Registration & Orientation

To help with the transition to life in the early days of your arrival in the Boston area the International Office offers three types of group orientations.  These group sessions are a good ways to meet other new comers from other parts of the university.  All are welcome to any of the sessions.  Children need to be carefully supervised.  No registration is needed unless indicated.  Getting Started is aimed at students and scholars.  The Spouse/Partner’s Orientation is focused on the people accompanying the student and scholar. The walking tours are to familiarize yourself with establishments and services in the area.    Please check the schedule for dates, times and locations.

From early October until the end of May the One-On-One half-hour orientation sessions are offered by appointment for students, scholars and or their spouses and partners.  During the month of January no One-on-One orientations will be offered as there will be group orientations offered throughout the month.


You must 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, e.g. F-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.


 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.

The tour in January will be of the Harvard Yard and the Square.  We will walk and see areas in Harvard Yard and in Harvard Square such as, the post office, the cobbler, the hardware store, venues for live music, libraries etc.  Participants can choose to leave at any time during the tour.  This tour will last about two hours.  Please reserve a spot by sending an e-mail with the words “Walking Tour” in the subject line to  An e-mail will be sent to you in case the tour is canceled due to inclement weather.  The group meets in front of the Smith Campus Center (1350 Massachusetts Avenue) near Cambridge Trust Company at 10:00a.m.  Students, scholars and their families are welcome.  Children must be carefully supervised by their parents. There will be a lot of walking so strollers are advisable for children.  Please wear warm clothes and comfortable walking shoes!

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.   Students and scholars are welcome to attend. Children must be carefully supervised by their parents.

One-on-One Orientation Sessions
During the month on January until February 8th there will be no One-on-One sessions.  As of the February 9th until the end of May Zarrin Foster, a HIO staff member will be available to meet for a One-On-One orientation with students, scholars, spouses or partners individually or together. Please make an appointment by using the 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 the appointment and you do not need to bring any documents to the session. Based on your comments, Zarrin will modify her presentation.   In these sessions we may cover information about public and Harvard transportation services, telephones, banking, safety, Harvard resources, procedures for renting an apartment, volunteering, J-2 work permission and more within the half hour. 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.

HIO-Registration Form 6_12_2015REVpdf_0.pdf