International Student Resources

Welcome to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary!


We are so excited to welcome you to the Garrett community and are here to help you as you begin your seminary journey. On this page you will find a variety of resources specifically for international students.


Rev. Dr. Karen Mosby

Primary Designated School Official (DSO) and Dean of Student Life and Chaplain



Thehil Russelliah Singh

Designated School Official (DSO) and Director of International Student Recruitment and Engagement



Rev. Katie Fahey

Designated School Official (DSO) and Director of Admissions and Recruitment



Form I-20 Application Instructions


  1. Upon admission to Garrett-Evangelical, you are ready to start the visa process.
  2. In order for you to apply for a student visa at a U.S. consulate, you need to obtain Form I-20 from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment at Garrett-Evangelical.
    1. To initiate this process, please complete and submit the I-20 Request Form to the Admissions Office at Garrett-Evangelical (if you did not receive this form from Admissions, please email getadmitted@garrett.edu), or download a copy here. Within this form, you will find the estimate of expenses for the academic year, required financial documentation needed, sponsor statement of support form, student endorsement form for MA and MDiv applicants and required deposit information.
  3. Once we have received your completed I-20 Request Form and all the accompanying materials, you will be issued an I-20 from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.
  4. While you wait for the I-20 to arrive, you will want to:
    1. pay the SEVIS I-901 fee
    2. visit website of nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to learn about visa appointment requirements.
  5. Receive your I-20 and review it for correctness.
  6. Schedule your F-1 visa appointment.
  7. Obtain F-1 visa: placed by US Embassy/Consulate in your passport.
  8. Plan travel to Evanston/Chicago: Permitted entry no more than 30-days before the I-20 start date.


If you are currently studying in the U.S. on an F-1 visa, you must submit the items listed above (Affidavits of Support, copies of bank statements or bank letters, and your International Student Enrollment Deposit) before submitting the SEVIS Transfer In Form.

Find more resources

Be sure to check out the Admitted Students webpage for more resources and information

Frequently Asked Questions

CPT—Curricular Practical Training. This is a required component of many of Garrett’s degree programs. It usually takes the form of field education or an internship. You will work with the Field Education Office and the Office of Student Life to get CPT approved, but you do not need to apply with the government to be approved for CPT. Most PhD students and MTS students do not engage in CPT.


DSO—Designated School Official. This is a school staff person approved by the U.S. government to oversee and maintain international student records.


F-1 Visa—This is a particular class of visa for non-immigrant international students intending to study in the U.S. F-1 Visas are issued by the Department of Homeland Security and are required before starting studies in the U.S.


F-2 Visa—This class of visa is for dependents (spouse or children up to age 21) of F-1 students. Holders of F-2 visas are not permitted to work in the U.S.


I-20—also known as the Form I-20. This form is issued by the school you are attending and certifies your eligibility for F-1 Visa status. This form is required for applying for an F-1 visa, for entering the U.S., and for applying for any benefits. Each Form I-20 must be signed by a DSO/PDSO and the F-1 student, and all previous copies of your I-20 should be kept in a safe place.


I-901 Form—This is the form you use to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee required as part of the application process. You will receive instructions for paying this fee when we send you your first I-20.


I-94—also known as Form I-94. This is the form you receive when you enter or exit the U.S. You should keep these forms in a safe place with your I-20’s.


PDSO—Primary Designated School Official. This is a school staff person approved by the U.S. government to oversee and maintain international student records as well as attend to the school’s certification for admitting F-1 students. Rev. Becky Eberhart in Student Services is the current PDSO, and she can help with all F-1 student issues.


OPT—Optional Practical Training. During or after completing studies, an F-1 student may engage in a work/training experience that furthers their educational goals. Many Garrett students serve in ministry-related positions for a year after their graduation. An F-1 student must apply and be approved for OPT before starting, but they do not yet need to have a job. They are permitted 90 days of unemployment while on OPT. F-1 Students completing OPT will receive an OPT card showing their status. You can learn more about the process here: F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) | Study in the States (dhs.gov)


USCIS—United States Citizen and Immigration Services. This government agency oversees OPT approval and visa status changes to non-student categories.

Once you have been admitted to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, you are ready to begin the process of obtaining your F-1 Visa. The first step is to complete the 1-20 Request Form and submit it to the Garrett Admissions Office, along with a copy of your passport, your financial information, and your affidavits of support. Once all this paperwork has been submitted, the Office of Student Life will enter your information into SEVIS, the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System. This is an online site used for storing and processing all F-1 student data.


The Office of Student Life will then send you an I-20, which is the document you will use to begin your visa application process. When you have received your I-20, you need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and schedule your embassy appointment.

F-1 students must meet the following requirements to maintain status while studying at Garrett:


  • They must contact the PDSO within 30 days of their program start date.
  • They must be enrolled in a full-time course of study for each semester; they do not need to enroll in January term or summer terms. Exceptions can be made, but you need to speak with the PDSO first.
  • They must not engage in off-campus employment, except in the cases of CPT and OPT (see items below).
  • They must keep the PDSO or DSO informed of any changes in address, contact information, degree plans, or program lengths.
  • They must inform the PDSO or DSO at least 2 weeks before any international travel.

F-1 Students may include dependents as F-2 visa holders either in their initial visa application or at a later application date. Only a spouse and dependent children up to age 21 are eligible to apply for F-2 visas. F-2 visa holders under the age of 18 are eligible to go to public school while in the US, but spouses are not permitted to work.

Once you have obtained your F-1 visa from your local embassy or consulate, you are eligible to enter the United States no more than 30 days prior to the program start date listed on your I-20.


If you would like someone to provide transportation assistance from the airport on the day of your arrival, please reach out to student.life@garrett.edu, at least two weeks before your arrival date.

You may fly into either of the area’s two major airports. For additional information about your arrival, visit their websites.



There are several options for getting from the airport to campus, depending on time, budget, and desired mode of transportation.


If you would like someone to provide transportation assistance from the airport on the day of your arrival, please reach out to student.life@garrett.edu, at least two weeks before your arrival date.

Taxi & Rideshare


Taxi service is available to the city of Chicago and suburban destinations. Fares vary based on traffic conditions, but an average fare from O’Hare International Airport to the Evanston campus is $50-$75. All taxis should have a working meter to calculate the fare based on time and mileage. Some taxi companies have airport “flat” (fixed) rates. Be sure to ask.


  • Taxi stands are situated at the lower-level curb front outside of baggage claim at each terminal.
  • Use the taxi stands to ensure you have a licensed taxi driver. Do not accept rides from drivers outside the taxi stand or on the departure level (second level) of the terminal roadways.


Rideshares through the Uber and Lyft applications are widely available from both airports. Uber and Lyft drivers are authorized to pick up riders at O’Hare and Midway airports.  Please open your app and follow the directions to the designated pickup zones.  Both airports offer 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi, so you can use this to order an Uber/Lyft ride!

Car Rental


Some new students and their parents choose to rent cars.  Please check individual car company websites for pricing, driver’s license requirements and additional information.



Public Transit


The following public transportation options are more economical but can be more complicated and will take longer to arrive.


  • Pace Bus is a suburban public bus system. This takes approximately one hour to travel to campus. Cost is $2.25.
  • CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) Trains can be taken from O’Hare International Airport. Taking the blue like and then making two transfers to the red line and purple line will bring you to Evanston. This takes approximately 90 minutes to two hours, depending on the time of day. Cost is between $5 – $10 depending on the timing of transfers.
    • The CTA blue line station is situated on the lower level of Terminal 2. You may walk to the station or use the Airport Transit System to get to the station.
    • Take the blue line train and switch to the red line at the Jackson Station in downtown Chicago. 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.
  • For best routes and guidance, use your map app and switch to “public transportation” directions.

F-1 students may take jobs on Garrett’s campus as long as the jobs require 20 or fewer hours a week during the school year.


All F-1 students at Garrett except for PhD and MTS students will engage in Curricular Practical Training (CPT). This is a training, internship, or field placement required to complete a particular degree program.


Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available for a total of one year either during or following the completion of a student’s program. This training may be a more traditional job and may be full-time, but it must directly relate to the student’s program of study.


F-1 students need to speak with their DSO or PDSO before engaging in any of these employment opportunities. No other employment is permitted while on an F-1 visa.

Besides all the necessary paperwork for the I-20 and F-1 visa, these are the forms you will need to submit to the Office of Student Life:


  • Receipt Form for Student Handbook
  • Receipt Form for Sexual Misconduct Policy
  • Technology Agreement
  • Health Insurance Verification and Enrollment Form


These forms will be sent to you. If you do not receive the forms, please contact student.life@garrett.edu.


All Garrett students taking 5 or more credits must prove that they have hospitalization insurance. This can be a travel policy from your home country, an international student policy purchased in the U.S., or a policy through Garrett’s partnership with Northwestern University and Aetna. You can email student.life@garrett.edu with questions about insurance.


During the 2023/2024 academic year, students intending to participate in on-campus instruction must submit the COVID-19 Immunization Verification Form.

All Garrett students planning to attend in-person course components must submit the COVID-19 Immunization Verification Form, available on myGETS. Any vaccine approved by the U.S.’s Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted. We recognize, however, that vaccination availability around the world varies greatly, and we are prepared to assist incoming international students who have not yet been vaccinated.


If a student is not able to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in their country of origin—or if the vaccination they received is not approved by the FDA or the WHO—the student will need to plan on receiving the full course of COVID-19 vaccination upon their arrival in the U.S. The vaccines currently approved by the FDA are the Pfizer, Moderna, and Jansen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines. The WHO has additionally approved the AstraZeneca, Sinovac, and Sinopharm vaccines.


All international travelers to the United States, whether vaccinated or not, are required to receive a negative COVID-19 test 1-3 days before departing to the U.S. Vaccinated travelers do not need to quarantine, but un-vaccinated travelers will be required to receive a second negative COVID-19 test and quarantine until beginning their vaccination course. Students are permitted to stay in Garrett housing while they quarantine and receive their vaccinations.

For more information on the COVID-19 testing required before and after travel to the US, please see this page on the CDC’s website: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States . You can also learn more about general travel questions here: International Travel During COVID-19.


Students can go to the Jacobs Center on Northwestern’s campus to receive an Abbott/Navica antigen (rapid) test. The address is 2001 Sheridan Road in Evanston, and they are open Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm. Students will need to create an account at www.mynavica.abbott. Once a student has an account, they will head to the site and fill out a consent form. The center does ask that everyone testing bring a physical photo ID and fill out the daily symptom tracker at https://symptomtracker.northwestern.edu/ as a visitor.


If you are staying in Garrett housing but do not yet have your COVID-19 vaccine, you will still be eligible to move into your Garrett housing location. You will need to receive your first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine within 14 days of your arrival, and there will be clinics nearby where you will be able to easily schedule appointments. Please inform the Office of Student Life of your arrival date so that we can assist you with scheduling your vaccine appointment.


Students will not be allowed to attend an in-person class, school sponsored gathering/meeting or enter the library until they are fully vaccinated—two weeks after the final dose. If a student is not fully vaccinated in time and is not allowed to attend a class, they should contact the Academic Dean’s office to request accommodations at academic.affairs@garrett.edu.

U.S. Government Resources for International Students