Registration & Orientation

Welcome to Harvard!  Please come in with your travel documents to register with our office soon after your arrival in the U.S.  We encourage you to attend a group orientation session when offered and when those are not available to make an appointment for an individual orientation.


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.


Welcome to Harvard and the Greater Boston area!

The orientations below will provide you with information to help you settle in and offer you a good way to meet other newly arrived students and scholars from throughout the university. Students, scholars, spouses, and partners are welcome to attend any of the orientations. Children must be carefully supervised by their parents.

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.

Spouse/Partner Orientation

This 90 minute session focuses on the needs of the spouse or partner accompanying the student or scholar to Harvard.  It covers, among other things, J-2 work permission,       shopping information, adjustment to a new culture, etc. 

Walking Tours

Please register by sending an email message to Zarrin_Foster@Harvard.Edu and putting the DATE OF THE WALKING TOUR in the subject line.  You will receive a confirmation message which will include where the tour will begin.

Harvard University:  You will be introduced to places on the Cambridge campus, for example where to get tickets for Harvard events, films, farmer’s market, bathrooms, museums, cafes, etc.  This tour last two hours.

Harvard Square:  In the Square you will see the post office, the cobbler, the hardware store,     venues for live music, etc. This tour lasts about two hours.

Harvard University And Central Square:  We will visit most of the places as described above on the Cambridge campus.  We will then take a bus or walk to Central Square where you will visit several grocery stores, art stores, eateries and more.  Be sure to bring exact change of $2.00(one way) in cash or have a $1.70 (one way) on your Charlie Card for the bus ride.  At total of $4.00 or $3.40 will be needed for a roundtrip. This tour last two hours.

Central Square And Memorial Drive: We will take a bus or walk to Central Square where you will be see a number of grocery stores and a very small department store.  Then we will take a bus to Memorial Drive where we will find a computer/electronic store, a grocery store and the MIT Furniture     Exchange.  Be sure to bring exact change of $2.00 (one way) in cash or have a $1.70 (one way) on your Charlie Card for the bus ride.  At total of $4.00 or $3.40 will be needed for a roundtrip.  This tour lasts two hours.

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.