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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 I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1)

Once you receive your form I-20 or DS-2019, make sure to follow these important next steps:

  • Review your form for accuracy.* Make sure to check the spelling of your name and date of birth. Also check other identifying information, level of study, academic program, and program start and end date. 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. OIS cannot use hyphens and non-English characters. If you have only one name, it is listed as your primary name, even if it is a given name. It is important that you enter your name on all U.S. government forms exactly as it appears on your I-20/DS-2019.
    • The major listed on your I-20/DS-2019 reflects a government classification system and may not be the same as the JHU name of the program. 
  • Sign your I-20 or DS-2019. If you received an electronic I-20, we recommend printing a copy and signing it.
  • Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee and print a receipt. This SEVIS fee is only required for the student and does not apply to F-2/J-2 dependents. You must complete this step before you attend your visa interview at the U.S. Consulate, if applicable. If you had your SEVIS record transferred to JHU, you do not need to pay the SEVIS again.
  • Submit your application (DS-160) for a US visa to the US Consulate.  Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from this requirement.  We caution you about making a visa appointment until you receive your I-20/DS-2019 as we cannot be responsible if your document does not arrive in time for a pre-scheduled visa appointment. OIS recommends that you apply for your visa at the earliest opportunity.
  • After the US 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). 

*Important note about the I-20/DS-2019 end date: The program end date on the form is always an estimate based on the typical time to completion for the degree program. 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 degree program, you may be eligible to request an I-20/DS-2019 extension.

Click the button below for an in-depth look into how to best prepare for your transition to the United States and Johns Hopkins University.

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.

Email for F-1 and J-1 Student questions[email protected]

Phone Advising for F-1 and J-1 Student questions: 667-208-7001

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 1pm – 4pm ET. Phone advising is for quick questions that can be resolved in approximately 5 minutes or less. Complex questions are best addressed by email.

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

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

J-1 Scholar questions: [email protected]

H-1B and other temporary employment questions (i.e. TN, O-1, E-3, etc.): [email protected]

Entering the U.S.

Upon arriving in the U.S., either at the airport upon arrival by air 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 what your purpose for coming to the U.S. is. For F-1 and J-1 Exchange Visitors in student categories (i.e. Student Bachelors, Student Masters, Student Doctorate) be clear about your intention to enter the U.S. as a student. For J-1 Exchange Visitors in scholar categories (i.e. Research Scholar, 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)
  • F-1 or J-1 Visa Stamp in passport, if applicable (citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need a visa stamp)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • Supporting financial documents that show how you will be covering the cost of your living expenses while in Baltimore and/or paying for your school tuition and fees (this could be a funding letter from your department, personal bank statements, parent’s bank documentation, etc.)
  • Documentation of Admissions/Acceptance to Hopkins
  • Contact information for OIS
    • If you need to reach OIS in an emergency to address a US visa or border issue, you can call +1 667-208-7001 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 1pm-4pm ET) or +1-443-240-1938 at other times.
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 F-1/J-1 record to JHU, you are required to check in with our office. If you are abroad, you must check in upon arrival in the U.S. and no later than 15 days after your program start date. If you are already in the U.S., you must check in within 15 days of your program start date.

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 and review your SIS record to confirm enrollment. 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
  • F-1 students and J-1 students and 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 your JHU program start date which should also be the start date listed on your immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019). If you will arrive after your JHU program start date, it is critical that you inform your JHU program and ensure that they will allow a late arrival. While your visa status will permit you to arrive up to 30 days after your program start date, your JHU program may not be able to accommodate a late arrival.
  • 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

Undergraduate Students

All first and second year students at Homewood and Peabody campuses are required to reside in university housing. You will receive information about on-campus housing as part of the admission process. Undergraduate exchange students will be provided information on housing options by the Global Education Office.

Graduate Students

JHU does not have on-campus housing for graduate students. Each school provides many resources to assist you. All students 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

It is policy of JHU that all full-time students maintain adequate health insurance coverage to provide protection against unexpected accident and illnesses. As a full-time student, you will be automatically enrolled in the university’s student-sponsored health benefits plan and the plan premium will be charged to your university student account. Students in F-1 or J-1 student visa status are not able to waive JHU health insurance. Do not purchase a non-JHU insurance policy with the expectation of a waiver.

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.

Visit our Driver’s License page for additional information.

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. For more information, visit SSN page on our website.

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.