Visa Information

Congratulations on your admission to Black Hills State University (BHSU) in Spearfish, South Dakota! The staff in the International Relations and Global Engagement Office are committed to BHSU’s global mission and vision, and we are eager to welcome you to our campus and into our community.

Please review the information below about applying for your F-1 or J-1 visa to enter the US. You can also find detailed information in our Visa FAQ guide. You should also consult your local Embassy website and the Study in the States website to learn more about the visa application process.

STEP 1: Collect and Verify Your Documents
  • Verify that all information on your I-20 (for F-1) or DS-2019 (for J-1) is correct. If you believe there is an error, please contact the International Relations and Global Engagement Office at
  • Ensure your passport has at least 6 months of validity at the time of your visa application and appointment.
  •  Remember to bring your financial documentation proving your ability to pay the cost of attendance and your original acceptance letter to the university with you during the visa interview.

STEP 2: Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee

All applicants for the F-1 or J-1 visa are required to pay the “SEVIS fee.” You can learn more about this fee by going to the Study in the States website. You need to complete and submit payment for the SEVIS fee here:

STEP 3: Apply for Your Visa

After paying the SEVIS I-901 fee, you will be able to apply for your visa and schedule the in-person interview. Each country will have slightly different processes and wait times for the in-person interview, so consult your local US Embassy or Consulate and the Study in the States website for how to submit the visa application and schedule the interview appointment.

***Note: J-1 students and their dependents (J-2) will be required to provide evidence that they will have insurance that meets the US federal requirements for J visa holders. If you have questions about this, please contact us by emailing

Enrolling at BHSU

As you prepare to enroll as a student at BHSU, there are a few important steps to complete prior to arriving, as soon as you have received your visa. As you complete the steps below, please feel free to contact us by emailing We will also be sending you communications through email about completing this information, so please check your email regularly!

STEP 1: Immunization Records

Immunizations are required of all students entering universities in South Dakota. Because students are eating, living, and studying in small spaces, immunizations maintain a safe and secure learning environment for all students. Per South Dakota State law, all students must document TWO (2) Measles, Mumps, & Rubella (MMR) vaccinations. If you do not or cannot document these vaccinations, they can be administered when you arrive for approximately $70 per vaccination. Document your health history and Immunizations using the Immunization Form. Once completed, please email to

STEP 2: Housing Reservations

BHSU residence halls offer a comfortable, convenient, and economical way for students to stay close to campus. For more information about living on campus, including pictures and videos of housing facilities, please see the Residence Life website. To request your room reservation, complete the short online form, and then submit your $100 housing deposit. 

***Note: South Dakota Board of Regent Policy requires unmarried students to live-on campus during their first two years of school except upon appeal.

STEP 3: Registering for classes

The International Relations and Global Engagement Office will guide you through the process of registering for courses prior to arriving on campus. In order to register for classes, you will need to meet (virtually) with your academic adviser. These appointments will be arranged for you approximately 1-2 months before the beginning of the semester. Once you arrive on campus, during new student orientation, you will meet with your adviser in-person to finalize your course registration and class schedule. The online course viewer allows you to review the courses offered each semester at BHSU (subject to change). If you are enrolling in Academic English Program during your first semester, we will complete registration for you. 

STEP 4: Health Insurance

South Dakota State law requires all F-1 and J-1 visa holders to possess an approved health insurance policy. In order to comply with State law, and Federal law governing J-1 visa holders, you must enroll in and purchase the State of South Dakota Board of Regents' health insurance policy for international students each year. You can learn more about the insurance requirements by going to the Current Student website

Preparing your Arrival

At BHSU, we work with our students on an individual level. You will notice our individualized student service from the day you arrive here when you will be greeted at the airport by staff from the International Relations and Global Engagement Office. Below, you will find important information you will need to plan for a smooth arrival to BHSU.

STEP 1: Book your Flight and Request Airport Pick-up

We offer complimentary pick-up at the Rapid City Regional Airport prior to the start of each semester (Fall and Spring) and before the start of the new student orientation.

If you wish to take advantage of our complimentary airport pick-up service, you must arrive at Rapid City Regional Airport on the dates specified below, and confirm your pick-up time and date with the International Relations and Global Engagement Office. You will receive communications from our office via email about this service, so check your email regularly!

Spring 2021 Pickup Dates: January 7 and 8

STEP 2: Clearing US Customs and Passport Control

We recognize your initial arrival in the United States may be stressful! The better prepared you are to talk with the Customs and Border Patrol agent upon your arrival at the US Port of Entry (usually, this will be the airport you arrive to from your international flight), the less stressful it will be. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Review the Study in the States website to learn about the arrival process and requirements. 
  • Ensure you have with (NOT in your checked baggage!) the following documents:
    • Passport with at least 6 months of validity
    • US visa (F-1 or J-1)
    • Original, signed I-20 (for F-1) or DS-2019 (for J-1)
    • Financial documents (recommended)
    • University admission letter (recommended)
    • Contact information for your DSO at BHSU (recommended)
  • If you have not visited the US before, it might be helpful to watch this video to give you an idea of what to expect as you proceed through US customs and passport control upon arrival at the US port of entry. 
STEP 3: Review Additional Resources:

We know students will rely on their friends, family, and other social networks to gather information about what it is like to study and live in the US. We encourage you to use this information to help prepare for your arrival, but we also know a lot of misinformation is shared through personal networks and the “stories” people tell. In addition to your personal contacts, we suggest you take advantage of these official resources in preparing for your studies in the US:

New Student Orientation is required for all incoming students. Be sure to book your flight to arrive prior to the first day of Orientation. Please see the schedules for upcoming Orientation below: