Newly Admitted Students

Students in front of the fountain

New Student Checklist

Congratulations, you have been admitted to UW-Milwaukee’s Intensive English Program (IEP), we can’t wait to meet you! Please use this page to prepare to be a student at UWM.

Apply for a student visa (F1 students only)

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  • Before you apply for your F1 student visa, you must complete these steps:
    • Receive your original I-20 from UW-Milwaukee’s ESL Program
    • Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee
    • Visit the website or contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest your home to learn how to apply for the F1 visa
  • For more information on these steps, the F1 visa interview, advising centers, helpful tips, and resources, please see our Immigration Page.

Set up your ePanther ID

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  • Your ePanther ID will be given to you upon acceptance into the Intensive English Program. This ID is different from your Student ID, it will usually include part of your name and maybe numbers. Your ePanther ID is a part of your UWM email, for example, if your email address is, then your ePanther ID is rpaws.
  • Make sure you create a password that you will remember
  • To activate your ePanther ID, please visit the Activation Website 

Find housing and packing list

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UW-Milwaukee has two main options for finding housing in the area:

  • (On-Campus) University Housing

    • Please note, if you sign a contract to live in a residence hall, you are responsible for all fees
    • University Housing consists of five residence halls. Students who wish to live in University Housing need to follow the directions on the University Housing website to finalize a contract for a room. Residences halls do fill up, so submitting your contract to University Housing early is important.Also, if you will live in University Housing, you will need to complete an early arrival form. Because of international student orientation and placement testing, international students must arrive in the U.S. before the residence halls are open for move-in (unless you are arriving mid-semester). To apply for early arrival, you will need to fill out an early arrival form and submit it to the UWM University Housing Office by email, fax, or mail. There is a charge per night for staying in the residence halls prior to the general move-in date.University Housing residence hall rooms do not come with bed linens, and many students like the peace of mind that comes with knowing they will be able to sleep with sheets, a blanket, and a pillow their first night in the U.S. Students can order OCM linen Paks so they do not have to worry about shopping for these items on their first day in Milwaukee. Paks can be shipped directly to your residence hall.**A common question new residents often have is what type of sheets to bring for a University Housing bed. The answer is simple: all UWM University Housing beds are extra-long twins.**
  • (Off-Campus) Neighborhood Housing

    • The UWM Neighborhood Housing Office assists students in finding safe, quality off-campus housing and roommates. If you would like to live off-campus in an apartment or house, this would be a great place to start.
  • Packing List

    UWM University Housing rooms are furnished but do not include basic necessities like bed linens and cookware. Most off-campus apartments will not be furnished.  You should begin thinking about what you will need to bring with you from your home country and what you will purchase when you arrive in Milwaukee.

    Items you need to bring with you:

    • I-20 (or DS-2019)
    • Passport with Student Visa
    • Documents showing financial support for visa

    Items you may consider bringing with you:

    • Official final transcripts from any high school or college that you previously attended. If you plan to enter into a degree program in the United States you will be asked to provide these documents.
    • Warmer clothing for winter (winter coat, hat, gloves, scarf, winter boots)
    • Traveler’s checks
    • Credit card
    • Professional/Formal Attire
    • Computer, flash drive
    • Medical records for existing illnesses, especially allergies
    • Prescription medicines, as required
    • Extra pair of contact lenses and/or glasses
    • MP3 player
    • Favorite CDs
    • Musical instruments
    • Traditional national clothing
    • Picture album of your family and friends
    • Camera
    • Telephone calling card
    • Special spices/foods from home

    What NOT to Bring:

    • Candles
    • Incense
    • Fireworks
    • Weapons of any kind
    • Space heaters
    • Irreplaceable valuables

    Items you may consider buying after you arrive in Milwaukee:

    • Pillow, sheets, blankets, towels, and washcloths [see residence room packages below]
    • Bedspread or comforter [see residence room packages below]
    • Book bag or backpack
    • Alarm clock
    • Umbrella and/or raincoat
    • School Supplies
    • Dictionary and thesaurus
    • Calculator
    • Cold medicines, aspirin, vitamins, antacids, ointments
    • Thermometer
    • Toiletries (razor, brush, comb, toothbrush, nail clippers, tweezers, deodorant, soap, etc.)
    • Sunblock
    • Hair care products
    • Small refrigerator (All residence halls have communal kitchens with a refrigerator and microwave. Also, Cambridge Commons does not allow small refrigerators because one is already provided for the entire suite)
    • Laundry basket or sack
    • Power strip (must be bought in the U.S.)
    • Study Lamp (must have metal shade if you are living in the residence halls or Kenilworth Square Apartments)
    • Sewing kit
    • Sports/recreational equipment (tennis racket, tennis shoes, etc.)
    • Throw rugs
    • Cooking/kitchen equipment

*This information was obtained from the International Admissions Housing page 

Plan your arrival to Milwaukee

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Arriving to campus will be an exciting time. Remember, that F-1 students can enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to the start date that is listed on the I-20.  Please make sure that you arrive in time for orientation week.

For your convenience, the International Student and Scholar Services office has scheduled UWM Panther Pick Up if you are starting the program at the beginning of the semester. If you aren’t able to take advantage of Panther Pick Up, please see the other resources on this page which can assist you in getting to campus.

UWM ESL students must attend New Student Orientation at 9:00 a.m. on the start date listed on their I-20 and Welcome Letter. If you do not attend orientation you might not be able to begin classes.

*Please note a $60 late fee will be charged if you miss one or both days of orientation

UWM Panther Pick Up

As you travel to UWM from far away locations, let us help you on the final part of your journey.

Registering for the UWM Panther Pick Up will help you navigate the ground transportation from the airport to UWM residence halls, the UWM Union, or to a residence near the UWM campus.

You must register in advance, please make sure when scheduling your flight you account for the time you will spend in immigration and customs (which will vary) for example if the last pick up is at 5:00 pm it is recommended that your flight arrive no later than 3:00 pm.

Directions to Campus

From Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport

From Chicago O’Hare International Airport

  • Coach USA Bus Service
    • Take a CoachUSA bus from O’Hare to Milwaukee General International Airport. Then, take a GO Riteway shuttle at the Milwaukee airport to UWM campus. (You will have to go into the Baggage claim area of the Milwaukee airport to find the GoRiteway desk.)
      • Purchase a ticket in advance (before you travel) and print your ticket
      • The CoachUSA bus has a pick up near the street exit of the international terminal. There is also a bus-center where you can find another pickup location. However, it will be much easier to board the bus when it pulls up in front of the international terminal.
      • The cost of the CoachUSA ticket is $25
      • Pay attention to the CoachUSA schedule as buses do not run late at night
      • The cost of the GoRiteway shuttle from the Milwaukee airport is about $30
  • GO Riteway Shuttle Service
    • Taking a shuttle that originates at O’Hare can be expensive.  The estimated cost of a shared shuttle is about $190 and a private shuttle is about $280.

*This information was obtained from the International Admissions Arrival to Campus page 

Check-in and Orientation Week

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New students must check-in within a week of arriving in the United States.Please bring your I-20 and passport to Curtin Hall 672 Monday-Friday 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, so we may scan them for your student immigration file.

Orientation week begins the Wednesday before classes with placement testing at 9:00 am. As soon as your orientation week schedule is complete we will email you.

Please email as soon as possible if you know you that you will not be attending orientation week.

*Please note a $60 late fee will be charged if you miss any of the required orientation week activities

What should you expect during Orientation Week?

  • Placement Testing
    • This is done on the first day right away in the morning so you may want to arrive a few days before your program start dated so you are well rested. We test on the first day because the sooner we get your results the sooner you can get your class schedule.
    • Consists of:
      • An online test which measures listening, grammar, vocabulary and reading skills
      • A 20-minute writing sample
  • Signing of Forms
    • International Student Responsibility Contract (F1 Visa Students)
      • This contract is filled out together to make sure that all F1 students are aware of their responsibilities to stay in status while studying in the United States.
    • Assumption of Risk Form
      • Our Intensive English Program goes on many field trips and hosts many activities, we are legally required to have students sign these forms stating that UW-Milwaukee is not responsible if you are injured during these events. Essentially what this means is that you are responsible for your own body.
    • Photo Release Form
      • We take many pictures during field trips, parties, and classroom activities and we want to post these pictures on our website and on our ESL facebook page. If you do not want your picture taken you are not required to sign this form.
    • Consent to Disclose Records Form
      • In the United States, it is illegal to give academic information to anyone except the student without the student’s written consent. What this means is only the student can have access to their grades, attendance percentage, classroom location, etc., unless that student specifically gives permission to someone else.
      • If you would like a relative, friend, or group (scholoship/agent/ school) to have access to your records, you must give us permission by signing this form.
  • Technology Station
    • We ask that you activate your ePanther ID before this day, however, we will help you set it up if you are unable to before this date.
    • Access your UWM email
    • Access your D2L account and learn how to use this tool for each of your classes
    • Access your PAWS account and learn how to use it to find your class schedule, pay tuition, and update personal information
      • Required Immigration Steps
        • Enter valid U.S. and home country mailing addresses
        • Enter valid phone number and email addresses
        • Enter an emergency contact (preferably someone in the United States who speaks English)
    • Learn how to use the ESL website to request transcripts, view upcoming events, review rules and responsibilities
    • Learn about and set up Slack – a messaging system we use to quickly communicate with students
  • Attend New Student Orientation to learn:
    • How to be a successful student in the Intensive English Program
    • How to stay in F1 visa status
    • About UWM Health Insurance
    • Health and Safety in the United States
    • and more
  • Get your student ID card (picture taken) and your bus pass
    • Students are able to ride the Milwaukee bus for free as long as they are students
  • Mentor Meeting
    • Meet your student mentors who will help you prepare for academic life

UWM Health Insurance (F1 students only)

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The University of Wisconsin System Policy requires all students to have health insurance and recommends students to submit an immunization record.

International students are enrolled automatically in the health insurance policy which is approved by UWM . Health insurance is mandatory, and students may not substitute other insurance policy coverage for the UWM approved insurance coverage.

Note: The mandatory health insurance coverage for international students meets the federal government Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements and the University of Wisconsin System Policy.

SACM Students

The Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission provides your health insurance. This insurance meets the criteria for the University of Wisconsin system. When you have your financial guarantee, ensure that you have submitted a copy to the ESL office. Once we receive your guarantee, we will remove the charge for the international student health insurance.

Medical Records

UWM strongly recommends newly admitted students submit an immunization record to Norris Health Center when they arrive on campus. Please refer to the 2014-2015 University Recommended Immunizations to see which vaccinations are recommended.

Please see our Insurance page for more detailed information. If you have any questions, please email Jody Forbeck at

Getting Settled

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Once you arrive in Milwaukee, you may need to purchase various items for your living space, school supplies, and groceries.  There are many shopping malls, grocery stores, small shops and superstores near UWM.  It is possible to walk to some and others are accessible through the Milwaukee CountyTransit System buses.  Here are a few nearby shopping destinations:

Grocery Stores


You can buy everything from bed sheets to groceries to electronics at these stores

Shopping Malls

Pharmacies/Drug Stores



At UWM, your main means of contact with your advisors and professors will be your UWMPantherLink e-mail.  You can also set up a calendar through your email to keep track of your class schedule and appointments.

After you have been admitted to UWM, you can set up your UWM e-mail account by visiting the Indentiy & Access Management webpage.  Type in your UWM student ID number (99X-XX-XXX) and your date of birth (mm/dd/yyyy).  Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

If you have any questions about your e-mail address or account, please contact the help desk at or 414-229-4040.

Cell Phone

We recommend all students have a cell phone while at UWM.  You can either bring a phone with a plan from home or arrange to have services here in the U.S.  Although international students sometimes encounter problems enrolling in a cell phone plan without a social security number, some providers are willing to offer services without it.  Explain your situation with an employee at one of the provider stores and they should be able to work something out.

Information on cell phone provider stores that are located near campus is below:

Wisconsin Driver’s License and State ID

It is a good idea to have a driver’s license or state-issued ID while living in the United States, regardless of whether you will be driving.  You will likely need one for activities like cashing checks, enrolling in a cell phone plan and opening a bank account.

Driving in the U.S.

You are legally allowed to drive in the United States with your driver’s license issued in your home country for a period not exceeding one year from the date of your arrival.  You may drive a personal or rental car.

We recommend you obtain an international driver’s permit from your home country before arriving in the United States or attach an English translation to your national driver’s license.

You may apply for a Wisconsin driver’s license at any time, either right away or after driving on your international license for one year.  Please keep in mind you will likely need to take a driving test to obtain this license.

Obtaining a Wisconsin State ID or Driver’s License

Wisconsin state ID’s and driver’s licenses are obtained at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  In order to obtain an ID, you must go to the DMV in person.  Be sure to give yourself plenty of time, as there may be a long wait.

The DMV office nearest to the UWM campus is located downtown:

  • 819 N. 6th St #190, Milwaukee, WI 53203
  • 414-266-1000
  • Hours of Operation: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8:15am-4:15pm, Wednesday 8:30am-4:15pm

In order to obtain a Wisconsin State ID, be sure to bring the following documents to the DMV:

  • Proof of name and date of birth: an unexpired foreign passport will suffice.
  • Proof of identity: UWM Student ID and passport.
  • Proof of Wisconsin residency: a piece of mail with your current name and Wisconsin address.
  • Your U.S. Social Security card (if you have one).
  • The ESL office can provide a letter confirming these details if you request it ahead of time

For information on obtaining a Wisconsin Driver’s license please visit the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles Website.

On-Campus Jobs

Many international students seek on-campus employment.  International students who hold F-1 visas are generally allowed to work on campus. Certain visa restrictions apply and these will be explained at international student orientation.

You can search and apply for on-campus jobs using the UWM Career Planning and Resouce Center website.

If you apply for a job, consider the following:

  • On-campus employers are most interested in your availability for entry level positions. When you apply for a job, you need to indicate when you have classes or other obligations on the application.  If you submit an application without completing the availability section, the employer may not contact you.
  • Most employers ask you to list a reference.  Write the name of a former boss, coach or teacher, and their email address. If you don’t have prior work experience or a reference available, you can still apply.
  • Most student job openings happen at the beginning of semesters and during breaks between semesters.  You may be able to work full time during the vacation months.
  • If you apply for a job and do not hear back in a week’s time, you are welcome to contact the person in charge of hiring and express that you are still interested in the position.  If the hiring manager tells you that you were not selected, it is acceptable to politely ask him or her why.

Social Security Number

The U.S. government assigns Social Security numbers to people who are authorized to work in the United States and who have employment.  A Social Security number is only required if you work in the U.S. and can be obtained with proof of legal employment.   F-1 visa status allows students to work while in the U.S., under certain restrictions.  Thus, many international students are eligible for social security numbers.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number

  • Pick up the form “Letter of Offer for On-Campus Employment” from the Student Services Coordinator (Lynn Washatko) Curtin Hall 680.
  • Return the form to Lynn’s Office. She will then issue you a second letter to verify your visa status and employment eligibility.
  • Take both letters, your passport, visa and UWM I-20 to the Social Security Administration office. Although there are several offices in the Milwaukee area, we suggest you visit the one located at 310 W Wisconsin Ave. in Downtown Milwaukee.
  • IMPORTANT: You must have ALL of the required letters and documents in order to get a Social Security number. If you are missing any required documentation, you will not be eligible to apply.
  • When you apply for the Social Security number you will be required to complete and submit an application, Form SS-5.  This form is available at the Social Security office and online.
  • Be sure to ask for a “Receipt of Application” from the Social Security Officer. If you are applying prior to the start date of your job, the this will be mailed to you.

After you have applied for a Social Security number:

  • Take your receipt to the payroll office in Engelmann Hall, Room 170.
  • When you receive your original Social Security card in the mail, take it to the payroll office in Engelmann Hall Room 170, so they can make a photocopy.
  • Note: It can take up to 2 months to receive your original card in the mail, so the receipt is very important!

*This information was obtained from the International Admissions Getting Settled page