Arrival & Orientation



As an international student, there are a number of preparations that you will need to make prior to your arrival to the University. Please follow the checklist instructions based on your student type.

Also, please note that new F-1 and J-1 students may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date indicated on their I-20 (in PROGRAM OF STUDY Section) or DS-2019 (Section 3).

Pre-Arrival Checklist

  • Register for Orientation:
    • Undergraduate Students – Register for the last session of Bama Bound Orientation at The last session should accommodate your arrival in the United States.
    • Graduate Students – Graduate Orientation and Welcome –  New Graduate Teaching Assistants must also register for the Workshop for New Graduate Teaching Assistants –
    • All International Students – Plan to attend International Student Check-in and Orientation with International Student and Scholar Services (no pre-registration required).
  • Take care of your Immunizations, Medical History, and Insurance:
    • Submit your medical health history and immunization form.
    • All international students must have health insurance and will automatically be enrolled into the University student plan unless they submit a waiver form.  Be aware that some graduate students who receive UA Graduate Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships may be eligible for health insurance as part of their assistantship.  If you are a graduate student, you can find more information about this benefit on the Graduate School website.
  • Additional Undergraduate Student Steps – Deposits, Housing, and Math Placement Test:
    • Undergraduate Students – Submit your $200 nonrefundable enrollment deposit (only applies to students admitted for fall semester). Check your Crimson email account for enrollment deposit instructions or visit This step must be completed before applying for housing on-campus.
    • Complete the residence hall housing contract and submit it with your $300 housing application fee and prepayment.
    • Complete the online math placement test. This will help your advisors place you in the proper level of math courses.
  • Already in the U.S.? Transfer SEVIS Record to UA:
    • If you are currently in F-1 or J-1 status at a high school or another college/university inside the U.S., please be sure to have your SEVIS Record transferred to the University of Alabama within your grace period (60-days for F-1 students/ 30-days for J-1 students).  You will need to provide the DSO/ARO at your current school with a copy of your admission letter to UA and request that they transfer your record to The University of Alabama, F-1 School Code: ATL214F01174000; J-1 EV Program Number: P-1-03854.
  • Diploma and Transcripts: Bring a certified copy of your diploma, final transcript/marksheets, and exam results for International Admissions or Graduate School Admissions.
  • Pay and Confirm Schedule: Once you’ve received your eBill, pay your tuition and fees through Flywire, University of Alabama’s international payment processor. Flywire allows you to pay in your home currency via multiple payment methods. Go to to make your payment.
Electronic I-94

Port-of-Entry Procedures

IMPORTANT NOTE: New F-1 and J-1 students may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date indicated on their I-20 (Page 1 in Program of Study Section) or DS-2019 (Section 3).

Do not store the following documents in your luggage as you will need them at the U.S. port of entry:

SEVIS F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019;
Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay);
F-1 or J-1 visa stamp (not necessary for Canadian and Bahamian citizens);
You may also be asked to present the following documents at the port of entry:

1. SEVIS fee receipt;
2. proof of funding for 1 year (e.g., scholarship or sponsorship letter, bank statements); and
3. proof of student status (e.g., admission letter, tuition receipt).

You should also carry International Student & Scholar Services’ contact information: 205-348-5402. In the event that the office is closed, contact the University of Alabama Police Department at 205-348-5454  and they will contact an ISSS advisor.

On the Airplane/Boat – Customs Form
Crew members will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059B). This must be completed prior to arriving in the U.S.  You can find out more about arrival procedures on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Site.

Port of Entry
After entering the U.S. at the airport, you will pass through a U.S. Immigration Port of Entry inspection. Your passport, visa, I-20 or DS-2019, and other documents will be officially reviewed. A digital photograph and a biometric scan of your index finger will be taken. You will likely have to answer a few questions and indicate your reason for entering the U.S. (to be a student); you may have to provide proof of admission. Please be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection official has authority to deny admission.

Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer should stamp your passport with your date of arrival. The official should also note your non-immigrant status (F-1 or J-1) and D/S (duration of status— how long you are eligible to remain in the US). Please be sure that your passport is marked in this manner. If not, please bring this to the attention of a Capstone International Services advisor when you arrive on-campus and check-in with the office.

Additional information regarding Port of Entry procedures for students:

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT I-94 ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE RECORD: Make sure you have a copy of your most recent I-94 Record. You will now go to a website and print the electronic record of your I-94 after arrival at More information can be found at: This form should indicate your arrival date, your visa status, and the length of your stay, usually marked D/S (duration of status) for both F-1 and J-1 students. It will also include an 11-digit Admission/Departure Number; this number is your I-94 number and is the identification number with DHS.


Tuscaloosa is located approximately 330 kilometers west of Atlanta, 96 kilometers southwest of Birmingham, 1153 kilometers south of Chicago, 451 kilometers northeast of New Orleans, 1617 kilometers southwest of New York City, and 3753 kilometers east of San Francisco.

The closest major airport to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa is Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport (Airport code BHM):

You must call in advance for reservations.  Hotels charge an additional 10% tax.  Prices are subject to change without prior notice.  If you arrive in Birmingham during the evening hours, we suggest that you stay overnight in a nearby hotel which provides shuttle service to and from the Birmingham Airport.  Many motels and hotels in Birmingham have free shuttle service to and from the Birmingham Airport.

Therefore, if you plan on staying in Birmingham overnight, you may want to consider this free service.  For reservations and further information, call the hotel where you intend to stay.  Below are two hotels, which are close to the airport and offer free shuttles to and from the airport:

Ramada Birmingham Airport 5216 Messer Airport Hwy, Birmingham, AL 35212 205-591-7900
Holiday Inn Birmingham-Airport 5000 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35212 205-909-1999
Most international students fly into the Birmingham International Airport.  The city of Birmingham is approximately 60 miles from the UA campus. New students should be aware that transportation is not provided by ISSS from Birmingham except for students participating in an Study Abroad exchange through Education Abroad. Students participating in an exchange may be provided transportation from Birmingham to UA when arranged in advance through the Education Abroad office – general, transportation to and from the Airport is done by personal vehicle.  CIS recommends that students seeking transportation from Birmingham first contact their respective student nationality organization, which can be found in the listing of organizations here: are a few other options for transportation, which are listed below:
Tuscaloosa is served by the Greyhound bus line.  Fares vary depending on the date and time that you travel. Schedule and fares are subject to change without notice. For more information, call Greyhound at (205) 758-6651 or 1-800-231-2222 ext. 9 (  Please note that you will need to make arrangements to get from the Birmingham Airport to the bus station as well as from the Tuscaloosa bus station to campus.

BIRMINGHAM GREYHOUND STATION 618 N 19th Street, Birmingham, AL 35203 205-252-7190
TUSCALOOSA GREYHOUND STATION 7022 HWY 82 East,  Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 (inside BP Country Mart) 205-758-6651


Information/Reservations (800-872-7245)
Please note that you will need to make arrangements to get from the Birmingham Airport to the train station as well as from the Tuscaloosa train station to campus.

BIRMINGHAM AMTRAK STATION 1819 Morris Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35203 205-752-3200
TUSCALOOSA AMTRAK STATION 2105 Greensboro Avenue, Tuscaloosa, AL 3540 205-758-3578





The University of Alabama is a large campus, and CrimsonRide provides quick and easy access to all areas of campus, whether you live on- or off-campus.

Tuscaloosa has an affordable public bus system which serves the UA campus and the city, but bus routes are limited to the most popular destinations.  For bus schedules, routes, maps, and rates, please visit the Tuscaloosa Transit Authority website:

There are several taxi services in the Tuscaloosa area.  Rates for transportation are generally much more expensive than public transportation.

Alpha/Omega Taxi Service (205) 242-8936
Deluxe Taxi (205) 750-9025
Dixie Cab Service (205) 310-2819
Druid Cab Company (205) 310-2819
Everett’s Cab Company (205) 233-1777
On Time Transportation (205) 752-6603
Radio Cab Service (205) 758-2831
YellowCab of Tuscaloosa (205) 331-5016


Hotels & Rentals

Furnished Apartments with No Lease (extended stay hotels)


Orientation and immigration check-in is required for all international students.  All new students will be registered for International Orientation and Check-in as a BlackBoard course, which can be accessed via MyBama.

The mandatory International Orientation and Check-in is required for students to activate their F-1 or J-1 status.

When completing Orientation in BlackBoard, you must upload clear document scans of the following:

After you have completed the International Orientation and Check-in in Blackboard and submitted the above documents, ISSS will process the validation of your immigration record with Homeland Security’s Student Exchange Visitor Program and also be able to process any requested verifications for I-9 processing, Alabama Credit Union accounts, Driver’s Licenses, and Social Security Number applications.

Bama Bound is for all first-year and transfer undergraduate students at UA – both American and international students must attend.

All new and transfer undergraduate international students must register and attend the Bama Bound Orientation.

GROW is mandatory for all new International Graduate Students and will be administered virtually.

GROW is designed to prepare incoming graduate students with the necessary information to make their time at UA a success. In addition, it serves to supplement your departmental orientation experience and give you a well-rounded view of the UA experience through the graduate student lens.

Held in the Fall Semester only.  This workshop is required for all new Graduate Teaching Assistants.  New GTAs should contact the Graduate School about participation in the August 2020 Workshop.

For more information on how to get to Tuscaloosa and about local hotels for temporary housing, please see our arrival section.

NOTE: Spring 2021 Classes start on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.