International Student Services

International Student Services

International Education

The University of Hawai╩╗i: A Global University

International Student Services (ISS) supports international students with achieving their academic and personal goals while complying with the regulations pertaining to their immigration status. ISS serves as an interface between UH Hilo and international students to facilitate communication, understanding and appreciation between international students and the UH Hilo community. ISS also aims 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.

Students holding flags representing their countires

Know Before You Go: Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, International Student Services recommends that students weigh the urgency of travel. In addition, with the increase in COVID-19 cases and entry restrictions in the U.S. and abroad, students should prepare for any event if they plan to travel, domestically or internationally. Before traveling, consult with the ISS Director and refer to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's information for travel. Another resource to consult is the National Association of Foreign Student Administrators.

New International Students

If you have been accepted to UH Hilo, view a list of important dates and things you need to do. Also check out Study Guide to the States for an online, interactive resource to help international students navigate through the process of studying in the United States. Topics include what to consider if you want to study in the United States, how to apply for a visa to enter the United States, how to maintain your status while in the U.S., guidelines for traveling back home, and working in the U.S.

Upcoming Events & Activities

Discussion Group for International Women

Women from different cultures

Every Friday
1:00 pm at Kanaka'ole Hall Room 110

International students are invited to a discussion group for women on what it's like to be a woman in your country. Build friendships with women from around the world while learning about each other's cultural differences. Light snacks and drinks provided.

Orientation for New International Students

Welcome international students

Thursday, January 9, 2020
8:00 am at the Student Services Center Room W-201

All new international students must attend the required meeting for new international students. Bring your passport (and, if you are a student on an F-1 visa, also bring your I-20 Form and proof of health insurance). At the orientation meeting, you will learn about important information, such as registration for classes, placement tests, adjusting to life at UH Hilo and on the Big Island, cultural differences, and much more. You will begin to make life-long friends! You will also get your UH ID card, TB test, and a tour of campus. There is no fee required to participate in this special meeting.

International Topics Speaker Series

International Speaker Series

Sustaining Forests of the Future
Thursday, January 16, 2020
5:00-6:00 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Presentation by Dr. Becky Ostertag of the UH Hilo Biology Department. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15 aims "to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss." In light of unprecedented global disturbances including climate change and urbanization, forest restoration is seen as the hope for the future. Yet, the way forest restoration has traditionally been practiced is at odds with many of humanity's changes to the environment. This talk will discuss new strategies of restoration and how forest concepts must adapt in order to sustain biodiversity.

Lunch and Learn

Lunch and learn

Friday, January 17, 2020
12:00-1:00 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Meeting for new international students -- lunch provided! Topics include how to get a job on campus, dating and relationships in the United States, and staying health in your new home. Free! No need to sign up -- just come!

Health Insurance Sign Up

health insurance

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
2:00-5:00 pm at the Campus Center 307 (PISC)

New Pacific Islander students can apply for health insurance at this session. Bring passport, I-94 form, US social security card/number, address and phone number, and proof of income (if you work).

Spring Semester Welcome Lunch for Pacific Islanders

Welcome in Pacific Islander languages

Monday, January 27, 2020
1:00-3:00 pm at the Pacific Islander Student Center (Campus Center 307)

Health Insurance Sign Up

health insurance

Thursday, January 30, 2020
2:00-5:00 pm at the Campus Center 307 (PISC)

New Pacific Islander students can apply for health insurance at this session. Bring passport, I-94 form, US social security card/number, address and phone number, and proof of income (if you work).

Mixed Plate Dinner

Two girls working in a taro patch

Thursday, January 30, 2020
5:30-8:00 pm at the Campus Center Room 301

New international students are invited to attend this informal dinner featuring local food and interactive presentations about Native Hawaiian culture by Native Hawaiian students.

Working in the U.S. After Graduation

Work in the USA

Thursday, February 6, 2020
4:00-5:00 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

If you are planning on graduating in December (or May), you are invited to come to a workshop to learn about your option to work in the U.S. after graduation. Learn OPT (Optional Practical Training) and H1-B visas ("work visas").

International Topics Speaker Series

International Speaker Series

Gender Inequality in Korea
Thursday, February 20, 2020
5:00-6:00 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Presentation by Dr. Sunyoung Kim of the UH Hilo Psychology Department. Dr. Kim will discuss gender inequality in Korea in terms of education, employment, family, sexuality, health, mental health, culture and current political issues.

International Nights 2020

Samoan dancers

Friday & Saturday, February 21 & 22, 2020
7:30 pm at the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center

See the shows! See the world! UH Hilo's annual event showcasing performances from around the globe. Visit the International Nights webpage for more information.

Census 2020 Outreach to Empower Pacific Islander Communities

Count us in the 2020 census

Monday, March 2, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm at the Campus Center Room 301

In preparation for Census Day (April 1, 2020), join Pacific Islander advocates to learn about the upcoming U.S. census. Why does the Census matter? How does the Census impact you, your family, and your community? As Pacific Islanders, do you matter? Food and refreshments will be served.

Yokosuka 1953: Film Showing

Yoko with filmmaker Tsuyoshi Kigawa

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
5:30 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Special showing of the film "Yokosuka 1953," a story of a mother and daughter. Yoko was born in Yokosuka, Japan in 1947, the daughter of a Japanese lady and an American solider. Her mother was a single mother and Yoko was adopted to the USA in 1953. She did not meet her mother for more than 66 years. "Yokosuka 1953" is a documentary about her journey to Japan to trace her mother's footsteps. Director Dr. Tsuyoshi Kigawa will be present and will discuss the background of the documentary. Free and open to the public.

International Women's Day: "Daughters of Mau" Film Screening

International women's day

Friday, March 6, 2020
Time & Location: To Be Announced

Check back for more information!

Zip Line Adventure

person zip lining

Date To Be Announced

Zip Line Adventure near Hilo! Take your need for speed to new heights on this thrilling zip line adventure. Covering nearly two miles of gorgeous tropical river gorges, you will view multiple different waterfalls while soaring over 160 feet above them. The certified staff will guide you over one of the longest lines on Hawai╩╗i Island at more than 2,400 feet in length! Ride the only all side-by-side dual-track zip line in Hawai╩╗i. Cost: $50 (cash only, non-refundable). Space is limited to 30 students. Sign up at the International Student Services office in Room E-202 in the Student Services Center.

Waipi'o Valley Trip during Spring Break

Waipio valley

Tentative Date: Monday, March 16, 2020

Join the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on a trip to Waipi'o Valley! Hike into the valley, work in a taro patch, and learn about Waipi'o Valley. Space is limited.

International Topics Speaker Series

International Speaker Series

Thursday, March 26, 2020
5:00-6:00 pm at the Student Services Center Room W-201

Presentation by Dr. Shawon Rahman of the UH Hilo Computer Sciences Department.

Merrie Monarch Festival Ho'ike Night

men dancing hula

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
4:00-11:00 pm

On Wednesday evening during the Merrie Monarch Festival week, there is an exhibition night of hula and folk dance from around the Pacific. The performances are free to the public, no tickets required. The International Student Association will provide transportation to the Edith Kanaka'ole Stadium for international students who want to attend. Space is limited.

Hawai'i: The Untold Story

Queen Liliu'okalani

Monday, April 27, 2020
5:00-7:00 pm at UCB Room 115

Presentation by Dr. Kalani Makekau-Whittaker about the untold story of the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom and American imperialism and colonization.

International Student Association (ISA)

International Student Association ISA is a student club for international students and their friends. The club's motto is "Unite, Serve, Educate". The club organizes trips, social events and service opportunities throughout the year, as well as UH Hilo's annual International Nights. Visit the International Student Association website for more information.

ISA Officers for 2019-2020:

  • Mirei Sugita (Japan) - President
  • Amanda-Rose Bagadouwe (Nauru) - Vice President
  • Sinarleen Peres (Kosrae, FSM) - Secretary
  • Darla Raymond (Pohnpei, FSM) - Treasurer
  • Akaraporn Phongsuwan (Thailand) - Volunteer Coordinator
  • Masasinge Hideos (Palau) - Social Media Coordinator


Follow ISA on Facebook , Twitter & Instagram (@uhhisa)!

Nandar's Story

Mya Yee Nandar

Mya Yee Nandar, a UH Hilo student from Burma (Myanmar), was interviewed on BBC's One Square Mile .

About the Director

Jim Mellon, Ph.D.

Jim Mellon has been the Director of International Student Services & Intercultural Education since 2011. Jim earned his bachelor's degree from Duke University and master's degree from the University of Hawai╩╗i at M─ünoa, where he was immersed in intercultural programs as a grantee with the East-West Center. He previously served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at UH Hilo.

Goals: Facilitate the success of international students and 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, won the 10-mile Maui channel swim from Lana╩╗i to Mau╩╗i, 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.