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

UW-Madison F-1/J-1 students who have an I-20/DS-2019 with a Summer 2021 start date must complete International Student Orientation (ISO) and Check-in in Terra Dotta. Per federal regulations, you must complete this requirement by the 15th day after the program start date on your I-20/DS-2019.

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.

Orientation Dates

UW-Madison F-1/J-1 students who have an I-20/DS-2019 with a Summer 2021 start date must complete International Student Orientation (ISO) and Check-in in Terra Dotta. Per federal regulations, you must complete this requirement by the 15th day after the program start date on your I-20/DS-2019. Transfer students from another U.S. institution, students returning from a leave of absence, change of education level students, and change of status students with a Summer 2021 start date on their I-20/DS-2019 must also complete this federal compliance requirement. 

We encourage you to start your Summer 2021 International Student Orientation & Check-in in your Terra Dotta portal before you arrive to the U.S. You can find it by logging in to Terra Dotta and searching within the “Incoming Students” section. Please note that in order to submit your ISO & Check-in in Terra Dotta, you must upload copies of your immigration documents including your I-94, which you will only have after entering the U.S. Completing Summer 2021 ISO & Check-in in Terra Dotta is your only orientation requirement for activating your F-1/J-1 visa status.

UW-Madison F-1/J-1 students who have an I-20/DS-2019 with a Fall 2021 start date must complete International Student Orientation (ISO) and ISS Check-in within Terra DottaTransfer students from another U.S. institution, students returning from a leave of absence, change of education level students, and change of visa status students with a Fall 2021 start date on their I-20/DS-2019 must also complete ISO & ISS Check-in within Terra Dotta. Per federal regulations, you must complete this requirement by Thursday, September 23rd, the 15th day after the program start date on your I-20/DS-2019. Fall 2021 ISO & ISS Check-in will be available for you in Terra Dotta by Monday, August 2nd. 

We encourage you to start your Fall 2021 ISO & ISS Check-in within your Terra Dotta portal before you arrive to the U.S. and complete it by September 8th, the first day of classes. You can find it by logging in to Terra Dotta and searching within the “Incoming Students” section. Please note that in order to submit your ISO & ISS Check-in, you must upload copies of your immigration documents including yourI-94, which you will only have after entering the U.S. Completing Fall 2021 ISO & ISS Check-in within Terra Dotta is your only ISS orientation requirement for activating your F-1/J-1 visa status. 

Your ISO in Terra Dotta includes the following important topics: 

  • Overview of ISS’ services, programs, and communications 
  • Your immigration documents and their purposes 
  • Key rules and tips for maintaining your F-1/J-1 student visa status 
  • Using Terra Dotta and the ISS website 
  • U.S. laws, campus policies, and safety awareness and resources 
  • Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) 
  • Maintaining your mental health and resources for your health and well-being 

ISS will also host an in-person welcome (back) event for new and returning students as well as Global Badger Success Fridays, a holistic series of weekly, virtual sessions to prepare you for success at UW-Madison. More information about these events and our Fall 2021 schedule of programs will be listed on our event calendar and shared through our weekly Just ISSued newsletters, which you will begin to receive once you start your academic program. Attending these ISS programs and events is optional, free of charge, and no registration is required. Please join us and get involved in student life in fall semester!   

This is a video recording of ISS’ live International Student Orientation (ISO) virtual session held on January 22, 2021. 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 must complete ISO & Check-in within their Terra Dotta portal. This requirement must be completed by the 15th day after the program start date listed on page 1 of your I-20/DS-2019.

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 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.

Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Check back often for updates!

Orientation Team

Sarah Woller(she/her/hers)

Position title: Global Higher Education Practicum Student

Though not technically part of the ISS staff, Sarah will be completing her practicum at ISS for the Spring 2021 semester. Sarah graduated from UW-Madison with a double major in Political Science and Communications, as well as a Leadership Certificate. While an undergrad, she participated in BRIDGE and studied abroad in Sri Lanka and Cape Town, South Africa learning more about global health and international politics. She currently works as an International Admissions Counselor here at the Office of Admissions and Recruitment and is also a graduate student in the Global Higher Education Program at UW-Madison. In her free time, Sarah loves to run, bike, cook, hang out with friends and family, and discover new Spotify playlists.