Questions about Classes
Academic Integrity is a serious issue at UCSB. Academic dishonesty can lead to suspension. As an international student, you must be enrolled full-time to be in status. If you are suspended, you cannot remain in the U.S. as a student. So, as your friend has discovered, international students have a lot to lose if they are caught cheating.
The talented international students from OISS and CommCollab worked together to make a video that might help you.
Some systems of citing sources (MLA, APA) and documenting research are unfamiliar to some international students. Nonetheless, YOU are responsible for knowing them. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you:
Questions about Maintaining Status
Immigration regulations require that within 3 weeks of starting classes and within 10 days of every move, you must update your addresses in GOLD (Gaucho On-Line Data). Access a detailed guide on How to Update Your Address in GOLD here.
You will have THREE addresses:
- Your Local Living Address is the place you live while attending UCSB. It cannot be a P.O. Box.
- Your Local Mailing Address is the place you prefer to get mail. This may be the same as your Local Living Address. This may be a P.O. Box.
- Your Permanent Address is a steady address in your home country. It cannot be a P.O. Box or address within the U.S.
Once you update your address in GOLD, OISS will report the address changes in SEVIS.
OISS must have at least two addresses reported in GOLD: a permanent address (OUTSIDE of the U.S.) and a local living address (inside Santa Barbara/Ventura County if you are a currently enrolled student). Log into GOLD to update your address now.
An international student can be enrolled in two different SEVIS-approved schools at the same time; this is known as “concurrent enrollment."
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.
I-20 or DS-2019 Request Form
Copy of UCSB Admission Letter or approved petition showing acceptance to higher program level
Proof of financial support (such as a bank statement or department support letter)
Our current processing time for Change of Level requests is 10 business days. Once your request is approved, you will receive an updated I-20/DS-2019 to reflect your new program level and program start and end dates. Please make sure to review your documents to ensure that all information is valid and correct.
If you have changed your major at UCSB, you must request a new I-20 or DS-2019 no later than 10 days after the change is approved.
Failure to request the major change in a timely manner may cause immigration issues, so please act accordingly.
I-20 or DS-2019 Request Form
Copy of UCSB Academic History (from GOLD) or approved petition showing new major
Our current processing time for Change of Major requests is 10 business days. Once your request is approved, you will receive an updated I-20/DS-2019 to reflect your new major. Please make sure to review your documents to ensure that all information is valid and correct.
If you need additional time to complete your program beyond your current program end date, you must apply for a program extension no later than two weeks before your current end date.
Failure to request the program extension in a timely manner may cause immigration issues, so please act accordingly.
It takes about 10 business days for OISS to process requests for extensions. Once your request is approved, you will receive an updated I-20/DS-2019 to reflect your new program end date.
Please make sure to review your documents to ensure that all information is valid and correct.
F-1 and J-1 students must enroll as full-time students during every quarter of their program of study at UCSB.
Students who are unable to maintain full-time enrollment for medical or academic reasons may apply for an exception by requesting a reduced course load. Students must request a reduced course load in advance.
Authorization is not automatic and not every student is eligible for a reduced course load.
Students who change from F-1 or J-1 status to another non-immigrant status or adjust to immigrant/permanent resident status must complete and submit the following:
- Program Completion form
- Copy of I-797 approval notice showing new status and date of approval OR
- Copy of 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.
Withdrawing from UCSB
Students who plan to withdraw from their UCSB program of study with no intention to complete their degree requirements must complete and submit the following:
- Program Completion form
- Proof of withdrawal from college or department
- Copy of airline ticket or itinerary showing date of departure
PLEASE NOTE: Students withdrawing from UCSB must depart the USA no later than 15 days after the date of withdrawal.
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: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/forms/ds-160-online-nonimmigrant-visa-application.html
- 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..
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 6 months.
How Travel Validation Works
At least 2 business days before you plan to travel, drop off your I-20 or DS-2019 to the OISS office (3rd floor of the Student Resource Building). OISS staff will check your immigration record and confirm that you are still eligible to enter the U.S. You will be able to pick up your signed and validated document at the front desk after 2 business days. Easy!
More about travel outside the U.S. here.
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 your family members would like to visit you at UCSB and their home country requires a letter of invitation, you (the UCSB student or scholar) are the one to extend the invitation.
OISS is NOT able to write official letters of invitation for campus visitors.
Questions about Working
Students wishing to work on-campus must be authorized by OISS in advance and in writing.
Students who have been in F-1 status for at least 1 academic year (3 quarters) may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Learn more about the requirements for F-1 students' CPT here. As an F-1 student, you are also allowed up to 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT). Learn more about OPT here.
Students in J-1 status are 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. Learn more about Academic Training for J-1 students here.