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International Students


Program Center

Deputy Hall 103
Summer office hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (M-F)
Office hours (during the Academic Year): 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (M-F)
Phone: 218.755.4096
Fax: 218.755.2074

Mailing Address:
1500 Birchmont Dr. NE #13
Bemidji, MN 56601-2907


International Students

Preparing to Travel to the U.S.

Obtaining your Visa*:

Take the USCIS Form I-20 that you received in your Admitted Students packet to the nearest U.S. consulate to obtain your student visa. (J-1 students follow the same basic directions as F-1 students, but substitute “DS-2019” for “I-20”.) Only bring the USCIS Form I-20 from the school you plan on attending for visa processing at the U.S. consulate. You must also provide verification to the consulate that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States.

*Currently, Canadian citizens are not required to have student visas to study in the U.S.

  • Apply for your visa early to provide ample time for visa processing.
  • Visit the U.S. Department of State website for complete information on applying for your student visa.

Be aware of the following requirements to apply for a visa:

  • Proof of payment of the SEVIS fee.
  • A non-refundable visa application fee.
  • An application Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158. Both forms must be completed and signed. Some applicants will also be required to complete and sign Form DS-157.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States.
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph. See photo specifications with visa application information.
  • The Form I-20.
  • Evidence of sufficient funds.
  • Student visa applicants must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they will depart the United States when they have completed their studies. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly.

Canadian students need passports to enter the U.S. Canadian Students do not currently require a student visa. You need to check your I-20 for accuracy and complete item #11. You will need proof of payment of the SEVIS fee. Submit your I-20 to the U.S. Border Patrol when you come into the country to study. You may be required to show evidence of sufficient funds and additional identification and/or verification of admission.

F-1 Students in the U.S. who are transferring to Bemidji State University:During orientation, present your I-20 to the Director of International Programs to validate your transfer. Your transfer will not be considered complete until this is done.

Arriving in the United States

The Directorate of Border and Transportation Security at the U.S. port of entry makes the final admission determination. For exchange visitors, they also determine the period for which they are authorized to remain in the United States. At the port of entry, a Directorate of Border and Transportation Security official validates Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted.

Please access the following website for information on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP helps to secure our borders, facilitate the entry and exit process, and enhance the integrity of our immigration system while respecting the privacy of our visitors.

Getting to Bemidji, Minnesota, USA

If you are flying to the United States, we advise you to book your airline ticket through to Bemidji, Minnesota (airport code BJI), going through customs at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) as your Port of Entry. Check with your travel agent or airline with questions concerning security procedures and baggage weight limits.


Try to wear loose fitting clothing. Also, bring or wear a coat or warm outer clothing in the event you are not able to purchase appropriate clothing right away.


Keep all important documents with you at all times in a safe place. (Such as your I-20, visa, passport, I-94 card, money, etc.)


Drink plenty of fluids while in transit. Please note: You will need some U.S. currency for meals prior to the start of your meal plan.


Establishing a bank account and shopping for necessary supplies are scheduled as part of your orientation session. Some helpful hints:

  • Have bank drafts made out in your name.
  • Bring American currency.
  • You will need enough money upon arrival to pay your health insurance & tuition & fees. Approximately $950.00 for insurance & a minimum deposit of $300.00 on tuition & fees (w/balance due on specified date).

Additional funds will be needed to cover the cost of books or other academic supplies you may need at the start of the semester in case the conversion of your draft into U.S. currency is delayed.


Banking information will be provided to you prior to or during Orientation. Please keep your money in a secure place prior to arranging your bank account. We recommend you carry traveler’s checks as you will need to have access to spending money.


We recommend you wait until you are in Bemidji to purchase personal items such as the following:

  • Pillows & bedding
  • Kitchenware (optional)
  • Clothes hangers
  • Toiletries
  • Dishwashing and laundry supplies
  • Weather-appropriate clothing
  • Towels, washcloths, bath robe

Find more information at

Phone Card

You may wish to get a phone card so that you will be able to call home easily.


You will experience four seasons in Bemidji. Fall (5-20 C); Winter (below -20 C); Spring (5-30 C); and Summer (30-38 C) The changing seasons are truly enjoyable and each season has its own beauty.  Students from warmer climates grow to enjoy the snow as well as many winter activities. BSU has an extensive tunnel system, so when it is cold outside, you can go from your dorm room to the cafeteria, to the Recreation Center, to the library and computer labs, or to your classes with minimal time outside.