International Applicants

Discover important considerations for international students applying to Penn State Smeal's Executive DBA program. This informative page covers visa requirements, including the need for an F-1 visa and enrollment as a full-time student. Learn about the documentation process, proof of funds, health insurance, and SEVIS registration. Find comprehensive information to ensure a smooth transition to your studies at Penn State Smeal as an international student. Keywords: Penn State Smeal, Executive DBA program, international students, visa requirements, F-1 visa, documentation process, proof of funds, health insurance, SEVIS registration, Penn State University

Welcome to the International Students Considerations for Executive DBA Applicants webpage. If you are an international student interested in pursuing the Penn State Smeal Executive DBA, this page is dedicated to providing you with essential information and guidance. We understand that as an international student, you may have specific concerns regarding visa requirements, enrollment regulations, documentation processes, and other important considerations. We are here to support you throughout your journey. This page serves as a resource to ensure a smooth transition and successful academic experience here at Smeal. 

Individuals should not attempt to enter the U.S. and study in B1/B2 visitor status

B-1, B-2, WB, WT- Individuals in one of these statuses should not begin studies until a change of status to “student” is approved. Entry into the United States on a B-1 or B-2 visa for the sole purpose of study would be a willful violation of your visit to the U.S.

Students who are eligible to attend on another visa status  

Individuals in the U.S. on a valid visa (other than an F-1 or J-1) that allows study may not need an I-20 or DS-2019 from Penn State. You must remain eligible for the other immigration status by following the regulations of that status.  This site will help determine your eligibility to pursue academic study in your current status:

Students who require F-1 visa to attend Executive DBA

New Student Visa Documentation Process

Government Regulations

  • Full Time Enrollment: F-1 Students in the U.S. must enroll full time in residential courses. The nature of the Executive DBA program requires a student to be in residence for the first week of each semester of the 3-year program. Therefore, you will be issued a form I-20 only for that period.  You would need to obtain a new initial I-20 for each residential portion required by the program.
  • Proof of funds: A student must provide proof of funds for tuition and fees, living expenses, and health insurance to be issued an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 visa.
  • Health Insurance: All F-1 students in the U.S. must either purchase the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) or provide proof of acceptable alternate policy.  Please see the following for more information:
  • Immigration Check In: International Student and Scholar Advising (ISSA) is required to report F-1/J-1 registrations to SEVIS each semester. Check-In through iStart is mandatory at the start of each semester. (More information below.)

Form I-20 and SEVIS

  • Form I-20 is the Certificate of Eligibility for the F-1 visa application. Students must show proof of funds for issuance of the I-20. The I-20 will be sent to student via email for visa application/travel. The student must print the I-20 upon receipt.
  • Executive DBA students will work with Pre-Arrival Advising for the form I-20 each semester that residential coursework is required.
  • SEVIS I-901 fees payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (Current fee is $350.)   This is a required fee for EACH initial I-20 issued.  You cannot be registered as an active student until this fee is paid.
  • Visa application fee (DS-160) payable to the U.S. Department of State. (Current fee is $180.) It is not guaranteed that you will be issued an F-1 visa for one month or four years.  Length of stay for visa status is determined by the visa consular officers at each U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  You must have a valid F-1 visa to request entry into the U.S. The visa application will be required at least once but it may also be necessary to repeatedly apply for each planned arrival for your residential courses.

Arrival at Penn State Each Semester

  • ISSA is required to report enrollment and address information to DHS through SEVIS each semester through a process called SEVIS Registration.
  • ISSA collects information to register student in SEVIS through the Immigration Check-In and iStart. Uploads to iStart include a scan of signed Form I-20, Visa, I-94 Arrival Record, and address and phone information from
  • Student must successfully complete Government Regulations Training and provide completion certificate to ISSA for the first entry into the U.S.
  • Check-In must be completed each time a student enters the U.S. using an initial I-20.


The International Student and Scholar Advising (ISSA) at Penn State Global offers advising, immigration services, and training to support our international students, scholars, and faculty.

International Student and Scholar Advising
Pre-Arrival Advising