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When you arrive

International Scholar Check-In

What is Scholar Check-In?

If you are a new international scholar at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, you are required to check in at the ISSS Scholar Office.
Exceptions: B-1/WBs, UIUC F-1s on OPT, dependents who are not working at the university.

Check-in Procedures

Check-In with Department

  • You will receive an email entitled “Please complete Your Scholar Check-in Form”
  • You must complete the “Check-In Form” before reporting to ISSS.

Check-In at ISSS

  • After completing the online Check-In Form, you must report to the ISSS Scholar Office with your original immigration documents during designated check-in times.

Required original immigration documents include:

  • Passport
  • Entry visa (Not applicable to Canadian citizens)
  • Printed copy of your I-94 (visit the I-94 website to get Your I-94 Number)
  • Proof of medical insurance (J-1 scholars)
  • DS-2019 (J-1 Scholars)
  • Supplementary materials, such as I-797 approval notice, EAD, I-20, etc. 

Check-In Dates & Times

Check-in hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9AM to 11AM.
ISSS is closed on all University holidays.
*J-1s must check in at ISSS within 30 days of their program start date.*

J-1 Orientation Video

After completing the check-in process at ISSS. J-1 scholars will receive a video link via email. After viewing the presentation you must submit the confirmation form.

Social Security Number

If you have an appointment with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and do not already have a Social Security number, you must apply for one as soon as possible. Individuals in J-1 status must check-in with ISSS before applying for a Social Security number. After completing check-in procedures with ISSS, you should wait 3 to 4 business days before visiting the Social Security office. This ensures that your information will be available in their system.

For further SSN application instructions for Faculty, Staff and Scholars review the Scholar SSN instructions .

Those who are not eligible for a Social Security Number but need to obtain a Driver’s License can visit the Social Security Administration (SSA). They will provide them with the documentation needed to receive a temporary visitor’s Driver’s License.

Driver's License

  • To apply for a State of Illinois driver’s license, you must be at least 18 years old, have a U.S. Social Security Number (or a letter from the Social Security office stating you are not eligible for one), and two other forms of identification, one of which must show your birth date.
  • If you are under 18 years old, you must have written consent from a parent or guardian (not an ISSS advisor) to apply for a driver’s license. A birth certificate and passport are good forms of identification to show. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign student ID cards are not accepted.
  • Licenses from nearly all countries are valid in the State of Illinois until expiration, providing the holder is not a resident of the State of Illinois. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign does not recognize the international driver’s license.
  • Employees and residents of the State of Illinois must apply for an State of Illinois driver’s license within 90 days of the beginning of their employment or residence.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV):

  • Location: 2012 Round Barn Road, Champaign, IL 61820.
  • For information about hours, costs, and more, visit the DMV website.



Champaign‐Urbana has an excellent municipal bus system called the MTD. You should be able to get to most places in Champaign and Urbana by bus. For specific route information, visit the website at

The number, color, and direction of a route are indicated on the front of the bus. Bus service operates from about 6:00AM to 2:00AM, Monday ‐ Saturday, while the University is in session. The service is more limited on Sundays and late at night.

Complete day and evening schedules are available at the Information Desk in the Illini Union, the Student Services Building, and on most MTD buses. If you need more information about the bus system, call the Mass Transit District Office (MTD), 217-384‐8188, or visit their website.

Faculty and staff may have unlimited utilization of the bus system throughout Champaign‐Urbana with their University-issued ID called an “I-Card.” 


SafeRides provides safe transportation to and from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for students, faculty, and staff who are traveling alone when no other means of safe transportation is available. It is a free service provided by the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD) and is in operation from 5:00pm-6:15am during the winter months and 7:00pm‐6:15am seven days a week, when school is in session. For information more detailed information, visit the Safe Rides website.

Taxis (Cabs)

There are several cab and ride-sharing services in the area. If you need to call for a cab, phone numbers are in the telephone book Yellow Pages under “taxicabs” or you can find them online. Taxi service is a convenient way to get around, picking you up at your home and taking you directly to where you want to go. However, taxi service is far more expensive than taking the bus. It is also customary to pay an additional 15% of the fare as a tip.


It is quite possible to live in this area without owning a car. Owning a car can be very expensive.

Cars, especially used cars, need maintenance and at times require repair, which can be very costly. As an automobile owner and driver you are also required to purchase license plates, insurance, and fuel. It is important to consider all of these costs before you decide whether or not a car is something you want while you are here.


Although bicycles may not be as common in the U.S. as they are in other countries, there are many of them on campus.

  • Things to Know:
    • The campus has some bicycle lanes in which to ride. It is important to remember not to ride your bicycle on the Quad (central campus), except in the bicycle lanes. Because there are many people walking in this area, it is dangerous to ride on the sidewalks.
    • Campus police can issue you a ticket if you ride or lock your bike in an illegal area.
    • When riding your bicycle in the streets, you must obey the same road rules as automobiles; drive on the right hand side of the road, signal for turns, etc.
    • Remember that a bicycle can cause a traffic accident as easily as a car, and that a bike rider can be seriously injured. Bicycle shops sell safety devices such as lights and helmets to protect you.
    • If you own and ride a bicycle on campus, you are encouraged to register it with the Division of Campus Parking and Transportation.
    • It is very important to lock your bicycle securely whenever you leave it. Always lock the bicycle to a bicycle rack or immovable post to avoid theft. The person who sells you the bicycle can recommend a good sturdy lock for it.
    • The campus or city police departments can also engrave an identification number on your bicycle to help you identify it if it is stolen and recovered.

    Car rental

    Cars may be rented by the day, weekend, week, or month by a person with a valid driver’s license. Some companies may also require the person to be of a certain age and to have a major credit card. Prices vary, so you should call a number of agencies and ask about their charges. The agencies are listed in the Yellow Pages under “Automobile Renting and Leasing” or online.


    Zipcar is a car sharing service where you can rent a car by the hour or by the day. There are various cars located on campus and in the cities of Champaign and Urbana. You will have access to reserve a car by joining Zipcar. You will have to pay a membership fee to join the program. For more information of program cost and how it works, view the Zipcar website.