Arrival & Orientation

Luggage

PRE-ARRIVAL

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 orientation.ua.edu. The last session should accommodate your arrival in the United States.
    • Graduate Students – Graduate Orientation and Welcome – http://graduate.ua.edu/about/our-students/grow/.  New Graduate Teaching Assistants must also register for the Workshop for New Graduate Teaching Assistants – http://graduate.ua.edu/events/gta/.
    • 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 gobama.ua.edu/deposit. 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 www.flywire.com/ua 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: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/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 https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. More information can be found at: www.cbp.gov/i94. 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.

GETTING TO TUSCALOOSA

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.

AIRPORT INFORMATION
The closest major airport to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa is Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport (Airport code BHM): http://flybirmingham.com/.

HOTELS IN BIRMINGHAM FOR OVERNIGHT STAY
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:

AIRPORT HOTEL ADDRESS PHONE
Days Inn 905 11th Court West, Birmingham, AL 205-324-4510
Sheraton 4 Points Birmingham 2101 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd., Birmingham, AL 205-324-5000
TRANSPORTATION FROM BIRMINGHAM TO TUSCALOOSA
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 – https://studyabroad.ua.edu/.In 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: http://thesource.ua.edu/.There are a few other options for transportation, which are listed below:GREYHOUND BUS LINES
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 (www.greyhound.com).  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.

STATION ADDRESS PHONE
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

AMTRAK TRAIN SERVICES
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.

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

AIRPORT SHUTTLES

TUSCALOOSA – CITY TRANSPORTATION

CRIMSONRIDE – UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA’S BUS SYSTEM
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 BUS AND TROLLEY SYSTEM
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: http://tuscaloosatransit.com/.

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

TAXI COMPANY CONTACT
Alpha/Omega Taxi Service (205) 242-8936
Bianey Nuevo Consepto (205) 333-8404
Deluxe Taxi (205) 750-9025
Dixie Cab Service (205) 310-2819
Druid Cab Company (205) 345-5688
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
UBER https://www.uber.com/
IPAC Members Welcome New Students

ORIENTATION

FALL (AUGUST) 2017 ORIENTATION DATES

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT AND SCHOLAR SERVICES CHECK-IN & ORIENTATION FALL 2017:

• International Student Check-in and Orientation Day: Wednesday, August 16, 2017, 8:00 a.m. in North Lawn Hall, Room 1000.

This mandatory check-in and orientation is specifically focused on new international students.  Please plan to arrive in Tuscaloosa at least one day before your required orientation (e.g. preferably, students should arrive by Tuesday, August 15).  For a information on how to get to Tuscaloosa and about local hotels for temporary housing, please see our arrival section.

For check-in and orientation, you must bring the following documents with you:

Your passport;
F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019;
I-94 Arrival/Departure Record; and
Any other immigration documents you have.
If you have a spouse or children with you, please also bring their documents for check-in.

During the morning check-in, we will gather your immigration documents to make copies for our files; your documents will be returned to you at the end of the day.  Check-in and International Orientation is mandatory for all international students.  Please do not schedule any other activities for the day that you plan to attend.

BAMABOUND SESSION (UNDERGRADUATE ORIENTATION)
Friday, August 18, 2017
BamaBound is for all first-year and transfer undergraduate students at UA – both American and international students must attend.  Undergraduate international students must attend both the International Student Check-in and Orientation and the BamaBound Orientation.

NEW GRADUATE STUDENT ORIENTATION

Saturday, August 19, 2017
This is The Graduate School’s Orientation for new Graduate Students.  Graduate international students should attend both the International Student Check-in and Orientation and the New Graduate Student Orientation.

WORKSHOP FOR NEW GRADUATE TEACHING ASSISTANTS 
Thursday, August 17 – Friday, August 18, 2017.  This two day workshop is required for all new Teaching Assistants.

NOTE: Fall Semester Classes start on Wednesday, August 23, 2017.

ENGLISH CLASS REQUIREMENT FOR UNDERGRADUATE INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

To ensure that new international undergraduate students have the greatest chance of success at UA, those students with low sub-scores on the TOEFL iBT or IELTS will be required to enroll in an English language course in their first semester of study.

Who Is Required to Enroll in English Courses?

  • If your TOEFL iBT Writing sub-score is lower than 18 or IELTS writing score is lower than 6.0, you must enroll in the non-credit Academic Writing course through the English Language Institute (ELI) in addition to your other undergraduate courses. (Enrollment in the Academic Writing course will count toward your overall minimum full-time enrollment requirement.)
  • If your TOEFL iBT Speaking score is lower than 18 or IELTS speaking score is lower than 6.0, you must enroll in a non-credit Spoken English course through the English Language Institute (ELI) in addition to your other undergraduate courses. (Enrollment in the Spoken English course will count toward your overall minimum full-time enrollment requirement.)

Exemptions from the English Course Requirement

  • You are exempt from the Academic Writing course requirement if your Writing sub-scores are 18 or higher on the TOEFL iBT or 6.0 or higher on the IELTS on the writing/speaking sections or if you have completed ELI Reading/Writing 6.
  • You are exempt from the Spoken English course requirement if your Speaking sub-scores are 18 or higher on the TOEFL iBT or 6.0 or higher on the IELTS on the writing/speaking sections or if you have completed ELI Speaking/Listening 6
  • You are exempt from both the Academic Writing and Spoken English course requirements if you have an ELI Proficiency Certificate or if you were admitted to UA with an English proficiency waiver.

Students who are required to enroll in either Academic Writing or Spoken English courses must complete this coursework in their first year of attendance and must complete all coursework before enrolling in EN 120/121.

Students will be notified during International Student Check-in and Orientation if they must enroll in either Academic Writing or Spoken English and will be directed to the English Language Institute (ELI) for placement and registration on the day of International Student Check-in and Orientation.

INTERNATIONAL TEACHING ASSISTANT PROGRAM (ITAP)

INTERNATIONAL TEACHING ASSISTANT PROGRAM (ITAP) – For Graduate Teaching Assistants Only 
At  The University of Alabama, the International Teaching Assistant Program (ITAP) is administered by the English Language Institute (ELI), 101 B.B. Comer Hall.  The purpose of the ITAP program is to train, evaluate and screen international graduate teaching assistants whose native  language is not English. UA requires all non-native English speaking graduate students who accept classroom teaching or other instructional duties to successfully complete ITAP.