Current International Students Got questions? We have answers!

Visa Documents and Requirements

1. What documents do I need to carry while traveling inside the U.S.?

When traveling inside the U.S., it is reccomended that you carry your original passport, and I-20 or DS-2019. 

2. What is a travel signature?

Your I-20 or DS-2019 has a section for a travel signature that approves travel outside the U.S. If you plan to travel outside the U.S. and your I-20 or DS-2019 has not been signed within the past 6 months, please contact Hunter Swanson ( to obtain an updated signature.

3. What is an I-20 or DS-2019?

The I-20 and DS-2019 documents are certificates of eligibility that demonstrate sponsorship from Washington and Lee University. These documents are extremely important and neccesary for traveling both inside and oustide the U.S., obtaining work authorization, and obtaining a visa. You may stay in the U.S. with an expired visa as long as your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid. If you lose your I-20 or DS-2019, please contact Hunter Swanson at immediately to obtain a replacement. 

4. Should I keep my old I-20's or DS'2019's?

Yes, you may need to submit them for future visa applications. 

5. What is an I-94 travel record and how I do I obtain it?

An I-94 travel record provides evidence that you entered the U.S. legally on a certain date. You will need the I-94 to apply for work authorization, obtain a Driver's License, and for other purposes. You can access your I-94 travel record at this website:

6. Do I need to file taxes?

Yes, every international student must file a tax return every year, regardless of employment status. 

7. How do I file taxes?

You will receive an email with a code to complete a free federal tax return through a specialized tax preparation program. It is reccomended that you request an electronic W-2 in WebAdvisor you worked on campus. 

Life on Campus and in Lexington 

1. What is the Honor System?

Washington and Lee University's honor system is an all-encompassing system of trust that is an important aspect of student life. A central implication is that students will not lie, cheat, or steal. 

2. What student organizations are there?

There are over 100 student organizations and many activities to choose from. The Student Activities office can help you identify organizations that fit your interests. International students may be particulary interested in the following student organizations: SAIL, and PAACE

3. What is Greek life?

Greek life may be an unfamiliar concept to many international students, but it makes a significant impact on the social life of Washington and Lee University students, as more than half of the student body will join a Greek organization before graduation. Some international students choose to join a Greek organization, while others do not. The perspectives of several international students on Greek life at Washington and Lee are listed below. The Greek Life website maintained by Student Affairs has lots of information including frequently asked questions, fee information, a list of all Greek organizations active on campus, and more.

International Student Responses:

Tanpreet Hunjan '19

Why did you join a sorority?

To be more involved on campus and meet new people who I may not have met otherwise.

What are the pros and cons of being part of an organization?

Pros: Great Philanthropy events, Fun Mixers with other organizations on campus allowing you to meet new people. Strengthens bonds with your friends.

Cons: Financial obligation, Mandatory time commitments

Do you think you have benefited from being part of your organization? How so?

Improved time management skills and working with others on a regular basis. Breeds a sense of pride when participating in some events.

What advice would you give an incoming international first-year students when it comes to rushing?

Be relaxed about the process. Get to know the members of the organizations and find out where you genuinely want to be in regards to a group who aligns with your beliefs and values.

Yexinyu Yang (Yolanda) '18

Why did you join a sorority?

Because my best friends and I all got bids from the same sorority and we figured we wanted to do it together; also it was a very convenient way to meet new friends- being in sorority means I know 100 girls immediately when I become one of them and it's easier to make close friends/keep being close friends.

What are the pros and cons of being part of an organization?

Pros: Making friends and networking. An alum from my sorority actually helped me to get many info for internship etc.

Cons: Expensive. Another thing is since our school is so Greek, there are too many sisters in each pledge class so it's hard to build close friendship with every one of them.

Do you think you have benefited from being part of your organization? How so?

For networking, as mentioned above. I feel they are gladder to help after knowing I come from the same sorority.

What advice would you give an incoming international first-year students when it comes to rushing?

During rush, follow your heart and instinct! Just be yourself during the week and see if you feel you belong to any of the sororities. However, sororities may have some stereotypes, but in reality, everyone is different even in the same sorority. Do not let "Greek or not" limit your choices when it come to making friends!

Muskaan Soni '19

Why did you join a sorority?

It was a place to find more women who can inspire you and help you grow.

What are the pros and cons of being part of an organization?

Pros: Food is great and your sisters will love you no matter what.

Cons: It is a little time consuming to got to chapter every week.

Do you think you have benefited from being part of your organization? How so?

It has given me great networking opportunities and to bond with people outside of the classroom.

What advice would you give an incoming international first-year students when it comes to rushing?

Do not do it just because everyone else is doing it. Think through, read about it and then decide to rush or not to rush. it is completely all right if you are an independent. you will still have a great college experience.

Alejandro Panjagua Rojas '17

Why did you join a fraternity?

I joined a fraternity my sophomore year because I wanted to get to know the school and people here better before making any decisions. This allowed me to know the guys in my fraternity better and develop meaningful relationships with them.

What are the pros and cons of being part of an organization?

Pros: Having a safe space where you can feel comfortable, surrounded by people you like.

Cons: some people might feel "too comfortable" in this place and might not want to branch out causing a divide in the school.

Do you think you have benefited from being part of your organization? How so?

People in my fraternity have definitely challenged my views and I have challenged theirs leading to some constructive debate. I also found that having a physical space where you could always go and feel safe is nice in college.

What advice would you give an incoming international first-year students when it comes to rushing?

I would say do not feel pressured about rushing your first year here, especially if you are not aware of the process and responsibilities of rush. Take your time and chose what makes you the most comfortable, without thinking of what people might expect from you. In the end, joining a fraternity is something very personal and you should do it if you believe it will improve your college experience.

Rajwol Joshi '18

Why did you join a fraternity?

I joined a fraternity because it gave me the opportunity to expand my social circle and allowed me go get close with people I probably would not have got to now on my own.

What are the pros and cons of being part of an organization?

Pros: You always have people to hang out with and you make friends for life. There is always something going on, which makes college more fun.

Cons: You mostly hang out with the same people and sometimes it gets monotone. It costs more and it takes up a lot of your time.

Do you think you have benefited from being part of your organization? How so?

In addition to making new and good friends, I think I have grown from more engaging in lunchtime debates with brothers who have differing perspectives than I do. It has also forced me to be more social and to get out of my comfort zone.

What advice would you give an incoming international first-year students when it comes to rushing?

Do not feel forced to do anything. Greek life here can be quite a culture shock but it is a big part of W&L so I would recommend not dismissing it completely. Get to know as many organizations as you can (this should not be too difficult since they will probably be the first one to reach out to you) and take your time to choose the best fit for you.

Anukriti Shrestha '19

I decided not to join a sorority because after a couple of months on campus I realized that it wasn't my social scene. While I was initially overwhelmed by the strong presence of Greek Life, over time, I learned that there are many other extracurricular activities and clubs that I could get involved in without being in a sorority. I also found a strong sense of community amongst the independent people on campus and realized that I did not need to go Greek to "fit in". There are plenty of other opportunities on campus to meet new people and socialize.

Hammad Ahmad '19

It did not take me long to realize that Greek Life was not for me. Incoming students should know that although most people choose to join Greek Life at W&L, doing so is expensive, despite any (limited) scholarships or financial aids offered by fraternities to prospective pledges. Being independent does not mean that one will be excluded from school events. A large number of school events are open to everyone, regardless of one's inclusion in Greek Life. W&L provides a plethora of opportunities for students to get involved in activities and clubs. Don't be under the impression that since your friends are rushing and joining Greek Life, you must do the same. You can have fun during your four years at college and socialize without having to dedicate a substantial amount of your time (and more importantly, money) to a fraternity or a sorority.

4. What is the Student Health Center?

The Student Health Center is located on campus and provides medical care to students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week while classes are in session. Most services are free to students. Healthcare in the U.S. can be expensive, so it is a good idea in non-emergency situtations, to go to the Student Health Center first.  

5. Can I stay on campus during class breaks?

Yes, you may stay in your residence hall during most breaks. However, the residence halls will close during Winter Break, so start making plans for this early. You may discuss your options with Hunter Swanson. The Residential Life office posts a list of important residence hall dates

6. What resources are available to assist me academically?

There are many resources to help you succeed academically that are available to all students. 

7. How do I obtain a Driver's License or Identification Card?

International students may obtain a Virginia Driver's License or Identification Card by following the requirements of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (VA DMV). 

8. What are the transportation options for getting to and from Lexington?

There are many options for traveling to and from Lexington, including taxis, shuttles, and a daily bus service. 

Jobs and Internships in the U.S.

1. How can I get a job on campus?

Financial Aid Students:You will have priority to apply for your work study positions on campus. You will receive emails from the Student Employment office and can also search their website for open positions

Non-Financial Aid Students: You may be eligible to apply for work study positions. However, you will not have as many options as financial aid students have because you will not be able to apply for 

For further information, please contact Miranda Edwards:

2. Can I get a job off campus?

International students are not authorized to work off-campus unless Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training have been approved. 

3. What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows F-1 visa students to participate in paid or unpaid internship experiences that are directly related to your major. In order to qaulify for CPT, the internship experience must be for academic credit or required by your major. All declared students at W&L are eligible for CPT. Undergraduate students should follow the procedures outlined on the Registrar's internship website. Law students should first contact Andrea Hilton (, the Associate Director of Career Planning and Professional Development. 

4. What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 visa students to work for 12 months in the U.S. in a job or internship experience related to your major. You may choose to use this time immediately after graduation. The CIE has created a complete Overview of Optional Practical Training (pdf).  

5. How many hours per week can I work?

For on-campus jobs, your F-1 visa allows you to work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) while classes are in session and full-time (40 hours per week) while on offical university breaks (e.g. fall break, winter break, summer break, etc.). For off-campus job, you may work part-time or full-time while on CPT or OPT. 

6. What resources are available to help me find jobs and internships in the U.S.?

The Career and Professional Development (CPD) office is knowledable about work oppurtunities for international students in the U.S. CPD can help you write a U.S. style resume, prepare for an interview, and search for job and internship openings that you are eligible for. CPD and Hunter Swanson ( can also provide information about work visa options after graduation.