International Students

As a globally-renowned program, the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment attracts top-quality students from around the world to its professional Master of Environmental Management, Master of Forestry and Environmental Leadership degree programs. We make it a priority to provide a smooth and enjoyable transition for our international students. Here’s some information to help you get started.

When to Arrive

We encourage international students to arrive by no later than two weeks prior the start of the fall semester.  Typically, the university’s International House hosts Orientation events and the English for International Students Program will administer the language exams the week prior to the Nicholas School’s Orientation. Arriving early will allow you time to check-in with the university’s Visa Services office, settle into your housing, pick up your Duke ID card and familiarize yourself with campus and Durham. 

Step 1: Determine Status

Who is required to apply for an I-20/F-1 visa?

If you are a non-United States passport holder living outside of the US, you are required to apply for the F-1 student visa. Please send an email to to request access to the web form. You will receive an email with a web link and temporary login information.

Who does NOT need to apply for an F-1 visa?

Non-U.S. passport holders living in the United States with a work visa (H-1b or L-1). H-1b and L-1 visa holders still need to complete the web form but do not need to apply for an F-1 visa.  Please send an email to to request access to the web form.

Legal Permanent Residents or ‘green card holders’ do not need to apply for a visa, but must show their green card to the Visa Services Office upon arrival to the program (this is required each time you arrive on campus)

Employment Authorization Card (EAC) holders (those in the process of applying for a green card) do not need to apply for a visa, but must complete the web form and submit the original signature page and a copy of their EAC. Please email to request access to the web form. EAC holders must show their card to the Visa Services Office upon arrival to the program.

Step 2: Complete and submit the web form and supporting documents*

Use your temporary login to complete Part II of the web form (the department will complete Part I for you). If needed, view the Power Point presentation outlining the instructions. Please remember to sign and submit the final page of the web form. Once you have completed the web form and supplied the necessary supporting documents, we will initiate the I-20 process. The I-20 is a required document that is used when applying for your student visa at the US Consulate in your home country.

What and Where to Submit?

Checklist for New and Transfer Students

Upload Documents for I-20/Student Visa Application

Step 3: The I-20

Once all of your materials are received by Student Services, please allow 20 days for your I-20 to be processed. The Visa Services Office at Duke University will send your I-20 to the address you have listed in your web form. During this time, please visit the website for the US consulate in your home country to determine what additional materials you will need to apply for the F-1 visa. In addition, consulate regulations vary from country to country – some may require you to make an appointment to apply while others may have specific walk-in hours during the week. IMPORTANT: The Visa Services Office at Duke University strongly recommends that you DO NOT schedule an appointment with the US consulate until you have received your I-20. While we will do everything possible to assist you in this process, please understand that it is your responsibility to obtain the student visa prior to your arrival in Durham, North Carolina. You may begin the visa application process within 120 days of your scheduled arrival in the United States.

The Visa Services Office recommends obtaining two (2) original copies of your financial documentation (send only one original to the Student Services Office) because you will most likely need an additional set when you apply for your visa at the U.S. Consulate in your home country. Visa Services will NOT return the financial documentation that you provide to obtain your I-20.

Please direct questions you may have to The Student Services Office cannot request an I-20 for you until ALL of the checklist information has been received. Submitting Documents for the I-20: Submit documents at the link below. DO NOT MAIL documents to the Nicholas School. 


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