Other Status Pre-Arrival

Scholar check in is held by appointment in 3241 Memorial Union. All international scholars visiting for any length of time are required to check in with ISSO. Scholars on J-1 status (professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, specialists, and student interns) are all required to attend.

ISSO offers separate Scholar Check-in Sessions for unpaid and paid scholars. Paid scholars are only those individuals who will be paid on the Iowa State University payroll. Scholars receiving a stipend or per diem should attend an unpaid session.  Scholar Check-in Sessions are held on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings and last for approximately one hour. Scholars not on the Iowa State payroll (unpaid) will attend an Unpaid Session that starts promptly at 8:45 a.m. Scholars paid through the Iowa State University payroll will attend a Paid Session that starts promptly at 10:15 a.m.  Both sessions are for groups of up to 4 scholars. Scholars who arrive after the scheduled start time will be asked to reschedule for the next available session.

During the check-in session our office will collect your address information, scan your immigration documents, and provide the information necessary to obtain your ISU card, computer network access, work permission, and Social Security number, if applicable. You will receive maps of Ames, and the ISU campus. You will be provided information regarding Ames businesses, transportation, recreation services, "what's happening" in Ames, and much more about Iowa and the surrounding states.



Registration for both Paid and Unpaid Scholar Check-in Sessions is completed online through our sigunupgenius.com site. Unpaid scholars register for a session here.  Paid scholars register here


Documents and Information:

Scholars should bring the following documents and information with them to their check-in session:

  • Passport
  • I-20 and EAD for F-1 OPT status
  • I-797 Approval Notice(s) for TN, O-1 or E-3 status
  • I-94 Record (obtain here)
  • If your dependents arrived with you please bring their passports, I-94 records and DS-2019 forms
  • Local, home address in Ames (or temporary address in Ames if you have not yet secured housing)
  • Name and contact information for a person ISSO would contact should you have a personal emergency

We look forward to meeting you!


Dependents are defined as spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.

E-3 Dependents are permitted to work in the United States. However, they must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document prior to starting work. E-3 dependents are also eligible to study.

F-2 Dependents are not permitted to work in the United States. F-2 dependents are not eligible to study.

O-3 Dependents are not permitted to work in the United States. O-3 dependents are eligible to study.

TD Dependents are not permitted to work in the United States. TD dependents are eligible to study.

Health Insurance Requirements: Scholars who will not be employed by ISU

The U.S. Department of State and Iowa State University require you and all accompanying dependents to maintain health insurance coverage throughout your stay in the U.S.

If you will not be eligible for benefits as an ISU employee, you must enroll in the Iowa State University Student and Scholar Health Insurance Program. We will assist you with that process when you check in with the ISSO upon arrival. Billing for the ISU insurance plan is based on full calendar months. Insurance premiums are not adjusted for less than a month’s coverage. For example, if you arrive in the U.S. on September 24th and leave on December 12th you will be charged for four full months of health insurance coverage. You may wish to play your visit accordingly.

From August 1, 2019, through July 31, 2020, the monthly rates for the ISU Student and Scholar Health Insurance Program for non-employees are:

  • Scholar only $214
  • Scholar and Spouse $448
  • Scholar and chil(ren) $383
  • Scholar, spouse, and child(ren) $617

The ISU Student and Scholar Health Insurance Program allows the exchange visitor and spouse to use the health center on the campus of Iowa State University. Children must obtain health care from a health care provider in the local community.

Visit https://sship.hr.iastate.edu/ to learn more about the ISU Student and Scholar Health Insurance Program. If you have questions about Iowa State University’s health insurance requirements, please contact University Human Resources at isusship@iastate.edu.

The ISU Student and Scholar Health Insurance Program does not cover dental or eye care, including glasses and contacts, for adults. It does cover dental and eye care for children. Most health insurance plans in the U.S. do not cover dental or eye care for either adults or children.

Health Insurance Requirements: Scholars who will be employed by ISU

If you will be employed in a benefits-eligible position at Iowa State University, please be aware that you must enroll yourself and your accompanying dependents in the ISU employee health insurance plan (the “ISU Plan”) upon arrival at the university. For more information about this requirement and the ISU plan, please visit: https://www.hr.iastate.edu/benefits/insurance/isu-plan#medical or contact the ISU Benefits Office at benefits@iastate.edu.


E-3: Scholars in E-3 status can only be employed by Iowa State University. Work performed at Iowa State must be related to the trade or business to which the scholar is affiliated. An Employment Authorization Document is not required.

F-1: Scholars in F-1 status, from a school other than Iowa State University, can be employed by Iowa State on the basis of either Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). An I-20 with an authorization on page 3 is required for CPT. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is required for OPT. The scholar may work for a second employer during CPT if authorization is granted. A scholar may work for a second employer during OPT based on the EAD.

TN: Scholars in TN status must be employed by Iowa State, but may work simultaneously for another employer if that employer sponsors an additional TN status. An Employment Authorization Document is not required.

O-1: Scholars in O-1 status can only be employed by Iowa State University, and cannot receive pay from any other employer unless that employer has had an O-1 petition approved by USCIS on behalf of the alien. An Employment Authorization Document is not required.

Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verfication Form)

All new international employees must complete Form I-9 with ISSO on or before their first day of work. ISSO staff assist new international employees to complete Form I-9 during Scholar Check-in. Please visit the ISSO Homepage for Scholar Check-in scheduling.

Certain documents are required in order for an I-9 to be processed. A list of documents an individual can use to complete Form I-9 can be found here (see page 9). Please note that effective July 1, 2019, the I-9 process will begin with an electronic form accessed through the employee's inbox in Workday.

Do not work unitl ISSO verifies your work eligibility and your Form I-9 has been completed.

Taxes and Social Security

Navigating the income taxes rules can be challenging for scholars working in the United States. Please review the following tax information on some of the basic tax-related issues you might experience while in the United States.

Tax Information

This page includes links to information about where you will live during your time in Ames, how you might get from the airport to Iowa State University, and information about the Ames community.



Community Information

Iowa State University has many multicultural students organizations on campus. Click the link to view a list of the organizations and to find more information on each one. You have the opportunity to request to join an organization as well as learn about details and events of each group. It is a great way to get involved and meet people!

ISU Multicultural Student Organizations