ISO Steps

ISO is for new students who are beginning a program of study or returning on an initial attendance I-20 or DS-2019.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires you to register with UW-Madison before starting your program of study in the United States. By completing ISO and ISS Check-in in your Terra Dotta immigration portal, you will fulfill this federal requirement.

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Step 1: Update your Addresses and Emergency Contact in your Student Center in MyUW

1. Update your addresses in MyUW Student Center (Access from “My UW” – “Student Center” – “Profile” –  “Addresses”)

  • “Local 1” Address (local address in the U.S.)
  • Home Address (address in your home country)

The information will update in your Terra Dotta portal 24-48 hours after you make the change in MyUW Student Center.

Tips to write your U.S. address
Address line 1: Street number and name
Address line 2: Apartment number
City, State, Postal (ZIP) Code, County (Dane county is for the city of Madison)

2. Update your Emergency Contact

  • The easiest way to update your emergency contact is to search for “Emergency” in MyUW.
  • Your emergency contact is the person the university can contact in case you are injured, missing, or incapacitated. If you have problems updating your emergency contact information, contact the DoIT Help Desk.

3. Update your Phone Number (if applicable)

  • When living in the U.S. you might get a phone number. You can update that information in your MyUW Student Center Profile.

Step 2: Complete International Student Orientation(ISO) in Canvas

You will need complete ISO online on Canvas

For Fall I-20/DS-2019 start dates, you will be required to complete the ISO for Fall 2023 term. To Access the Fall 2023 ISO Canvas course:

  • You can Pre-enroll in the Canvas Course:
  • When clicking the link above, and enrolling, you should see a Dashboard for the course. You can always return to this course to complete your requirements.
  • Click and read “Introduction” and continue by clicking the “Next” button on the bottom right corner. Follow the instructions to complete modules.

How to Know When You Are Done

To check if you have completed your ISO, make sure that you have finished all modules. Go to the “Grades” section and print a pdf of your grades. Submit this pdf in Terra Dotta as part of the ISS Check-in.

Step 3: Complete Check-in on Terra Dotta

Completing ISS Check-in

ISS Check-in requires you to scan and upload your immigration documents to your Terra Dotta. Documents You will Need to Upload for ISS Check-in:

  • Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Passport
  • F-1/J-1 visa (Not required for students from Canada or Bermuda)
  • I-94 arrival record
  • Copy of your grades from the Canvas course. You must score at least 70% on the orientation.
  • You will also need to upload dependent documents (visa and I-94) if applicable

As an F-1/J-1 student at UW-Madison, Terra Dotta is your student immigration portal where you can submit I-20/DS-2019 record updates and requests. To access Terra Dotta, please review the steps below:

  • Log in to MyUW using your NetID and password.
  • Search for “Terra Dotta” and add Terra Dotta to home.
  • Open Terra Dotta. If you are prompted to log in to Terra Dotta, use your NetID and password.

Dates & Requirements

Following students must complete virtual International Student Orientation (ISO) and ISS Check-in within Terra Dotta (Complete them online. You do not need to come to the ISS office). The ISO Canvas Course for the Fall 2023 term will open on 08/06/2023. You can pre-enroll in this course in Step 2 Above.

UW-Madison F-1/J-1 students who have an I-20/DS-2019 with a Fall 2023 start date including:

Students who are first-time travelers to the U.S.

Transfer students from another U.S. institution

Students returning from a Leave of Absence with a new Initial Attendance I-20

Change of education level students

Change of visa status students

Per federal regulations, you must complete ISO and ISS Check-in requirement by the 15th day after the program start date on your I-20/DS-2019.

We encourage you to start your Fall 2023 ISO on Canvas before you arrive in the U.S., and complete your ISS Check-in as soon as you arrive in the U.S. Completing Fall 2023 ISO & ISS Check-in within Terra Dotta is your only ISS orientation requirement for activating your F-1/J-1 visa status.

Our office will be hosting an International Student Welcome and Information Fair (ISWIF) for all students attending UW Madison. More information on this transition resources for new students is available in the link hereAttending these ISS programs and events is optional and free of charge. Please join us and get involved in student life in the spring semester!

International Student Resource Guidebook

International Student Resource Guidebook

Download the International Student Resource Guidebook so that you can access the resources from ISO in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

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When can I arrive in the United States?

If you are a newly admitted F-1/J-1 student, you are allowed to arrive up to 30 days before your program start date. Check the program start date listed on your form I-20/DS-2019.

What will I learn through ISO?

ISS’ Role and Maintaining F-1/J-1 Student Visa Status – Students will be able to . . .

    • Recognize ISS’ role in supporting them, including providing advising, immigration updates, and document production services; transitional and engagement programs; international student advocacy; and compliance and co-curricular communications.
    • Summarize key federal regulations and institutional policies they must follow in order to maintain their nonimmigrant F-1/J-1 student visa status.
    • List and describe the function of important immigration documents and agencies related to their visa status.
    • Identify benefits and authorizations, such as off-campus employment, that they are eligible for as F-1/J-1 student visa holders.

Using Terra Dotta and the ISS Website – Students will be able to . . .

    • Recognize how to navigate Terra Dotta to submit requests, send information requests, schedule an appointment with their ISS advisor, and perform other tasks.
    • Identify the various sections viewable on the ISS homepage and how to navigate them and perform a search to find the information they need.

Health, Safety, and Student Success – Students will be able to . . .

    • Describe challenges they may encounter during their transition to UW-Madison and identify campus resources that support their health, well-being, and overall success during their adjustment to living and studying in the U.S. (further elaborated on through the Global Badger Success Fridays series).
    • Recognize key U.S. laws, campus policies, and resources for staying safe during their studies.
    • Define “scam” and discuss types of scams and techniques for avoiding them.

Who must complete ISO and ISS Check-in?

All newly admitted F-1 and J-1 students must complete ISO and ISS Check-in within Terra Dotta. Additionally, transfer students from another U.S. institution with a “Transfer Pending” I-20/DS-2019, students returning from a leave of absence on an “Initial Attendance” I-20/DS-2019, change of education level students, and change of visa status students must complete ISO & ISS Check-in. F-2 and J-2 dependents do not have any ISO and ISS Check-in requirements.

How is ISO different from SOAR?

ISO is for all students with an F-1/J-1 visa.

SOAR (Student Advising, Orientation, & Registration) is for all undergraduate first-year and transfer students who are studying a degree program at UW-Madison.

Graduate and professional students do not attend SOAR. If you are a graduate or professional student, check with your academic department for your program’s orientation. All graduate students should also attend the Graduate Student Welcome.

Exchange students and non-degree visiting students also do not attend SOAR.

If I'm an undergraduate first-year or transfer student, do I have to go to both ISO and SOAR?

Yes. Both ISO and SOAR are mandatory programs designed to support your success at UW-Madison.

I am a Change of Education Level student at UW-Madison. Do I need to complete the ISO and ISS Check-in requirements for new international students?

Yes. Change of Education Level students are required to complete ISO and ISS Check-in within Terra Dotta. Completing ISO helps reinforce your understanding of important rules and regulations for maintaining your F-1/J-1 student visa status.

I took a Leave of Absence from UW-Madison. Do I need to complete the ISO and ISS Check-in requirements for new international students?

Maybe. If your Leave of Absence from UW-Madison was longer than 1 year, you are required to complete all ISO requirements. If you have an “Initial Attendance” I-20/DS-2019, you must complete ISO and ISS Check-in after you have entered the U.S.