Before You Travel to the United States

  • Receive your SEVIS Form I-20. Process SEVIS Form I-901, pay your SEVIS fee and print your receipt.

  • Schedule a visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate. Pay visa application fee. Prepare for your visa interview. You'll need the following documents to apply for a visa:

    • Valid passport from your home country (if your passport is expiring soon, renew it before you travel)
    • Certificate of Eligibility, which is an I-20 form for F-1 Students or a DS-2019 for J Visas

    • Financial guarantee, meaning a bank statement, sponsorship and any other proof that you have sufficient funds for educational and living expenses

    • Any evidence you have to demonstrate that you have strong ties to your home country and that you plan to return to your home country at the conclusion of your study

  • Apply for housing in Albany.

  • Complete the University's immunization and health requirements.

  • If you need to bring medicine into the U.S., pack a written prescription from your doctor with the medication.

  • Plan to arrive in the U.S. no more than 30 days before the start date on your I-20.

  • If your housing will not be ready upon your arrival, reserve a hotel room and carry the hotel's name, address and phone number with you while you travel.

  • You are responsible for booking your own travel to Albany and should do so well in advance of your session. Please review these recommendations as you plan your travel:

Flying to the U.S.

The best way to travel by airplane to Albany (ALB) is to book your trip through Chicago (ORD), Detroit (DTT), Philadelphia (PHL), Atlanta (ATL), Newark (EWR) or another airport with good connections to Albany.

If you arrive in the U.S. at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City or Newark (EWR) International Airport in New Jersey, you will need to travel another 150 miles (240 kilometers) to Albany.

See the sections below for information on how to get from New York City to Albany.

U.S. Customs

You must present your passport, non-immigrant visa and I-20/DS-2019 upon arrival. Carry these items on your person, along with your UAlbany letter of admission and proof of funding.

You will not receive a paper copy of your I-94 form (arrival-departure record for immigration).

Wherever you arrive in the U.S., you will need to claim your luggage and walk with it through U.S. Customs. If you will be continuing by airplane to Albany, you will need to recheck your luggage before boarding the next flight.

Travel from the Albany airport, train station or bus station to your housing

After you arrive at the airport, train, or bus station in Albany, you will need to take a taxi to your local address. Have your address written in English to give to the driver.

The cab fare will be $20 to $30, depending on the address. We recommend you pay in cash. Tip the driver $1 to $3.

The Lyft ride-sharing service also operates in Albany and may cost less than a taxi. Download the Lyft mobile app, create an account and pay using your phone. 

Traveling New York City to Albany

It takes about three hours to travel from New York City to Albany. You have a few options for your travel:

Travel by Shuttle: Premier Transportation Group offers an Express Shuttle Van from JFK and LaGuardia international airports to Albany daily.

Travel by Train: Pennsylvania Station (Penn Station) is located on 8th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd Streets, under Madison Square Garden in New York City. Amtrak trains leave Penn Station daily for Albany-Rennselaer Station.

Travel by Bus: The Port Authority Bus Terminal is located at 625 8th Avenue, between 40th and 42nd Streets in New York City. Two bus companies, Adirondack Trailways and Greyhound, provide direct service to Albany. There are two convenient stops in Albany: the downtown Albany bus terminal and the University at Albany (listed as “Albany SUNY”). 

Travel by Car: We recommend using a good Internet map, such as Google maps.

General Travel Tips
  • Photocopy all your important documents (passport, visa, I-20, etc.) and put sets in at least two different places, such as in your carry-on and in your checked luggage.

  • For safety and convenience, do not book a flight into the U.S. that arrives late at night.

  • Never leave bags unattended or carry anything given to you by a stranger.

  • While in an airport, train station or bus terminal, ignore non-uniformed persons offering to help with your baggage or transportation. Go to ground transportation information counters, bus stops, and taxi stands for safe and legitimate transportation.

  • Trust yourself! If something doesn’t feel right, avoid it. Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert.

During Your Travel to the United States

  • Carry these items with you on the airplane and do not put them in your checked bags:

    • Passport and visa

    • I-20

    • Financial support letter

    • The name and address of where you will live (and, if applicable, the hotel where you will be staying until your housing is ready)

  • Know the name, address, and phone number of the Intensive English Language Program (IELP):

    • Address: University at Albany, IELP, 1400 Washington Avenue, Science Library G-40, Albany, NY 12222

    • Phone number: 518-591-8172


After You Arrive in the United States

  • Arrange travel from Albany International Airport to your housing.

  • All new IELP students must attend all student orientation and welcome activities. These activities include registration, placement testing and orientation. You will receive your orientation week schedule at registration. 

  • Bring the following items with you to the IELP on the first day of Registration and Orientation.

    • Passport and visa

    • I-20

    • Required health forms and documentation

    • Financial support letter