While day to day life living in the US is quite nice, a lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of the international student. It is important to understand how the laws of immigration and taxes apply to you as an individual. The following serves only as a guideline for international students. Rules are always changing so please contact the international student office for more information as it applies to you.
The following are general guidelines for organizing immigration to the United States on a student visa. Of course, each individual with have unique circumstances depending on various factors. This information will help you understand the general process of entering the United States as a student.
Once you have accepted the admissions offer and paid the deposit for Master's programs, the BMS Office will send you a financial responsibility form. Upon receipt of the form and a copy of your passport, they will enter information into the student tracking system and notify the Office of International Students and Scholars. OISS will then send you a "SEVIS I-20" form. This is required for the F-1 visa stamp (unless you are Canadian, in which case no stamp is necessary). Canadians are required to bring their documents (SEVIS and I-20) to their point of entry into the US. The visa will be granted there, and you will be supplied with an I-94 that must be stapled to your passport.
The following are required at point of entry for all foreign students:
A valid passport (or proof of Canadian Citizenship)
A SEVIS I-20 form and proof of payment
Evidence (usually in a form of a letter) of financial support
Evidence (usually a bank statement of proof of permanent residence) that you do not intend to abandon your country of origin.
Extra requirements for non-Canadian foreign students:
Application at the US consulate for visa stamp. The visa will allow you to enter the US.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is designed to facilitate communication between the school and the Bureau of immigration.
YOU MUST PAY THE $100 SEVIS FEE BEFORE ENTERING THE COUNTRY
Each person's tax situation will be different. This usually depends on the tax treaty that the students country of origin has with the United States. It also greatly depends on your income. To simply some of these complex matters, Tulane uses a confidential online program to assess your tax situation. This system is called GLACIER. More information can be found at the Arctic International website.
In order to begin banking in the US you will be required to obtain a "bank letter" from the International Student office. With this letter you can start an account at any major bank. You cannot be issued a credit card without a credit history. After obtaining their SSN, many people choose to start a secure line of credit to obtain a credit rating.
Health Care in the United States is not free. It is required for any student enrolled in Tulane to be adequately covered by some sort of health care plan. If no evidence of coverage by a health care plan is given, a student will automatically be enrolled in the Tulane Student Health Care Plan (more information). Currently, the annual cost of health care on this plan is approximately $2,938.00. Health care is normally paid by the BMS program for PhD students, but not master's students.
Automobile insurance can be expensive for a foreign driver without a US drivers license and with no driving history in the US. For Canadian drivers that have a drivers record in Canada, companies that are based in both countries will acknowledge your driving record in Canada. Contact Statefarm for information.
For other countries, it is recommended that you obtain a Louisiana Drivers License as soon as possible. Remember to always shop around for the cheapest rates; as you can switch in and out of plans whenever you want to.
Any student that is hired by Tulane that will be receiving an income requires a social security number. This applies to most PhD students as you will be assigned as a Teaching Assistant. In order to apply for a SSN you will require a letter from the international students office, which you will then have to have signed by your employer. You will then have to visit the Social Security office at 400 Poydras St., Suite 500 with all of your immigration information.