Your J-1 visa is issued with DS-2019 dates that cover a range of time from the first day of class to the last day of exams. Once you obtain your visa, you are allowed to enter the United States up to 30 days before the start date on your DS-2019 form.
You are required to arrive prior to our on-site orientation. We recommend arriving a few days prior to orientation in order to settle in and reorient yourself to your new location and timezone. Be sure you are clear on when your housing is available for move-in.
There are several airports with easy access to Madison, Wisconsin.
MSN – Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, WI – A small airport located about 5 miles (8km) from UW-Madison. Taxi rides from the MSN airport to campus cost approximately $25 one way. There is a taxi waiting area outside of baggage claim. MSN’s Ground Transportation page is helpful.
MKE – General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, WI – The largest airport in Wisconsin, and is only an hour and a half away from campus. Badger Coaches* offers daily express service from General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee to Madison.
ORD – Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL – While much further from UW-Madison, flights to this airport are often much less expensive. Van Galder* offers daily buses between the airport and UW-Madison.
*Tickets can only be purchased online. We strongly recommend that you purchase tickets online at least one day prior to your arrival in the U.S. If you wait to purchase your ticket upon arrival, you may need to wait for a later bus.
Madison’s climate is subject to great temperature variations. During the summer (June-September), temperatures are often above 26.6 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) and occasionally above 32 degrees C. (90 degrees F.). During the winter (December-March), one must expect many days of -18 degrees C. (0 degree F.), and even lower. Depending on when you will be at UW-Madison, both very light and very heavy clothing will be needed. Normal attire is usually casual rather than formal.
It may be difficult to convert your home currency into U.S. dollars immediately upon arrival in the United States. We suggest you bring a reasonable amount of US dollars for travel, food, rent, and incidental expenses. Check with your bank and credit card provider to ensure that your ATM and credit cards will be available to you in Madison, and what the limits and fees are while using them abroad.
Getting to Your Housing
Calling a taxi is the easiest way to traverse the city with luggage in tow. Madison is home to several official taxi services. If you arrive onto campus on at the Memorial Union, on Langdon St, the free campus bus routes might be useful.
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When should I buy my plane ticket?
That’s up to you, but we suggest waiting until after you are officially notified by our office of your acceptance to UW-Madison. Your visa is issued at the discretion of U.S. consular officers in your home country, and our office can’t guarantee that you will receive one, though typically this is not a problem.
Together, your online and on-site orientation will set you up for success at UW-Madison. We recommend that you watch our online orientation video modules a few weeks prior to your arrival on campus.