Before You Arrive in the U.S.

Jump to …

Pre-Arrival Orientation

If you are not familiar with the Dallas area, we encourage you to review our pre-arrival orientation presentation, “Getting Settled in Dallas.” It contains important information that will help you plan for your relocation and make your first few weeks in Dallas a little easier.

If you need more information contact us:

Return to Top

U.S. Customs

When your flight arrives at its first U.S. stop you will normally be asked to pass through U.S. Customs. The airline attendant will provide you with a Departure Record, also known as an I-94 form, to complete. Be prepared to provide at least an initial street address, phone number, and other contact information regarding where you will stay when you reach your U.S. destination.

Be sure to write your name on all portions of this document exactly as it appears in your passport.

Notice that you must write your family name first, followed by your given name, and then your middle name. Also, in the U.S., dates are written with the month first, then the day, and finally the year. Make sure you write your birth date in this format on the I-94 card. Careful completion of the I-94 card will facilitate future applications for a U.S. Social Security card, driver’s license, and other official transactions.

You will then meet with a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent who will ask for the completed card. The CBP agent will write your U.S. visa type (e.g. J-1, F-1, H-1B) on the form, along with a notation showing how long you are authorized to remain in the U.S. For F-1/J-1 visitors and their dependents the CBP agent will write the notation D/S for Duration of Status. This means you are permitted to remain in the U.S. for as long as your I-20 or DS-2019 form is valid.

For other visa classifications, the CBP agent will normally write the expiration date of your underlying U.S. immigration document or status (e.g. I-797 approval notice.) If possible, review what is written on the card before leaving the Customs area. If there has been any error (such as an incorrect visa type or expiration date) on the I-94 this is the best time to have it corrected.

The top portion of the I-94 card, along with the notations regarding your visa type and expiration of permission to remain in the U.S. will be entered into a Department of Homeland Security database. This database is used by various state and federal agencies to confirm your immigration status so it is important that the information on it is correct.

For more information about clearing U.S. Customs upon your arrival in the U.S., including restrictions on what you may bring in with you, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

Return to Top

Transportation to and from Airport

Your Department at UT Southwestern may be willing to assist you with arrangements for transportation from the airport to your temporary or other housing. If such an arrangement is not possible, you can easily arrange for your own transportation. 

  • If you will arrive at Dallas/Love Field Airport, you will find transportation information on the Love Field website.
  • If you will arrive at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, see their website for ground transportation options.

At either airport you may rent a car at a cost of $25–$50 per day (rates depend on availability). Lower rates may be available through a travel agency or airline in your home country. Reservations are recommended. Most rental companies accept an international driver's license.

You will need a major credit card, such as Visa or MasterCard, to rent a car. Most rental companies also require that you be at least 25 years old.

Ask the car rental agency for a map of the Dallas/Fort Worth area and feel free to also ask for directions to your destination.

Major car rental companies in the D/FW area include:

Return to Top

Temporary Housing

Your department at UT Southwestern may be willing to assist you with arrangements for temporary housing.

Temporary Housing near UT Southwestern

UT Southwestern does not have any on- or off-campus temporary housing; however, there are a number of hotels and motels in the area. Be sure to ask for the UT Southwestern special contract rate at any of the hotels listed near UT Southwestern. Hotel and motel rates range from $70 to $150 per day. Some of the more reasonably priced include:

For a comprehensive listing of hotels in Dallas, Fort Worth, and surrounding areas, consult the Visit Dallas website. Market Center and Love Field are the closest neighborhoods to UT Southwestern.

Temporary Housing near D/FW Airport

The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) has a unique layout. The primary access road, International Parkway, splits the airport running north-south, giving equal access from either north or south ends. Grapevine is adjacent to the north and Euless to the south. Irving, where most of the hotels near D/FW Airport are located, is about four miles east and southeast (toward Dallas) of the airport.

Return to Top

Apartment Housing Near UT Southwestern

We recommend that you do not sign an apartment lease or contract without first seeing the apartment you will rent. However, it is a good idea to identify in advance one or more apartment complexes that fit your needs and to communicate with management about units that will be available at the time of your visit. There are many places to live both near UT Southwestern and farther away but accessible with public transportation such as Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). You can familiarize yourself with Dallas neighborhoods by reviewing D Magazine’s Dallas Neighborhoods map.

There are a number of apartment locators that will list and show you apartments at no charge to you. This can be very convenient if you do not yet have transportation. Some examples include:

Medical Park Apartments, owned and operated by UT Southwestern, is occupied primarily by UT Southwestern Graduate School or Medical School students, but on a space-available basis apartments can be rented by non-student visitors to UT Southwestern.  

For more information or assistance contact the Office of International Affairs.

Check-in Appointment at the International Affairs Office

Before you can begin your activities at UT Southwestern, you must visit the International Affairs Office. During the check-in visit, we will help you complete several documents, discuss your visa status, and answer any questions you may have. You will also receive important information about health insurance and other requirements for maintaining compliance with the regulations.

Please call 214-648-0010 after you arrive in Dallas to schedule an appointment.

Please bring the following items to your appointment:

  • Passport
  • U.S. immigration documents reflecting the current and any previous visits
  • Social Security card, if you have one from a previous stay in the U.S.

Return to Top