Arrival Information

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Please review this section carefully for U.S. port of entry guidance, U.S. Department of State reporting requirements, and social security information. Follow this step-by-step guide to ensure a swift entry into the United States. 

What to Expect at the U.S. Port of Entry (both land and airport arrivals)

At the U.S Port of Entry (POE), the EV must present the following documents to officials:
  • DS-2019 form
  • Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
  • Valid Visa
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • UCSC Appointment Letter (recommended)
  • Financial Certification (recommended)

Upon presenting the aforementioned documents, POE officials will then:

  1. Stamp documents with the official date of entry (including the I-94 card)
  2. Mark legal documents with a “J-1” (primary) or “J-2” (dependent)
  3. Mark legal documents with a “D/S” (Duration of Status)

It is the exchange visitors’ responsibility to complete the I-94** card correctly. List your name and date of birth exactly as it is within your DS-2019 form. Inconsistency in your name and date of birth will cause a serious delay of your appointment start date. U.S. Customs & Border Patrol provides guidance on the slight differences between entering the U.S. through a land port and an airport.

It is also the EV's responsibility to be adamant that POE officials mark your I-94 card and passport correctly prior to leaving the airport. Unfortunately, if you or U.S. officials incorrectly mark legal documents, you must travel to the San Francisco deferred inspection office to correct the errors. Until the correction is made, scholars are unable to participate in their UCSC appointment.

**UPDATE: Starting mid-May 2013, U.S. Customs will be phasing out the issuance of I-94 cards at the port of entry. Scholars can access their I-94 printout at**

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Attend Your Mandatory ISSS Orientation

Scholars are required to attend their Orientation with ISSS the first Wednesday that they are in the United States. Scholars must check in at the Classroom Unit Building, Room 101 at 11:00AM. Scholars are required to submit ORIGINALS and COPIES of the following legal documents at their Orientation:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • I-94
    • NOTE: Starting mid-May 2013, U.S. Customs will be phasing out the issuance of I-94 cards at the port of entry. Scholars can access their I-94 printout at Upon accessing your I-94 printout, bring a copy to Orientation.
  • DS-2019 form
  • Proof of insurance that meets US Department of State Requirements
  • Local address, phone number, email
  • Original bank verification letter, if not funded by UCSC
  • UCSC Appointment Letter
*J-1 scholars must submit the aforementioned documents for each J-2 dependent at Orientation as well.

If scholars are unable to attend their scheduled Orientation, they must contact ISSS immediately. Failure to attend the Mandatory Orientation may result in losing legal status, having to leave the U.S, being subject to deportation, and possibly barred from the U.S. for three years or longer.

ISSS is required to confirm that J-1 scholars have attended Orientation and submitted all legal documents in order to validate their record as legal within SEVIS. J-1 records must be validated within 30 days of arrival into the U.S. or their exchange program will automatically terminate.

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Check-In With Your Department/Division

Scholars are required to check in with their Department or Divisional contact to complete appointment paperwork. You will complete your UCSC insurance paperwork with your Department or Divisional contact if you are eligible. Be sure to bring a copy of your insurance application to your Mandatory ISSS Orientation in order to validate your record as legal within SEVIS.

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Apply for Your Social Security Number

All J-1 scholars are required to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) with the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office. A social security number is a nine-digit number issued by the SSA to maintain an accurate record of wages. Its primary purpose is to track individuals for taxation purposes.  A social security number is valid for life.

To be eligible to apply for your SSN, you must:

  • Attend the J-1 Scholar Orientation, and submit requested legal documents
  • Wait at least 48 hours from the date that you are validated in the SEVIS database, and
  • Be physically present within the United States at least 10 days
To apply for your SSN, bring the following documents to the local SSA Office:
  • Passport
  • I-94 departure record (small white card in passport)
    • NOTE: Starting mid-May 2013, U.S. Customs will be phasing out the issuance of I-94 cards at the port of entry. Scholars can access their I-94 printout at Use your I-94 printout to apply for your social security number.
  • DS-2019 form
  • Letter of invitation/offer of employment from your sponsoring UCSC Dean
  • Valid Local Address: Your SSN will be mailed to the address you list within the Social Security application. It is vital to include an address where you will be able to receive mail

The SSA Offices are located at:
169 Walnut Avenue, Santa Cruz 800-593-8523
315 Main St. Suite A, Watsonville 800-521-3385

Once You Receive Your SSN:
Present your SSN to your Department/Division to complete your appointment paperwork
Do not submit a copy of your card to ISSS 

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