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Information For International Students

International Student Orientation Program (ISOP) for new international students

All new international students need to go to the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office, 190 Humphrey Center. It is necessary for them to review your immigration documents, sign you up for the International Student Orientation Program (ISOP), and provide information on how to release your holds. Please understand that orientation and reviewing immigration-related documents is a requirement mandated by the Department of Homeland Security (formerly known as Immigration and Naturalization Service) for all new international students and ISSS has been given this responsibility on behalf of the University of Minnesota.

It is also important to note that the regulations for international students have changed as of January 2003. International students are now only allowed to enter the U.S. within 30 days of their first day on payroll. Regulations and SEVIS requirements provide strict guidelines as to what that date may be. However, students who are currently in the U.S. and studying at another U.S. institution will not necessarily need to leave the U.S. before transferring to the University of Minnesota.

When are the ISOP orientation sessions scheduled?
Please check the following website

Useful Information from ISSS

The 1st step is for newly admitted students to come to ISSS for “Document Check”
Document check is a time in which you submit all of your visa related documents to an international student advisor. The advisor will photocopy and review your documents, provide information about your new student holds, and information on how to obtain a social security card. At this time you will also sign up for ISOP. Upon completion of document check, you may be able to register for your classes.

Come to ISSS in 190 Humphrey Center for document check. More information can be found at

Please bring your:

  1. I-20 or DS-2019,
  2. passport, visa,
  3. I-94 card,
  4. Previous school's I-20/DS-2019(if applicable),
  5. Admission letter,
  6. Graduate Assistantship (TA/RA) offer letter (if applicable),
  7. Sponsor letter (if applicable),
  8. Dependent I-20/DS-2019 (if applicable),
  9. Dependent I-94 card (if applicable)

What happens when newly admitted international students come to Document Check?
Upon review of their documents we will temporarily remove the AI negative service indicator (hold) and sign the new student up for one of the ISOP programs.

Students may not participate in the ISOP program until they have had their documents reviewed by an advisor in ISSS. We will permanently remove the AI hold once the student completes the ISOP program.

ISSS will instruct the students about removal of all other negative service indicators (holds) such as Boynton Health Center’s ME hold and Minnesota English Center’s AZ hold during this initial contact. ISSS will advise students to arrange for removal of all holds prior to attending college orientations and attempting to register for classes.

What happens at ISOP?
Students are introduced to our office, and learn about the services and support we provide. Students receive information about their legal status including information about the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the electronic tracking system implemented by DHS. Students will also learn about living and studying in the U.S., and about resources available to them at the University of Minnesota.

When can a new international student register?
Students will only be able to register after they have had their documents reviewed (after completing a document check) and all holds are either temporarily or permanently removed.

At what point in this process should a student attend his/her college orientation?
New students may attend their college orientations and register for classes prior to attending the ISOP (provided they have had their documents checked at ISSS and received a temporary hold release). OR, they may attend ISOP prior to college orientation and registration, as best suits their needs.

Direct any questions you might have to 612-626-7100.

SPEAK Test and TSE (Center for Teaching and Learning Services)

University of Minnesota policy requires that all prospective teaching assistants who are non-native speakers of English take the SPEAK Test when they arrive or provide official documentation of their score on the Test of Spoken English (TSE). The University offers the SPEAK Test at no cost to students who have been admitted to the Graduate School. Learn more about this program at

You should plan to be here by August 2, 2013; we would like you to check in with the Chemistry Graduate Operations Office (115 Smith Hall) sometime between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m within the week of your arrival. Beginning August 2 you will take a required course in English for Teaching Assistants. The course will begin on August 2 and run until Friday afternoon, August 16. On your first pay check, you will be provided with an extra $400 to cover your expenses because of this earlier starting date.

Chemistry Department Orientation

The official start-up date of the Chemistry Department orientation program is Monday, August 19, 2013. Included in this period will be preparation for teaching undergraduate laboratory courses; lectures about the department, the graduate program, and faculty research; taking proficiency examinations; and your first meeting with your three-member advising committee (TMC). We will provide you with a detailed schedule on the first day, but at this time plan to start at 9:00 a.m. in 331 Smith Hall on Monday, August 19, 2013. The schedule is at:

Entering students are required to take a series of proficiency exams during the first week of orientation. Five examinations are offered, in analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. You must take four (and no more than four) of these exams. Please indicate which four exams you will take on the interest form at the end of this e-mail. Regarding the proficiency exams, students pursuing the Ph. D. program in Chemistry must pass all four examinations sometime during the first year of study. It is in your best interest to prepare for these exams now. The proficiency exams cover what the American Chemical Society defines as basic undergraduate chemistry in each of the exam subject areas. A review for these exams would probably be most efficiently done from your own undergraduate texts. With a reasonable and serious review of your past coursework in each area, you should not have great difficulty passing these proficiency exams. We require you to take these exams even if you took them as an undergraduate student.