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CHANGING YOUR DEGREE LEVEL AT UC SAN DIEGO

 

If you have been accepted into a higher degree level at UC San Diego, you will need to update your I-20/DS-2019 to maintain your visa status. You must apply for a Change of Program Level I-20/DS-2019 prior to the start of your new academic program of study and no later than 10 days before the end of your grace period.

Review all steps below to understand how to request this change and how it may affect your status.

 

OVERVIEW

Guidance on this page will only apply to:

  • Bachelor to Master
  • Bachelor to PhD
  • Joint BS/MS
  • Master to PhD
  • Joint MS/PhD Program

 


Guidance on this page will not apply to:

 


TIMELINE OF STEPS TO TAKE 

STEP 1 STEP 2 STEP 3 STEP 4
Review this page and eligibility. Review below how this process may impact your visa status. Submit a "Change of Program Level I-20/DS-2019 Request" in iPortal. Receive a new I-20/DS-2019 reflecting the program level change 10 business days later.

 

STEP 1: CONFIRM ELIGIBILITY

In order to be eligible to request a Change of Program Level I-20/DS-2019, you must meet all of the following requirements: 

  • Maintain your current visa status.
  • Confirm acceptance into a higher degree level at UC San Diego with your Department and Graduate Division.
  • Complete degree requirements for current degree level (unless enrolling in a joint program).

Note: Students who are currently on approved OPT or STEM OPT and changing degree level into the Summer Session Visiting Program should follow these steps. 

STEP 2: CONSIDER IMPACTS TO YOUR VISA STATUS

Before and after your I-20/DS-2019 Change of Program Level is approved, understand how the following may impact your visa status: 


Visa Status 

  • Apply in advance to maintain your status, failure to request the Change of Program Level I-20/DS-2019 in a timely manner may cause immigration issues.
  • F-1 students must request the Change of Program Level before the end of the I-20 grace period (F-1 has a 60 day grace period). 
  • J-1 students must request the Change of Program Level before the program end date listed on the DS-2019. J-1 students who plan to change program level should discuss their timelines directly with an ISPO Advisor. 
  • Review the Maintaining Your Visa Status Check List for full details on how to maintain your F-1/J-1 visa status.
 

Travel  

If you are planning to travel internationally over a break (winter, spring or summer break) in between your two degree levels, you will need to use your graduate level I-20/DS-2019 to re-enter the US along with a valid F-1/J-1 visa and passport. 

For more information regarding travel and re-entry, visit: itravel.ucsd.edu .

 


Off-Campus Employment 

Off-Campus work authorization is necessary for F-1/J-1 students in order to work off-campus during the break between degree levels, this may only be done while still on your lower level field of study.

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  • As a F-1 student, you will need to apply for Optional Practical Training work authorization in order to work off-campus (this includes unpaid volunteer work related to your field of study) during the break before your graduate program starts.
  • For more information regarding OPT, visit: opt.ucsd.edu .
  • Your OPT will be completed at the expiration of your OPT EAD card or on the program start date of your new higher degree level, whichever is earlier. SEVIS (the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System) registration is generally completed up to two weeks prior to the start of the new program start date. If you are unclear on when the change of program level I-20 will deactivate your OPT, consult with an international student advisor. 

J-1 Academic Training (AT)

  • As a J-1 student, you will need to apply for Academic Training work authorization in order to work off-campus (this includes unpaid volunteer work related to your field of study) during the break before your graduate program starts.
  • For more information regarding AT, visit: at.ucsd.edu .
  • Your AT will be completed at the expiration of your AT authorization on your DS-2019 or once the Change of Program Level DS-2019 has been processed, whichever is earlier. If you are unclear on when the change of program level DS-2019 will deactivate your AT, consult with an international student advisor.

 

 


On-Campus Employment

On-Campus work authorization during the break between degree levels is necessary for J-1 students, but not for F-1 students. 

J-1 On-Campus Work Authorization

F-1 On-Campus Employment

 


Other Impacts 

Take into consideration the impact your break between degrees may have on your housing, health insurance, access to campus services and more. You are strongly encouraged to have adequate health insurance during your stay in the U.S. Learn more about Student Health Insurance after Graduation.

STEP 3: SUBMIT YOUR REQUEST FOR A NEW I-20/DS-2019

  • Log in to iportal.ucsd.edu .
  • Go to "Services" tab.
  • Select "Change of Program Level I-20/DS-2019 Request".
  • Fill out your request.
  • Confirm your "Document Delivery Preference".
  • Upload a PDF copy of your UCSD Admission or Petition Letter showing acceptance to higher program level.
  • Upload a PDF copy of your bank statement(s) or financial support letter(s) to show funding for the first 9 months of your higher program level (F-1 students) or for the entire duration of your your higher program level (J-1 students).
  • "Submit" your request.

STEP 4: RECEIVE YOUR NEW I-20/DS-2019

  • Your new I-20/DS-2019 reflecting the program level change and new program start and end dates will be issued within 10 business days.
  • You can check the status of your request anytime by logging in to iPortal and clicking on "My Requests" tab.
  • A notification email will be sent to you when your document is ready.
  • Sign your new I-20/DS-2019 when you receive it, and keep your previous I-20/DS-2019 for your records, do NOT throw it away.

STEP 5: ACTIVATE YOUR NEW I-20/DS-2019

Your new I-20 can only be activated once you enroll in courses and are located within the U.S. Take one of the following actions within 30 days of your new program start date:

  1. Starting Your Program Inside of the U.S.: If/when you enter the U.S., submit the Check In for I-20/DS-2019 Activation in iPortal.

  2. Starting Your Program Outside of the U.S/Deferring Program Start Date.: If you will not be entering the U.S. for the start date on your new I-20, submit the Updated I-20 Request in iPortal and choose "Future Program Start Date Reflecting Intended Quarter of Entry into the U.S.". ISPO will need to issue you a new I-20 with a new program start date reflecting quarter you intend to enter the U.S.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES