Becoming a Global Badger

STEP 1: Applying to UW–Madison & Funding

Applying to UW–Madison:

Thank you for your interest in attending the University of Wisconsin–Madison! You can find out how to apply at the Admissions website here. UW–Madison admits international students through many different offices across campus, so make sure you are selecting the correct admitting unit when looking for admission requirements.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions serves:

  • current and graduated high school (secondary school) students seeking to earn a bachelor’s degree (undergraduate student)
  • current college/university (tertiary school) students seeking to earn a bachelor’s degree (undergraduate transfer student)

The Graduate Admissions Office serves:

  • current and graduated college/university students seeking to earn a master’s or doctoral degree (graduate student)

Explore our master’s and doctoral degrees

UW–Madison’s professional schools equip you with the in-depth education and real-world experiences you need to excel.

Professional graduate education includes the following:

Visiting International Student Programs (VISP)Division of Continuing Studies serves:


It is very important to consider how you might finance your education at UW–Madison. ISS cannot answer questions about financing your education. We recommend reviewing the link on how to finance your education.

International students are required by the U.S. government to show proof of adequate funding to receive the proper immigration document and to apply for a U.S. student visa.

Estimated Expenses:

International students on a F-1 or J-1 visa are not eligible for U.S. federal financial aid.


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STEP 2: Accept Admission & Activate NetID

Congratulations on your admission to UW–Madison!

Activate your NetID to access your MyUW and Terra Dotta. You will need your 10-digit campus ID number from your admissions letter to activate your NetID. After your NetID has been activated, you can login to your MyUW and begin planning for your program at UW–Madison.

MyUW is your student portal where you can manage your personal, student, and academic program information with UW–Madison. You can do things like accept your admission, select your courses and confirm enrollment, access your student email, update your addresses, access Terra Dotta, and much more.

Terra Dotta is your international student immigration portal while you study at UW–Madison. You must login to Terra Dotta with your NetID and password. You will gain access to Terra Dotta 24-48 hours after you activate your NetID.

Starting this summer, the university will change the deadline by which new students must enroll in Duo multi-factor authentication (MFA). The change will help ensure their NetIDs and email accounts are more secure during the vulnerable period before the fall semester begins. The new enrollment deadline is July 1.

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STEP 3: Request your Student Immigration Document (I-20/DS-2019)

Now that you have confirmed your admission to UW–Madison, and waited 24-48 hours after activating your NetID, you can begin your student immigration document request via Terra Dotta.

There are four steps you need to take before you can submit your request in Terra Dotta.

  1. Decide which student immigration status is right for you by reviewing our F/J Comparison Chart. Over 90% of our students study on an F-1 student visa.
  2. Consider if you will bring a dependent with you to the U.S. A dependent is a legal spouse and/or unmarried children under the age of 21.
  3. Prepare your financial documents, as required by the U.S. federal government. Our Estimated Expenses document provides a minimum estimate for your academic program, age, and selected visa type (F-1 or J-1).
  4. Select the Terra Dotta application that best fits your situation. Read each option carefully so that you select the correct application and avoid delays to process your request.

Please note: Our deadline to submit an immigration document request for fall 2024 is Friday, July 5th, 2024. For students transferring SEVIS records the deadline is Tuesday, August 20, 2024.

Processing time for a student immigration document request is a maximum of 20 business days.


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SEVIS I-901 Fee Page

Once you receive your I-20/DS-2019 you will have your SEVIS ID number. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires you to pay for this unique SEVIS ID number, this fee is called the SEVIS I-901 fee.

Your SEVIS ID number is located at the top of your I-20/DS-2019 document and begins with “N00”. The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School Code for F-1 students is CHI214F20246000. The Program Number for J-1 students is P-1-100105. This number is found on the first page of your I-20 or DS-2019.


Sample DS-2019

Sample I-20

In order to get your student visa, you must present proof of your SEVIS I-901 Fee payment at your visa interview. You should pay the SEVIS I-901 fee here before your visa interview. ISS recommends paying your fee multiple weekdays before your interview.

Check the Paying the I-901 SEVIS Fee page from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for more information.

If you are a transfer student or had to defer your I-20 start date, you may have already paid your SEVIS I-901 fee. Not sure if you’ve paid your SEVIS I-901 fee? Check here and make sure to keep a record of your receipt.

Still have more I-901 fee questions see the Frequently Asked Questions page by ICE.

Transferring your I-901 fee

If you were previously issued a SEVIS ID number, but did not enter the U.S. to activate that record, you may be able to transfer your SEVIS I-901 fee payment from the previously unused SEVIS record ID to your new SEVIS record ID.


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STEP 5: Apply for Student Visa

Applying for a Student Visa 

Your F-1/J-1 visa is a required travel document that must be valid when entering the U.S. A student visa is a page in your passport that is pasted with a F-1/J-1 visa at a US consulate or embassy outside the U.S. If you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda you are exempt from this requirement, please see your linked consulate for the most up to date information. 

Steps to Obtain Your F-1/J-1 Student Visa  

Once you receive your I-20/DS-2019, you will use that form to apply for your F-1/J-1 student visa. The steps to apply can change depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate. Please review the general steps below on how to apply. For detailed instructions, please refer to the specific U.S. embassy or consulate where you will have your visa interview.   

If you have additional questions, please contact your U.S. consulate or embassy. If you have questions about if you require an F-1/J-1 student visa, see the frequently asked questions below or contact your ISS advisor.

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1) Sign your I-20/DS-2019:

Sign the bottom of page 1 in blue ink once you receive your Form I-20/DS-2019.

2) Review Steps for Obtaining your Visa

3) Follow Procedures for Obtaining visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by location. Please consult the instructions on the embassy or consulate website that you will apply at.

    1. Complete the Form DS-160 to schedule your visa appointment. Learn more here about completing the DS-160. Print the confirmation page to bring to your visa interview. Here is a sample of the DS-160.
    2. Upload photo when completing DS-160. Check here for photo requirements.
    3. Contact within the U.S.: students should list the contact information for a contact within their academic department. If contact is unknown, students can list their ISS advisor and ISS office contact information. This information is available on the I-20/DS-2019.

4) Prepare for the Visa Interview

  1. Passport that will be valid at least 6 months into the future
  2. DS-160 confirmation page
  3. I-901 Fee payment confirmation
  4. 2×2 Photo (if photo upload fails, bring one printed photo)
  5. Form I-20/DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility
  6. Admission letter from University of Wisconsin-Madison
  7. Proof of funding (this should match the funding on your I-20/DS-2019)
  8. Proof of academic preparation, such as transcripts, standardized test scores, certificates, degrees, and diplomas
  9. Intent to depart the U.S. after your program (non-immigrant intent)
  10. This can be evidence of employment or family ties outside the U.S.
  11. Optional: Dependents
  12. Proof of your relationship to your dependents such as marriage certificate or birth certificate. If your dependents are applying at a separate time they must have a copy of your passport, visa and all other required documents.

General FAQs

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How early can I apply for my visa?

Once you have been accepted by the school or program sponsor and you have been issued the I-20/DS-2019, you may schedule an appointment to apply for the visa.

According to the Department of State an F-1 visa for new students can be issued up to 365 days in advance of the program start date. However, each consulate and embassy may have a different timeline for processing visa applications. It has previously been common practice to issue visas no earlier than 120 days before the program start date. There is no exact timeline published for all J-1 visas, please check with your local consulate or embassy.

Do you have any suggestions to help me prepare for my visa interview?

Read these 10 points as you prepare for your visa interview.

What if my visa appointment is after the Program Start Date on my immigration document?

If the earliest visa appointment is too far in the future you can request an expedited interview. You can only do this after making a visa interview appointment at your embassy or consulate. Please see your embassy or consulate’s website for directions.

If your visa appointment cannot be expedited and is after the start date on your I-20/DS-2019, you will need to work with your academic department, admitting unit, and ISS to change the term of your enrollment and the start date on your I-20/DS-2019 to a future term. The start date on your I-20/DS-2019 must match the start date of the term or semester, it cannot be changed/delayed by a few weeks to accommodate a visa interview that is after classes begin.

What if my visa is ‘delayed’ or ‘denied’?

There can sometimes be a delay in your F-1 or J-1 visa processing at the U.S. embassy or consulate. This is called administrative processing. Please see our website for more information.

If your visa is delayed and you can’t arrive by the start of the semester, contact your academic department to confirm/determine your eligibility to enroll in a future semester or enroll online from outside the U.S. Once you are eligible to enroll for a future semester you can submit an Out of Country form in Terra Dotta to get an updated I-20/DS-2019.

The start date on your I-20/DS-2019 must match the start date of the term or semester, it cannot be changed/delayed by a few weeks to accommodate a visa interview that is after classes begin. ISS will only move your start date to the next available term (Spring, Summer (8-week session), or Fall) if you have confirmed that you will need to defer your start date on your immigration document.

If you have any questions please contact your ISS advisor or come to drop-in advising.

Common Visa Questions for Transfer-In Students

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Transferring Your F-1 SEVIS record to UW–Madison

  • Who is a transfer-in student?
    • A student in valid F-1 visa status at another SEVIS-certified school, who is eligible to have their F-1 SEVIS record transferred to UW–Madison.
  • I’m a transfer student, do I need a visa?
    • If you are in the US, have been maintaining your F-1 visa status, and your F-1 SEVIS record was transferred successfully to UW–Madison you most likely do not need a new visa unless you plan to travel internationally.
  • I have a visa from my previous school, do I need a new one?
    • If your F-1 visa is valid, you can use it to re-enter the United States, even if it lists your previous institution. You must have the new UW–Madison I-20 when re-entering the US for your program at UW Madison. If you are not sure if your visa is still valid please check with the US consulate that issued it.

Transferring Your J-1 SEVIS record to UW–Madison

  • Am I eligible to transfer my visa sponsorship?
    • If you study at a U.S. post-secondary institution as a J-1 student and your current J-1 DS-2019 SEVIS record is in “active” status, you may be eligible. The transfer process is a long process and requires you to meet with an ISS advisor at UW–Madison and your current DS-2019 sponsor. The transfer of your current SEVIS record must be completed before your DS-2019 program end date. Your last date of enrollment or DS-2019 program end date must be 5 months or less from the semester start date for which you are admitted.
    • If you are outside the U.S., you must apply for a new J-1 visa with your UW–Madison DS-2019.
  • If I have more questions about transferring my visa sponsorship, who do I contact?
    • You can look up your ISS advisor on the “Meet My Advisor” page. The advisor for J-1 students is the J-1 Compliance Specialist.

What if I have more questions?

If you don’t see your information or scenario above or have more questions based on your unique situation please contact ISS by sending an information request to your assigned ISS advisor or coming to drop-in advising.

STEP 6: Pre-arrival Planning & Arriving in Madison

There are many things to consider when planning your travel and arriving in Madison. View our guide for advice from current international students on things to consider when making travel plans, arriving in Madison for the first time, and settling into your new home as a Global Badger.  

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Pre-Arrival Communication

Our New Student Newsletters are an important email series that we send out to newly admitted international students. These newsletters provide useful information and resources to help you plan ahead so you can arrive on time and transition smoothly to living in Madison and studying at the University. Please read them carefully as they include important announcements about travel, housing options, health and safety concerns, and more. 

General Preparation for your Travel and Arrival

Life in the U.S.

Currency Info

  • Currency: It may be difficult to convert non-U.S. money into U.S. currency immediately upon arrival in the United States. Check with your bank and credit card company to find out if your ATM and credit cards will be available to you in Madison, and what the limits are on using them abroad.
    • Looking for where you could find exchange rates? There are many resources online. Try Xe for quick exchange conversions.
  • Adapters: For your electronic devices: The United States uses 120 volts, 60 hertz, and A/B plugs, so you may need an adapter. Find your country’s voltage here.

Life in Madison, WI

  • View Tips & Tricks from members of our International Student Advisory Board
  • Traffic and Road Safety, brought to you by UWPD
    • “Rules of the Road” – including traffic laws, society standards and practices, and safety measures – might be very different in Madison (or the U.S.) than what you are used to in your home country.
    • The University of Wisconsin Police Department (UWPD) has a Traffic Safety & Parking guide on their website. This is important information for being safe as a pedestrian (walking), bicyclist (biking), or motorist (driving).
  • Climate: Madison’s climate is subject to great temperature variations. During the summer (June-September), temperatures are often above 26.6 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) and occasionally above 32 degrees C. (90 degrees F.). During the winter (December-March), one must expect many days of -18 degrees C. (0 degree F.), and even lower. Both very light and very heavy clothing will be needed.
  • Weather: We recommend finding a weather app or weather station and checking local weather in Madison regularly. Make sure to include Madison, Wisconsin on your phone’s weather app to see upcoming forecasts.


Housing disclaimer: plan ahead! The city of Madison experiences high competition for both on-campus and off-campus housing, due to high demand and low supply. We highly encourage students to plan ahead and secure housing or accommodations as far in advance as possible.

  • On-Campus Housing
    • Eagle Heights / University Apartments vs. Residence Halls
      • University Housing includes the University Residence Halls (housing for undergraduate students) and University Apartments (housing for primarily graduate students, postdoctoral students, families, and staff).
      • Residence Halls, often called “dorms”, are unique communities full of resources, support, convenient services, events, and thousands of fellow Badgers. UW–Madison has 20 residence halls around campus, and they are the primary housing for new freshmen (undergraduate) students.
      • University Apartments residents are primarily graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, academic staff, university staff, faculty, and their families. There are three distinct neighborhoods included in University Apartments: Eagle Heights and University Houses are a half-mile northwest of UW–Madison’s western campus and primarily serve families. Harvey Street Apartments serve single graduate students and are located south of University Avenue, just west of campus.
        • University Housing Contact Information: If you would like to apply to live in university housing or family and dependent housing, please contact University Housing at (608) 262-2522.
  • Off-campus Housing
    • The Campus Area Housing Office is separate from University Housing and provides off-campus vacancy listings of apartments, houses, efficiencies, rooms, and private residence halls for rent to the 30,000 UW–Madison students who live in privately owned housing. Consumer information on tenant rights and responsibilities is also available. Phone: (608) 263-2452.
      • Check out their really great resource guide for terms to know, tips in finding a place to live, and more.
    • The International Cooperative House
      • The International Cooperative House (International Co-Op) is run by 26 housemates from all over the world. Call 608-283-6333 or email for more information.
    • Where else to look for listings
      • Madison Campus and Downtown Living website
        • This website is not affiliated with UW–Madison or ISS, but is run by a local business with a passion for matching renters and apartments in Madison. Find more about neighborhoods in the downtown and campus area, read blog posts, and more.
      • Facebook
        • There are many groups on Facebook where students and residents of Madison advertise that they have a lease or sublease available, or are looking for a roommate. These Facebook groups can be a helpful place to start looking for accommodation, but they are not official groups run by the University and anyone can join these groups.
    • We urge you to be cautious about housing scams, which unfortunately, do happen.


  • Tenant Resource Center
    • The Tenant Resource Center is a local not-for-profit agency that offers housing counseling to students in our new campus office. They can help you find housing, understand your rental rights and responsibilities, and answer questions about security deposits and lease agreements, getting repairs made, eviction, small claims court and more. They offer additional information to international students who may be unfamiliar with U.S. and Wisconsin laws about property ownership and renting.
  • Child Care and Family Resources
    • The Office of Child Care and Family Resources (OCCFR) promotes the academic and professional goals of the University of Wisconsin community through the administration of early education and family support programs.

Planning your Travel

Travel timeline

  • Students cannot arrive until 30 days before their I-20 or DS-2019 start date
  • Students are expected to arrive by the start date of classes. Late arrival to the U.S. is not guaranteed
  • Review current CDC advisories, requirements, and information

Flight / transportation information

Airport Information (MSN / MKE / ORD / MDW) | There are several regional airports with easy access to Madison, Wisconsin.

  • MSN – Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, WI
    • This small airport is located about 5 miles (8km) from UW–Madison.
      • There is a taxi waiting area outside of the baggage claim.
      • Calling a taxi is the easiest way to traverse the city with luggage in tow. Madison is home to several official taxi services including Green Cab of Madison, Madison Taxi, and Union Cab.
  • MKE – General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, WI
    • This is the largest airport in Wisconsin. It is only a 90-minute drive from campus.
  • ORD – Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL
    • While much further from UW–Madison, flights to this airport are often much less expensive.
    • The Van Galder bus service offers daily buses between this airport and UW–Madison.
    • Tickets can be purchased from the driver when you arrive, but please review the bus schedule prior to booking your flight.
  • MDW – Midway International Airport in Chicago, IL
    • A smaller airport on the south side of Chicago, Midway International Airport is an option but is the least conveniently located of these choices.
    • The Van Galder bus service offers daily buses between Chicago and UW–Madison.
    • Tickets can be purchased from the driver when you arrive, but please review the bus schedule prior to booking your flight.

Packing information

  • To Pack: Important Immigration Documents
    • Remember to keep your important documents with you in your carry-on luggage for your arrival in the U.S.
    • Check that important immigration documents are all valid.
    • Required Documents:
      • Form I-20 or DS-2019 (printed)
        • You must carry your most recently issued I-20/DS-2019, printed, and signed by you in blue ink.
      • Passport
        • Your passport should be valid for at least six months into the future at all times. There are exceptions for some countries, but it is still recommended that you take steps to renew your passport in your home country or at a foreign consulate in the U.S.
          • **Your country may recommend that you have a certified copy of your passport to keep separate from the original in case of loss or theft
      • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa
        • You must have a valid F-1 or J-1 student visa to reenter the U.S. Your visa can expire while you are inside the U.S. maintaining valid F-1 or J-1 student status. Also check the number of entries your visa is valid for (For example: 1, 2, or M=multiple).
    • Highly Recommended Documents:
      • UW–Madison Letter of Admission
      • Proof of funding / financial documentation
        • It is recommended that you carry your most recent financial documentation that matches the funding on your I-20/DS-2019. This is required if applying for an F-1/J-1 visa.
      • Proof of SEVIS I-901 Payment
        • Carry the receipt for your current SEVIS ID number.
  • To Pack: Clothing for Wisconsin weather and climate
    • Madison has four distinct seasons. As you probably have already heard, Wisconsin is famous for its cold winters. Having appropriate clothing to stay warm is very important. Check out the information below for more information on Madison’s climate, weather, and clothing advice.
    • Reminder: Do not send personal baggage ahead of time
    • Do not send baggage, parcels, or similar personal belongings in care of the university; there are no facilities for accepting or storing personal packages sent in advance. It is less expensive to have packages mailed after your arrival.
  • Tips for interacting with Customs & Border Protection (CBP)
    • After you land in the US you will disembark the airplane and go through a Customs & Border Protection inspection booth. Be prepared to hand in your documents (including passport, visa, I-20 or DS-2019,and letter of admissions). The CBP office may also ask to see your proof of funding/financial documentation and proof of SEVIS i-901 payment. According to the DHS Study in the States website some common questions will ask you a few common questions including:
      • The purpose of your visit to the United States
      • How long you plan to visit
      • Where you will be staying
      • If you have the means to support yourself financially in the United States
      • If the documents you are presenting are compatible with the purpose and intent of your visit
    • Your passport may get an entry stamp confirming the date you entered the US. This entry stamp can be a good way to verify your travel dates along with your I-94 record.

Temporary housing options

    • If you arrive before you are able to access your housing accommodations, here are some options:
      • Madison area hotel lodging
      • Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS) Temporary Homestay program
        • MFIS is not a UW–Madison or International Student Services (ISS) program, but is a community organization that has worked closely with ISS for many years.
        • The MFIS Temporary Homestay program allows Madison-area residents the chance to open their homes and hearts to international students and scholars for 1 to 3 nights when they first arrive in Madison. Newly-arriving students have found this to be most helpful, as it provides a brief period of rest, comfort, and initial adjustment before they move into their long-term housing in dormitories or apartments. In addition, hosts can often answer many questions international students have about life in Madison and the US. Questions?

Arriving at UW–Madison

  • Get a cell phone / SIM card
    • Check out what Eren, a member of our International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) recommends when looking for cell phone and SIM card options in Madison!
  • Set up a U.S. bank account
    • The U.S. does not have a national or state bank, and it is up to the individual to choose which bank meets their needs. It is also possible to have accounts open with more than one bank at a time.
    • When choosing a bank, it is important to do your research.
      • Considerations for choosing a bank in the U.S.
        • Connecting with a foreign account
        • Wire transfers
        • Physical locations in Madison or close to campus
        • Online banking options
        • Overdraft protection
        • Currency exchange
        • Nationwide coverage
        • How a bank might help if you fall victim to a scam
          • Scam awareness and fraud protection policies
    • Show a map of banks close to campus / downtown
    • Many students bank with UW Credit Union as they are an official partner of the University of Wisconsin System. Please note that you are not required to bank with UW Credit System, and we advise that you still do your research on what banks fit your individual needs and preferences.
  • Finding a Job On-Campus
    • “On-campus” jobs include work in the UW student unions, libraries, recreational centers, and in academic and administrative departments. Please review the ISS webpage on finding an on-campus job here.
  • SSN Information for Students with On-Campus Employment
    • A Social Security number is only required if you work in the U.S. (even if you work on-campus) and can be obtained with proof of legal employment. See the following webpage to learn how to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Driver’s License Info / State ID
    • If you are interested in getting a Wisconsin Driver’s License or State ID Card, please review the information here.

Getting Settled: A Checklist for Newly-Arrived Students

  • Get your Wiscard
    • It is very important to get your Wiscard as soon as you can, because it is your official UW–Madison identification card and is your key to campus life.
    • Your first Wiscard is free and you can get one at the Wiscard Office in Union South.
    • For information about getting your Wiscard, visit their website.
  • Complete orientation activities from your program, school, and ISS
    • Make sure to read incoming emails on your address carefully. There may be requirements for you to complete or events for you to attend based on your program.
  • Get UW–Madison bus pass
    • All UW–Madison students who pay segregated fees are eligible to receive a Madison Metro bus pass
      • For information about where and when you can get your bus pass each semester, visit the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) website here.
    • The UW campus bus routes are fare-free for all riders (Routes 80, 81, 82, 84).
    • Check out resources and information about bus transportation from UW–Madison Transportation Services
  • Become familiar with campus
    • Take the virtual campus tour or download the Campus Tour App here.
    • Ready to walk around? Check out these three different Self-Guided Walking Tours
    • Check out other welcome events happening around campus
  • How to find what textbooks you need
    • When your course instructors add textbook information, it will be available for you to view in your MyUW Student Center.
    • You can buy your textbooks or course materials online, but you can also purchase textbooks through the University Bookstore located on State Street. You can search on their website for specific books or by course number.

International Student Advisory Board Tips & Tricks

Current and former members of the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) at UW–Madison have created Tips & Tricks on multiple topics that new international students might find helpful.

STEP 7: Retrieve I-94

The I-94 is an official US government record when you enter or change visa status. Your I-94 record confirms your immigration status and the duration of time you can legally stay in the US. You will need to go online to get the I-94. See our webpage on how to find your I-94 and what to check to make sure everything was recorded correctly when you entered the US.

It may take a few days for your I-94 to appear. If there is an error in your I-94 please follow our directions on how to correct an error on your I-94.


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STEP 8: Complete Address Updates

Having a “Home Address” and “Local 1 Address” are required for our office to properly report your status to the Federal Government, and for maintaining your status. Students are required to report a new address within 10-days of the address change. You can always stay in compliance if you get into the habit of scheduling your address updates in advance.

You can update your addresses in your MyUW Student Center→Profile→Address page.The information you update on this page will take 24-48 hours to update on your Terra Dotta Profile. For more information on how to update your address, you can find it in the Knowledge Base here. Take time now to look at your addresses in your MyUW Student Center and make sure the addresses follow our requirements below.

If you are having difficulties updating an address based on our parameters below, you can contact the Office of the Registrar for support.

Local 1 Address is your local address in the U.S. For most students this is in Madison or the surrounding areas. This is where you are living/residing in the U.S. The Local 1 address will require you to include a county, a county is a region within a state. You can locate your county by doing a search of your address online.


U.S. Local 1 Address Format Recommendations:

Address Line 1: Street number and name

Address Line 2: Apartment, Unit, or Room Number

City, State, Postal (ZIP) Code

County (Madison is located in Dane County)

Example Address:

Address Line 1: 1848 Buckingham Badger Hill

Address Line 2: Room 726

Madison, WI, 53706

Dane County

If you live within a Residence Hall on campus, please find the correct address format in the link here.

Home Address is your address in your home country. This address must be outside of the U.S. and must be connected to you.

STEP 9: Enroll in Classes

As a student on a F-1/J-1 visa status your primary reason for being in the US are your academic studies. You are required to be full-time enrolled in order to maintain your visa status. This means that you must be enrolled in a minimum amount of credits and in-person credits. Depending on visa type, degree level, and other aspects full-time enrollment will be different. Please see our website on full-time enrollment and ask your ISS advisor by sending an information request or come to drop-in advising if you have any questions.  

ISS cannot assist students with choosing or enrolling in classes. New undergraduate students will enroll with the help of SOAR. Graduate students, VISP students, and exchange students please work with your assigned program coordinators on your enrollment.  

If you are in the US you must be enrolled in in-person or hybrid credits. For F-1 students a maximum of 3 credits of online coursework can count towards full-time enrollment. For J-1 students only one course per semester can be online. See the enrollment web page and table below which shows the minimum total number of credits and in-person credits you must enroll in.  

If you are having academic difficulties in your first year please see our page on Preparing for your Academic Journey. You can also contact your academic advisor, professors or teaching assistants (TAs) for help. If you continue to have academic difficulties even with these supports contact your ISS advisor for student immigration status support. 

For Summer term enrollment please see our full-time enrollment page and ask your ISS advisor by sending an information request or come to drop-in advising if you have any questions.  

Fall/Spring Semester Enrollment Requirements

Fall/Spring Semester Enrollment Requirements

wdt_ID Student Classification Minimum total credits Minimum "in-person" or "hybrid" credits Maximum online/remote credits to count toward full-time enrollment
1 Undergraduate 12 9 3
3 Graduate 8 5 3
4 Graduate w/ TA/PA 33.3% 6 3 3
5 Graduate w/ TA/PA50% 4 1 3
6 Graduate w/ RA 33-50% 8 5 3
7 Dissertator 3 3 0
Student Classification Minimum total credits Minimum "in-person" or "hybrid" credits Maximum online/remote credits to count toward full-time enrollment

*J-1 students are permitted to enroll in one online course per semester. The number of online credits is not specified but limited to one class. These credits count towards maintaining full time status.


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STEP 10: Complete ISO & ISS Check-in

International Student Orientation (ISO) and ISS Check-in is a requirement for UW–Madison F-1/J-1 students who have an I-20/DS-2019 with an upcoming program start date. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires you to check-in with UW–Madison by the start of your program of study in the United States. Failure to check-in with UW–Madison ISS within the required time will result in a student hold and/or SEVIS record termination. 

International Student Orientation (ISO) with ISS includes completing a two-part process which is:

1. Canvas Orientation course
2. Check-in Form on Terra Dotta

Both parts of this process are completed online. You can find more information on ISO and ISS Check-in here. We encourage you to start your Canvas Orientation before you arrive in the U.S. You will be able to finish your check-in on Terra Dotta when you arrive in the U.S. and can access your I-94 record. The deadline to complete ISO and ISS Check-in is 15 days after the program start date listed on your I-20/DS-2019.

Per U.S. federal regulations, you may not enter the U.S. with an “initial attendance” I-20/DS-2019 more than 30 days before your program start date.


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STEP 11: Preparing for your Academic Journey

Adjusting to a new campus or a new academic culture can be challenging. There are many resources available across campus and online to help you with this transition. We encourage you to review the following website: Preparing for your Academic Journey about common topics related to your academic experience at UW–Madison.


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STEP 12: Welcome Events & Involvement

As a new Global Badger, there are a lot of opportunities for you to meet new people, get to know campus, and get settled for life in Madison, Wisconsin.

International Student Services (ISS) hosts a few welcome events each fall and spring semester:

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International Student Welcome and Information Fair (ISWIF)

  • When: Before the first day of classes
  • Who: Hosted by ISS, featuring affiliated student organizations and campus offices
  • What: Welcome event and resource fair for all incoming international students to learn about academic resources, student organizations, campus identity and cultural centers, and other UW–Madison partners as you get to know your fellow international students. Lunch provided.

Welcome (Back) International Student Game Night

  • When: First week of classes
  • Who: Hosted by ISS, open to all international students
  • What: Join both new and returning international students for a night of fun and games! All students are welcome to come and enjoy some food, board games and video games at this social event. Students will get to meet each other, explore College Library, and learn how they can rent games, books, equipment, and more.

Please review other welcome and orientation programming based on what type of student you are.

International Student Services partners with SOAR for an in-person session prior to the start of classes.

  • The Graduate School hosts an annual New Graduate Student Welcome (NGSW) on the Wednesday before Fall semester begins.
  • Check out the New Student page on the Graduate School website to see the New Graduate Student Checklist and information about the New Graduate Student Welcome Week (Events such as the Degree Dash, etc.)
  • Most departments require a  program-specific orientation. Please check with your graduate student coordinator or program department about your orientation requirements

Law School

  • To find out more information on orientation requirements for your program, you can use the link here. If you have additional requirements for starting your program, please work with your program coordinator to complete all required orientations.

School of Medicine and Public Health

  • The School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) will have orientation requirements for your program. To confirm all of your requirements, please contact your program coordinator to confirm your new student requirements.

School of Pharmacy

  • The School of Pharmacy will have orientation requirements for your program. To confirm all of your requirements, please contact your program coordinator to confirm your new student requirements.

School of Veterinary Medicine

  • The School of Veterinary Medicine will have program orientations located on Canvas. Please connect with your program coordinator to make sure you complete their required Canvas Orientation Course along with other required trainings/orientations.

The Visiting International Student Program (VISP) welcomes students interested in short-term academic study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

International Academic Programs (IAP) works with incoming exchange students.


Exchange students do not attend SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration). SOAR is intended for degree-seeking UW students only.

Instead, all incoming exchange students are required to attend exchange student orientation. Together, your online and on-site orientation will set you up for success at UW-Madison. We recommend that you watch our online orientation video modules a few weeks prior to your arrival on campus.

Required on-site orientation: Orientation is held a few days before the start of the semester. This orientation is tailored specifically to exchange and visiting students.

If you need paperwork to be completed or academic support, please contact your exchange coordinator.