International Student Services & Intercultural Education
The University of Hawaii: A Global University
The International Student Services & Intercultural Education (ISS & IE) program has two primary missions. The first is to assist international students with clarifying and attaining their academic and personal goals while complying with the regulations pertaining to their immigration status. ISS & IE serves as an interface between UH Hilo and international students in order to facilitate communication, understanding and appreciation between them. The second mission is to facilitate and assist all students at UH Hilo, regardless of national origin, with developing intercultural competence. Ultimately, the goals of international education are to advance learning and scholarship and to increase intercultural awareness, understanding and competency in our increasingly global community.
Information about applying for admission to UH Hilo can be found on the Admissions website.
Check out Study in the States for information and resources for prospective and current international students, including information on applying for a visa to enter the United States, getting ready to go, arriving in the U.S., maintaining your status, and working in the U.S.
Airport Pick Up in Hilo on August 19
All new international students coming to UH Hilo for the Fall 2013 semester should plan on arriving in Hilo on Monday, August 19, 2013. International students may move into the residence halls (dormitories) on Monday, August 19. (The Space Assignment Letter from the UH Hilo Housing Office says that students can move in on Tuesday, August 20, but international students are allowed and expected to move in on Monday, August 19.)
Please let us know when you will arrive at the Hilo airport on August 19, and we will be there to pick you up and take you to campus (or nearby apartments). This service is free. Sign up online here.
Keep in mind that you should fly in to the Hilo (ITO) airport, which is only a few miles away from campus. If you fly in to Honolulu (HNL), you will need to get a connecting flight to Hilo (about a 45-minute flight from the Honolulu airport).
Orientation for New International Students
All new international students are required to attend an orientation session on Tuesday, August 20. Check back soon for more detailed information about orientation.
Check out this fascinating story by Mya Yee Nandar, a UH Hilo student from Burma (Myanmar), published in the International Student Voice magazine.
Upcoming Events & Activities
Check back for information about events and activities scheduled for the Fall 2013 semester.
Global Lens Film Series
The Global Lens film series is intended to promote intercultural understanding through film and to expose audiences to new voices from relatively unfamiliar parts of the world. The series will provide a platform for exceptional storytelling and open windows into the diverse world in which we live. The powerful, authentic narratives in the films can foster trust and respect between disparate cultures and mitigate the negative impacts of cultural prejudice, misunderstanding, and misperception. Check back for the schedule of films for the 2013-2014 academic year. Click here to see the schedule of films shown during the 2012-2013 year.
Host Family Program
Are you interested in being connected with a family in the local Hilo community? The Host Family Program matches international students with families in the community to help international students learn more about Hilo, the Big Island, and Hawaii, as well as develop a "second" family here while you attend UH Hilo. Host families do not provide a place to live, but rather meet with you occasionally throughout the year for things like a home-cooked meal, trips around the island, shopping, and other fun and interesting things to do on the Big Island. If you are interested, please complete and submit the Host Family Request Form to the International Student Services & Intercultural Education office.
Global Connections Program
Are you interested in being connected with another UH Hilo who will help you get adjusted to UH Hilo and Hawaii and help you learn about local and US American cultures? The Global Connections Program matches first-year international students with other students (mostly from Hawaii and the US), and you meet informally throughout the semester as well as at monthly informal social gatherings. If you are interested, please complete and submit the Global Connections Application Form to the International Student Services & Intercultural Education office or the Center for Global Education & Exchange.
Volunteer on the Top of Mauna Kea
The Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station (located at about 9,000 feet on Mauna Kea mountain) is looking for international students to volunteer. Many international students have volunteered in the past and have loved the work and found it very rewarding to meet visitors from around the world as well as learn about the stars, astronomy, and western and Native Hawaiian views of the world. Training and transportation to Mauna Kea is provided.
Click here for more information. If you are interested, click here for a volunteer application. Please contact E'Lisa Lee, the International Student Volunteer Coordinator, at email@example.com for more information.
International Student Association Activities
- International Student Association - Click here for a brochure and membership form.
- International Student Association (ISA) Officers for 2013-2014:
- Yvonne Johnny (Federated States of Micronesia) - President
- Mya Yee Nandar (Burma) - Vice President
- Imelda Carlos (Timor-Leste) - Secretary
- Nellie Kati (Papua New Guinea) - Treasurer
- Quang Tan ("Charlie") Huynh (Vietnam) - Webmaster
- Angelo Menezes Guterres Aparicio (Timor-Leste) - Public Relations
- Hitomi Kitade (Japan) - Membership Coordinator
- Anna-Belle Nena (Federated States of Micronesia) -Volunteer Coordinator
- Renee David (Federated States of Micronesia) - Volunteer Coordinator
- Aya Shimada (Japan) -Orientation Coordinator
- Global Ambassadors Program
- Hunger Banquet - check out Ke Kalahea's coverage of the event held in October 2012
Information for All International Students
Orientation and Workshops
We hold an orientation for new international students at the beginning of each semester. The orientation is specifically designed to give international students the information they need for a successful beginning at UH Hilo. The orientation is required for new and transfer international students.
The International Student Services Office provides workshops to help students with two complex issues: employment and taxes. We offer an Employment after Graduation workshop for students with F-1 visas. We offer tax workshops for both F-1 and Pacific students.
You are welcome to come to the office without an appointment, especially if you just have a quick question. We have someone to answer your questions during most hours of the week. However, we cannot always be available and if you want to make sure the International Student Advisor will be available when you come in, please make an appointment ahead of time.
Adjusting to a new culture and being away from home for an extended period is a difficult transition for anyone. It means facing many new challenges and learning about a community which may be very different from your own. Each person responds differently to these changes. If you have a question about life in this new culture, or if you want to talk about a problem or concern, please come to see us. We are here to help.
Through the International Student Association, we sponsor many activities which provide opportunities for you to meet other students and visit places of interest on the Big Island. Joining these activities is a great way to help make the adjustment to your new life at UH Hilo.
You may find that a personal problem is interfering with your ability to study or to eat and sleep. You should feel comfortable about explaining your problem to the International Student Advisor; anything you say will be confidential. We can assist you in getting help from other professional staff at UH Hilo, if that seems appropriate to you.
While the International Student Services staff do not provide specific academic advising related to your major, we can answer questions about academic policies and procedures, and about your rights and responsibilities as a student at UH Hilo. Your academic advisor can answer questions about selecting courses and meeting degree requirements.
The International Student Services Office receives requests from people in the Hilo community and from other students to contact students from specific countries. Under US law UH Hilo is allowed to release the following bits of information about a student because they are considered “Directory Information”:
- Local address
- Local telephone number
- Dates of attendance
- Educational level
- Degrees and awards received
- Campus-issued e-mail address
If you do not want any or all of this information released when there is such a request, go to the Records Office window and complete a “Request to Keep Directory Information Confidential” form. Also available here.
All international students are required to have a tuberculosis (TB) test at UH Hilo, even if you have already had a test at home. The Student Health Office in Campus Center, room 212, will provide these tests during orientation week. Phone 974-7636 for further information.
Information for New and Transfer Students
Information For Students in F-1 Status
The International Student Services Office will help you understand Immigration regulations and avoid Immigration problems. The US government agency responsible for enforcing immigration laws is now called the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); it used to be called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). We have copies of Immigration regulations and we can contact Immigration officials when necessary to help answer your questions.
Though we work closely with Immigration, we are not enforcers of Immigration law. It is our job to explain the regulations to you and help you understand what your legal options are in any situation. The International Student Advisor serves as the “Designated School Official” at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo, meaning that Immigration has granted her the authority to sign Immigration forms such as the I-20. We release information to Immigration only as required by US law. See your I-20, page 2, for more details on your F-1 status.
You are required to enroll full-time during every fall and spring semester. Full-time is a minimum of 12 credit hours. After the first semester we recommend that you enroll in an additional class in case you need to drop one of your classes for some reason.
Summer school is optional except for students who are admitted to UH Hilo for the first time during the summer session. If the summer session is your first term, you must be enrolled full-time for 6 credit hours.
If for some reason you are thinking about dropping below full-time status, you MUST see the International Student Advisor prior to doing so or you will be out of status with immigration.
Please note that making satisfactory progress toward your degree is a condition of maintaining your F-1 status.
If you fall out of status with Immigration because you have not complied with the rules for F-1 status, you will need to apply for reinstatement with Immigration. This application costs $300 and reinstatement is NOT guaranteed. If reinstatement is denied, a person must leave the US. Thus it is best to comply with the rules and avoid falling out of status. If you have any questions about the rules of F-1 status, please talk with the International Student Advisor
The purpose of an F-1 visa is to admit a person to the US as a student. Because it is not a work visa, employment opportunities while you are in F-1 status are quite limited. During your first academic year you can only work on campus. However, you must have the authorization of the International Student Advisor to do so. Later there are other possibilities for employment which are listed below.
If you would like to work on campus, see the Career Center for more details
Curricular Practical Training
After you have been in the US in F-1 status for one academic year you are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). CPT usually takes the form of an internship in your major field of study where you are earning credits for your experience and may earn money as well. Make an appointment to see the International Student Advisor if you are interested in applying for CPT.
Optional Practical Training
After you have been in the US in F-1 status for one academic year you are also eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT is paid work off-campus in your field of study. You may work 20 hours per week while classes are in session and 40 hours per week during vacation periods. However, most students decide to save their OPT until they have completed their studies and graduate. You are eligible to apply to Immigration for up to 12 months of full-time OPT. You should apply four months before you would like your OPT to begin. The application fee is $340. You can apply for OPT up to 90 days before you graduate and up to 60 days after you graduate. Make an appointment to talk with the International Student Advisor if you are interested in applying for OPT.
Extension of Stay
As an F-1 student, you are authorized to stay in the US until the date you complete your program or until the date in section 5 of your I-20. If you allow the end date on your I-20 to pass without extending it, you will be out of status with Immigration. If you believe you may need more time to graduate, please make an appointment to see the International Student Advisor 4-8 weeks before the I-20 will expire. A copy of the form is provided here. Please take the form to your academic advisor and have him or her fill it out.
Transferring to Another School
If you decide to transfer to another college or university, you will need to ask the International Student Advisor to help you transfer. The International Student Advisor will have to transfer you out of UH Hilo in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), so that the next school will be able to transfer you in.
Leaving the US for Vacation
If you are planning to leave the US for a short while (less than 5 months) and return to school at UH Hilo, you will need to have the signature of the International Student Advisor on your I-20 to certify that you have been properly maintaining your F-1 status. The signature for re-entry purposes is valid for 6 months. Please come to the office at least 3 days before you are planning to leave Hilo and complete a “Vacation Request Form.” Leave the form with your I-20 to be signed. If you will need to renew your visa while you are away, please see us for information.
All F-1 students are required to show sufficient funding to meet the costs of attending UH Hilo before we can issue an I-20 for admission. However, we understand that sometimes circumstances change. Perhaps the currency back home has been devalued or your original source of funding is not available. Unfortunately, only limited financial assistance is available for international students at UH Hilo. Some partial tuition waivers and other scholarships based on excellent academic performance are available after your first year. If you have a financial problem, schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible so we can advise you and suggest possible solutions.
The University of Hawaii requires that all F-1 international students have medical insurance while they are enrolled. Adequate medical insurance is essential because the US government does not pay for medical expenses and medical care in the US is expensive. The International Student Services Office is responsible for verifying that you have insurance to cover expenses of at least US $100,000 for any one accident and $100,000 for any one illness. The University of Hawaii arranges for medical insurance for students. If you do not already have adequate medical insurance please request an application form.
- Scholarship Information
- Application to Accept On Campus Employment
Information for Students From Palau, FSM & Marshall Islands
New and Transfer students from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands are invited to attend a welcome reception. At this reception you will meet other students and be briefed on important information for you.
Information for Fall 2010's reception:Sat, August 21 at Carlsmith Pavilion (4-mile Beach).
The International Student Services Office has copies of your home state or country scholarship applications. It is our responsibility to verify that the information on your application is correct by signing and sealing it. We are also able to send and receive Faxes for you that are related to your scholarships or US federal financial aid. For the most updated requirements and information about these scholarships please visit the scholarship's web site.
Your immigration status if you are from the Republic of Palau is CFA/PAL (Compact of Free Association with Palau); if you are from Federated States of Micronesia, CFA/FSM (Compact of Free Association with FSM); if you are from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, CFA/MIS (Compact of Free Association with the Marshall Islands).
When traveling to the US by plane, the flight attendants on board will distribute CF-6059 Customs Declaration Forms and Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record for immigration, before you land at your initial point-of-entry in the U.S. Complete these forms on the aircraft and submit them to the appropriate CBP Officer upon your arrival, remember to write your name exactly as it appears on your passport. If you do not understand a form, ask the flight attendant for assistance. Click here for detailed instructions on filling out a I-94.
Students from Palau, FSM, and RMI are, by virtue of immigration status, permitted to work on or off-campus. However, students from Palau must obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), done by completing the form I-765 and mailing it along with a photocopy of your passport to the INS office in Laguna Niguel, California. There is no fee for this process. Application forms and instructions are available from the International Student Office.
Students from FSM and the Marshall Islands who are in CFA/FSM and CFA/MIS immigration status respectively, are no longer required to obtain the EAD in order to work in the US. According to the amended Compacts of Free Association with the US, you merely need to show your employer your passport and I-94, the small white card stapled in your passport.
If you intend to reside in Hawaii, you are eligible for Med-Quest. Applications are available from the International Student Office.
As a part of this program, the rate of tuition charged to incoming Pacific Islander students will increase from 100% of resident tuition to 150% of resident tuition in Fall 2007. For more information, please view the attached links.
Some of the many student organizations on campus include the following:
- Palau – Ngelekel Palau
- Marshall Islands – Marshallese Iakwe Club
- Waab (Yapese) Student Organization
- Kosrae – Kosrae Hilo Organization
- Pohnpei – Pohnpei Kaselelia Club
- Chuuk – Chuukese Student Organization
For contact information, visit http://hilo.hawaii.edu/campuscenter/riso/contacts.php
About the Director
Jim Mellon began serving as the Director of International Student Services & Intercultural Education in 2011. Having previously worked as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at UH Hilo, he is very familiar with the University and its students. Jim earned his bachelor's degree from Duke University and master's degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he was immersed in intercultural learning and programs as a grantee with the East-West Center.
Goals: Facilitate the success of international students, as well as promote the development of intercultural competence among all students with an emphasis on social justice.
Did You Know? He swam 28.5 miles around New York City and once won the 10-mile Maui channel swim from Lanai to Maui, competed in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships four times, and lived and worked on the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia as a volunteer teacher for three years.