INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ORIENTATION (ISO)

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

Please enter the following information in your MyUW Student Center before completing the ISS Check-in in Terra Dotta:

    • Mailing Address (local address in the U.S.)
    • Home Address (address in your home country)
    • U.S. Phone Number (if applicable)
    • 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.

You need to update both of these systems separately.

Step 2: Complete International Student Orientation and ISS Check-in within Terra Dotta

You must complete International Student Orientation and ISS Check-in in your Terra Dotta immigration portal by Tuesday, February 9, 2021. We recommend you complete this important requirement before spring semester classes start on January 25.

Please note the following important points related to the ISS Check-in:

    • You cannot complete the ISS Check-in in Terra Dotta until you have entered the U.S. and have an I-94 record.
    • 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.

Step 3: Attend Virtual ISO

ISS will offer an optional virtual orientation on Friday, January 22, 9:00-11:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT). The session will be held via Webex and include: ISS staff introductions, a review of key rules for maintaining your F-1/J-1 visa status, an overview of our spring programs and events for international students, tips and advice from UW-Madison international alumni, and a Question & Answer (Q&A) session. F-1/J-1 dependents may also join the session. There is no registration required to attend our live virtual orientation on January 22, 2021.

Orientation Dates

Please complete the following steps if you are a new F-1/J-1 visa student who has an I-20/DS-2019 with a Spring 2021 start date and you are coming to UW-Madison to start your program of study this spring. Transfer students from another U.S. institution, students returning from a leave of absence, and change of status students with a Spring 2021 start date on their I-20/DS-2019 must also complete these steps:

  1. Complete your International Student Orientation & ISS Check-in by Tuesday, February 9, 2021. We recommend you complete this important requirement before fall semester classes start on January 25.
  • Log into your Terra Dotta portal, click on “Incoming Students” on your User Homepage, and select International Student Orientation and Check-in.
  • You will need copies of your immigration documents, including your I-94 which you will only have after entering the U.S.
  1. Enroll full-time before January 25.
  • If you are entering the U.S. for the first time with your SEVIS record, you must enroll in at least 1 in-person credit.
  • Your academic advisor or graduate program coordinator is available for any course schedule questions.
  1. Join ISS for an optional virtual orientation event. 
  • Friday, January 22, 9:00-11:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT)
  • Our live orientation will be held virtually via Webex and include: ISS staff introductions, a review of key rules for maintaining your F-1/J-1 visa status, an overview of our spring programs and events for international students, tips and advice from UW-Madison international alumni, and a Question & Answer (Q&A) session.
  • F-1/J-1 dependents, Change of Education Level students, and students who are deferring their I-20/DS-2019 start to Fall 2021 may also attend this optional virtual orientation.
  • No registration is required to attend our optional virtual orientation on January 22, 2021.

This spring, we will also offer the Global Badger Success Fridays series. These virtual sessions will be from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CDT on Fridays starting on February 5 and running through the end of March for at least 8 sessions. Each session will feature speakers from different campus offices to help you learn about their services and resources and have a successful transition to UW-Madison. We will share more information about Global Badger Success Fridays in the coming weeks on our New Students page, Event Calendar, and in our final new student newsletter which will be sent on January 15, 2021. The series’ sessions will be free and no registration will be required to attend.

If you have questions that are not answered on our website or through International Student Orientation & ISS Check-in, please send an information request to/make an appointment with your assigned ISS advisor in Terra Dotta or come to our virtual drop-in advising hours.

Friday, June 12, 2020
9:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time(CDT)
via Webex (meeting link below)

Summer 2020 International Student Orientation (ISO) will be a real time virtual session led by ISS staff. All transfer and change of status international students who are starting their programs in the summer term must attend this virtual ISO on June 12th.

Change of education level students who completed a program at UW-Madison and are now starting a new degree are invited and highly encouraged to attend ISO.

All international students starting their programs in summer term must also complete the ISS Check-in in the Terra Dotta portal within 15 days of their program start date on their I-20/DS-2019. 

Here are the slides from our 2020 Summer ISO Presentation.

 

Please complete the following steps if you are a new F-1/J-1 visa student coming to UW-Madison to start your program of study this fall. Transfer students from another U.S. institution and change of status students must also complete these steps:

  1. Complete your International Student Orientation & ISS Check-in by September 17. We recommend you complete this important requirement before fall semester classes start on September 2.
  • Log into your Terra Dotta portal, click on “Incoming Students” on your User Homepage, and select International Student Orientation and Check-in.
  • You will need copies of your immigration documents, including your I-94 which you will only have after entering the U.S.

2. Enroll full-time before September 2.

  • If you are entering the U.S. for the first time with your SEVIS record, you must enroll in at least 1 in-person credit.
  • Your academic advisor or graduate program coordinator is available for any course schedule questions.

3. Join ISS for an optional virtual orientation event. 

  • Friday, August 28, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) or Friday, September 4, 9:00-10:30 a.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT). The content for both sessions will be the same.  
  • Submit your questions before the sessions by completing this survey.
  • F-1/J-1 dependents, Change of Education Level students, and students who are deferring their I-20/DS-2019 start to Spring 2021 may also attend either optional virtual orientation.

If you have questions that are not answered on our website or through International Student Orientation & ISS Check-in, please send an information request or make an appointment with your assigned ISS advisor in Terra Dotta.

This is a video recording of ISS’ live International Student Orientation (ISO) virtual session held on September 4, 2020. It contains a lot of helpful information and resources for new Global Badgers. Closed captions (CC) are available within the video to display the words. F-1 and J-1 students who have entered the U.S. to start their program of study at UW-Madison in the 2020 Fall Semester must complete International Student Orientation and Check-in within their Terra Dotta immigration portal by September 17, 2020.

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.

Once again, we suggest that you arrive at least 2-3 days before your first scheduled orientation.

What will I learn at ISO?

Compliance and Maintaining Status – Students will be able to . . .

    • Summarize basic federal regulations and institutional policies they must comply with in order to maintain their nonimmigrant student visa status.
    • Identify ISS’ location, contact information, and the immigration advising services and resources it provides.
    • List and describe the function of important immigration documents and agencies related to their visa status.
    • Recognize benefits and authorizations they are eligible for as student visa holders.

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

    • Define “scam” and discuss types of scams and techniques for avoiding them.
    • Identify strategies and resources for maintaining personal safety.
    • Recognize basic U.S. laws and how to navigate administrative processes such as obtaining a Driver’s License and Social Security Number.
    • List campus departments and offices external to ISS which provide services for international students, including health and well-being, disability support, and academic success.

Transitions and Engagement – Students will be able to . . .

    • Describe challenges they may encounter during their transition to UW-Madison and identify strategies and resources for adjusting to living and studying in the U.S.
    • Identify ISS programs which provide opportunities for engagement, co-curricular education, and transition support.
    • Recognize campus and community organizations external to ISS which offer opportunities for extracurricular engagement and networking.

What will I learn through the ISS Check-in?

Students who complete the ISS Check-in will be able to . . .

    • Recognize key requirements of maintaining their visa status as outlined in the International Student Agreement.
    • Differentiate entry documents, such as the U.S. visa and I-94, from standard immigration documents, such as a passport.
    • Demonstrate a basic understanding of how to navigate Terra Dotta to submit a request

Who must attend ISO?

All newly admitted F-1 and J-1 students must attend ISO. F-2 and J-2 dependents do not need to attend.

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?

No. Change of Education Level students are not required to complete ISO and the ISS Check-in. However, ISS encourages them to participate in ISO to review and reinforce their understanding of important rules and regulations for maintaining their 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. You must also complete the ISS Check-in after you have entered the U.S. if you have an initial attendance I-20/DS-2019.

Events

Fri 29

Virtual Engagement: Global Badger Success Friday

January 29 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Fri 29
Feb 02

Virtual Engagement: Global Cafe

February 2 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Feb 05

 

Check back often for updates!