Before Your Arrival

International Exchange Program (IEP) Orientation

All international Exchange Students are required to attend the International Exchange Program (IEP) Orientation which is a mandatory day-long event that takes place the Friday prior to classes.  The orientation program will acquaint you with University programs and services and help you adjust to life in Southern California. You will learn about student life and help you become familiar with the campus. In addition, you will receive academic advisement, information on U.S. immigration requirements that affect your immigration status as well as University policies and procedures.

Orientation is not only provided to acquaint you with USC but also to help you become more comfortable with the Los Angeles area and with US culture.  USC has a diverse student population and orientation will help you to meet people from all over the world including your student host.

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IEP Host

Every IEP student is matched with 1 or 2 local USC Marshall students to help them acclimate to their new surroundings. 2-3 months prior to arrival, each host will contact their assigned student. We strongly suggest that each of you immediately begin a correspondence with your host, as they are an invaluable resource for addressing your concerns about life in general at USC.

You are invited to download the Factsheet and our Guides to address other questions:

USC Marshall factsheet 16-17

IEP Resource Guide

IEP Pre-Arrival Guide Fall 2015

IEP USC Guide Fall 2015

IEP LA Guide Fall 2015

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The US government has developed a completely computerized system that allows most of the verification of the applicant’s status to be done PRIOR to the applicant arriving at the consulate. What this means for you is that it takes USC longer to provide you with the authorized documents, BUT a shorter wait time once you have filed your application with the US consulate.

An Admission Packet will be mailed to your home institution via express courier about 2 months after you complete the application process (usually in May for Fall/Full year students and November for Spring students). In these packets, you will find your Visa documents (DS 2019) as well as your confirmation and acceptance letters. The Student Services Office will e-mail you when your packet has been sent. In this email, you will also receive additional information about making interview appointments as well as your SEVIS number. Prior to your interview, you need to pay a SEVIS fee. Information will be provided in your paperwork on where and how to pay the fee. You will NOT be able to pay the fee without your SEVIS number. Please be aware that you do not need to interview in your home country or in the country that you currently reside. If you will be away during the holidays, find out if the US consulate will see you in your current location and hold your interview then.

We strongly suggest that you sign-up for as early an interview as possible.

Information on the J-1 visa application process may be found here:

USC Office of International Services

If you go to apply for your visa before your housing contract arrives, feel free to list the Student Services Office address and phone number as your own. You can also list the Student Services staff as your contacts.


Mr. Sean O’Connell

Address and Phone Number:

3670 Trousdale, BRI 105
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0809
1-213-740-1206 or 1-213-740-5705

The visas will be good for the length of the program of study. You are able to enter the US, and stay in the US up to 30 days prior and 30 days after the start and end dates of the visa. This will allow everyone to arrive in the US prior to as well as remain after the program ends to travel around. Please note, if you arrive before the 30 day grace period, you will only be able to enter the US as a tourist. If you enter the US as a tourist, you MUST leave, and then re-enter to validate your visa, before you can attend classes. So please try to arrive within the specified period, unless you plan on leaving and returning before the program begins.

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Passport Verification

ALL incoming IEP Students MUST go through Visa/Passport verification. Failure to do so will result in non-payment of your tuition costs and expulsion from the university as well as a visit from the FBI. This is the law, not a USC rule.

We conduct Passport Verification during IEP Orientation.  Please bring ALL of your documents with you to Orientation (this includes the yellow/gold sheet contained with your admission packets and photocopies of all of your documents).

Required Documents

  • International Student/Scholar Form
  • Copy of stamped DS-2019 (this may be returned to you in an envelope from the consulate and then opened by immigration when you enter the US)
  • Copy of Passport (photo and expiration pages)
  • Copy of J-1 Visa
  • Copy of I-94 card (you will need to print this after arriving in the US from this site: I-94 Card )
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USC requires that all international students either have proof of US-based health insurance or enroll in the USC plan. Enrollment in the USC plan is automatic (you do not need to do anything). However, you may choose to “waive” out of your existing plan.  In addition, all USC students, even those with non-USC health insurance, are required to pay a Health Center Fee for the semester.

USC Student Health Insurance Plan:

If you do not want the USC health insurance plan and are going to find US-based health insurance on your own, please be sure that it is with a company that has offices in the US. Foreign Carriers/Insurers are NOT sufficient as most insurance companies will not pay for services outside of the home county or will only reimburse you upon your return.

Non-USC Health Insurance Plans MUST Meet These Requirements: Waiver Requirements

While all international students are automatically enrolled in USC’s student health insurance plan, the plan does not cover dental work (this is an optional service that you need to choose to purchase when you arrive) and eye care. Therefore, make sure that you have a thorough dental check-up and complete treatment of even emerging problems prior to arrival at USC. If you wear glasses, it’s advisable to pack a spare pair. It’s also good practice to get a letter of reference from your personal physician explaining any major illnesses and/or conditions that you’ve had or have, and any medication (in generic names) you’re currently taking. Obtain copies of important medical records, X-rays, and prescriptions. Have the prescriptions written in generic terms as the drugs will have different brand names here.

USC Health Center

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The Student Health Center at USC has two mandatory requirements for new, foreign students: proof of measles immunity and the PPD test for tuberculosis.

USC requires that all students submit proof of receiving two doses of MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) vaccine, or show proof of Measles and Mumps immunity, prior to their first semester of enrollment at USC. Please submit one of the following as proof:

  1. Documentation (month, day and year) of receiving TWO doses of the MMR vaccine (or TWO doses of Measles vaccine and TWO doses of Mumps vaccine.)
  2. Documentation of a positive Rubeola titer and Mumps titer (laboratory blood test.)

Please note:

  • All documentation must include an official signature or stamp from your physician or clinic.
  • The first dose of Measles, Mumps or MMR vaccines must be given at 12 months of age or later. A patient must wait at least 4 weeks, following the first dose, to receive the second dose.
  • Students born prior to January 1, 1957 are considered to be immune and will automatically be listed as exempt from the measles and mumps immunity requirement.


  • Tuberculosis Skin Test Requirement: All International Students are required to be screened for tuberculosis in the United States or Canada within 6 months of their first semester at USC. A photocopy of the following will serve as proof of screening:
    • Laboratory report of a negative Quantiferon blood test or T-Spot blood test. Only laboratory test results will be accepted, no handwritten results.

For detailed information on what tests or documents suffice as adequate proof, click here. Failure to provide proof will result in a financial penalty being assessed against your account

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One of the best reasons to live in Los Angeles is the weather. Not too hot, not too cold, low humidity, the weather in LA is near perfect. As this is a desert, we average 13-20 inches of rain each year (approx. 400-700 mm). It is sunny 90% of the time, although we do experience thick cloud cover because of our proximity to the ocean.

Temperatures range from highs of 68f (20c) and lows of 48f (9c) in winter, to highs of 85f (29c) to lows of 69f (19c) in the summer. Be aware, however, that these are averages, and that the topography of the land also causes for dramatic fluctuations in temperature in short distances. For example, it the summer it could be 74f (23c) at th beach, and only 60 km inland, it can be 100f (41c).

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USC Email Account

All USC students have a USC email account. E-mail accounts will become active 3 weeks prior to the start of classes. In order to activate it, you must visit the link below. Have your USC ID number as well as your birth date and name. IMPORTANT NOTE: The system sometimes reads hyphenated names as distinct. For example, if your name is Yik Ti Lee, the system might expect you to enter your first name as Yik or YikTi or even Yik-Ti. If after several combinations, you still are unable to login, please e-mail the USC IT consultants at or contact them via phone at +1-213-740-5555

USC Email Account Activation Site

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