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Home > International Students (F-1, J-1) > Newly Admitted Students > Prior to Orientation

Prior to Orientation

Items of Concern Prior to Arriving in the U.S.

  1. Packing
  2. Do NOT leave your I-20 in your checked-luggage. Have your I-20 in your carry-on bag with your passport and University acceptance letter. You will need to show these documents at the port of entry going through customs. If you do not have the documents readily available, you may be admitted for secondary inspection, at which point you will be interviewed by an U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent.
    As part of your acceptance to CSULA, you must provide immunization records to the University Student Health Center. You can view the requirements.
    You should bring an English-translation of your immunization records, and submit it to the Student Health Center upon your arrival into the U.S. If you apply for on-campus housing, this must be provided prior to moving into your room.
  3. Visa
  4. Schedule your appointment with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate as early as possible in order to avoid delays in your visa processing. Remember to first pay for the US$100 SEVIS fee and attach the receipt to your I-20 or DS-2019. The SEVIS fee can be paid at here.
  5. Weather
  6. The temperature in Los Angeles area is an average of 60F to 85F from June to October; and 50F to 75F November to May. Rainfall in the Los Angeles area is limited to several inches per year, mostly during the winter months. Following link for more information.
  7. Housing
  8. Do you have temporary housing arranged? Will you live on-campus or off-campus? If you plan to live on campus, you are advised to submit your housing application and deposit to University Housing Services as soon as possible. If you plan to look for off campus housing, please view our Housing Resources handout regarding locations near the University and leasing agreement guidelines.
  9. Living Expenses
  10. The estimated living cost for a single student living in Los Angeles for nine months is stated on your I-20/DS-2019. Please understand this is an estimated figure. Each individual’s actual cost will vary depending on his/her own spending habits. You should prepare an additional amount for an emergency fund, particularly for the first month during your stay in the U.S. Because you will not have a Social Security Number to show your credit history, you will be required to pay extra deposits when opening utility accounts, cell phones, and possibly apartment rental agreements.
  11. Tuition
  12. For specific tuition costs, please visit the Center for Financial Aid website and the quarterly Schedule of Classes. As international students, you are required to pay the regular tuition and student associated fees (all students must pay them), as well as the non-resident fees for each unit.
  13. Travel Arrangements
  14. If there is a delay with your visa processing or travel arrangements, and you cannot arrive at the University by the start of classes, you must contact IO immediately. You may email to


Going Through Inspection

Carry your I-20 in your carry-on bag with your passport and University acceptance letter. These documents must be presented to the officers at the port-of-entry. Lack of documentation delays processing and may result in denial of entry into the United States. You can visit the United States Customs and Border Protection on Admission into the U.S. at

Please pay special attention to the I-94 card. It shows that a nonimmigrant has been legally admitted to the United States, the class of admission (F-1/J-1), and the authorized period of stay. It is very important that the information on the form is correct. This information is input into a system that shows arrival and departure information. Inconsistencies between the information on the Form I-94 and SEVIS records can reduce the chances of a successful systems interface. In particular, this can cause issues with status verification for Social Security numbers and driver licenses.

For more information about the Form I-94, please visit the U.S. CBP website at
Instructions on how to complete the Form I-94 is available at


Items to Complete Upon Your Entry into the U.S.

  • Report to IO office
  • By the first day of class, you MUST report to IO with your ORIGINAL immigration documents:
    I-94 Arrival/Departure Card
    CSULA I-20
    Previous School's I-20 (if applicable)
  • If you are a transfer student, you are also required to submit the above mentioned documents to IO.
  • If you are a transfer student and you have not received your CSULA I-20 by the start of the term, please contact the Admissions Office-International Evaluators or a counselor at International Programs and Services. A transfer student is required to complete the transfer process by reporting into International Programs and Services within ten working days after the start of your first term.
  • Remember that your SEVIS record is maintained by one school at a time. If your SEVIS release date has not passed, CSULA cannot issue your new I-20 yet. For questions about the SEVIS release date, please contact the school you are transferring from.
  • Attend the Mandatory New International Student Orientation
  • This orientation is to provide detailed information about your visa (F-1/J-1) status. Failure to attend this session will result in an enrollment HOLD on your GET record.
  • Purchase Mandatory Health Insurance
  • Pay Tuition Fees
  • All international students MUST pay the regular registration fees and non-resident fees. If you fail to pay all the required fees, your classes will be dropped later in the term due to non-payment.
    For updated fee information, please contact the Cashier's Office.
    Inability to obtain the late add of the classes will result in a violation of your international student status, which can lead to inability to continue your studies in the U.S.
  • Enroll as a Full Time Student
  • Undergraduates-12 units.
    Graduates-12 units or equivalent (please see “Study Load” in the University Catalog, page 140).
  • Submit International Medical Requirement
  • This must be submitted to the Student Health Center within your first quarter at CSULA.


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Last Update: 08/26/2011