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Arriving in the U.S.

All international scholars in H-1B status are required to register with our office upon arrival to UC San Diego.

You can find more information about the registration process and orientation sessions below, along with other information about settling into your routine as an international scholar at UC San Diego below.

Register at IFSO

All new international scholars (including transfer scholars from other U.S. institutions) must visit UC San Diego's International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO) upon arrival in the U.S.

Registration is required for ALL new UC San Diego international scholars.  Please make sure to provide us with your contact information (address, phone number, and email address) in San Diego.

Please bring the following documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Form I-94
  3. Dependent(s) documents (if applicable)

Attend H-1B Orientation

Orientation is highly encouraged for all new UC San Diego international scholars.

There are special regulations that pertain to particular visa categories. Orientation is an opportunity to learn about these requirements so that violations to the terms of your H-1B status do not occur.

Orientation is also a good way to meet others that are new to the university. Dependents are also encouraged to attend.

H-1B Orientation:

Every first Monday at 9:30 am (excluding holidays) in the International Faculty & Scholars Office, Suite 2126.  To see the schedule, visit http://ifso/programs/ifso-events.html

See the UC San Diego Transportation website for more information about visitor parking.

Applying for a Social Security Card

Sample social security card

As a UC San Diego employee in H-1B status you must apply in person at the local Social Security Office.

The following documents are required to apply for a Social Security card:

  • Passport
  • Form I-94 record printed from the USCBP website
  • H-1B: original H-1B Notice of Approval (Form I-797)

The nearest Social Security Card Center is downtown San Diego at 109 West Ash St., San Diego, CA 92101. To verify their hours of operation and attain additional information, visit their website or call (800) 772-1213.

Applying for a Driver's License

The State of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles does not recognize international drivers’ licenses. The State of California, however, does recognize your home country's driver license as long as it is valid and translated to English. Although the law is ambiguous when dealing with international visitors, we recommend that you obtain a California driver’s license if you will be staying in California for over 2 months. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires both a written test and a road test. No appointment is necessary for the written test, but an appointment and a car are required for the road test.

Scholars in H-1B status must have a social security number in order to apply for a license. Dependents must either show proof of ineligibility by obtaining a denial letter from the Social Security Administration or apply for a number, if eligible prior to applying for a U.S driver's license.

Temporary permits can be renewed until the card is received.

Keep in mind that automobile insurance is required by law in the United States. Most insurance companies require a valid California driver’s license.

For DMV locations or more information call (800) 777-0133 or visit the DMV website.

Applying for a Campus Card


To obtain a UC San Diego ID card, ask your sponsoring department for assistance. Your department administrator needs to complete and authorize a Campus Card Request Form. Take the completed form and go to the Student Services Building located at the Student Services Center, 3rd floor, Suite 354A. If you are responsible for the fee, it must be paid at the Central Cashier’s Office first.

An Affiliate card is eligible for the following:

  • Postdoctoral Scholars- Fellow or Paid-Direct
  • Visiting Scholars
  • Visiting Graduate Students
  • Volunteers
  • Family members - spouses are eligible only if the principal is a paid UC San Diego employee.

More information is available at: