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Pre-Arrival Information - Before You Arrive

Please view the travel and health advisories at Student Health Services for current information about international health alerts for travelers.

On this page you can review important information about traveling to the U.S. and about the UMass Dartmouth community.

Before Arriving at UMass Dartmouth


Scholars issued a Form DS-2019 to come to UMass Dartmouth must pay a fee to the SEVIS program before applying for a J-1 visa to enter the country.  SEVIS is the abbreviation for Student & Exchange Visitor Information System.  It is a database used for tracking and reporting international students and scholars in the United States.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversees SEVIS and collects the SEVIS fee.

The SEVIS fee website below will explain the fee, who has to pay it, and how to pay it.  Please be sure to print your SEVIS receipt once you have paid the fee.  You must bring the receipt to your visa appointment as proof of the SEVIS fee payment.  At least three days prior to the J visa appointment at an embassy or consulate, international scholars must pay the SEVIS fee.

Scholars can now check the status of their visa applications on line

The U.S. Department of State (DOS)'s Visa Status Check website allows both immigrant and nonimmigrant applicants to check the status of their cases at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).

Before Departing Your Country

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the agents who greet you when you enter the U.S., have a website on traveling to the U.S.  Please visit the Customer Service link on the left of that page, and also review this  brochure.

Required Health Insurance

As a UMass Dartmouth scholar, you must submit a completed health insurance form and return it to the International Student & Scholar Center at the time of your orientation visit to the Center.

For additional information on health insurance requirements and options, please visit the Scholars' Health Insurance page.

Housing Options

It is important to make arrangements for permanent housing before you arrive in the U.S., or else have money to stay in a hotel nearby temporarily while searching for permanent housing.  There is no temporary housing on campus.

You will be responsible for finding your own housing or your academic department/sponsoring faculty may be able to provide some assistance.  An Off-campus housing listing maintained by the University Office of Housing and Residential Life is available for scholars.  

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a service to students with the understanding that the University has not inspected the rentals and cannot warrant their condition, nor can the University guarantee the professional behavior of the property owners or managers.  A written rental agreement is recommended.  Although care is taken to provide correct information, there may be unintended errors, changes, or deletions without notification.  Users of this information communicate, contract and do business with individuals, companies, or firms at their own risk.  The University, officers, agents, and employees of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth shall not be liable for any errors or omissions made in the compilation or printing of this information. 

This website has information regarding renters' rights in Massachusetts.


Most U.S. banks offer many different types of personal account services for a checking account, where you can deposit money and use it to write out a paper check for an amount to pay a bill or get cash; debit cards are usually connected to a checking account also.  You can also arrange for a savings account, where you deposit money you don’t need to spend right away, to keep it safely.

You may want to open an account in a U.S. bank before you arrive.  Ask banks in your country for information about corresponding banks in the Fall River/New Bedford/North Dartmouth area of Massachusetts.  If you wait to open an account until you arrive, it could take two to four weeks before you have access to money deposited into an account by a foreign check.  It may be quicker to bring travelers' checks or to arrange a wire transfer to your new account once you open it.

Credit Cards: Credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are widely accepted in most stores, including major supermarkets.  Most car rental companies require a major credit card to rent a car.  If you currently have a credit card at home and would like to apply for one in the United States, you should bring a letter of reference from your home bank regarding your credit history.

Entering the U.S. - Form I-94 Automation

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer reviewing your documents at the port of entry will create an electronic arrival Form I-94 record from a scan of your passport during the admissions process.  Please view this information on the the Form I-94 automation process.

After Arriving at UMass Dartmouth

UMass Pass

The UMass Pass is the University identification card that all students, faculty, and staff carry.   You can add funds to your card and use it like a debit card at campus dining locations and the Campus Store, and at some locations in the surrounding community.  For further information on these features, and on replacing your UMass Pass (ID) card, visit .   Please complete the  as described above to begin the processing of getting a UMass Pass and approval for other campus processes.  

UMass Dartmouth Area Guide

To view information about the local community, visit: Where's UMass Dartmouth?

There are cultural groups on our campus for support and resources.  Scholars from India may visit the Indian Student Association or send e-mail to Scholars from China are invited to visit the Chinese Student and Scholar Association by contacting

Food Supplies and Meals on Campus

International scholars may purchase food to prepare at home from the local grocery stores; but, there are also a variety of dining options available on campus where you can buy a prepared meal.  Purchasing a Declining Balance meal plan for the academic year may also be of interest to you; under this type of plan, with a specified deposit amount, the funds are added to your UMassPass ID card and you avoid paying the Massachusetts meals tax each time you buy food on campus using your UMass Pass.  For more information, please visit .  Click on the UMass Dartmouth Dining Services link and you can download the new app, check out the current menus, and look into details on the various meal plan options.  

There are several large grocery markets near the campus, such as Stop and Shop and Shaw’s Market.  Groceries are also sold at the nearby Target and Walmart Stores, within walking distance of the campus.

Social Security Number (SSN)

If you will be receiving payment (as in the case of University employment) for any type of work in the U.S., you must obtain a Social Security Number from the U.S. Social Security Administration Office.  There are two local offices near campus where you can apply.  You will receive further information about this process at the J-1 Scholar or Intern Orientation after you arrive.  Your letter of appointment from the University, your passport and visa, DS-2019 form, and I-94 Arrival Form are the documents you will need to bring to the Social Security Office with your SSN application.

Local Transportation

Local Bus line (SRTA)

The local bus line is called the SRTA.  

Yellow Cab Taxi

If you arrive in Fall River after the bus lines stop running, you may need to take a taxi to your lodging.  Yellow Cab is one taxi service based in Fall River, and their number is 508-674-4633.  On average, the cost is $25 USD for a ride from the Fall River bus terminal to UMass Dartmouth.  There may be other taxi services posted in or around the bus terminal.  It is customary to give a gratuity or "tip"--that is, a small amount of extra money (around $2)--in addition to the fare.

Blue Bird Taxi

Blue Bird Taxi is a service based in the City of New Bedford.  They currently offer a flat rate of $14 USD for UMass Dartmouth students, for any pick up point in the downtown area of New Bedford to the campus, or from the campus to downtown New Bedford, with no stops in between.  Their phone number is 508-999-1124.  It is customary to give a gratuity or "tip"--that is, a small amount of extra money (around $2)--in addition to the fare.  

Please Note: if a  taxi is requested, the flat rate between downtown New Bedford and UMassD will be $17.  

More Information

Weather in Dartmouth

The weather in New England and around Dartmouth can range from extremely cold in the winter (below 0°F or -18°C), to extremely hot in the summer time (in excess of 90°F or 33°C).  With this in mind, be sure that you have or can get adequate winter clothing such as boots, scarves, hats, and gloves, as well as a range of clothing options appropriate for hot, cold, or medium temperature weather.  Here is information on current weather conditions in Dartmouth.

All About Massachusetts

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