How do I know what type of visa I need to apply for?
As a newly admitted international student, you must determine your visa type and what steps you need to take to obtain your immigration documents. Not sure which visa type is best for your studies? To compare the F-1 and J-1 visa types, check out our visa comparison chart. To find information on the visa application process, visa appointment wait times, and a listing of U.S. embassies and consulates, head over to our Immigration Resources page.
Which option below sounds most like me?
Select the statement below that best describes you. The link will take you to a page with instructions on how to request your immigration documents from OISS.
- I’m arriving from outside the U.S. on a F-1 visa and need an initial I-20 document.
- I’m coming from another school in the U.S. and my current school will transfer my SEVIS record to UCSB.
- I’m participating in the Education Abroad Program (EAP) using a J-1 visa and a DS-2019 from UCSB.
- UCSB will not be my visa-sponsoring institution.
How can I prepare for my arrival?
If you are a new student to the United States, you can enter the US no earlier than 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. Before departing for the United States, it is extremely important that you pack the following documents in your bag which you will be carrying onto the airplane. Do NOT place your documents in your checked luggage:
- Valid passport with valid student visa stamp (Canadian students do not require a student visa)
- I-20 or DS-2019 issued by UCSB
- Proof of financial funding
- Acceptance letter from UCSB
What to Expect at the Border
When arriving at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the airport, you will be expected to show your Passport, Visa (if applicable) and I-20 or DS-2019. The officer may request additional documentation included above. Remember that you must go through CBP when you first arrive in the United States. If you have a connecting flight, be mindful that the process can be time consuming. Direct flights are always recommended if possible.
It is extremely important that as soon as you are able to check your I-94 record, you do so. The I-94 record should reflect the correct “Class of Admission” (F-1 or J-1) and the “Admit Until Date” should indicate D/S (Duration of Status). Duration of Status means that as long as your I-20 or DS-2019 are valid, you are legally allowed to remain in the United States. Visit OISS immediately if you find any errors on your I-94 record.
Apply for Housing
If you plan to live on campus, you must first apply to UCSB Housing. Visit the UCSB Housing website for more information on various housing options and how to apply. Pay attention to the application deadline in order to obtain guaranteed housing during your first year at UCSB.
If you are residing in private housing make sure you are in contact with your landlord to move into your home.
OISS cannot store luggage or personal belongings for students upon your arrival.
What do I need to do once I arrive?
I need to...
- Upload my I-94 and visa page in my passport into UCSBGlobal
- Enter my local living address in UCSBGlobal
- Pick up my UCSB ID Card
- Complete the mandatory CALI Training so that I'm informed of important immigration and campus policies, as well as tips and resources that will help me have a successful experience as a UCSB Gaucho.
As an International Gaucho, you are required to complete CALI Training. CALI stands for Cultural Awareness, Laws, and Immigration...and it's also short for California, your new home for the next several years! CALI training will inform you of the important immigration information, requirements, and benefits you need to know as an international student. It will also prepare you for academic, social and professional success as an International Gaucho at UCSB, which is a world-class research university! Don't worry, our excellent team of international student advisors are here to help you throughout your UCSB journey.
For more information, check our CALI Training webpage.
Please note that the required CALI training is separate from Orientation Programs that are offered by UCSB. We highly encourage you to participate so that you get the same experience as all UCSB incoming freshmen! Visit the UC Santa Barbara Orientation Programs & Parent Services website for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
3 weeks after you submit all of your required, correct documents through UCSBGlobal. An OISS advisor will reach out to you if any of your information is incorrect and needs to be changed, or needs clarification. This may slow down your waiting time.
You can log into UCSBGlobal to check the status of your I-20/DS-2019 request. We recommend that you contact our office to inquire about your documents only if you have waited more than 4 weeks, and you are sure that you have answered any questions and corrected any errors that an OISS advisor notified you of.
At OISS we definitely understand the current climate at US Embassies/Consulates and the issues many students face. However, due to the high demand of requests from new students as well as servicing our current student population, we cannot guarantee expedited processing. We do our best to get documents out in a timely manner but do expect the timeline will follow what is outlined above. We thank you for your patience.
OISS will only reflect the minimum amount required on your I-20. If you have more than that, great! You can show that at the visa interview but we will not enter the total funding on your I-20.
The preset codes in the SEVIS system (managed by the U.S. government) do not always have the exact name of your degree. UCSB finds the closest match based on your degree requirements and selects that preset code. If you think you have the incorrect major listed on your immigration document, please reach out to us.
Unfortunately, OISS advisors cannot answer questions regarding your academics. Please directly contact the academic advisor(s) at your respective college.
- College of Letters and Science: http://www.duels.ucsb.edu/international-students
- College of Engineering: https://engineering.ucsb.edu/undergraduate/academic-advising
- College of Creative Studies: https://www.ccs.ucsb.edu/
If you think you are not going to be able to secure your visa in time to arrive at UC Santa Barbara for classes, you will need to ask the following office for an exception to starting in Fall quarter:
Undergraduate students: Office of Admissions
Graduate students: Graduate Division
Education Abroad Program (EAP) students: EAP Office
Please note that OISS cannot determine your ability to defer your start date. You must confirm with our office only after you have received approval from the appropriate office listed above. Once confirmed, we can defer your immigration document start date.