EXCHANGE PROGRAM PRE-ARRIVAL INFORMATION

Your checklist prior to arrival

There are several items you must take action on before and immediately after entering the U.S. Please carefully read the information on this page to learn about the J-1 visa process, orientation and check-in, and insurance and immunization requirements.

An admission packet will be mailed to you after you complete the application process. In this packet, you will find:

Your J-1 visa documents (DS-2019)

Your acceptance letter

Your SEVIS number

Where and how to pay the SEVIS fee

Additional information about making interview appointments

J-1 Visa

Your J-1 visa will be good for the length of the program of study. You are able to enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the start date of the visa and stay in the U.S. up to 30 days after the end date of the visa. This allow you to arrive in the U.S. prior to as well as remain after the program ends to travel. If you arrive before the 30 day grace period, you will only be able to enter the U.S. as a tourist.

If you enter the U.S. as a tourist, you MUST leave, and then re-enter to validate your visa, before you can attend classes. Please arrive within the specified period, unless you plan on leaving and returning before the program begins.

Orientation & Check-in

ALL incoming international exchange students MUST be checked-in by the exchange program coordinator. This is the law, not only a USC rule. If you are not properly checked-in, you are flagged in the immigration system and government officials will come looking for you!
Your exchange program coordinator will check you in during a brief orientation that will be held on the Friday before the semester begins. The exchange program coordinator will email you the exact time and location. Please bring the following with you to the orientation.

Copy of your Visa (Inside Passport)

Copy of your DS-2019 “Certificate of Eligibility” (page 1 only) (Remember to sign the bottom of your DS-2019 in blue ink)

I-94 Admission Stamp (Inside Passport –“J1 D/S”) or the I-94 Print-out

Insurance & Immunizations

USC requires that all international students either have proof of U.S.-based health insurance or enroll in the USC Student Health Insurance Plan. Enrollment in the USC plan is automatic (you do not need to do anything). In addition, all USC students, even those with non-USC health insurance, are required to pay a Health Center Fee for the semester.

If you do not want the USC health insurance plan and are going to find U.S.-based health insurance on your own, please be sure that it is with a company that has offices in the U.S. Foreign carriers/insurers are NOT sufficient as most insurance companies will not pay for services outside of the home county or will only reimburse you upon your return. Non-USC health insurance plans MUST meet the requirements outlined on the USC Health Center website.

USC’s student health insurance plan does not cover dental work and eye care. Make sure that you have a thorough dental check-up and complete treatment of emerging problems prior to arrival at USC. Dental insurance is optional and you may purchase it when you arrive. If you wear glasses, it’s advisable to pack a spare pair.

If you do not want the USC health insurance plan and are going to find U.S.-based health insurance on your own, please be sure that it is with a company that has offices in the U.S. Foreign carriers/insurers are NOT sufficient as most insurance companies will not pay for services outside of the home county or will only reimburse you upon your return. Non-USC health insurance plans MUST meet the requirements outlined on the USC Health Center website.

The USC Student Health Center has two mandatory requirements for new, foreign students:

  1. Measles and Mumps Immunity Requirement: TWO doses of MMR vaccine or proof of Measles and Mumps immunity prior to their first semester of enrollment at USC.
  2. Tuberculosis Skin Test Requirement: All international students are required to be screened for tuberculosis in the U.S. or Canada within 6 months prior to their first semester of enrollment at USC.

Visit the USC Student Health Center website for detailed information on what tests or documents suffice as adequate proof. Failure to provide proof will result in a financial penalty being assessed against your account.