Welcome to UCSB!

Newly admitted students must first obtain an I-20 or DS-2019 from UC Santa Barbara’s Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) before they can apply for a visa. Once you submit your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) to UC Santa Barbara, you will receive an email from our office to begin your I-20 or DS-2019 request process. 

Were you admitted to begin your studies at UCSB in Fall 2021? The email from OISS inviting you to begin your I-20/DS-2019 request process will go out after March 29, 2021.

We are aware that U.S.Embassies and Consulates are currently closed in some locations. We recommend that you have all your documents ready to apply for a visa as soon as they reopen.

Get ready for CALI! CALI stands for California, and it also stands for Cultural Awareness, Laws, and Immigration--issues that have special importance for international students. Online CALI is completed before your arrival to the U.S., and is designed to help you succeed in your classes and avoid common mistakes. The expectations in the academic system at UCSB may be very different from what you are used to. Studying remotely? You should still do online CALI! 

Start Online CALI now!

Sometimes the best way to get information is to talk to someone. OISS invites you to participate in our video chat questions and answer (Q&A) sessions. Led by OISS staff, these sessions are intended for you to ask questions before you arrive on campus. Click the link below to join one of our upcoming video chats, and to view recordings of past video chats.

Click here for Pre-Arrival Video Chats!


Below you will find information to help you select the best visa type for your studies. Once you determine your visa type, select the option that best describes you in order to receive step-by-step instructions on obtaining your I-20 or DS-2019 document.

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. To find out the differences between an F-1 and J-1 visa and to receive help on selecting the best visa type for your studies, click here. To find information on the visa application process, visa appointment wait times, and a listing of U.S. embassies and consulates, click here

How can I prepare for my arrival?

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:

  1. Valid passport with valid student visa stamp (Canadian students do not require a student visa)
  2. I-20 or DS-2019 issued by UCSB
  3. Proof of financial funding
  4. 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.

Getting to UCSB

Most students will arrive at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  From LAX, Santa Barbara is about a 2 hours drive (without traffic). The most popular option to get from LAX to Santa Barbara is the Santa Barbara Airbus. Taxis, Uber and Lyft are also options, however, may be a more expensive option if not splitting the fare with others.

If you have a connecting flight to Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) then you are only a 5 minute taxi, Uber or Lyft ride to UCSB.


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...

  1. Upload my I-94, Visa Stamp and Passport into UCSBGlobal
  2. Enter my local living address in UCSBGlobal
  3. Pick up my UCSB ID Card
  4. 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.