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!

From mid-October to mid-December and mid-February to mid-May the following orientations are offered to scholars and spouses or partners.  Children are welcome but must be carefully supervised by their parents.

Walking Tours
Please register by sending an email message to Zarrin Foster and putting the DATE OF THE WALKING TOUR in the subject line.  You will receive a confirmation email 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.

One-on-One Orientation Sessions
These sessions are available during mid-October to mid-December and mid-February to mid-May to 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. Typical topics covered are travel, banking, shopping, social security numbers, health insurance, housing, J-2 work permission, etc.  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.