Exchange Students may be considering many questions prior to their arrival. Use our Pre-Arrival Guide to review information about the J-1 Visa Status, Entering the US, and Living in Gainesville.

Downloadable Guide: Pre-Arrival Guide

When to Arrive

Exchange Students can arrive up to 30 days prior to the start date listed on their DS-2019 Form. The start date is typically the first day of the academic semester. It is recommended you arrive in the week prior to any orientation sessions you plan to attend. Doing so will give you enough time to check- in and get settled before the start of the semester. Other factors to consider when planning travel:

  • When accommodations/housing will allow move-in?
  • Do I plan to travel in the US prior to the start of the semester?
  • What transportation options are available from port-of-entry city?

Arriving to Campus

There will be much to do to get set up when you arrive in Gainesville. It is important to differentiate between immigration requirements and general UF student requirements.


The “Check-In'' process is managed by the UF International Center and is a mandatory requirement for all J1 Visa Status holders to meet federal immigration regulations. Check-in is a two-part process– first part, online and second part, in-person - and must be completed by all international exchange students. Failure to complete check-in with the UF International Center will cause J 1 SEVIS records to be at risk of termination.

Online Check-In: Students will receive instructions over email to complete an online check-in application through the International Center ISSS Platform. Students can expect the online content to cover F1/J1 status maintenance requirements and plan to upload copies of their immigration documents. Check-in applications can be started prior to arrival in the US. However, they cannot be completed until students have successfully entered the US. Complete the online check-in application prior to in-person orientation/check-in sessions.

In-Person Check-In: Exchange Students must complete an immigration check-in required by federal regulations. This is a two-step process. Students must 1) attend the mandatory orientation where immigration information is reviewed more thoroughly and 2) attend a document review session where students will be asked to bring all immigration documents (passport, visa, DS-2019 form) to the International Center. Group sessions will be scheduled by your International Center advisor and emailed to you prior to your arrival. 


Orientation sessions are informational sessions, hosted often by specific campus entities that generally have a narrower focus (ex: your admitting academic department, housing office, etc.).

International Center Orientation: Hosted at the beginning of the Fall semester or Spring semester for newly arriving students; this session is required, as it contains a thorough review of immigration information, as well as an introduction to UF campus resources.

Other In-Person Orientations: Admitting/Hosting Colleges, Scholarship Programs, may host additional orientations to introduce you to your new environment. Please refer to your program’s details specifically for other orientation information.