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Arriving in the U.S.

Once you have arrived in the U.S., you will need to complete the registration process in our office.

The J-1 Orientation session will help answer some of your questions about your program

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.

Register at IFSO

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

Registration is required for ALL new UC San Diego scholars who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.  Please make sure to provide us with your contact information (address, phone number, and email address) in San Diego.

Please bring the following documents:

J-1 Exchange Visitor

  1. Passport
  2. Form DS-2019
  3. Form I-94
  4. Dependent(s) documents (if applicable)
**For all Change of Status bring your I-797 Approval Notice.

Attend Mandatory J-1 Orientation

Orientation is required for all new UC San Diego scholars who are not U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents of the USA.

There are special regulations that pertain to particular statuses. Orientation is an opportunity to learn about these requirements so that violations of the terms of status do not occur.

Orientation is also a greatway to meet others that are new to the university.

J-1 Orientation

Orientation session begins at 9:30 a.m. in the IFSO Office (McGill Hall 2nd Floor Suite 2126) every Wednesday.

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

International Family Orientation 

Enjoy coffee, conversation and friendship every first and third Wednesday of the month at 9:15 a.m., at McGill Hall 2nd Floor Suite 2126. Children are welcome to attend.

Apply for a Social Security Card

Sample image of SSN

We recommend that you wait 10 days after entering the United States and 5 days after completing the registration process at the International Faculty & Scholar Office to apply for a Social Security Number. You must apply in person at a local Social Security office. Generally, all UCSD employees (H-1B, TN, O-1, etc.) and J-1 scholars in the Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar, and Professor categories are automatically eligible to apply for a SSN. J-1 Student Interns are only eligible if they are being paid by UCSD. 

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

  • Passport
  • Form I-94 record printed from the USCBP website
  • DS-2019 Form

Apply 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 national 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 get a California driver’s license if you are in California over 2 months. Keep in mind that automobile insurance is required by law in the United States. Most insurance companies require a valid California driver’s license.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires 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 J-1, H-1B, TN, and O-1 statuses must have a social security number in order to apply for a license. Dependents must either show proof of ineligibility by getting a denial letter from the Social Security Administration or apply for a number, if eligible prior to applying for a license.

Temporary permits can be renewed until the card is received.

Apply for a Campus Card

To obtain a UC San Diego ID card, ask your department for assistance. The administrator needs to complete and authorize the Campus Card Request Form. Take the completed form and go to the Student Services Building located at 402 University Center, 3rd floor, Suite 355. If you are responsible for the fee, it must be paid at the Central Cashier’s Office First.

An affiliated card is eligible for the following:

Postdoctoral Scholars- Fellow or Paid-Direct
Visiting Scholar
Visiting Graduate Student
Family members - spouses are eligible only if the principal is a paid UC San Diego employee.
More information is available at:

Confirm Health Insurance Coverage

The U.S. Department of State regulations require that visitors in J-1 and J-2 statuses maintain proper insurance coverage as a condition of their participation in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. [See 1(f) on back of the DS-2019].

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, we will require proof of your health isurance coverage. See our health insurance page for more information on submitting your proof of enrollment.