Visa & US Entry Requirements

Visa & US Entry Requirements

International students need a valid passport, nonimmigrant visa (F-1 or J-1) and the appropriate documentation to study at an accredited university in the United States.

F-1 Visa

The F-1 Visa is the most common visa status for international students who plan to study full time in the U.S. The F-1 Visa is required upon entry.

F-1 Visa

J-1 Visa is used for exchange visitors (short-term scholars, research scholars, professors and physicians) engaged in research and/or teaching.

Before applying for the F-1 Visa, applicants must submit the Form I-20. The Form I-20 is issued by Undergraduate Admissions, and is also known as a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant, F-1 Student Status. We recommend submitting the Form I-20 as soon as possible, as visa processing can take up to three months.

Get Started

  • Log In to MyUCR to access the Form I-20.
  • Submit the Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) by May 1.
  • Submit the Form I-20 to Undergraduate Admissions by July 1
  • Submit the forms required for I-20 issuance to Undergraduate Admissions by July 1. 


Gather the necessary documents:
  • Proof of Financial Support
  • Valid Passport
  • Official Transcripts and Test Scores
  • SEVIS Transfer Form (if applicable)

Complete the following to apply for a F-1 Visa:

  • Pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee.
  • Gather the necessary documents: Form I-20 or DS-2019, SEVIS I-901 Fee receipt, UC Riverside Admission Letter and Proof of Financial Support
  • Receive a Visa (Keep the envelope sealed until the student arrives at the U.S. Port of Entry.)

Dependents (if applicable) need to apply for F-2 Visas. Undergraduate Admissions can assist with this process.
Once a visa is received, the student may enter the U.S. within the 30-day period before the program start date. This date is noted on the initial attendance Form I-20 (for the F-1 Visa) or DS-2019 (for the J-1 Visa). Entry will be denied if the student arrives early.

Those with a “transfer pending” Form I-20 document may return to the U.S. at any time after a short visit home, as long as page 3 of the Form I-20 is endorsed for travel.
We recommend that the student apply for a F-1 visa as soon as possible. Processing can take up to three months.

The following is required:

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid Nonimmigrant F-1 Student Visa
  • Valid Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 for F-1 students)
  • Receipt of SEVIS I-901 Fee payment
  • I-94 Form/Card (received upon entry to the U.S.)

Calendar Checklist

May 1 Submit Statement of Intent to Register (SIR)
July 1 Submit all necessary documents:
  • Proof of Financial Support
  • Copy of Identification Pages of Valid Passport
  • Required Official Transcripts/Test Scores
  • SEVIS Transfer Form (if applicable)
September Attend the mandatory Orientation

International Student Resources

Once the student has been admitted to UC Riverside, the International Students and Scholars Office (ISS) will provide information on the following:

  • Academic Advising
  • Child Care
  • Course Registration
  • Health Matters
  • Housing
  • International Peer Advisors (IPAs)
  • International Student Handbook
  • International Student Orientation
  • Money Matters
  • SEVIS Fee
  • Student Organizations
  • Support Services
  • Taxes
  • Transferring F-1/J-1 Status from another U.S. school
  • U.S. Entry
  • UC Riverside ID Card

Mandatory International Student Orientation

International students are required to attend the mandatory International Student Orientation in September. Information will be sent via the student’s R’Mail account. Topics include:

  • Intercultural adjustment and the U.S. academic system
  • How to maintain immigration status
  • Health and safety procedures
  • Campus services and student organizations
  • General class registration procedures

UC Riverside housing will not be available for incoming international students until one week prior to the mandatory International Student Orientation. Other arrangements will need to be made if the student plans to arrive early.


International admissions counselors and current students are here to help with answers and guidance.

  Get Help