What to Do When You Arrive
Within three days of your arrival in Milwaukee, you are required to check-in at the ISSS Office and sign up for your mandatory International Student Orientation in Garland Hall, Room 138.
Please bring your passport, visa and I-20 at this time.
International Student Orientation
All international students are required to attend one International Student Orientation. The orientation program is designed to make your transition to life as a student in the U.S. and at UWM as easy as possible. Each semester, new students may choose between attending a comprehensive all-day orientation or a brief "Just the Facts" orientation.
This session includes vital information about mandatory immigration regulations, how to maintain your visa status, academics (academic success, misconduct, plagiarism, etc.) cultural adjustment, culture shock issues, health insurance, legal rights, lunch, and additional topics.
The all-day session is a good orientation for students new to the U.S. or who wish to meet new people prior to their program starting.
Spring 2014 All-Day Orientation (Both Graduate and Undergraduate Students):
Friday January 17th, 2014 8:30am-4:00pm, 4th Floor Library Conference Center
"Just the Facts" Orientation
This session includes only basic required information about mandatory immigration regulations, how to maintain visa status, U.S. academics and health insurance. This is a good orientation for transfer students or for those who have already lived in the U.S.
Spring 2014 "Just the Facts" Orientation:
Thursday January 16th, 2014 1:30pm-4:30pm, Location To Be Determined
All new freshmen are required to complete placement exams before they can register for classes. You will need to complete either 2 or 3 placement exams depending on your major.
To register for your test date and to find more information about the tests given, please visit the UWM Testing Center website.
Required Tests (for undergraduate students only):
Math Placement: You can sign up to complete this exam any time "Placement" or "Placement Expanded" is offered.
English Placement: You must complete only one of these exams:
- ESL-PIC: This is for non-native speakers of English. You can sign up to complete this exam any time "ESL-PIC" is offered.
- English Placement: This is for native speakers of English. You can sign up to complete this exam any time "Placement" or "Placement Expanded" is offered.
Chemistry Placement: Some majors require that you complete a chemistry placement test in addition to math and English. If your major requires the chemistry test, you can sign up to complete this exam anytime "Placement" or "Placement-Expanded" is offered. List of majors that require the chemistry placement test.
Meet with Your Advisor (for undergraduate students only)
Undergraduate students should meet with their assigned advisor after taking placement tests but before registering for classes. To find your advisor's name and contact information, log into your PAWS account and it will be listed in the top-right-hand corner.
Starting in the Fall 2013 semester, ALL international students will need to purchase and provide proof of one of the following insurance options:
- UWM arranged insurance, AND UWM approved medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
- UWM health insurance plan offered to graduate students with assistantships, AND UWM approved medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
- Government sponsored health insurance approved by UWM, AND UWM approved medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
- Health insurance coverage provided by a spouse or parent who works in the U.S., AND UWM approved medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
Starting August 5th, 2013 you can come to the ISSS office, Garland Hall, Room 138, to apply for UWM arranged health insurance.
Once you arrive in Milwaukee, you may need to purchase various items for your living space, school supplies and groceries. There are many shopping malls, grocery stores, small shops and superstores near UWM. It is possible to walk to some and others are accessible through the Milwaukee County Transit System buses. Here are a few nearby shopping destinations:
- Pick ‘n Save: 1100 E. Garfield
- Sendik's: 2643 N Downer Ave.
- Whole Foods: 2305 N Prospect Ave.
You can buy everything from bed sheets to groceries to electronics at these stores
- Wal-Mart: 401 E Capitol Dr.
- Target: 1501 Miller Park Way
- Bayshore Mall: 5800 N Bayshore Drive (This is the closest mall to campus: take the MCTS GREEN Line northbound)
- Mayfair Mall: 2500 N Mayfair Road
- Brookfield Square Mall: 95 N Moorland Road
- Walgreens: 4081 N Oakland Ave
- CVS/pharmacy: 2607 N Downer Ave
At UWM, your main means of contact with your advisor and professors will be your UWM PantherLink e-mail. You can also set up a calendar through your email to keep track of your class schedule and appointments.
After you have been admitted to UWM, you can set up your UWM e-mail account by visiting the Indentiy & Access Management webpage. Type in your UWM student ID number (99X-XX-XXX) and your date of birth (mm/dd/yyyy). Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
If you have any questions about your e-mail address or account, please contact the help desk at email@example.com or 414-229-4040.
We recommend all students have a cell phone while at UWM. You can either bring a phone with a plan from home or arrange to have services here in the U.S. Although international students sometimes encounter problems enrolling in a cell phone plan without a social security number, some providers are willing to offer services without it. Explain your situation with an employee at one of the provider stores and they should be able to work something out.
Information on cell phone provider stores that are located near campus is below:
- AT&T: 632 E Ogden Ave, 414-273-8349
- Verizon Wireless: 5790 N Port Washington Rd, 414-967-5622
- Sprint: 1428 E Brady St, 414-763-4061
- US Cellular: 5800 N Bayshore Dr., 414-906-1587
Social Security Number
The U.S. government assigns Social Security numbers to people who are authorized to work in the United States and who have employment. A Social Security number is only required if you work in the U.S. and can be obtained with proof of legal employment. F-1 visa status allows students to work while in the U.S., under certain restrictions. Thus, many international students are eligible for social security numbers.
How to Apply for a Social Security Number
- Pick up the form "Letter of Offer for On Campus Employment" from the ISSS office in Garland 138. Give it to your on-campus employer and have them complete it (If you have an assistantship, ISSS will complete this form. You do not need to take it to your department).
- Return the form to the ISSS Office. We will then issue you a second letter to verify your visa status and employment eligibility.
- Take both letters, your passport, visa and UWM I-20 to the Social Security Administration office. Although there are several offices in the Milwaukee area, we suggest you visit the one located at 310 W Wisconsin Ave. in Downtown Milwaukee.
- IMPORTANT: You must have ALL of the required letters and documents in order to get a Social Security number. If you are missing any required documentation, you will not be eligible to apply.
- When you apply for the Social Security number you will be required to complete and submit an application, Form SS-5. This form is available at the Social Security office and online.
- Be sure to ask for a "Receipt of Application" from the Social Security Officer. If you are applying prior to the start date of your job, the this will be mailed to you.
After you have applied for a Social Security number:
- Take your receipt to the payroll office in Engelmann Hall, Room 170.
- When you receive your original Social Security card in the mail, take it to the payroll office in Engelmann Hall Room 170, so they can make a photo copy.
- Note: It can take up to 2 months to receive your original card in the mail, so the receipt is very important!
Wisconsin Driver's License and State ID
It is a good idea to have a driver's license or state issued ID while living in the United States, regardless of whether you will be driving. You will likely need one for activities like cashing checks, enrolling in a cellphone plan and opening a bank account.
Driving in the U.S.
You are legally allowed to drive in the United States with your driver's license issued in your home country for a period not exceeding one year from the date of your arrival. You may drive a personal or rental car.
We recommend you obtain an international driver's permit from your home country before arriving in the United States or attach an English translation to your national driver's license.
You may apply for a Wisconsin driver's license at any time, either right away or after driving on your international license for one year. Please keep in mind you will likely need to take a driving test to obtain this license.
Obtaining a Wisconsin State ID or Driver's License
Wisconsin state ID's and driver's licenses are obtained at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In order to obtain an ID, you must go to the DMV in person. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time, as there may be a long wait.
The DMV office nearest to the UWM campus is located downtown:
- 819 N. 6th St #190, Milwaukee, WI 53203
- Hours of Operation: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8:15am-4:15pm, Wednesday 8:30am-4:15pm
In order to obtain a Wisconsin State ID, be sure to bring the following documents to the DMV:
- Proof of name and date of birth: an unexpired foreign passport will suffice.
- Proof of identity: UWM Student ID and passport.
- Proof of Wisconsin residency: a piece of mail with your current name and Wisconsin address.
- Your U.S. Social Security card (if you have one).
For information on obtaining a Wisconsin Driver's license please visit the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles Website.
Many students decide to purchase their course books at the UMW and Panther bookstores, while others opt for outside book vendors. The choice is yours.
Note: When buying books make sure that you keep all receipts and invoices in case you need to return any items.
Located in the UWM Union on the 1st floor.
Located close to campus on 3132 N Downer Ave.