Visa & Pre-Arrival Information

SEVIS Fee & Student Visa


U.S. Department of Homeland Security charges a $200 SEVIS fee to new F-1 students and a $180 SEVIS fee to new J-1 students. This fee is IN ADDITION to the visa application fees charged by the U.S. consulate or embassy. The SEVIS fee only needs to be paid for the primary F-1 or J-1 students, and does not need to be paid for any F-2 or J-2 dependents.

The SEVIS fee must be paid before you apply for the visa if you are outside the United States, or before you apply for change of status if you are currently in the United States.

The fee can be paid over the Internet by credit card. Students must have a printer ready to print the electronic receipt immediately. The fee can also be paid by mail with Form-I-901. See the U.S. Stydebt & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) SEVIS fee processing website.

Student Visa

If you are outside the U.S., you must apply for the F-1 or J-1 student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest your residence abroad. F-1 students may apply for a visa up to 120 days prior to the begin date on your I-20. J-1 students are not subject to this 120-day limit and should apply as soon as possible. To find out the procedures of your F-1/J-1 visa applications please review information at this link U.S. Embassy. For basic visa information for students, please go to the U.S. Department of State website.

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Getting Here

New F-1 and J-1 visa holders can not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the begin date on their I-20 or DS-2019.

When traveling into the U.S. you must have the following documents on you:  

  1. I-20 or DS-2019
  2. Valid Passport
  3. Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (Canadian Citizens are exempt)
  4. Proof of SEVIS fee payment
  5. Evidence of Financial Resources.
  6. Evidence of student status, such as your admission letter, and/or recent tuition receipts.

DO NOT check these documents in with your luggage. If unable to show these documents to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) you might be denied entry to the U.S. Make sure you inform CBP that you are traveling into the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Form

Form I-94 is the U.S. government Arrival/Departure record issued to international students who are admitted to the U.S. Generally at Customs, an officer attaches the I-94 to your passport upon your entry. Starting Mid-May 2013, Customs will be phasing out the issuance of physical I-94s at ports of entry in California(land border ports of entry will still issue physical I-94s). Students can access their I-94 print-out here. For more information and instructions, please visit the CBP I-94 webpage.

If you have any problems during your entry, please contact the UCSC International Scholar & Student Services office at (831) 459-2858 or

Passport Entry (Admission) Stamp

In conjunction with the phasing out the issuance of physical I-94s, students will be given an entry(admission) stamp by Customs in your passport. The stamp should be marked with "F-1 D/S" for F-1 students, and "J-1 D/S" for J-1 students. D/S stands for Duration of Status.

Nearby Airports

San Francisco International Airport
Oakland International Airport
San Jose International Airport

Further information about transportation options to and from Santa Cruz can be found at UCSC’s Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) website.

Directions to UCSC

Directions and driving maps of almost any area in the United States are available from the following web sites: or Maps of UCSC and how to get here are at

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Getting Settled  


Banks, savings & loan associations, and credit unions offer a variety of services for checking accounts and savings accounts. Interest rates are sometimes higher at a Savings & Loan Association, or at the Bay Federal Credit Union (which UCSC students and scholars are eligible to join). Banking institutions with offices close to the campus include:
  • Bay Federal Credit Union: 402 Ingalls or 420 River Street. Tel: (831) 479-6000
  • Bank of America: 1640 Mission Street or  104 River Street. Tel: (831) 457-3560
  • Wells Fargo Bank: 74 River Street. Tel: (831) 458-0460

Bay Federal, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo have ATMs located on-campus by the Baytree Bookstore.

A Social Security Number is not required to open a U.S. Bank Account.

Cellular Phones

There are a variety of mobile phone companies that operate in the Santa Cruz area. Monthly contracts and pay-as-you-go services are available with most companies for students who do not have a Social Security Number. Each company has different requirements for buying a phone and setting up service. Make sure you can meet those requirements before you sign any contract.

A Social Security Number is not required to acquire a cell phone.

Local Cell/Mobile Phone companies:

T- Mobile

Locations and contact information can be found on each company's website.

Drivers License and California ID

If you wish to drive in California, you must obtain a California Drivers License. You will have to take a two-part test: first a written exam, and then a driving test. A free booklet is available from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to help prepare you for the written exam. This booklet is also produced in several different languages besides English.

You must take the following original documents to the local DMV office to apply for your CA Drivers License:

The local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) contact information is:

Location: 4200 Capitola Road (near 41st Avenue) in Capitola
Tel: 1 (800) 777-0133

WARNING: International Scholars and Students applying for a California Drivers License may have to wait up to one year to receive a permanent license. The reason for this is that the DMV has to go through the extra step of verifying the student's immigration status with the immigration service before issuing a license. In the meantime you should continue to update your temporary license until the permanent license arrives.

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Enrolling in Classes

Course Schedules:

You can access the Schedule of Classes by going to

Enrollment Instructions:

Enrollment Information
Enrollment Appointments FAQs

Enrollment FAQs
Waitlist FAQs

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Housing Options


All undergraduate students are affiliated with one of UCSC’s 10 colleges. In addition to housing students in small-scale residential communities, each college provides academic support, organizes student activities, and sponsors events that enhance the intellectual and social life of the campus.

Students that accept offer of admission to UC Santa Cruz will be asked to complete an online acceptance process. During the acceptance process you will be asked to indicate five UCSC college preferences. You may also choose to indicate “no preference,” as many students do, meaning you will be fine with any of our 10 colleges.

Once you have been affiliated with a college, the Campus Housing Office will send you information about the housing options available to you and instructions for the application process. Campus housing offers great options and the ultimate in convenience to help you get the most out of your experience at UCSC. Whether in an apartment or a residence hall you will benefit from the supportive environment that will help you succeed in your academic goals. Additional benefits include:

  • Convenience of living near classes, dining halls, and resources like the bookstore, libraries, computer labs, health center, and recreational/athletic facilities
  • Themed living/learning housing options for those who are interested
  • Dedicated professional and student staff support

Education Abroad Program (EAP) Student Options

EAP students can choose to apply to live at their affiliated college, The Village, or the University Town Center. Additionally, many visiting students are interested in living in the International Living Center. The International Living Center (ILC) offers a unique living environment fostering understanding and friendship among people from different nations. Half of the ILC's residents are from the U.S. and half are international. Students that become affiliated with either College Nine or College Ten will have the option to express an interest in the ILC during the online housing application process.

Family Student Apartments

Students and their families (spouse or domestic partner, other relative, or dependent children) can apply to live in these two-bedroom town homes, most including a balcony area or small yard. Units are unfurnished but come equipped with a full kitchen. Facilities also include a counseling center, play areas, and laundry rooms. UCSC Early Education Services offers several child care programs, serving children ranging in age from 14 months to 12 years. See Housing for Students With Families.

Off-Campus Rentals

Students interested in finding their own accommodations in the off-campus community are encouraged to use the resources available through the UCSC Community Rentals Office. Community Rentals maintains online rental listings and serves as an information and advising resource. Visit the Community Rentals website to learn more about your rental options including:

  • Average rates
  • Your legal rights as a renter
  • How to conduct a successful housing search

The Community Rentals Office has also created a webpage of tips for international students interested in renting in Santa Cruz.

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Health Insurance

Health Insurance Requirement

Students must have health insurance and their accompanying dependents for the entire program in the United States. J-1 students are also required by Department of State to have medical insurance in effect for yourself, and any accompanying dependents for the duration of your program. Willful failure on your part to maintain the required insurance will result in the termination of your J status.

Minimum Regulatory Requirements for Health Insurance Plans are as follows. Please note that students enrolling in UCSHIP or GSHIP (UCSC's insurance plan) will meet the regulatory insurance requirements:

  • Pays at least $100,000, per accident or illness
  • Covers the cost of repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Covers the cost of medical evacuation in the amount of $50,000
  • Has a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • Covers pre-existing conditions after a reasonable waiting period
  • Includes a co-payment provision that does not exceed 25% co-pay by the exchange visitor
  • Does not exclude benefits for perils inherent to the activities of the visitor’s program
  • Must be underwritten by an insurance corporation that meets the rating requirements of the Department of State, or is backed by the full faith and credit of the exchange visitor’s government.

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Purpose of J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

The J Exchange Visitor program was developed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people from other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange. The Exchange Visitor Program provides opportunities for foreign nationals to participate in programs in the U.S. and then return home to share their experiences.

The Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Below is the DOS contact information for the Exchange Visitor Program:

Mailing Address:
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Department of State
State Annex SA-5, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20522-0505

Phone Number: (202) 632-9310
Fax Number: (202) 632-2701
Email Address:

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212(e) Two Year Home Residency Requirement & 12-month bar for J-1 Students


Certain (not all) J-1 students and their J-2 dependents are subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement (also known as 212(e)), and thus are obligated to return to their last country of legal residence for an aggregate of at least two years before they are eligible for H-1B, L, K visas, or Permanent Resident status. Please note that if a J-1 student is subject to the 212(e), any J-2 dependents are also subject to the 212(e).

This requirement applies to those whose:

  1. Program was financed to some extent by the U.S. government or the student’s home country;
  2. Skill appears in the Exchange Visitors Skills list as identified by the student’s home country government;
  3. Purpose in coming to the U.S. was to receive graduate medical education or training.

For details regarding who may be subject to the 212(e) please visit this Department of State website.

Advisory Opinion

A J-1 visa stamp or DS-2019 will have a statement in the bottom left hand corner of the form, as follows: “Bearer [is or is not] subject to section 212(e). Two year rule [does or does not] apply [name of country].” This is a preliminary endorsement by the Consular Officer or Immigration Officer regarding 212(e). You may request an Advisory Opinion from the Department of State (DOS) Waiver Review Division when you have doubt or question about this preliminary endorsement. For details on how to request an Advisory Opinion, please visit the DOS website.


A J-1 student may request that the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement be waived from DOS. For details on how to request a Waiver please visit the DOS website.

Please note that once DOS sends a recommendation to the Department of Homeland Security that a waiver of the 212(e) be granted, no extension or transfer of the J-1 program is possible.

12-Month Bar

Students who have been in the United States for more than 6 months of the previous year (12 months) in J visa status are not eligible to begin a new program in the U.S. as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a 12-month period. Please note that if a J-1 student is subject to this 12-month bar, any J-2 dependents are also subject to the 12-month bar. The 12-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in any other visa status.

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