Your Student Visa

Almost all incoming international students come to UCSB with F-1 visa status. All full-time degree-seeking international students are eligible for the F-1 visa.

Some students in specific programs such as UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Fulbright, or programs sponsored by a government agency, will be admitted in J-1 visa status. To be eligible for J-1 status, students must receive a majority of their financial support from sources other than personal funds. If you and your family are paying for your education, you will be admitted in F-1 status.

There are differences between F-1 and J-1 status that may matter to you, such as the type of work you or your spouse will be allowed to do while in the U.S.

F-1 Status

F-1 is the most common visa status used by students in the U.S. and best fits a student's situation. The majority of undergraduate students at UC Santa Barbara will receive an F-1 visa while graduate students have the option of F-1 or J-1 based on the qualifications below.

J-1 Status

J-1 visa status is generally used for students in specific educational exchange programs such as the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Fulbright, or others. It may also be used by the University for students in degree programs. To be eligible for a J-1 visa, students must receive a majority of their financial support from sources other than personal funds. Also be aware that the U.S. Department of State requires specific health coverage for J-1 students and accompanying J-2 dependents for the entirety of their stay in the U.S.  A DS-2019 will not be issued if you cannot show proper funding for the entirety of your program.

To be eligible for J-1 status, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Have adequate financial support for all of your school and living expenses, including additional financial support for any accompanying family members, for the duration of your degree program as determined by the normal amount of time necessary AND
  • 51% of your total financial support comes from an institutional or government sponsor in the form of a scholarship, fellowship, assistantship, stipend, tuition waiver, or other direct support provided specifically for the educational program.  Personal or family funds and loans or support from individuals do not qualify.

    OR
  • You are participating in a specific educational exchange program (see above).

J-1

F-1

Must have substantial (51%) institutional financial support provided specifically for the educational program to obtain the initial document and to request any extensions of the DS-2019.

Must show financial support for the entire length of program when requesting the initial document.

Any source of financial support is acceptable.

Must show financial support for the first year of the program when requesting the initial document.

Any employment on- or off-campus requires a work permit from the program sponsor.

On-campus employment does not require a work permit.

Off-campus employment requires a work permit from OISS and/or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Academic Training is available for off campus jobs/internships related to your course of study. Maximum of 18 months of Academic Training may be used during and after your studies. An extension for up to 18 months is possible for post-doctoral research. Off-campus work during the degree program reduces the total period of Academic Training available after program completion.

During your program, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) permission is available for off campus jobs/internships related to your course of study.

Post-degree Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment permission is available for a 12-month period. A job offer is not required for 12-Month OPT.

An OPT extension for an additional 24 months is possible for certain STEM majors.

J-2 dependent (spouse, child) work permission is available.

F-2 dependents (spouse, child) are not eligible for any work permit.

J-1 and J-2 dependents may be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

J-1 and J-2 dependents may also be subject to the12-Month Bar depending on the length of the J program.

Note that the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement and 12-Month Bar are separate rules.

No Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.

No 12-Month Bar.

J-2 dependents are eligible to study part-time or full-time in the U.S.

F-2 spouses and children may enroll in academic programs for less than a full course of study at an SEVP-approved school (link is external). (Check with the school and their international office to be sure enrollment is less than full-time.)

F-2 spouses and children can participate in studies that are "avocational or recreational in nature" (i.e., non-academic hobbies and recreational studies) up to and including full-time.F-2 children may attend full-time elementary or secondary school (kindergarten-12th grade).