Pre-Arrival Information

We are delighted to welcome all of our new students to Winona State University!

This year we will be welcoming a diverse group of new students from over 40 different countries around the world. We are happy that you have chosen to join Winona State University to continue your education.

To facilitate your transition to Winona, carefully read this Arrival Booklet (PDF) that includes most of the answers to the questions you may have. 


Travel Resources and Information

Here are some important resources which will help you prepare for your travel to Winona.

Obtaining your visa

Your I-20 form will allow you to apply for your F-1 student visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Please go to the United States embassy or consulate website in your country to review the requirements for submitting your F-1 visa application. For more information on the F-1 student visa, visit our F-1 information page.

Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website, where you intend to apply to determine if there are other entry requirements specific to your country. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply.

Before you can apply for your F-1 visa, you are required to pay the SEVIS and visa fee. Payment may be made by credit card, debit card, check or money order. You need to bring the SEVIS fee payment receipt to the visa interview. (If you do not need a visa, bring the receipt to the U.S. port of entry.)

  • SEVIS Fee payment process
  • Fee payment & online I-901 Form
  • Effective April 2014, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will update the I-901 Fee Collection process, offering a web and ACH based solution for payments made by Western Union. This solution will facilitate the real-time posting of Western Union payments, allowing applicants to immediately print their I-901 Payment Confirmation. Applicants choosing to pay their I-901 Fee by Western Union will be required to fill out the Form I-901 on the website prior to visiting Western Union. You must have the coupon number in order to complete the payment at Western Union. Please visit the SEVIS fee processing website and follow the detailed payment instructions.

Ties to your home country

“Ties” to your home country are the things that bind you to your hometown, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit investments. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, education objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country.


Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview. If you are coming to the United States solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.

Speak for Yourself

Do not bring parent of family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family.

Know the program and how it fits your career plans

You should also be able to explain how studying in the United States relates to your future professional career when you return home.

Be Concise

Keep your answers to the officer’s questions short and to the point.

Financial Support

Make sure that you bring sufficient proof that you have enough money to support yourself in the U.S.


Your main purpose of coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program.

Required Documents

When entering the U.S, you will need the following:

  • Your original I-20 form.
  • Passport, valid for travel to the U. S. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the U. S. If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Visa.
  • Do not attempt to enter the U.S. without these documents. Additional documents may be needed as evidence of:
    • Your academic preparation.
    • Your intent to depart the U.S. upon completion of the course of study.
    • How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.

For more information please visit the US Customs and Border Protection website.


The I-94 is the Arrival / Departure Record, in either paper or electronic format, issued by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer to foreign visitors entering the United States. However, after April 30, 2013, most Arrival/Departure records will be created electronically upon arrival to the U. S. You can print your I-94 by following the instructions provided. Please note that the international student is responsible for understanding, printing, and guarding his/her I-94 Arrival / Departure Record.

Send Arrival Information

Your safety it is very important to us. As soon as you have booked your flight and have your travel plans figured out, send your Arrival Information Form (PDF), download and re-open) right away to Make sure you include your flight itinerary, shuttle reservation (flight number, date, airport and bus schedules).

Greeting Service

Winona State International Services offers a greeting service when you arrive on campus using the bus shuttle service. If you would like to be greeted, make sure to indicate it in the Arrival Information Form (PDF), download and re-open).

Where is Winona?

Nestled between the covered limestone river bluffs that rise 500 feet and the stunning mighty Mississippi River, the City of Winona is one of the most beautiful places in America. Winona is about two hours away from Minneapolis, one hour to Rochester, and five hours away from Chicago by car.

Minneapolis Airport

We recommend that you arrive at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP). Transportation services are available for travel to Winona, MN from the MSP Airport. Scheduled bus ticket counters are located at the Ground Transportation Center of MSP Airport, one floor up from the Tram Level (Level T) in Terminal 1-Lindbergh Terminal. The Minneapolis Airport map will be able to help you locate these areas.

Transportation Services

You can choose one of the following transportation services for your trip to Winona:

If you choose to take a scheduled bus service with Groome Transportation (or view the schedule) from MSP to Winona (Winona State University Kryzsko Commons), please make a reservation prior to your trip and choose Winona State University Kryzsko Commons as your destination. Advanced reservations are highly recommended.


There are several Hotels near WSU Winona campus. Visit the City of Winona Lodging website for a detailed list.

On campus Housing

You can start moving in to WSU campus residence halls between August 8 and 10 if you have already applied for on campus housing. The new international student orientation begins on August 10. If you choose to arrive before August 8, you must make your own housing arrangements. Read more information about hotels near campus.

The Housing Office has compiled a frequently asked questions list on their website to address student’s basic concerns.

What furnishings are included?

Each room is furnished with an extra-long twin bed, with mattress. Also included is a desk and desk chair, dresser, and closet for each student. There are window coverings on all of the windows in each hall as well as carpet in each room, expect for Lourdes and Tau rooms. For more information, the Housing Office has compiled a frequently asked questions list.

Things to Bring

Please visit the Housing policies website for details. We do not provide bedding (sheets, blankets, pillows). We have worked with the Housing Office to let you purchase your own bedding products (sheets, pillow case, towels, blanket) from local online stores and have them shipped to the Housing Office prior to your arrival. You may purchase the bedding products from Target, Wal-Mart or Shopko. The size of bedding products is: extra-long twin. Please remember to use your real name (name on your passport) when you make your order. The Housing Office address is listed below.

Winona State University, Housing Office
175 West Mark Street, Kryzsko Commons 235
Winona, MN 55987-5838, U.S.A.

Phone: 1.507.457.5305

WSU Meal Plan

How does the meal plan work?
Dining Services offers a choice of meal plans: 7, 10 or 14 meals. Meal plan information is available on the DineOnCampus website.

Off Campus Housing

WSU Housing Office also provides an off-campus housing list for students’ reference.

You are required by Minnesota State Law to enroll in the University Health Insurance. The health insurance premium for a year (Aug. 10, 2018 - Aug. 9, 2019) is $1,596. The premium is prorated for students who are at WSU for short-term study.

The Annual premium is due and payable upon arrival on campus. Students who fail to pay their insurance premium by the deadline may be dropped from their classes. The health insurance does not cover dental care. Vision care is covered for students under 19 years of age. Please see the brochure (PDF) for details about health insurance coverage. A summary of the international student insurance coverage can be found on the United HealthCare website.

All students must complete an Immunization Record (PDF) and submit it before they can register for classes. For more information, visit our Immunization Requirements website.

  1. At the beginning of the semester the health insurance charge will be placed on your WSU student account.
  2. The Health Insurance Premium for 2018-2019 must be paid in full by Sept. 1, 2018. 
  3. Once your premium has been received by the university, you must set up an account with United Healthcare before you can use your insurance benefits. View a video on how to set up your account.
  4. Once you have an account, you can log in and print or download your insurance card. Keep this on your person at all times.

What to do once you have arrived in Winona?

Once you arrive in Winona, you must visit the International Services Office for check-in at your earliest available International Service Office business hours. We are open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm. Please come and see us right away, we are eager to meet you and register you with SEVIS.

What is F-1 Reporting?

F1 Regulations require you to check-in with your university immediately upon the arrival to your campus. Please, bring to the International Services Office the following required documentation:

  • Passport
  • I-94 - if available
  • I-20
  • Your address in Winona

Opening a bank account

During Orientation you will have the opportunity to open up an American bank account and also learn about how to manage your bank account. We have scheduled a trip to a local bank where you will be able to open a bank account and deposit money into your account on that day. Once your account is established, your family or financial sponsor will be able to transfer money directly into your account.

For a list of financial institutions in Winona view that yellow pages Financial Institutions page.

How to pay the university

Tuition and fees are due on the last day of the first week of classes. More information about payment procedures can be viewed on the WSU Cost of Attendance website.

If you are planning to transfer funds to WSU, below please find information about transferring funds:

Beneficiary Financial Institution: JP Morgan Chase
Swift Code: CHAS US 33
Routing Number: 021000021

Beneficiary: Merchants Bank NA
Account Number: 623470879

Cell Phones

Once you arrive in Winona, you will get the opportunity to purchase a cell phone with an American number. This is often cheaper than using your phone from home. Pre-paid phones are also available.

Laptop Program - e-Warrior: Digital Life & Learning Program

The e-Warrior: Digital Life & Learning Program integrates communication and information technology into the student's social and learning experience at Winona State University. The program provides students with a powerful set of tools (e.g., a laptop, updated software) and services (e.g., help desk) to support all facets of their academic work and residential life at Winona State. More than just a laptop, the e-Warrior: Digital Life & Learning Program ensures secure, reliable, and supportable technology 24x7. For specifics of the program, visit the Program Details page.

All full time undergraduate students on the Winona campus (12 or more semester credits) are automatically enrolled in the Digital Life and Learning program and are eligible to receive a laptop. The fees for the program are listed on the student tuition bill each semester.

The Advantage

The e-Warrior: Digital Life & Learning Program gives students the opportunity to personalize and advance their college experience. Students expand their classroom by viewing class information, submitting their assignments directly to faculty online, and interacting with faculty and fellow students via email, video conferencing, and instant messenger.

Missing your family? Chat with friends and loved ones anytime you wish via email, Skype and/or instant messenger. Keeping in contact has never been easier.

What is a Star ID?

A Star ID is a user name that allows you to log into your e-services page at WSU. This is where you are then able to do things including, but not limited to paying your application fee online, applying for on campus housing (once you are admitted to Winona State University), viewing your on campus Housing information (such as roommate and room assignment), along with many other items for your use and reference.

If you have any issues with your StarID, such as forgetting it, you can visit the StarID website for assistance.


Registration for classes will take place on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 during Orientation week. If you wish to start planning for your classes, both catalogs are available online:

You will have the opportunity to discuss your course selections and schedule with your advisors during registration. If you are unable to register for courses for your major, don’t worry. You can still take major course prerequisites and fulfill your university goals (credits in a variety of disciplines required for graduation).

Placement Tests

Students are required to take an English Language / Math Placement test during New International Student Orientation. These placement exams help determine what level of English and Math classes you should take at Winona State University.

Travel Within Winona

There are several options if you want to travel within Winona.
WSU offers numerous sustainable and cost-effective transportation solutions for getting around Winona. Check out the Getting Around Winona page for more information.

The City of Winona

The Visit Winona website lists everything there is to do in the city of Winona. We love the outdoors, our lakes, river, trails, outdoor concerts and festivals. Explore our ten museums and check the calendar for a non-stop stream of remarkable events.

Get Involved at Winona State University

In pursuit of its mission to enhance the intellectual, social, cultural and economic vitality of the people and communities we serve, WSU offers a number of learning opportunities outside its classrooms.

Inclusion & Diversity

Arts & Enrichment

Sports Events

Community Engagement

Student Associations and Clubs

There are a lot of clubs on campus that may be of interest to international students; below is a short list and the link to the whole list:

  • WSU Nepali Club
  • VOCES-Spanish Club
  • SSA-Saudi Student Association
  • Malaysian Student Association
  • KEAP Diversity Center Leaders
  • International Club
  • Hmong American Student Association
  • Han Culture Society
  • GLBTA Partnership
  • Gaonnuri
  • French Club
  • Club Sri Lanka
  • Black Student Union
  • Asian American Club
  • Amigos de Cuetzalan