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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Harvard University And The Square: You will be introduced to places on the Cambridge campus of the University. Where to get tickets for Harvard events, films, farmer’s market, bathrooms, museums, cafes, etc. 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: You will introduced the same places described above for the Harvard University part of the tour. We will then take a bus or walk to Central Square where you will be introduced to several grocery stores, art stores, eateries and more. Be sure to bring exact change of 2. (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 about two and half hours.
Harvard University And Porter Square: You will be introduced the same places described above for the Harvard University part of the tour. We will then take a bus to Porter Square where you will visit a hardware store, supermarket, craft store, department store 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 about two and half 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. We will then 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 for about two and a half 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.
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.