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Grand Canyon University (GCU) has grown with Phoenix to become one of the nation's premier private universities. For more than 60 years, GCU has welcomed diverse cultures, encouraging our students to share their unique perspectives and evolve into global citizens. International students have described our university as a home away from home and an enjoyable place to learn.

GCU's international students have a vibrant presence across our campus locations. Representatives from our International Students Office and GCU university counselors guide new students through the visa process. We are authorized under federal law to enroll nonimmigrant alien students. See some of our students' native countries below.

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Cameroon
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Serbia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Uganda


New Student Orientation

International students must check in with the International Students Office upon arrival on campus. If you come at a time when the office is closed, come back the following day of business.

Please bring the following items:

  • Passport containing F-1 visa
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure obtained online here
  • I-20

We will copy the documents for your file and give you useful information about the next steps to take for getting acclimated to the campus.

Driver's License

If you plan to drive a motor vehicle while at GCU, you may need to obtain a driver's license. If you do not already hold a driver's license in another state of the U.S., you may be asked to take a vision, written and driving exam. If you purchase a car in Arizona, you will need to register it here and have an Arizona driver's license to obtain car insurance, which is mandatory. Get more details about obtaining a driver's license.

The nearest Motor Vehicle Department location is:

Phoenix West
4005 N. 51st Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85031

Never drive a car in the U.S. without a valid driver's license or car insurance. It is against the law.

Documents to Take

Arizona state law requires you to show at least two forms of identification; one must include your photo. These documents should be in English. Recommended documents include:

  • Unexpired passport containing F-1 visa
  • I-94 Arrival/departure record, available online
  • I-20
  • School ID card


To ensure health and wellness across our university, GCU requires that international students provide immunization verification. You must have two measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines, or documented evidence of immunization against or immunity to measles, mumps and rubella, before being allowed to register for classes.

You must provide a doctor's statement, a blood titer showing immunity or a copy of a health department card as proof of immunization. If no proof of prior immunization is available, then two MMR's no less than 30 days apart are required. The immunization records should be submitted to the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic on campus.

International students often find it more convenient and less expensive to have these vaccines administered before departing for the U.S.

Health Insurance

All international students are required to carry health insurance through GCU. Insurance may not be waived and will be added automatically to your student account for payment. GCU partners with UnitedHealth to provide health insurance for international students. Access your student health insurance details and print your health insurance card.

Health and Wellness Center

The Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic serves students, faculty and staff on GCU's main campus. In addition to providing basic health care services, the clinic also offers a Health Shop on campus.

Learn More

U.S. Taxation for International Students

As an International Student

  • If you resided in the United States in the previous year for at least one day, you are required to submit IRS form 8843.
  • If you earned income in the United States in the previous year, you may be required to submit federal and state income tax forms by the April 15 deadline. See IRS Information for Foreign Students and AZ Dept. of Revenue - Individual Income Tax.

Your Options

  • Hire a tax preparer: Either locally or in your home country. The person should be familiar with filing IRS forms that relate to F-1 students.
  • Use a software program designed for F-1 students (non-immigrants).
  • Seek out free help from the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Practical Training

Practical Training (PT) is a benefit available to F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled in a Department of Homeland Security approved academic institution. Students who have been granted PT may accept employment in the U.S. to work in their field of study in order to enhance and put into practice what they have learned in the classroom. There are two types of PT available - Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). Requirements and limitations vary for each type of PT.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Students may be authorized for CPT to engage in for-credit training programs that are an integral, but not necessarily required, part of an established curriculum. To be eligible, students must:

  • Have an internship that is approved by the college in which they are studying
  • Have full-time student status for at least one academic year (2 consecutive semesters)
  • Be enrolled in an internship course (# of credits specified by the college)
  • Be in legal F-1 immigration status at the time they request CPT
  • Provide the ISO with letters of approval from the Director of Internships and from employer listing job duties

Authorization to work on CPT is given by the DSO in the International Students Office. Once CPT has been approved and a new I-20 issued with the work authorization noted, students may begin working. Students must not work until I-20 with CPT authorization has been issued.

Students taking more than 12 months of full-time CPT are not eligible for OPT. Students who have taken less than 12 months may be eligible for the full 12 months of post-completion OPT. Participation in part-time CPT will not affect eligibility for optional practical training.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students may be authorized to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months in paid professional-level employment that is directly related to their degree program (a very limited number of degree programs allow for longer OPT periods, see the ISO). It is not necessary to have a job to apply for OPT and while on OPT students may change jobs without penalty or without having to reapply for work authorization.

To be eligible for OPT, students must:

  • Have full-time student status for at least one academic year (2 consecutive semesters
  • Have legal F-1 Status at the time they request for OPT
  • Be in good academic standing
  • File application up to 90 days BEFORE or up to 60 days AFTER the completion of study

Please note: Authorization to work on OPT is granted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), based on the recommendation of the DSO in the ISO. Obtaining the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, proof of authorization to work in the US, from USCIS takes approximately 90-120 days from the time the application is received in the USCIS office. Therefore, it is recommended that students apply early in the semester before completion of study.

Travel During Practical Training

Students on practical training may leave the country and reenter while on OPT after being employed. To reenter the country after a trip abroad, students must present to the Customs and Border Protection inspector at the port of entry a valid passport, a valid F-1 visa stamp, I-20 validated by the DSO's signatures within the last 6 months, a valid EAD card, and a letter of employment.

Travel for International Students

Please always check with the International Students Office before you plan your travel abroad.

As each person's individual circumstances differ, here are the general guidelines. This information may not be all you need to determine whether it is appropriate to travel or whether you will be readmitted to the U.S. Be sure to contact the Designated School Official (DSO) in the International Students Office (ISO). Please remember that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the Port of Entry (POE) decides whether or not a person is admissible to the U.S. This decision is based upon the facts and circumstances presented at the time you apply to enter, therefore, it is important to know your situation and carry the proper documentation.

Students living on campus
While you are on the campus, you do not need to carry your passport, I-94 or I-20 with you. Be sure you have them safely stored. If you leave campus, you need to have your documents with you at all times.

Off-campus students
You should carry your passport, I-94 card and I-20 with you in case you are asked for proof of your identity from authorities.

Inside the U.S.
The same holds true as above, carry your passport, I-94 and I-20.

Outside the U.S.
Students who travel abroad must show proper documentation to reenter the U.S. They must not have been gone from the U.S. for more than 5 months for the subsequent guidelines. At the port of entry, you must present the following:

  • Valid passport with expiration date at least 6 months from the date of entry
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in passport
  • I-20 that has been endorsed by the DSO in the ISO within the last 6 months (technically a signature is valid for one year, but many agents at the port of entry prefer to see the endorsement from the school more frequently)
  • Other recommended documents: Financial documents showing that you have the funds to pay for your educational and living expenses while here, recent transcripts, receipt from I-901 SEVIS fee payment, and a letter from the ISO verifying you are a student at GCU

Exceptions: Exceptions to the travel documentation above apply to travel to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands with the exception of Cuba. If you plan to travel to one of these locations for fewer than 30 days, retain your I-94 card. Even if your visa is expired, you may still be readmitted based on an automatic revalidation of your visa.

If you need a validating signature for you I-20, please bring it to the ISO several days before your planned departure for processing.

Tuition and Financing

Learn about the requirements for admission to GCU for international students.

Learn More

Admission Requirements

Learn about the requirements for admission to GCU for international students.

Learn More

Getting to the U.S.

Find out what international students should expect when traveling to the U.S.

Learn More

Obtaining an F-1 Visa

Students looking to attend school in the United States must obtain an F-1 visa prior to coming to the United States. The information below outlines what you will need to know in order to obtain an F-1 visa. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Maintaining Status

It's important for students to maintain legal immigration status while in the US. Violations can result in serious consequences including deportation. Here are some items that are necessary to maintain legal immigration status while in the US (rewrite without CTA)