Visa and Arrival Information 

Visa Paperwork

Please note that visa rules change regularly. It is important to pay attention to those changes and consult with your local American embassy or consulate if you have questions. This information is meant to give you a general overview of the process. Additional information will come with your Welcome Packet.

After you have been officially admitted and your visa application has been processed, students will receive a Welcome Packet including visa application instructions and either the DS-2019 form for J-1 visas or the I-20 form for F-1 visas.

Upon receipt of these documents you will next need to pay the online I-901 SEVIS fee. You will next schedule an appointment with the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate in your country to apply for the actual F-1 or J-1 visa stamp. Be prepared to take documentation of your financial support, including original bank statements accompanied by a letter of financial support from parents or other sponsors. Be certain that your passport is valid and will not expire while you are in the United States. Please read carefully the instructions included with your mailed visa papers as procedures are constantly changing. This website can provide advice for your interview at the Embassy or Consulate.

Document checklist: Be sure to carry all of the following with you for entry into the United States:

  1. Passport valid for the length of your stay in the United States
  2. DS-2019 or I-20 papers from UW-Madison
  3. Letter of admission to the UW-Madison
  4. Original copy of the financial support documents you provided to obtain your visa

When you enter the United States, an immigration official at the airport will process your papers. Keep your passport, I-94 card, and other papers you are given in a safe place once you arrive in the United States. These documents are proof of your immigration status.

After your arrival in Madison, please make photocopies of the following documents and keep them in a safe place:

  1. DS 2019 or I-20
  2. Passport identity and expiry pages
  3. J-1 or F-1 visa stamp

Travel to Madison

Airports: There are two airports where most international students arrive.

  • MSN—Madison, WI—Dane County Regional Airport. A small airport located about 7 miles from UW-Madison. Taxi rides from the MSN airport to campus cost approximately $25 one way.
The Taxi area is located near the baggage claim; there should be taxis waiting there when you exit. If not, return to the baggage claim area and look for a kiosk with telephones for taxi services. Be prepared to share a taxi with other customers, as many taxi services in Madison operate on a "shared fare" basis.
  • ORD—Chicago, IL—Chicago O’Hare International Airport. While much further away from Madison, there are many direct international flights to Chicago each day. The Van Galder bus service picks up at the ORD airport and stops at UW-Madison. Be sure to consult the schedule prior to booking your plane tickets!
You can buy your bus ticket from the driver. The bus makes two stops in Madison. The second stop—the Memorial Union—is the campus stop.

Getting to Your Housing

  • Call a taxi. From the Dane County Airport, follow the signs from baggage check to the taxi stand. Taxis should be waiting there. If not, return to the baggage claim area and look for the kiosk that has telephones for taxi services. Taxi service from the airport to campus is approximately $25 one-way.

From Memorial Union, go in the building and use a phone to call a taxi. Tell the taxi company that you are waiting at the Memorial Union on Langdon Street where the Van Galder bus stops.

Taxi companies:
Badger Cab: 608-256-5566
Madison Taxi: 608-258-7458
Union Cab: 608-242-2000
University Cab: 608-278-0000

If you request temporary housing through Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS), the temporary housing volunteer might be able to pick you up. See temporary housing section of our Housing page. 

Checking In

If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to check in at Adult Career & Special Student Services. Our office is located in 21 North Park Street in suite 7101. We are on the corner of Park Street and Regent. You can view the UW Campus Map online. 

Our office is open from 7:45am - 4:30pm Monday through Friday (open until 7:00pm on Tuesday evenings). If you do not have any immediate questions or concerns, we look forward to meeting with you and answering any questions at the orientation. 


You may not have immediate access to campus computer labs until orientation, depending on when you first enrolled in classes. 

Emergency Contact Information

If an emergency arises outside of normal business hours (7:45 am to 4:30 pm) and you need to contact someone, call Martin Rouse at 608-268-9670 or cell 608-335-4431.