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International New Graduate Student: Post-Arrival Checklist

Once you arrive at UCI, below is a checklist to help you acclimate.

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Review the Graduate Housing website for more information regarding housing options, community life, and serivces for New International Graduate Students

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Complete the UCI International Center Mandatory iNavigate check-in within 3 days of arrival to the U.S.

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Activate and Check Your Email Account

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Register for Classes (if you have not already done so)

  • Course registration can be managed through the Registrar's website, WebReg.

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Visit Your Academic Program Administrative Office

  • Inquire about required courses to take during your first year at UCI.
  • Also, inquire about eligiblity to obtain an individual tax identification number and completing your tax forms.

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Attend Both New Graduate Student Orientations

  • The International Graduate Welcome and Orientation is Thursday, September 15, 2016. 
  • The Campuswide Graduate Welcome and Orientation is Friday, September 16, 2016.
  • Your school, department, or acadmeic program may also conduct an orientation for new graduate students.
  • The Graduate Division website lists all graduate degree programs and their websites. Use it to find orientation information for your program or contact your program directly.
  • All new international teaching assistants are required to attend the International Teaching Assistant Training through the Center for Engaged Instruction. 
  • Some international student clubs also provide welcome activities.

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Conditions for Applying for a Social Security Number

  • If you have received an employment offer, you must apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) in order to work.
  • Go to your department to initiate the process for the Social Security Verification Letter.
  • The International Center has detailed information regarding Social Security Number application process and eligibility.
  • Bring the following items when going to the Social Security Office:
    • Passport
    • Visa
    • I-94 card
    • Visa document
    • Job offer letter
    • Proof of full time enrollment
    • Verification letter

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Obtain a Student ID Card

  • Upon your arrival at UC Irvine, obtain a UCI photo ID card at the UCI Bookstore, The Hill.

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Establish Banking

  • In the United States, it is customary to use checks and debit/credit cards rather than cash because it is easier and safer. It is best to open an account at a bank so that money can be taken out of the account when needed. It is not safe to carry large amounts of cash.
  • Transferring Funds from Your Home Country: Full-service banks with international banking capabilities sell international money orders and receive deposits from banks outside of the USA. The best way to transfer funds from your country of origin to the United States is by electronic wire transfer directly from bank-to-bank. This method allows immediate credit and use of the money. Other methods of obtaining funds from abroad (example: money order, checks, etc.) will cause a delay of two weeks or longer in availability of funds.
  • Opening a Bank Account: To open an account at most banks you will need one or two valid forms of identification and a local postal address to recieve mail. A passport and a UC Irvine student identification card are usually sufficient. A minimum amount is usually required to open an account (e.g. $25.00). Not all banks require a US Social Security number to open an account, however, bank services may be limited (for example no access to online banking) if you do not have a Social Security number.
  • Here is a list of banks and credit unions located on-campus or near UCI. The following have ATM Machines located in the Student Center Courtyard:
  • Bank of America
  • A Wells Fargo branch office is located on the Terrace level (Level 2) of the Student Center at G202.
  • Chase Bank
  • The SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union branch office is located on the Terrace level (Level 2) of the Student Center at G202. This credit union provides low interest summer loans, and other services specifically for graduate students.

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Cell Phones

  • In order to activate cellular phone service in the United States, it can be helpful for customers to have a valid Social Security number and established credit history but is not required
  • Customers without a Social Security number and credit history may still activate service but may have to pay a security deposit at the time of application.
  • Most cell phone companies require a two-year contract. If you do not want a two-year contract, you may obtain a pre-paid phone plan. 
  • Major U.S. cell phone service providers:

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Health Insurance

  • Graduate students are automatically enrolled in UC SHIP and the premium for this insurance is assessed each term on the graduate student's registration fee statement.
  • You may waive out of this plan if you can demonstrate comparable and verifiable health coverage that meets the campus' minimum standards for insurance. Learn more about UC Irvine's Health Insurance.

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Personal and Campus Safety

  • UC Irvine and the City of Irvine are recognized as safe communities.  In fact, Money magazine has ranked Irvine as one of the Top 25 cities to live in the United States, and Irvine has been repeatedly named the nation's safest large city. 
  • New international students should be aware of the safety resources on campus and will be responsible for ensuring their own personal safetyThis includes being aware of bike policies, theft prevention, and more.
  • The UCI Police Department (UCIPD) is tasked with providing services that enhance campus safety through community-oriented policing and problem-solving.
  • CSO Safety Escort Prgoram, operated by UCIPD, is available 24 hours/7 days a week as a safe alternative to walking alone at night.
  • Additional safety programs are available through campus housing communities as well as the Irvine Police Department.
  • It is highly recommened to sign up for ZotAlert texts to recieve UCI community emergency and safety related information.

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Transportation On and Off Campus  

  • UCI maintains an extensive list of bike resources, including a map of campus bike routes, and safety information.
  • More information about sustainable information can be found on the UCI Transportation website. 
  • The Anteater Express campus shuttles take passengers around campus or to select destinations. Review route maps and schedule information.  
  • UCI developed this guide for getting around Orange County without a car as well as local shopping and recreational resources.

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Obtain a Driver License

  • The State of California's Department of Motor Vehicles does not recognize the international driver license.  The State of California, however, does recognize a national driver license from your respective countries.
  • It is recommended students obtain a California Driver License within 30 days after arrival.  
  • Automobile insurance is required by law in the U.S., and a valid California driver license is required by most insurance companies.
  • Driver License Application Process:  The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires a written test and a road test.
  • No appointment is necessary for the written test, but an appointment and a car are required for the road test.
  • A U.S. Social Security card is not needed to apply for a driver license.
  • The DMV is often crowded, so allow ample time to complete the process.  Schedule an appointment in advance.  Appointments are available online through DMV's online services.
  • Temporary permits can be renewed until the driver license is received.
  • For a complete list of DMV office locations, visit the department's homepage.
  • The closest DMV Offices to UC Irvine are:
    • 650 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa, 92627 (800) 777-0133 and
    • 23535 Moulton Parkway, Laguna Hills, 92653 (800) 777-0133
  • The International Center has additional information about the California Driver License application process. 

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Part Time Campus Jobs 

  • Many international students are interested in working part time on campus.  More information may be found on the Career Center website and ZotLink, a job and internship portal for students.
  • Some academic units employ graduate students as "graders", "readers" and "tutors". International students may qualify for these positions without meeting the TOEFL requirement. 
  • Inquire with your program administrator about these positions in your program. 
  • Please note: Campus jobs are very limited for graduate students and finding the right position may be difficult
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Connect with People from Your Home Vountry and New Vampus

  • UCI has a broad range of international cross-cultural student organizations, which are a great way to meet people. Check listings under campus organizations and search for organizations that may interest you.
  • Check listings under campus organizations and search for organizations that may interest you.  
  • Associated Graduate Students (AGS) also provides excellent opportunities to connect with fellow graduate students. 
  • The Anteater Recreation Center provides opportunities for students to get together, join activities and take health and wellness as well as recreation classes and field trips.

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English Language Assistance

  • Many new international graduate students would like to improve their English language communications skills – both written and oral.  UC Irvine has a number of resources to assist you:
  • The Academic English / ESL Program offers classes in academic writing, reading and vocabulary development, pronunciation, conversation, and grammar for international students in all disciplines.
  • The Graduate Resource Center (GRC): Offers individual writing consulting, writing workshops and English conversation groups.
  • UCI Extension ESL Program  
  • The International Center offers English conversation and development programs.
  • Other resources for developing your English can be found here.
  • UCI Student Housing communities may provide English language workshops and programs.
  • Other Tips:  Find a conversation partner; join a study group with American classmates; watch TV and listen to the radio; join a campus club to meet students with common interests. 

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Families

  • UC Irvine welcomes student family members into our community.  There are a number of services, resources and programs available to student family members.  For students with children, click here for more information about child care services.

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Meeting with Your Faculty Advisor/Mentor

  • During your first quarter, it is important to begin to make contact with faculty in your department and meet with your faculty advisor. 
  • Each department has different approaches to advising and mentoring, and it is important that you understand the expectations of your academic program. Effective and efficient communications are essential when meeting with faculty. 
  • We recommend you use the Graduate Student Individual Development Plan (IDP) as a communications tool with your faculty advisor/mentor.   
  • Review mentoring and IDP information.