ISS: International Student Services handles all issues related to your immigration status.
COE: The Certificate of Eligibility is issued by your sponsoring school that provides information on your program of study. A COE may be for F-1 student status (“Form I-20”) or J-1 student status (“Form DS-2019”).
SEVIS: The Student & Exchange Visitor Information System is an immigration record database. SEVIS ID#: Beginning with “N” followed by ten digits. Each record has a unique number. Find yours at the top right corner of your COE.
New Students: For immigration purposes, student entering the U.S. on new SEVIS ID#.
Transfer Students: For immigration purposes, these are students who change sponsor schools in the U.S. The current school (“transfer-out school”) must transfer (or “release”) its SEVIS record to the new school (“transfer-in school”) so that a COE can be issued by the new school, but the SEVIS ID# remains the same.
Start & End Date: A program of study is given a definite amount of time to complete. For F-1, see section #5 on the COE for the dates. For J-1, see section #3.
As a new international student to UH Manoa, please take some time to go over the checklist of requirements below. Please try to complete these requirements before the start of your first semester.
Verify COE Information
- You have been issued a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for F-1 or J-1 student status. Your name, birth date and citizenship on your COE and passport should match. Review all the information carefully, and sign at the bottom of the first page.
- To request a dependent COE for your spouse/child, or for questions or corrections on your COE, please contact ISS.
New Students: SEVIS Fee and Visa
- Pay the SEVIS fee online and print the receipt. If you are receiving a COE with a new SEVIS ID#, you must pay this fee before applying for a visa. Dependents do not pay a fee.
- Apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy outside the U.S. The SEVIS fee receipt is required. You cannot apply for a visa while in the U.S. Canadians do not need a visa but must present the COE with passport and SEVIS fee receipt upon arrival in the U.S.
- Consult the U.S. Embassy to which you are applying for application information and processing times.
Transfer Students: SEVIS Fee & Visa
- If you are a transfer student, you do not pay the SEVIS fee again if keeping the same SEVIS ID# used at your previous school.
- You may stay in the U.S. or travel abroad between your programs. If you are outside the U.S. with an expired visa, you must obtain a new visa to enter the U.S.
- For F-1 transfer students only, this period between programs must be no more than 5 months.
Students in the U.S. on a Visa Status other than F-1/J-1
- Depending on your current visa status, you may not begin a program of study before your change of status to F-1 or J-1 has been approved. Consult ISS for details of your case.
Before U.S. Arrival: UH Email, Orientation & Health Insurance
- Get a UH username and email account.
- Sign up for (1) Visa Clearance Session and (2) The Welcome. Instructions for signing up will be sent to your UH email account and posted on the ISS website about two months before the start of the fall/spring semester.
- Students must have approved health insurance to maintain their visa status. For F-1, clearance is obtained from the Student Health Insurance Office (SHIO). For J-1, clearance is obtained from ISS. See directions on health insurance requirements and clearance. Clearance may also be obtained after arrival.
Arrival in the U.S.
- New students may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the program start date.
- Transfer students outside the U.S. may enter any time, but must use the UH Manoa COE.
- When you arrive, a U.S. Customs Officer will review your passport, visa and COE. Admission is confirmed with red/blue stamps on the passport, COE and I-94 arrival card.
- ISS suggests arriving at least one week before the start of the semester for visa clearance, orientation, and to clear other university requirements.
Orientation, Visa Clearance & Course Registration
- Attend Visa Clearance Session (REQUIRED). Bring your immigration documents (passport, visa, COE, I-94) so that ISS may verify to the U.S. government that you have arrived in proper visa status.
- Attend The Welcome.
- Course registration may be completed online (myuh.hawaii.edu) if you have a UH username. As a new student, you may not be able to register because of a “registration hold.” Check your UH account to see which offices to contact to remove the registration hold. On the first day of classes, you will receive a registration hold from ISS if you did not get Visa Clearance.
What is a "hold" on my account?
Certain university offices may place a hold on your account to prevent you from registering, making registration changes, or accessing enrollment and other services. This usually occurs if you have not fulfilled certain requirements such as financial obligations, health clearance, academic advising, etc. To see the types of holds, and to find out if you have any, click here.
ISS issues a hold on new international students if they have not gotten visa clearance. ISS also places holds for J-1 student health insurance clearance. For F-1 students, health insurance holds are handled by the Student Health Insurance Office.
Health Insurance Requirement
Find out how to clear your requirement here.
English Language Requirement
Do you have an English Language Requirement? Find out about language testing and clearance here.
International Student Association (ISA) - ISA is a UHM registered indepedent organization that promotes global friendships and understanding among students; supports new and continuing students in their educational objectives; explores issues and places in Hawaii; and develops leadership among international students. [Website][Facebook]
Mentor-Mentee Program - This program was established to provide a friend (mentor) to help new students (mentee) adjust to living in Hawaii. [more...]