New Student Post-Arrival Checklist

Once you have arrived in the United States, there are some steps you need to complete as a student in our Intensive English Program. There are also steps you need to complete to get settled in Milwaukee. On this page, you will find information about the following:

If you have any questions about anything on this list, please email the English Language Academy at

Check-in and Orientation

Complete the IEP Arrival Week Sign-Up that is in the UWM IEP New Student Testing and Orientation email sent from Lynn Washatko Uhyrek.

New students must check-in within a week of arriving in the United States. Please bring your ePanther ID username and password to the ELA office during open hours.

Please make sure you have a way to authenticate your login. It is suggested to not change your phone number before Check-in at the ELA office.

If you are assisting a student with activating their ePanther ID and login, please set up additional ways to authenticate the login that the student can use without you being present.

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

You will also have an online orientation to complete alongside the in-person orientation.

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

There is a sample schedule of orientation week below.

Sample Orientation Schedule

UWM Health Insurance (F1 Students Only)

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 ELA office. Once we receive your guarantee, we will remove the charge for the international student health insurance.

Financial Guarantee Letters are due the first day of class.

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

Below are a list of steps to take to help you transition to the United States and the UWM campus. It’s important to complete these things as soon as possible after arriving in the United States to ensure that your time of study will be as enjoyable as possible.

Check out the cost of living in Milwaukee. This can give students a better idea of how much they may be spending during their time with our program.

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


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 County Transit 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 UWM 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 Identity & 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.

UWM ELA can also provide a SIM card for Mint Mobile. You will need to set up the SIM card and payment plan.

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 ELA 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 Resource 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 Uhyrek) 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!