Information for Newly Admitted International Graduate Students

Welcome! This page provides a comprehensive guide for newly admitted international graduate students.

Now that you have been admitted to UC San Diego, please carefully review all the information on this page to learn the next steps that will help you start your unforgettable student experience at UC San Diego.

Wondering where to start? Complete the steps below.


Step 1 - Right Away:

Meet All Admissions Requirements

Refer to the Online Application via Grad Apply. This includes submitting your:

  • Admission decision by clicking "Make s Decision" in Grad Apply
  • Statement of Legal Residence (SLR) (if required)
  • Transcripts from all institutions attended

Request Your I-20 (F-1 Students) or DS-2019 (J-1 Students)

International students requiring a non-immigrant F-1 or J-1 visa to study in the USA must request and receive a form I-20 (F-1 Student) or DS-2019 (J-1 Exchange Visitor).  The I-20 or DS-2019 is required to apply for the F-1 or J-1 visa

Note: International students admitted for the Fall 2018 term may submit requests via iPortal beginning April 2, 2018.

The deadline to apply for your I-20 or DS-2019 is August 1, 2018.

TRANSFER STUDENTS: International students who are currently in valid F-1 or J-1 status and plan to transfer their SEVIS record from another U.S. institution to UC San Diego are also required to submit the I-20 or DS-2019 request.  Refer to the I-20/DS-2019 Transfer page for more information on the SEVIS transfer process.

NOTE: Graduate SEVIS transfer students do NOT require an early start date on their I-20 for Summer Session study if they follow all transfer instructions correctly.

How to request the I-20 or DS-2019:

You will need the following documentation to submit your request.  All documents must be in PDF format.

The processing time for an I-20/DS-2019 document is 3 weeks from the date of a complete submission. You can check the status of your request by logging in to the iPortal at any time.

The date of the first day of the quarter will be the program start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. You may enter the US up to 30 days PRIOR to the program start date on the I-20 or DS-2019.

Your I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued after you have submitted ALL of the required forms and documentation through the iPortal. The current processing time listed above refers to complete applications only; incomplete requests will cause a delay in processing.

Allow the full processing time listed above before emailing any inquiries regarding your I-20/DS-2019 or documents you have sent. If any items you sent are incomplete or invalid, you will be contacted via email directly after an advisor has thoroughly reviewed your request.

Request an Early Start Date on the I-20 or DS-2019 (If Applicable)

NOTE: The following information is for students outside the U.S. requesting a NEW UCSD I-20 with a brand NEW SEVIS ID ONLY. Early start date requests for Summer Session study are NOT required for SEVIS TRANSFER students transferring from another U.S. institution if all transfer instructions are followed correctly.

Some graduate students may need to arrive at UC San Diego prior to the fall start of courses and more than 30 days prior to the general start date on their I-20 or DS-2019 because of required special programs or coursework. If you would like your I-20 or DS-2019 to be issued with an early start date you must either:

  • Be enrolled FULL-TIME in the Summer Session. Full-time enrollment in the summer is considered 6 units (per session). This is different than full-time enrollment during the academic year. Full-time enrollment during the academic year is 12 units per quarter. 
    • Summer Session 1 and 2: If you will be entering the US for Summer Session 1, you must be enrolled full-time in Summer Session 1 AND Summer Session 2.  Your I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued with a 7/2/2018 start date.
    • Summer Session 2 only: If you will only be enrolled for Summer Session 2 only, your I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued with an 8/6/2018 start date.  


  • Be a confirmed participant in a required early-start program required by your department.

To request the early start date on the I-20 or DS-2019, follow the instructions within the iPortal to request the appropriate I-20. You will need to be enrolled in the Summer Session(s) and upload proof of this in your iPortal application before we issue the I-20 or DS-2019. Please note, the deadline to request an early start date on your I-20 or DS-2019 is June 1, 2018. We will not be able to issue I-20s or DS-2019s with summer session start dates after this date.

***If you request a summer session start date and we process your I-20 or DS-2019 with a summer session start date, we will not be able to retroactively change it to September if you decide to not attend summer session. Please only request a summer session start date if you are sure you are coming and you will be enrolled full time from the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019.

Check if You Qualify to Expedite your I-20/DS-2019 Issuance

Due to the high volume of documents received by all incoming international students, it is difficult to process the I-20 or DS-2019 request faster than the processing time noted above. If you have a visa appointment in less than 4 weeks and have submitted all of the necessary documentation to receive your I-20, do the following:
  • Submit a request to iPortal Inquiries with the subject line "GRADUATE I-20/DS-2019: URGENT REQUEST"
    • The body of the email must include the following: 
      • Full name as listed in your passport 
      • Date you submitted all required documents through the iPortal
      • Date of your visa appointment and scanned copy of your appointment confirmation
If you are requesting faster processing for any other reason than your visa appointment, follow the instructions above and explain why you need your I-20 or DS-2019 sooner. This does not guarantee that your urgent request will be granted, but it will be reviewed by an advisor as soon as possible.

Pay the SEVIS Fee

After receiving your I-20 (F-1 Students) or DS-2019 (J-1 Exchange Visitors), you must pay the $200 (F-1) or $180 (J-1) SEVIS fee.

Students transferring their SEVIS record to UC San Diego are NOT required to pay the SEVIS fee again.

  • Pay via Internet, via Western Union, or by mail.
  • Keep the Form I-797 receipt in a safe place.
  • Review SEVIS Fee Information for details.

Step 2 - Before Arrival in the United States:

Apply for your F-1 or J-1 Visa

Before you can come to the United States as an international student, you MUST obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa. Make sure to thoroughly review our Applying for a Visa page for detailed instructions and tips on how to obtain a visa.

Verify your earliest permitted arrival date into the U.S.

Students in F-1 and J-1 status may only enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the start date on their Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. This is NOT the same date as your department, college, or international student orientation. It is typically the first official day of the quarter. You must verify this date on your form before booking any air travel. Attempted entry earlier than 30 days before your I-20 or DS-2019 start date can lead to a denial of entry at a U.S. port of entry.

The only exception to this case is for SEVIS-transfer students (those who have had their  F-1 or J-1 record SEVIS-transferred by their previous U.S. institution to UC San Diego). SEVIS-transfer students may enter earlier than 30 days before the start date on their Form I-20 or DS-2019 document.

Make Housing Arrangements Before your Arrival

Pay your Tuition and Fees

Take Pre-Arrival Webinars

Pre-Arrival Webinars will be presented by the UC San Diego International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) and will cover the following topics for newly admitted international students: International Center programs and services, review of immigration documentation,arriving in the U.S., housing and health insurance, campus resources, and frequently asked questions.

Please see our Webinars page for information on our pre-arrival webinars.

Complete the Tuberculosis Screening

Tuberculosis screening is a mandatory University admission requirement for ALL newly admitted students. Screening must be performed PRIOR to arrival to University of California, San Diego.

See the Student Health Services website for submission deadlines.

Complete Immunization Requirements

The University of California is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our students. Therefore, all of the UC campuses are implementing procedures to ensure that students are educated about and receive vaccinations to prevent potentially serious and contagious diseases.

All incoming students are REQUIRED to obtain certain vaccines and undergo Tuberculosis testing. Failure to meet these requirements by the states deadlines are subject to registration holds.

Information on these requirements as well as important deadlines for meeting them can be found on the Student Health Services website.

Sign-up for International Student Orientation

Sign-up for Graduate Division Orientation

All UCSD graduate students are strongly encouraged to attend their Graduate Division Orientation Program as well as any required departmental orientations. Your department will contact you about their respective schedules – please be sure to be checking your email closely. 

Graduate Division Orientation

Complete the iTriton - New International Student Online Training

iTriton Online Orientation

All new international students are required to complete ISPO’s iTriton Online Training Program prior to starting classes at UC San Diego. Information for this training program will be posted soon.

If you have any questions of concerns regarding this training program, please contact .

Step 3 - Upon Arrival in the United States:

Gather Your Documents for Entry into the United States

Review your passport and visa page. Your first name and family/last name should be the same on both documents. If there are any errors, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consular Post immediately.

Place your original passport, financial statement or support letter, and form I-20 or DS-2019 in your purse or carry-on baggage. Present all these documents when entering the USA.

Note: NEW F-1 and J-1 students who are NOT transferring their SEVIS record from another U.S. institution to UC San Diego can enter the USA no earlier than 30 days prior to program start date listed on the I-20 (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students).

Arrive in the United States and Clear Customs

To clear U.S. Customs Port of Entry you must present: original passport, financial statement or support letter, and form I-20 or DS-2019

After clearing customs  and arriving in the U.S. print your electronic I-94 Record.

These I-94 printouts may be needed for the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, or for 3rd parties, such as the Social Security Administration or Department of Motor Vehicles, which require a Form I-94 for granting benefits.

We recommend students schedule 2-3 hours between connecting flights, or when crossing a land border, for SEVIS status verification processing at U.S. Ports of Entry.

Arrange Your Transportation to the Campus

Step 4 - When on Campus:

Learn What to Do When You Arrive at UC San Diego

Finished with everything above? The link below will redirect you to a comprehensive list of things that will help you get started at UC San Diego. Find detailed information on email set-up, course registration, campus ID cards, housing, cell phones, health insurance, and more.

Additional Information:


Application Cycle: Graduate Students (Fall)

The majority of departments admit students for the fall quarter only with applications typically submitted one year in advance. For admission information specific to your department of interest, please visit the department’s website.


Application cycle begins

April 15
Majority of graduate admission decisions released (though not guaranteed by this date – check department website)

Deadline to submit Graduate Intent to Register decision due (for applicants admitted before March 25th)

  • Applicants admitted after March 25th: Graduate Intent to Register decision due within three (3) weeks of date printed on the Certificate of Admission

September 15
Deadline to register for New International Student Orientation

September 24
Fall quarter begins

September 25
Deadline to complete iTriton International Online Orientation

September 27
First Day of Classes

Late September
International Graduate Student Orientation

Frequently Asked Questions

The link below will redirect you to the page where you can find answers to common questions from new international students.

Contact List for Additional Questions

I have a question about: I should contact: Their email address is:
Admission letter Graduate Admissions Office
Immunization/Health Requirements Student Health Services
Enrolling in classes Your Graduate Department Visit your Graduate Department/Program Website
Health insurance UCSD Student Health Insurance (SHIP)
International Student Orientation International Students & Programs Office
Summer school Summer Session Administration