International Scholar Relations

J-1 Orientation

Visiting Scholar Orientation

As a J-1 Sponsor, Western University of Health Sciences must offer appropriate orientation for all visiting scholars and is encouraged to provide orientation for family members who will be in the United States for more than one year. Such orientation should include, at a minimum, information about life and customs in the United States and the topics as listed under “Topics for Discussion” on this page.

If there is more than one scholar in the orientation session, it is helpful to do a quick needs assessment. If the scholars have different needs (i.e. one has to find housing, another has to have the electricity turned on), start with the general information for all participants. Individual needs can be addressed at the conclusion leaving those whose questions have been answered free to leave.

Orientation Time Frame

An orientation with the scholar is not expected to take the entire day, although it is sometimes required. Keep in mind, the scholar is in a new country and may have many questions about which we need to address and to offer support. It may be prudent to schedule a follow-up session to ensure the scholar is acclimating comfortably to WesternU and surrounding community.

Topics for Discussion

Getting around Western U Campus

  • Campus security requirements
  • Parking
  • Library
  • Bookstore
  • Business Center, etc.


Three pertinent questions to ask:

  1. Will the scholar have a car or does he/she need to be within walking distance?
  2. What is the scholar’s budget?
  3. Does the scholar prefer to live alone or share an apartment?


  • Buses/Metrolink location/schedule
  • Dept. of Motor Vehicles
  • Purchasing a car
  • Auto Insurance Companies

For those scholars without a car, scholar assistance should include visits to:

  • Apartment complexes
  • Rental furniture store
  • Doctor’s office
  • Dept. of Motor Vehicles
  • Social Security Office
  • Car Rental Office (if does not offer customer pickup)
  • Public Schools
  • Grocery Store (new arrivals only)
  • Target/WalMart (for new arrivals only)


  • Location
  • How to open a banking account
  • ATM safety precautions


  • Campus International Clubs/Events
  • Local Recreation Centers/Parks
  • Entertainment/Movies
  • Campus Clubs/Activities for Spouse

Resources for Spouses

  • Local Super Markets
  • Pharmacy/Cosmetic
  • Clothing/Shoes
  • Beauty Shop
  • Child Care/Pre-School (if needed)

Safety Precautions

While certain situations cannot be prevented no matter what precautions are taken, there are a few things that we suggest the scholar should do to decrease the chances of becoming a victim of crime:

  • Do not carry or display large amounts of money or jewelry.
  • Traveler’s checks are redeemable for instant cash at most banks or stores
  • Using major credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard or American Express is recommended.

It should be recommended that the scholar should not go out alone at night, especially during the first few weeks after arrival. It will take some time for them to feel comfortable and to really know their surroundings. If a scholar must go out alone at night, it is better for them to go with a friend or take a taxi to and from their destination until they become familiar with the area. Many of us abide by this recommendation even though we are familiar with the area.

J-1 Scholar Travel Out of Country

30-day Absence from the U.S. J-1, H-1B, and some other nonimmigrant classes and their families affected.
Absence from the U.S. of more than 30 days can cancel, terminate, end your J, H, O, etc. status. You will need to start your status all over again. There are a few exceptions. Do not even consider being abroad more than 30-days without reviewing this information and making an appointment with an international advisor to discuss your plans.  Please notify J1Program@westernu.edu to inform the J-1 RO/ARO of your plans to travel in or out of the United States.

Updated August 2015