Questions about Classes
Academic integrity is a concept that means that anything you submit (assignments, projects, essays, etc.) must be your original work. In addition, any information you provide to the university must be true and accurate (documentation of illness, late drop petitions, etc.)By enrolling at UC Santa Barbara, you agreed to uphold all of the responsibilities within the UCSB Student Conduct Code. Each of us shares the responsibility of community standards. As an international student, it is important to recognize that failing to uphold the Student Conduct Code can have unintended, additional consequences that may impact your visa status. For example, dismissal or suspension can lead to your inability to maintain your enrollment at UCSB and thus your visa status. Be sure to read our guide and watch our video on Academic Integrity here!
Questions about Maintaining Status
Immigration regulations require that within 3 weeks of starting classes and within 10 days of every move, you must report your updated local living address in the U.S. to OISS. Your local living address is the place you live while attending UCSB. It cannot be a Post Office (P.O.) Box.
Report your local living address, as well as any changes, by logging into UCSBGlobal and filling out the Personal Information Update e-form.
An international student can be enrolled in two different SEVIS-approved schools at the same time; this is known as “concurrent enrollment." Concurrent enrollment means that you are taking courses at two SEVIS-approved schools. In order to be eligible to participate in concurrent enrollment, you must be enrolled in full-time studies and in good academic standing at UCSB. You must receive authorization from OISS before participating in concurrent enrollment. Authorization during summer session is not required. Read the full Concurrent Enrollment policy here.
If you have been accepted into a higher program level (for example, Bachelor's to Master's or Master's to Ph.D.), you must apply for a program level change I-20 or DS-2019 no later than 10 days before the end of your previous program.
F-1 Students: If you are currently on OPT, you must apply before the end date on your EAD card. Note that once the program level change I-20 is issued, your OPT will no longer be valid.
Failure to request the program level change in a timely manner may cause immigration issues, so please act accordingly. You should not begin studying in your new education level without obtaining the updated I-20 first.
To apply for a program level change, log onto UCSBGlobal and submit the Change of Degree Level e-form.
Never let your I-20 or DS-2019 expire if you are still studying at UCSB! As an international student, you are permitted to continue studying at UCSB until you graduate, or until your I-20 or DS-2019 expires - whichever option comes first. Find out how to extend your program end date so that you can stay at UCSB longer.
F-1 and J-1 students must enroll as full-time students during every quarter of their program of study at UCSB. In order to drop below full-time enrollment, international students must receive prior authorization from OISS. This is done through requesting a reduced course load. Authorization is not automatic and not every student is eligible for a reduced course load. Make sure you understand your Academic Requirements in order to protect your status.
Students who change from F-1 or J-1 status to another non-immigrant status or adjust to immigrant/permanent resident status must report the change of status to OISS. In order to do so, log onto UCSBGlobal and submit the Student Completion e-form. Be prepared to upload a copy of your I-797 approval notice showing your new status and the date of your approval or a copy of your US Immigrant Visa or Permanent Resident card (green card.)
Students withdrawing from UCSB prior the their program end date must report their early withdrawal to OISS. Students change from F-1 or J-1 status to another status, such as H-1B, E-2, or permanent resident, must also report this change in order for their current status to be completed accordingly. Please log onto UCSBGlobal and submit the Student Completion e-form.
Questions about Renewing a Visa
It is not possible to renew your U.S. visa inside the United States. To renew your visa you must visit a U.S. Consulate/Embassy in your home country and have your visa application reviewed and processed by the consulate. There are no U.S. consulates in the U.S. therefore it is not possible to renew in the U.S.
The process for renewing your visa is the same application process as when you applied for your first F-1 visa. You will need to have the following documentation ready for your visa application and interview:
- Passport (must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the U.S.
- Most recent and up to date UCSB I-20, with valid travel signature
- Bank statement approved by your bank showing you have the minimum required funds to support your stay in the U.S. For funding requirements please see financial requirements for F-1 students. If bank statement is in a parent or relatives name please also submit a letter of support signed by the person providing the funding.
- Transcripts (Please request from the Registrar’s office): http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/trans.aspx
- Non-Immigrant Visa Application information page: Refer to http://www.usembassy.gov for a list of United States Consulates or Embassies near you. Each office has their own set of requirements for visa appointments so pay close attention to the instructions of the office you select.
- Passport-size photo: more information please see: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html
- Application of payment receipt (if you are required to pay before your interview)
Please keep in mind processing times vary from country to country (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/wait-times.html) and can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to process. Students should only try to renew their visa when they have the time to do so. The earliest you can renew your visa is six months before the current visa expires.
For more detailed explanation about renewing your visa and information about the visa interview, please visit the U.S. Department of State website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/student-visa.html
Questions about Travel
All F-1 students are given a 60 day grace period after the completion of their degree program. J-1 students are given 30 days after the completion of their program. The grace period was created to give students ample time to depart the U.S. Once a student leaves the U.S. during their grace period (regardless of whether it is the first day or the last day of the grace period) their J-1/F-1 status will be completed and they will no longer be able to enter the U.S. under their F-1 or J-1 visa.
For students considering re-entering using the Visa Waiver Program during their grace period, please understand that this is a risk and that the permission to enter the country falls solely on the immigration officer at the port of entry. This one person can decide if the student trying to re-enter has the right to do so or not. Because of this OISS recommends that all students do their traveling outside of the U.S. while they are in active F-1/J-1 status with a valid visa. OISS does not recommend trying to re-enter the U.S. until at least one month after the grace period has ended.
What is Travel Validation?
Your Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, depending on your visa status) shows that you are in eligible to enter the U.S. as part of a UCSB program. U.S. Immigration officials will ask for your I-20 or DS-2019 whenever you enter the U.S. So, if you travel out of the country for a vacation or a conference, you will be required to show your 1-20 or DS-2019 as you re-enter the U.S.
Note: You do not need a travel validation on your immigration document if you are entering the U.S. for the first time using that document (I-20/DS-2019.)
The good news is that you do not need to get a new document each time you enter the U.S. However, you must have your existing document validated by OISS. Once your document is validated, the validation is good for 1 year.
How Travel Validation Works
At least 3 business days before you plan to travel, submit an I-20 Service request on UCSBGlobal. Be sure to select the reason "travel." An Oiss advisor will check your immigration record and confirm that you are still eligible to enter the U.S. You will get a confirmation email when an updated copy of your immigration record, along with a travel signature, has been issued.
Some countries ask for an "invitation letter" as part of the visa process. As an enrolled student or scholar at UCSB, your letter of admission serves as your invitation.
If you would like to provide an invitation letter to your visitor(s) to present with their visa application, we suggest that you, yourself write a letter for the visitor(s). Get the letter template here. (OISS does not provide the invitation letter.)
Questions about Working
Students who have been in F-1 status for at least 1 academic year (3 quarters) may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). As an F-1 student, you are also allowed up to 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Before beginning work, students in J-1 status must have employment authorization from OISS for any paid or unpaid positions, on-campus or off-campus. Academic Training is a form of employment authorization for J-1 students, who have employment opportunities located off-campus either while still a student at UCSB or after completing your studies at UCSB. Such training is allowed to help you gain work experience in areas directly related to your field of study.