Pre-Arrival Information

Congratulations on your acceptance to Northwestern University! The International Office staff looks forward to meeting and assisting you with your immigration and acculturation needs during your time at NU.

Port of entry and inspection
Getting to campus from the airport

Health insurance
Financial Aid
Life at NU


During the flight to the U.S., airline personnel will have passed out a white I-94 card to be filled out and submitted to immigration in the airport. Upon inspection, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will ask for several documents, these are:

  • Northwestern issued I-20 or DS-2019;
  • A valid passport (valid six-months into the future);
  • A valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp (placed inside the passport at the consulate or embassy abroad);
  • I-94 card.

These documents should be kept with the traveler at all times. Be prepared to present these documents to CBP upon arrival (this will happen before you have access to your checked luggage, so please plan acccordingly).

It is very important that this entry is recorded correctly and you may need to confirm with the CBP officer entrance in F-1 or J-1 student status. A few points to keep in mind:

  • Entry stamps are required on the I-94 card, and inside the passport.
  • The CBP officer will tear off and keep the arrival portion of the I-94 card and will return the "departure" portion.
  • The entry stamp should indicate a written "F-1" or "J-1" depicting the recorded entry status.
  • The entry stamp should also note "D/S," which stands for "Duration of Status."

Duration of Status (D/S) indicates you have been admitted to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status for the duration of your academic program. This period of time is indicated on the I-20 and DS-2019. If you are not provided a "D/S" on entry, ask the CBP officer for clarification.

See Department of Homeland Security's website for more information: "Arriving at a U.S. Port of Entry ... What a Student Can Expect"  


Chicago O'Hare International Airport is approximately an hour from Northwestern's Evanston campus (depending on your mode of transportation); Midway Airport is slightly farther and may take longer. In either case, there are several options for getting from the airport to campus, depending on time and budget. For additional information about your arrival at either of Chicago's major airports, see their websites:

O'Hare International Airport
Midway International Airport 

The options below are specific to O'Hare International Airport as students most often arrive there:

Go Airport Express Shuttle

Airport express provides shared rides from the airport to campus, and as a Northwestern student, you will receive a discount. Reserve your spot online AT LEAST 24 hours before your flight. You must be able to show yourI-20/DS-2019 from Northwestern to receive the student discount. Cost is about $28.

Public Transportation—Pace and CTA

Pace Bus - Route 250 (Suburban/Public Bus) - leaves the O'Hare "Kiss-n-Fly" station at long term parking lot E. Take the Airport Transit System from your arrival terminal to long-term parking and then get on Pace Bus 250 (Dempster St). Cost is $1.75 and takes approximately 1 hour. 

Pace Bus Route 250 (for a schedule and more information)
Airport Transit Sytem Information

CTA - Blue Line Stations at O'Hare International Airport - situated on the lower level of Terminal 2, you may walk to, or use the Airport Transit System (link above) to get to the station. The blue line does not come to Evanston, but you will have to take the blue line train and switch to the red line at the Jackson Station downtown. From Jackson, take the red line in the direction of Howard, and then at Howard, switch to the purple line (direction of Linden) and the purple line will bring you to Evanston. Cost is $2.25 and this takes approximately 1.5 - 2 hours, depending on the time of day. 

Blue Line @ O'Hare (for a schedule and more information)
CTA Website and Map


Taxis are a convenient way to get to and from O'Hare International Airport. There are Taxi Stands at the lower level curb front (outside of baggage claim) at each terminal. Please make sure to use the Taxi Stands to ensure you have a licensed taxi driver. Do not accept rides from drivers outside the cab stand or on the departure level (second level) of the terminal roadways. Taxi service is available to City of Chicago and suburban destinations. All taxis should have a working meter to calculate the fare based on time and mileage. Fares vary based on traffic conditions, but an average fare from O'Hare International Airport to the Evanston campus is $50-$60.


International students have many options regarding housing. Students can decide to live on-campus, either in Evanston or Chicago, or off-campus in the university's surrounding neighborhoods.

See general Housing Resources

The following list is comprised of on-campus and off-campus resources as well as information regarding temporary housing.

The University has four housing offices to help students find housing on- and off-campus:

Many international students choose to locate housing in the Evanston or Chicago area. The following is a list of resources to help in that search:

Newspapers (classifieds section)

The Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Reader

Apartment Locators (FREE)

Grad Properties by Colfax Realty
The Apartment People

Popular Locations Evanston:

Evanston: The Park Evanston
Evanston Place

Popular Locations - Chicago:

McClurg Court Center

Temporary Housing

There are many options for short-term housing. These are listed in order from least to most expensive:

Health Insurance & Health Records

All students at Northwestern must submit the Admission Health Record and proof of immunizations as required bythe state of Illinois. NOTE: Penalties for not fulfilling health requirementsinclude a hold on subsequent registration and a non-refundable $100 late fee.

All international students are required to purchase the Northwestern Aetna Plan; no exceptions or waivers will be granted. The annual cost (premium) for Aetna Plan is not currently available, but in 2012-13, it was $2,842. New and returning full time international students must have health insurance throughout their academic studies. Northwestern University offers insurance through Aetna Student Health. You may review the Student Health Insurance Brochure (2012-13) for more information on the plan. Additional Resources:

Financial Aid

Financial resources are limited at Northwestern, but the IO has compiled the following for students interested insearching for outside funding opportunities.

Undergraduate International Student Aid - Each year, in cooperation with the Office of Undergraduate Admission, the Office of Financial Aid will award a limited amount of need-based financial aid to qualified citizens of foreign countries who are applying for admission to Northwestern as freshman under Regular Decision, and who indicate that they wish to be considered for this limited assistance program.

Office of Fellowships - The Office of Fellowships at NU is acomprehensive resource for all students searching for national andinternational fellowship competitions.

Life at NU

International students make up approximately ten percent of the overall student population at Northwestern. The international population at NU is diverse with students and scholars coming from more than 100 countries from around the world. See how many students/scholars are at NU from your home country here!

Find you niche! Check out International Student Groups/Associations.

Northwestern University Sneak Peak:

NU YouTube Channel
The Daily Northwestern

Center for Student Involvement