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Welcome to Hopkins!  The following information is intended to help you prepare for arrival on campus.

After Receiving your Visa Document, Form DS-2019 make sure to follow these important steps:

  • Review your form for accuracy.*  Make sure to check the spelling of your name and date of birth. If you find any discrepancies, contact OIS immediately to make any necessary corrections.
    • The way your name appears on your immigration document follows U.S. government rules, using your passport as the official source. Hyphens and non-English characters cannot be used. If you have only one name, it can only be added in the surname/primary name field… It is important that you enter your name on all U.S. government forms exactly as it appears on your DS-2019.  
  • Sign your DS-2019.
    •   If applicable, your J-2 spouse should sign the J-2 DS-2019 under Signature of Applicant. The J-1 must sign the J-2 DS-2019 for accompanying minors under the age of 16.
  • Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee and print a receipt. 
  • This SEVIS Fee is only required for the principal J-1 and does not apply to J-2 dependents. You must complete this step before you attend your visa interview (if applicable).
    *Note that J-1 Transfers do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again unless they are transferring from a government-sponsored J-1 program such as, Fulbright. 
  • Submit your application (DS-160) for a U.S. visa to the U.S. Consulate. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from this requirement. You are advised not to make a visa appointment until you receive your DS-2019. OIS is not responsible if your document does not arrive in time for a pre-scheduled visa appointment.
  • After the U.S. Consulate issues the visa stamp, verify that the information on the visa stamp is accurate before leaving the consulate or after receiving your visa in your passport (if returned by mail).
  • Review the Exchange Visitor Program Participant Welcome Brochure prepared by the U.S. Department State website.
  • Review recommended reading by the U.S. Department of State on Rights and Protections of Temporary Workers.
  • Within ONE WEEK of entry to the US, complete the online Orientation and check-in eform through iHopkins (

*Important note about the DS-2019 end date: The program end date on the form is always based on requested program dates by your JHU hosting department. If you complete your program before that end date, OIS will shorten the end date accordingly. Alternatively, if you need additional time to complete your program at JHU, you may be eligible to request an extension of your DS-2019.

OIS Contact Information

OIS is here to assist you with all your immigration concerns and questions. OIS is a virtual service operation that remotely serves all JHU international students and scholars.

General Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm

Email for J-1 Scholar questions: [email protected]

Phone Number: 667-208-7001

Click HERE for OIS emergency number only for border issues outside normal business hours

Entering the U.S.

Upon arriving in the U.S., either at the airport or at the established border crossing if driving, you will encounter U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers at the U.S. immigration checkpoint who are responsible for processing your entry to the U.S. For detailed information about what to expect at a U.S. Port of Entry please see the U.S. CBP Arrival Procedures website.

It is important that you make clear to the CPB officer your purpose for coming to the U.S. For J-1 Exchange Visitors in scholar categories (i.e. Research Scholar, Professor, or Short-Term Scholar) be clear about your intention to pursue your specific objective (i.e. research, institute participation, teaching, etc.) It is important that you are not inadvertently admitted to the U.S. as a tourist or business visitor.

You can enter the US no more than 30 days before the program start date on your form. Notify your academic program and OIS immediately if you expect to arrive later than the program start date or decide not to attend JHU.

Documents to carry with you in your carry-on bag (not in checked luggage)

  • Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future) with a valid visa stamp inside
  • DS-2019 form
  • I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • It is recommended that you bring supporting financial documents that show how you will be covering your living expenses while at JHU and/or an invitation letter confirming your appointment at JHU
  • Appointment/Offer letter (see above)
  • Contact information for OIS listed above

Late Arrivals

If you will not be able to arrive and begin your position at Hopkins by the start date on your DS-2019, you should let the OIS and your department know as soon as possible. You can email OIS at [email protected] to let us know your estimated arrival date, and we will update your SEVIS record and DS-2019, and provide further information regarding your delayed arrival.

Validating your arrival in the U.S.

You must complete the REQUIRED online Orientation and check-in eForm with OIS in iHopkins ( as soon as possible after arriving in the U.S. You will receive an email about the check in process a month prior to your JHU program start date and weekly thereafter until OIS approves your check-in eform. Make sure you keep the email and complete the check in process as soon as you arrive in the U.S

If you transferred your existing J-1 record to JHU, you are required to complete the check-in process with our office as soon as your DS-2019 is issued by JHU.

After you submit the check-in eForm, OIS will verify your status with U.S. immigration authorities. OIS must review your local address, verify your travel documents to confirm you were admitted properly. You will receive an email confirming the approval of the check-in eForm when the process is complete. Failure to complete check in could result in the loss of your immigration status.

Travel to Johns Hopkins

Below are resources that may be helpful while preparing for your move to the U.S. Students can enter the U.S. in any city/state but it is usually most convenient to arrive in Baltimore or a nearby city like DC. It is important to note that OIS does not provide airport pick up service.


  • Directions to the various Johns Hopkins campuses by car, shuttle, bus, and train


  • Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) is the closest airport to the JHU campuses in Baltimore. BWI is the airport that services Baltimore and if you are travelling by air should be scheduled as your final destination. It is located approximately 20 minutes south of downtown Baltimore. While BWI has a few international flights, you will most likely have to enter the U.S. through another airport and transfer to a domestic flight.
  • Dulles International Airport (IAD) Located in Northern Virginia, Dulles is about 25 miles west of Washington, D.C. It can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes to travel from the airport to downtown D.C. depending on traffic. It is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from downtown Baltimore.
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) Located in Washington, D.C., is convenient for domestic flights. It is located approximately 1 hour from downtown Baltimore.
Transportation from the Airports

To Baltimore

  • From Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (code BWI)
    Taxicab service from the airport to a JHU campus will be $40-$50. Shared shuttle service (SuperShuttle and GO Airport Shuttle) is also available at a somewhat lower cost. Baltimore’s Light Rail service departs from the airport terminal and can bring you into downtown Baltimore, but light rail does not come directly to any of the JHU campuses.

Many downtown Baltimore or Harbor East hotels will offer free airport shuttle service for individuals staying with them.  Check with the hotel to see if this is an option.

From the airports in DC

  • U.S. air, bus, and train services are generally not interconnected and changing from air to bus or train transportation is usually difficult and will not result in significant cost savings. Although Baltimore is located about 38 miles/60 km from Washington, DC, there is no direct public transportation from Washington airports to Baltimore, and taxi service from these airports will be a minimum of $150.


  • From Dulles International Airport is in Virginia, about 20 miles (33 km) west of Washington, D.C. There is Metro rail service between DC and Dulles International Airport via the Silver Line. Taking a taxi from Dulles can be very expensive, with fares as high as about $75. You may also utilize the SuperShuttle van for about $30, any additional guest pays only $10.
  • Reagan National Airport is in Virginia, about 3 miles (5 km) to the southwest of downtown Washington, D.C. If you don’t have a lot of luggage, the most convenient and economical way of traveling into the city is by Metro rail. If you would rather not take the Metro, taxis are plentiful and will get you into the city for approximately $15-20. Alternatively, you may take a SuperShuttle van to just about anywhere in D.C. for about $14.
  • From Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) is in Maryland, about 23 miles (38 km) north of the city. There is no Metro service to/from the BWI Airport, and taxi fares are about $70. SuperShuttle service is available to travel to downtown D.C. for about $37 and $12 per additional passenger. Additionally, Amtrak and MARC commuter trains run between the BWI Rail Station and the Union Station Metro stop on the Red line. Upon taking a free shuttle bus from the terminal to the BWI Rail Station, you can travel to Union Station by MARC commuter rail for $6 or by Amtrak for a fare ranging from about $15 to $57, depending on time of travel and type of train.
Travel Preparation Tips
  • Do not purchase your airline ticket to travel to the U.S. until you have secured your U.S. visa stamp
  • J-1 scholars are eligible to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date listed on your immigration documents (I-20 or DS-2019)
  • The latest you can enter the U.S. is 30 days after start date listed on your DS-2019. If you will not be able to arrive and begin your position at JHU by the start date on your DS-2019, you should let OIS and your department know as soon as possible.
  • Confirm that your passport is valid at least six months into the future from your date of entry to the U.S.
  • Confirm that your visa stamp is valid for the day that you will enter the U.S.
  • Verify that all information on your visa stamp is accurate (For Example: the type of visa, date of birth, the spelling of your name, etc)
  • Keep all important documents in your carryon luggage, not in your checked luggage
Finding Housing

On-campus housing is provided for undergraduate students at Homewood and Peabody campuses. Incoming J-1 exchange visitors can visit our Off-Campus Housing website for various housing searches in the area.

Financial Information

There are a number of expenses you will have to pay for up front when you arrive in the US. If renting an apartment, security deposits tend to be the equivalent of 1-2 months of rent. It’s good to have at least $ 4,000 to cover the cost of initial expenses and living costs. On campus work is not guaranteed. If you will be working on campus or receiving a stipend, it can take some time before you start receiving funds so make sure to plan ahead.

When choosing a US bank consider:

  • Bank location and ATM services
  • International Services (wiring money)
  • Banking fees (smart phone check cashing, ATM fees, additional services)

As banking is based on personal needs, you should visit the banks’ website to learn more details about their account options. Banks will ask for US Social Security Number, or SSN. If you do not have an SSN, inform the bank that you are international student and they will walk you through the process.

The University’s Health Insurance Requirement

J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents required to have health insurance that meets or exceeds requirements set by the U.S. Department of State for the duration of their J status. For detailed information, visit Health Insurance Requirements page on our website.

Driver’s Licenses

A driver’s license is issued by the State in which you reside. Each state has dedicated offices that issue driver’s license and specific application procedures and requirements. Please make sure to read the state agency’s website carefully to learn the rules regarding eligibility for license and permissibility of driving with a license issued by another state or country. It is highly recommended that you wait a minimum of ten business days from your check-in with OIS before applying for a driver’s license.

Social Security Numbers

You are required to have a US Social Security Number (SSN) if you become employed in the US. If you received an SSN from a previous visit to the US, that number remains with you for life; you do not have to apply for a new SSN. If you receive employment and need to request an SSN, you may begin the process after you check-in with OIS.

Please note: you may be provided with a temporary 9-digit ID number that begins with the number “9”. This number is used at JHU in lieu of an actual US Social Security Number. This is not an SSN and cannot be used outside of JHU.

Additional Information for J-1 Exchange Visitors

You may visit the Current Scholars section of OIS website for more information on

The 2-Year Home Residency (212e) Requirement

24-Month Repeat Participation Bar

12-Month Bar

J-2 Dependents