Steps to Your F-1 Visa

After you are admitted and return your SIR (Statement of Intent to register), you will use Portal to send us your financial information. Once OISS has verified your financial documents, your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) will be sent to you.

1) Get Your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) from OISS:
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. OISS will begin processing your I-20 after all your financial documents have been uploaded. It takes up to 6 weeks to process your I-20. When you get your I-20, please review it to be sure it is correct and sign it at the bottom. You will need your I-20 for your visa interview.

2) SEVIS: the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is a government database used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Your SEVIS number is on the enclosed document, near the upper right corner under “Student’s Copy” (it looks something like N01234567890 for example). You will need to pay a SEVIS fee to register your SEVIS number prior to applying for a visa. The SEVIS fee is paid directly to USCIS. You will need to show your SEVIS fee receipt as proof that you have paid this fee as part of your visa interview and when you enter the U.S. To pay your fee and get your receipt, visit

3) Apply for Your F-1 Student Visa

When to apply: You can apply as soon as you have your I-20 and pay your SEVIS fee. Apply early! Unfortunately, UCSB has no way to rush the process if there are delays with your application. Don’t wait to apply.

Where to apply: You will apply for your visa through the U.S. Consulate or Embassy near you. A full list is online: They will be able provide more details about how long the visa will take, what fees are involved, and how to schedule your visa interview.

Arriving in the U.S. with an F-1 Visa

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”. "F-1” is 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.

It is very important that the officer enters "D/S" and NOT a specific date.

Transferring Your F-1 Visa to UCSB

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 UCSB. 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.

Merely 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 complicated procedure.