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STEP 3: Arrival to the U.S. and
UC San Diego

Gather documents needed for entry into the United States

Ensure that you understand your Earliest Date of Admission/Arrival into the United States and that you have your immigration documents in-hand and ready to present to Customs when entering the U.S. DO NOT pack these documents inside of your check-in luggage. They should be easily accessible in your carry-on bag and ready to present at the Port of Entry:

  • Valid Passport: Review your passport and ensure that it is valid for at least 6 months after your date of intended entry into the U.S. Review your passport profile 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.
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 Visa: Your F-1 or J-1 Visa page is inside of your passport. Ensure your visa is valid. Sometimes students who have two passports may need to carry both if their valid F-1 or J-1 Visa page is inside of their expired passport. 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.
  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 from UC San Diego: Ensure you use the most recent Form I-20 or DS-2019 issued to you by UC San Diego, printed, and signed by both ISEO (electronic or digital signature is OK) and by YOU (student signature must be a hand-signature/wet signature). You may only use an ORIGINAL Form I-20/DS-2019 from UC San Diego with a valid travel signature; photocopies of Form I-20 or DS-2019s will not be accepted. Additionally, you may not show an electronic version of your document; you must carry the original printed document with you.
  • Financial Statements and Supporting Documents: It is always a good idea to carry Financial Statements showing proof of financial support in addition to any supporting documents regarding your reason for visiting the United States. 

Learn more about what to expect when traveling by visiting

What to expect at Customs

The place you first enter the United States (cross the U.S. border) will be your Port of Entry. At the Port of Entry, you will be required to present your immigration documents to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. Be prepared to hand them your documents and to answer questions related to your plans to attend UC San Diego. 

If the CBP officer determines that they are unable to verify your information, or if you do not have all of the required documentation, the officer may direct you to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows CBP officers to conduct additional research to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers.  

In the event that the CBP officer needs to verify information with UC San Diego, provide them with the following contact information:   

  • Name of Advisor: The ISEO Advisor who signed your most recently issued Form I-20 or DS-2019 
  • Contact Phone: 858-534-3730 (Note: Travelers calling outside of normal business hours will be routed to the UC San Diego Police Department who will relay any travel emergencies to ISEO) 
  • Additional Ways to Contact ISEO 

Arrange your transportation from the airport to UC San Diego

Learn how to get to UC San Diego after your arrival at Los Angeles or San Diego airport. 

Review Transportation Upon Arriving in the USA: U.S. Airline and Airport Guidelines (U.S. Transportation Security Administration) 

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.

For more information on planning your flight(s) to the United States, please see Plan your travel to San Diego under STEP 2: Prepare for Your Arrival to UC San Diego. 

Arrival at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

UC San Diego is located 112 miles (180 kilometers) south of the the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). You will need to take a commuter flight, bus, train, or shuttle to San Diego. 

Bus service

Commuter flights

Shuttle & Ride Share Services 

Shuttle service from LAX to UCSD costs may vary. We strongly encourage you to make a reservation in advance.


  • Amtrak (departures from LA Union Station)
  • Metrolink (departures from LA Union Station)

Arrival at San Diego International Airport (SAN)

UC San Diego is located 11 miles (18 kilometers) north of the San Diego International Airport (SAN). The cost for a taxi or rideshare to the UCSD area will vary. 

Shuttle & Ride Share Services

REQUIRED: Check-In with ISEO within 10 days of US arrival

Within 10 days after arrival into the USA, take the following steps:

  1. Check-In for I-20/DS-2019 Activation: Once you arrive to the U.S., you must submit the Check-In for I-20/DS-2019 Activation form in order for ISEO to activate your F or J status.

  2. Document Self-Check: Complete the International Student Document Self-Check. It is important for you to review and verify that your documents were processed correctly at the port of entry.
    • Please note that there is no need to notify ISEO when you complete the document self-check unless you have questions or if you believe there is an error in your visa status.
    • You should fulfill the document self-check requirement every time that you re-enter the U.S.

Attend your required orientation(s)

iOrientation: New International Student Orientation Series

The UC San Diego International Services and Engagement Office (ISEO) is excited to meet you! ISEO’s iOrientation program is your first chance to learn about all that UC San Diego has to offer you through informational workshops and programs tailored specifically to international students. Everything is designed to ease your transition to campus and student life in the United States.  

iOrientation sessions and welcoming programming will be in September 2024. It is open to ALL new international students, and it is free of cost. 

Certain sessions during ISEO’s iOrientation program are required of all new international students in addition to your College or department orientation.

Visit to see the schedule from last Fall and get a sense of what to expect. This website will be updated during the summer with the Fall 2024 iOrientation schedule. 


Triton Weeks of Welcome (TWOW) and required College Orientation 

Get excited for Triton Weeks of Welcome (TWOW)! Your student experience at UC San Diego begins with Triton Weeks of Welcome (TWOW), a campus-wide series of introductory activities, special programs, and signature events at the start of each academic year – designed to engage, inform, and welcome all students to the Triton community. 

Required College Orientation:

All degree-seeking students must attend their undergraduate College’s mandatory orientation program. For questions about orientation programs and registration deadlines, visit your College’s orientation website: 

UC San Diego Campus Directory & Map

Once you arrive to campus, familiarize yourself with your new home! Visit to search for campus locations, classrooms, college and department advising, dining, and more! 

General Campus Resources 
Transcripts & Admissions Letters (Undergraduate Students) 
Office of Admissions 
Transcripts & Admissions Letters (Graduate Students) 
Graduate Admissions 
Immunization and Health Requirements 
Student Health Services 
Health Insurance 
UCSD Student Health Insurance (SHIP) 
Paying Tuition & Fees 
Student Financial Solutions (Student Billing Office) 
Student ID Card 
Student Financial Solutions (Campus Card Office) 
International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) 
Move-In/On Campus Housing 
Housing, Dining & Hospitality
Academic Advising & Classes 
Enrolling in Classes/Using WebReg

Undergraduate College (Undergraduate Students) 

Graduate Coordinators & Departments (Graduate Students)
Academic Advising (Undergraduate Students) Undergraduate College (Undergraduate Students) 
Academic Advising for Graduate Students (Graduate Students) Graduate Coordinators & Departments (Graduate Students) Contact home department
Books & School Supplies  UC San Diego Bookstore
Taking Classes in the Summer  Summer Session 
Immigration Resources 
F-1/J-1 Status and My Immigration Documents 

International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) 
Traveling to Mexico/ General Travel Guidelines  International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) 
Working On/Off-Campus  International Students & Programs Office (ISPO)