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Policies & FAQs

*** Exceptional circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic have altered certain aspects of International Student Orientation. The information on this page is subject to change at any time. For the most updated information on the Summer 2021 orientation, please see the orientation requirements (Steps 1-5) or email us at                    ***

What is International Student Orientation, and who needs to attend it?

Orientation will teach you helpful information about immigration rules and campus resources, and it will also give you the opportunity to meet a lot of other new international students. For a detailed schedule of events, please visit our Attend Orientation page. Keep in mind that every section of the orientation schedule is mandatory, and partial attendance will not satisfy the requirement.

The International Student Orientation is mandatory for all international students studying with an F-1 or J-1 student visa. This includes international freshman, returning students, transfer students, graduate students, Learning Abroad exchange students, and students returning to school after OPT or STEM OPT. Other campus orientations (New Student Orientation, Transfer Orientation, orientation by your academic department, etc.) will NOT satisfy the requirement to attend International Student Orientation. If you are unsure if this requirement applies to you, please see the answers below or email us at

There is a $75 International Student Orientation Fee that you must pay before you attend orientation. This fee covers the expenses necessary to bring you a great orientation experience. This fee can be paid conveniently online with a credit card or bank transfer. Find details on the fee policy, as well as payment instructions here.

 Only students studying with an F-1 or J-1 student visa need to attend International Student Orientation. However, you may be required to attend a different orientation on campus. Please contact the Office of Orientation and Transition or your department advisor for more information. Exchange visitors with a J-1 visa have the option to attend a specific J-1 scholar orientation.

Maybe. Please send us an email so that we can confirm your specific situation. You may need to repeat orientation if:

  • You have been unenrolled at the University of Utah for three consecutive semesters or more
  • You have been on OPT or STEM OPT and are returning to take classes after three semesters or more
  • Other various reasons

We require students to repeat orientation in certain cases because immigration laws and policies change frequently, and we want all students to have the most current information on how to maintain their visa status. If you have been enrolled at the University of Utah within the last three semesters, you don’t need to attend the physical orientation session, but you will still need to complete the Online Document Check-In e-formso that we can collect your most recent immigration documents and information. If this applies to you, we will email you instructions on how to complete this e-form.

A “sponsored student” is a student who has received a specific scholarship from their home government or another outside organization to study at the University of Utah. Sponsored students must complete the Interntational Student Orientation requirements. During the check-in process, you will be connected with the Sponsored Student Coordinator, who will be a great resource for you during your studies here. The ISSS office provides many different services to assist sponsored students. For more information about the Sponsored Student Program, please click here.

Yes, exchange students coming to the University of Utah for one or two semesters through the Learning Abroad program must attend the ISSS International Student Orientation, in addition to Learning Abroad’s new student orientation. You will attend two orientations so that you will be extra prepared for your studies at the U! For further questions, please contact your Learning Abroad advisor at


International Student Orientation Policies

We will host additional make-up orientation sessions for students who are unable to attend the regular orientation dates due to unavoidable circumstances. Make-up orientations occur only on specified dates and times during the first few weeks of the semester. Space is limited in these sessions, so you must register in advance. Make-up orientation registration usually opens after the regular registration closes. You will receive an email when the registration for make-up orientation opens, along with the available dates and times.

If you do not attend any of the orientation sessions, you will receive a hold on your University record. A “hold” prevents you from doing some things because you did not meet a certain requirement. The orientation hold will prevent you from registering for classes and receiving your transcripts. To remove the hold, you must attend the next available orientation date (which may be at the beginning of the next semester) and complete the Online Document Check-In e-form in a timely manner. Please try your best to make arrangements to attend orientation so that you do not get a hold. If you have an unavoidable conflict or if an emergency situation occurs that prevents you from attending orientation, please email as soon as possible so we can help you find a solution.

To show respect to the other students and guest presenters, students will not be permitted to enter orientation after the check-in period has ended. This is also because the information we discuss at orientation is very important, and we don’t want any students to receive only partial information by joining the session late. If you do arrive late, you will be expected to attend a complete session of orientation on another day. No exeptions will be made. Please arrive early, and allow yourself extra time to travel in case of traffic issues, public transportation delays, bad weather, parking your car, getting lost, etc. These excuses will not be accepted, and will not permit you to enter late.


Registering for Orientation with UAtlas

Be sure to include the “u” at the beginning of your student ID number and enter your birthdate in the requested format. If you continue to have trouble logging in, please email with a detailed description of the problem and a screenshot or photo of the login page.

You can still try to attend orientation even if you missed the registration deadline. A waiting list is created each day of orientation for those students who did not register in advance. Please arrive at the beginning of the daily check-in period to put your name on the waiting list. At the end of the check-in period, we will inform you if there is space for you to attend orientation that day. Keep in mind that it is NOT guaranteed that there will be a space available for you. If you aren’t able to attend any of the regular orientation days, you may still be able to register for a make-up orientation. Please see the Attend Orientation page for instructions on how to do so.

Yes. Log into UAtlas, then view the orientation date you registered for using the calendar icon. You will then see an option to cancel your registration for that date. If there is still space available on another date, you may register for it just as you did when you registered the first time.


What should I bring, and where do I go?

You must bring the most current original versions of the following documents with you to orientation: passport, visa, and I-20 or DS-2019. Please also remember to bring your address to orientation – the address for the apartment, house, or hotel where you will be sleeping that night.

pay parking lotThe University of Utah campus is accessible by car, campus shuttle, bus, and TRAX light rail system. There is a large parking lot located directly to the east of the Union Building, and the parking fee is $2.00 per hour. You may purchase your desired parking time from a grey kiosk in the parking lot using your license plate number and credit card information. Find more tips and a parking payment tutorial here. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide parking validation or reimbursement for students during orientation.

We are happy to welcome family members to attend orientation with their student. However, due to space limitations, we can only allow a limited number of guests to attend. If you would like your family member(s) to join you at orientation, please let us know in advance so we can make the appropriate arrangements. Guests will have a specific seating at the back of the room to observe, but will not be permitted to sit at the table with their student. Friends or non-family guests may attend orientation only if there is space and with advance approval from the Orientation Coordinator. If you have dependents on an F-2 or J-2 visa, they are not required to attend this orientation.


General questions

You may register for classes as soon as the open enrollment period begins. This means that you can register for classes before you attend orientation! For enrollment dates and information, please contact the Office of the Registrar. If you are an undergraduate student, you may contact an academic advisor to learn about class options and the registration process. If you are a graduate student, you may contact your department advisor for registration assistance.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the system that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses to maintain your offical immigration record. As a new student, your SEVIS record should be active within the first few weeks of your first semester at the University of Utah.

Your SEVIS record will be activated only after you:

  • Pay the I-901 fee (before you enter U.S.)
  • Physically attend one full session of International Student Orientation (after you arrive in U.S.)
  • Submit a complete Online Document Check-In e-form 

If you fail to meet these requirements and your SEVIS record is not activated in a timely manner, your record may terminated and you may start accruing unlawful presence in the U.S. You will receive several emails reminding you to do these things, so be sure to check your email frequently!

Your SEVIS record must be activated before you can receive these documents. To check if your SEVIS record has been activated or to request that it be activated, you may email us at

New Student Work Authorization (NSWA) is only for new F-1 students who need to start working at their on-campus job before the start of the semester. With ISSS office approval, new students may begin working in these positions as soon as 30 days before the official first day of class. The request for a New Student Work Authorization approval letter can only be done after arriving in the U.S., since information from your required I-94 document is only available after passing through U.S. Customs at the airport. Without your I-94 information, your request will be denied. International students on an F-1 visa who would like to request New Student Work Authorization must complete an electronic form (e-form) through iStart and upload all requested documents.

Your SEVIS record must be activated before you can receive a Social Security Number. Once this has been done, you should follow the steps listed on this document. After you have completed the application and prepared the appropriate documents, you may go to the Social Security Office in downtown Salt Lake City to submit your application for a Social Security Number.

This can sometimes happen with transfer students who have not received their new I-20 from the admissions office. You must complete the Online Document Check-In e-form on your own and upload a scanned copy of your I-20 as soon as you receive it. Uploading your I-20 is part of the orientation requirements you must complete to avoid getting a hold placed on your account. Please see these instructions on how to access the Online Document Check-In e-form.


All undergraduate students must complete the Writing 2010 requirement with a C- grade or higher in order to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree. You must complete this requirement within your first three semesters at the University. If you wish to enroll in the Writing 2010 class you must do one of the following things:

  • Take the Writing Placement Test at the Testing Center (Room 498 of the Student Services Building). Your score on this test will indicate if you can enroll in Writing 2010 right away, or if you need to take Writing 1010 first.
  • Enroll in Writing 1010 as a prerequisite course. After you finish Writing 1010, you can enroll in Writing 2010.
  • Transfer equivalent Writing 1010 or Writing 2010 course credit from your previous institution.

If you feel like you need some extra help with English, you may be interested in EAS (English for Academic Success) courses to meet the writing requirement. EAS classes are designed to help non-native English speakers improve their ability to communicate in English. This is done through working on reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills both in classroom settings and through one-on-one interaction with native English speakers. The available EAS courses are: EAS 1040, EAS 1050, and EAS 1060. To fulfill the undergraduate writing requirement, you may enroll in the courses EAS 1050 and then EAS 1060. These two courses together are equivalent to completing the Writing 2010 course. To enroll in EAS courses, you must still take the Writing Placement Exam. Please contact in the Linguistics Department to enroll in EAS courses.


Some classes require a placement exam score or other requirements in order to register. For information on the math placement test, please contact a math department advisor. If you are a graduate student, contact your department advisor for information on any prerequisites or exam scores that may be needed for your program.

You are always welcome and encouraged to meet with an ISSS advisor to discuss any questions or concerns that you may have, especially regarding immigration. Our trained advisors are here to help guide you through complicated policies and procedures so that you can have all the information you need to maintain your visa status. To make an appointment to speak with an advisor, please contact the ISSS office at 801-581-8876 or

Current Students

The International Student Ambassadors play a big role in the life of a new international student by leading them through orientation, sharing resources and advice, and acting as their first guide to campus life. Current students, both international and domestic, may find more information and apply for the International Student Ambassador scholarship program here.

Campus Departments & Community Organizations/Businesses

We love connecting new students with resources that will help them adjust to life at the U and in Salt Lake City. For more information about available outreach opportunities, please email the ISSS Orientation Team at


Last Updated: 10/5/21