Registration & Orientation

To help with the transition to life in the early days of your arrival in the Boston area the HIO offers three types of group orientations:

  •     Getting Started for international students and scholars
  •     Spouse/Partner’s Orientation for dependents accompanying students and scholars
  •     Walking Tours to familiarize students and scholars with establishments and services in the area

To accommodate the arrival of a larger number of students and scholars,  these group sessions are held from mid-June to early October and from early January until mid-February.   These group sessions are a good way to meet other newcomers from other parts of the University.  All are welcome to any of the sessions.  Children need to be carefully supervised by their parents.  No registration is needed unless otherwise indicated.  Please check the schedule for dates, times and locations.  

One-on-One Orientation Sessions are available during the following months of mid-October through the end of December and mid-February through end of May for student, scholars and spouses or partners. Please make an appointment to meet with Zarrin Foster by using the HIO online scheduler “Make an Appointment” on the HIO home page. Once inside the scheduler, please select "Orientation Session" from the drop down menu. You may add a comment when making an appointment and you do not need to bring any documents to the session. Based on your comments, Zarrin will modify her presentation. The same information more or less is covered in these sessions as is described above for the Getting Started orientation.  Also please indicate the number of people that will be attending the session so a suitable space can be arranged.  Children are welcome but must be carefully supervised by their parents.  If you have difficulty accessing the on-line scheduler, please contact Zarrin Foster.

Registration

The HIO must register your arrival within 30 days of the start date on your visa document (Form I-20 or DS-2019), otherwise your SEVIS record will become invalid. It is important that you register at the HIO soon after your arrival at Harvard. No appointment is needed. The HIO registration takes place on a walk-in basis. Please take your passport and visa document (Form I-20, Form DS-2019 or Form I-797) for registration at the HIO. If you have dependents who have accompanied you to the United States in a dependent visa status such as F-2, J-2 or H-4 please take their visa documents and passports to the HIO as well. Please also take to the HIO any documents issued by an immigration official upon your entry to the United States. The staff at the HIO will provide important immigration-related information, and will answer any questions you may have. Students will not be permitted to register for classes at their schools without first registering at the HIO.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issues an electronic I-94 at ports of entry. You will need to do two things when you enter the United States:

  1. Check your passport to make sure that the CBP officer has put an entry stamp indicating that you entered on a certain date, in a certain visa status such as F-1 or J-1, and can stay until a certain date or D/S (duration of status) in the case of F and J visa holders.
  2. Print out your I-94 as you may need it for other purposes.

You may complete and print the HIO Registration Form to take with you to the HIO, or complete the form when you are at the HIO.

Orientation

 Getting Started
This orientation is a two-hour session that reviews topics such as housing, social security, taxes, health insurance, public and Harvard transportation services, telephones, banking, safety, Harvard resources, and more.  Students, scholars and their families are welcome. Children must be carefully supervised by their parents.

Tours
Central Square and MIT: In Central Square you will be introduced to a number of grocery stores, and a very small department store. Then we will take the #1 Bus to MIT where we will go to the MIT student center, walk through the “Infinite Corridor”, see the Stata Building, and then walk to Kendall Square, where we will take the subway back to Harvard Square.  Be sure to bring exact change of $2.00 or if you have a Charlie card $1.70 for two one way rides on the bus (Harvard Square to Central Square and Central Square to MIT).  For the subway ride back you will either need $2.75 in exact change/Charlie Ticket or $2.25 on your Charlie Card.  This tour lasts for about two and half hours.

Harvard Yard and Square: This tour is to show you practical places in and outside Harvard Yard, such as where to get tickets for Harvard events, on-campus movies, farmer’s markets, bathrooms, cafes, etc. plus places in the Square such as the post office, the cobbler, the hardware store, venues for live music, organizations, etc. This tour lasts about two hours.

Harvard Yard and Central Square: This tour will introduce you to practical places in the Yard, such as where to get tickets for Harvard events, on-campus movies, farmer’s markets, bathrooms, cafes, etc. and then we take a bus to Central Square where you will be introduced to a number of grocery stores, and a very small department store. Be sure to bring exact change of $2.00 or if you have a Charlie card $1.70 for two one way rides on the bus (Harvard Square to Central Square).  If we end up taking the subway it would cost $2.75 in exact change/Charlie Ticket or $2.25 on your Charlie Card.  This tour lasts for about two and half hours.

Harvard Square and Porter Square:  You will see a cobbler store, photocopying stores, venues for live music, Harvard Square Post Office and more in Harvard Square.  We will then take a bus to Porter Square, where there is a small shopping center with a large craft store, supermarket, hardware store, eateries and more.  Be sure to bring exact change of $2.00 or if you have a Charlie card $1.70 for a one way ride on the bus.  This tour last about two hours.

Please reserve a spot by sending an email to Zarrin with the words “Walking Tour and the Date of the Tour” in the subject line.  Once Zarrin receives your email, an email message will be sent to you with information on where to meet.  Students, scholars and their families are welcome.  Participants can choose to leave the tour at any time during the tour.  Children must be carefully supervised by their parents. There will be a lot of walking so strollers are advisable for young children.  Please wear appropriate clothing and comfortable walking shoes.  For a historical tour of Harvard University, please contact the Information Office.

Spouse/Partner Orientation
This 90 minute session focuses on the needs of the spouses or partners accompanying students or scholars to Harvard.  It covers, among other things, J-2 work permission, shopping information, adjustment to a new culture, etc.  Students and scholars are welcome to attend as well. Children must be carefully supervised by their parents.

One-on-One Orientation Sessions
These sessions are available during the following months of mid-October through the end of December and mid-February through end of May for student, scholars and spouses or partners.
Please make an appointment to meet with Zarrin Foster by using the HIO online scheduler “Make an Appointment” on the HIO home page. Once inside the scheduler, please select "Orientation Session" from the drop down menu. You may add a comment when making an appointment and you do not need to bring any documents to the session. Based on your comments, Zarrin will modify her presentation. The same information more or less is covered in these sessions as is described above for the Getting Started orientation.  Also please indicate the number of people that will be attending the session so a suitable space can be arranged.  Children are welcome but must be carefully supervised by their parents.  If you have difficulty accessing the on-line scheduler, please contact Zarrin Foster.

Freshman International Program (FIP) is held at the end of August for international freshmen. Details are mailed directly to international freshmen from the Freshman Dean's Office.