Students admitted to UCSB in the F-1 category will receive a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant (F-1) Student Status, to attend the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Please note item #5 on the form contains a statement about the “normal length of study.” UCSB’s standard length of study for the purposes of the I-20 form is as follows for each degree.
- Bachelors 60 months (5 years)
- Masters 48 months (4 years)
- Ph.D. 84 months (7 years)
It is quite likely that you will complete your degree program before the end date on your I-20. Students should review the form and sign at the bottom on item #11. Keep all pages of the I-20 form together. NOTE: If you are transferring your F-1 student visa sponsorship to UCSB, please see below.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT FEE (SEVIS FEE):
The U.S. government now requires a fee of $200 for all new F-1 international students. This fee must be paid prior to applying for your F-1 visa or, if you do not require a visa (i.e., Canadians), before entering the U.S. Payment of the fee will need to be verified at the time of the visa interview at the U.S. Consulate or upon entering the U.S. at the airport or border crossing. The SEVIS fee is paid using a Form I-901. To obtain the form and more information about the SEVIS fee click here
OBTAINING A VISA:
If you are outside of the United States and require a visa to enter, you can apply for an F-1 visa at an American Consulate or Embassy abroad. If you have immediate family members (spouse and minor children) accompanying you to the U.S., they should apply for an F-2 visa at the same time. Your family members applying for the F-2 visa will need their own I-20 form issued by our office. To apply for the visa you will need to present a valid passport, I-20 form, and documentation of all your financial support. If you are receiving financial support from your UCSB academic department, (i.e., teaching or research assistantship, fellowship), you should include your award letter with the financial documentation you present to obtain your visa.
It is good idea to apply for your visa as soon as possible. The Consulate or Embassy may take longer than you had planned to issue a visa or may require you to obtain additional documents. You may want to contact the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy to inquire about the details of their visa application procedure: for example, how long will it take, what documents are required, what is the fee? If the application is approved, you will be issued the visa stamp in your passport with the classification “F-1” (or “F-2” for dependents). The Consular Officer should return the I-20 form and other documents to you. You will need to present these documents along with your new visa to the Immigration Officer when you arrive in the U.S. You may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the expected reporting date indicated on item #5 of the I-20 form; you may not, however, be allowed to arrive after that date (please contact our office if you are not able to arrive on or before the expected reporting date).
IF YOU DO NOT REQUIRE A VISA TO ENTER THE U.S (Canadian citizens): Please present the I-20 form along with your passport to the Immigration Officer at the port of entry when you arrive in the U.S. You should also be prepared to present the documentation of your financial support and payment of the SEVIS fee if requested by the officer.
ENTERING THE U.S. AND IMMIGRATION INSPECTION:
When you arrive in the U.S. you will go through a process called immigration inspection.
This will occur at the airport or border crossing – if traveling by land from Canada
or Mexico. You will be required to present your passport, F-1 visa stamp (if applicable),
I-20 form and financial documentation. The immigration officer will inspect your
documents and make a determination whether to admit you into the U.S. in F-1 student
status. The officer should place an admission stamp on your I-20 form, with the
notation admitted in “F-1” until “D/S”. The “F-1” notation refers to the status
in which you are being admitted into the U.S. The “D/S” notation indicates that
you are being admitted into the U.S. until the “duration of your status”, or the
duration of your study program. The officer will return your I-20 form to you.
The immigration officer will also process what is called an I-94 form, also referred
to as the Admission/ Departure Record. This form was probably given to you on the
airplane to fill out. The officer will process the I-94 form by again placing the
admission stamp on it with the notations “F-1” and “D/S”. The immigration officer
will then give you the bottom section of this form, which will be a white card approximately
4 inches by 4 inches – note: some airports may issue I-94 forms that may look different.
This is an important document.
Upon leaving immigration inspection, you should be
in possession of your I-20 form and the I-94 form. These two documents should include
an admission stamp with the notation “F-1” and “D/S” (It is especially important
that the I-94 form contains this stamp and notation.) Please be sure before leaving
immigration inspection that your documents have been properly processed. Immigration
officers at the port-of-entry admit hundreds of visitors in a day, entering the
U.S. for different purposes and with various visa types. Errors in this processing
can occur. If your documents are not properly processed, this could be a serious
inconvenience to you and will take quite some time to correct later. So again, please
review your documents before leaving the immigration inspection area.
TRANSFERRING F-1 VISA SPONSORSHIP WITHIN THE UNITED STATES:
If you are currently
attending another institution in the United States as an F-1 student, you will need
to transfer your F-1 status sponsorship in the Student Exchange Visitor Information
System (SEVIS) from your current school to the University of California, Santa Barbara.
To initiate the transfer process, you should contact your present International
Student Adviser and inform them that you want to transfer your F-1 student record
in SEVIS to UCSB. You should determine with your current adviser what date they
should release your SEVIS record to UCSB.
UCSB cannot issue an I-20 to a student
who is transferring their SEVIS record until after the transfer release date.
receiving the I-20 form from UCSB does not complete your F-1 status transfer. To
complete the transfer process, you are required by immigration law to report physically
to the Office of International Students and Scholars no later than 15 days after
the start date in item #5 on your I-20 (usually the first day of classes). Failure
to report to OISS within 15 days of your program start date will result in your
falling “out of status,” and you will be required to apply for reinstatement to
F-1 student status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a costly and