

Upon acceptance, students are sent a recommended arrival date but are advised not to book flights prior to confirming accommodation move-in and obtaining their visa. We strongly advise arriving on the specified date – transportation and support services are limited prior this date, and arriving afterwards will cause students to miss important orientation activities that facilitate a smooth transition to the start of classes.

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Last Updated: June 11, 2017