Before You Arrive

Congratulations on your acceptance to Lake Forest College! We are excited that you will be joining our community. 

Please read the information here and make sure to consult the Admitted Students page for important information for all new students.

Before you arrive in the United States, you will need to go through the I-20 process apply for and obtain the F-1 student visa, plan for your travel, plan for the transfer of funds, and for U.S. expenses. This is an exciting time! You may be a bit nervous, so please read the important information below and contact us with questions or concerns. We look forward to meeting you soon. 

Visa Application Process

You must have a valid passport or official travel document to obtain a visa for entry into the United States. This document must be valid a minimum of six months beyond your date of entry to the United States.

Once you complete the I-20 process, we will issue an I-20 form and send it to you electronically before your arrival at Lake Forest College. You will need to take this form to the U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for your visa. Note: The I-20 form is not a visa and does not guarantee that you will be granted a visa. 

Before you visit a U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for your visa, carefully read the instructions on the Certificate of Eligibility (the I-20 form for F-1 students) issued for your studies at Lake Forest College. Take the following documents with you when applying for the F-1 visa:

  • I-20 form issued by Lake Forest College
  • Letter of acceptance from Lake Forest College
  • Documents certifying the amounts and sources of your financial support for your studies at Lake Forest College
  • The DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • A passport valid for at least six months after your date of entry to the U.S.
  • One 2 inch x 2 inch photograph (digital photo may be required)
  • Visa processing fee receipt
  • SEVIS I-901 fee receipt (see below)

Complete instructions, downloaded from the U.S. State Department web page, may be accessed at  The websites include specific details on how to set up appointments, documents required for your interview, any additional fees, and consulate hours and locations. The processing fee is approximately $185 U.S.

Canadian citizens entering the U.S. from Canada do not need to visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  You should bring the I-20 form (all three pages), proof of payment of the SEVIS fee, and financial support documents with you to the border at the time of entry.  You will need to present a valid Canadian passport. If you are flying from certain Canadian cities, you will go through U.S. Customs at the airport in Canada.

Visa Interview

After you receive the I-20 form in the by email, you should schedule your visa interview with the nearby U.S. consulate and begin to gather and complete the documents listed above. Do not wait to schedule the interview; appointments fill up quickly.

Keep in mind that the consular officer is interested in confirming the following during the interview:
1) You have a valid reason for studying in the United States
2) You have the ability to pay all educational, living and travel costs
3) You intend to depart the U.S. upon completion of the course of study. Therefore, be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Why do you want to study in the United States?
  • What do you want to study at Lake Forest College? (#5 on your I-20 form)
  • How will you use your education when you return to your home country?

Remember to be polite and patient during your interview and answer only the questions that they ask you. Always answer with the truth. If you are denied a visa, please email us at  We may be able to offer some assistance.

I-901 SEVIS Fee

US government requires all new F-1 international students to pay a $350 SEVIS fee. 

  • An I-20 form issued by Lake Forest College is required before paying the fee.
  • This must be paid at least three days prior to your appointment at the US consulate.  Canadian students must pay the fee at least three days prior to entering the US as a student.
  • Proof of payment must be provided at the interview or, for Canadians, at the port of entry.

  •  Payment information is found at:
  •  For further details, available at:
Planning Your Arrival

U.S. immigration law does not allow new F-1 international students to arrive in the United States more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20 form (see number 5).  Our intercultural orientation program, First Connection Pre-Orientation, begins before New Student Orientation.  You are expected to attend both programs.  Please plan your arrival at the airport in accordance with the First Connection schedule. Contact for more information.

Note: You may not move into your residence hall early if you are not participating in the First Connection Program.

Airports: When making flight reservations, we strongly recommend that you fly directly to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) from outside the U.S. and avoid any U.S.-based transfers.  Inspection officers at O’Hare are familiar with Lake Forest College and that can make for an easier arrival. O’Hare International Airport is 48 km  (approximately 40 minutes) from the College and it is the closest airport to Lake Forest. Chicago’s Midway Airport is not easily accessible from Lake Forest.

There are various ways to come to campus. You may take a taxi, pre-scheduled shuttle, or ride share service (Uber, Lyft). Please be advised that the cost for transportation from either airport to campus can be expensive and you must be prepared to cover this cost.

Reminder: Do not pack your I-20 form, financial documents, or passport in your luggage.  You will collect your luggage after you have gone through the immigration inspection. Carry your documents with you, somewhere safe and easily accessible.

Advance Shipping:  You must contact customs and/or your postal service to determine what you need to do in order to ship items before your arrival on campus. You can find information on mail and shipping from Mail Services


Before coming to the United States, familiarize yourself with procedures for transferring funds for your studies from your home country.  In addition, you should be prepared to meet your initial expenses here for tuition, room and meals, books, and personal items. 

For security reasons, it is not advisable to carry large quantities of money, except in the form of international bank drafts.  There are a variety of banks in Lake Forest, you should plan to open an account that will allow your family to wire funds directly from their bank to your bank.

The expenses listed by the College are approximately $2,500 for books and personal expenses (this amount does not include travel costs or health costs). Please be advised that this is only an estimate and is estimated for the academic year only. Some students find that they need more money and some slightly less. Personal expenses, especially at first, may be higher than you imagine. You will not need to bring this amount with you, but you should know what you may need for the whole year beforehand. 

Register for First Connection!

International students are invited to attend our First Connection pre-orientation program. Please submit your registration form here.