F-1/J-1 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Family/Life at Cal Poly Pomona


Enrollment/Student Status

Other Questions

Am I required to pay I-901 SEVIS fee?

The Department of Homeland Security requires a fee of $200 for all new F-1 and $180 for J-1 program applicants to cover the costs of the operation of the SEVIS program. If you are issued a new I-20 or DS-2019 for “initial attendance” or “beginning a new program” you are required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. Change of level to a new degree program, transfer, extension, or other updates do not require you to pay a SEVIS fee. You can go to the official website for SEVIS fee information and payment. You should print a copy of the receipt and take it to your visa interview and when traveling to the U.S.

How do I “check-in” when I arrive to begin my program?

Upon your arrival to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status, you are required to report to the International Center for a mandatory immigration check-in. Please bring with you your passport, visa, I-94 card, and I-20 or DS-2019. Failure to check-in in a timely fashion may result in the loss of your legal status.

I'm planning on traveling outside the United States. What do I need to do to re-enter the United States?

If you are planning to travel outside the U.S., you should check that your I-20/DS-2019 will not be expiring soon, and that the I-20/DS-2019 has a travel signature dated less than six months for I-20 and a year for DS-2019 from your planned date of re-entry to the U.S. If you need to obtain a new travel signature, you should request it from the International Student/Scholar Advisor at the International Center with your original I-20/DS-2019. You should also make sure your passport is valid more than six months into the future on your re-entry date, and that your F-1/J-1 visa will still be valid for your re-entry.

What happens if I try to enter the U.S. without an I-20/DS-2019 or without a travel signature? What is an I-515a?

Students/scholars who travel outside the U.S. and do not have all the required documentation may be denied entry to the U.S. However, Customs and Border Protection has the authority to admit F-1/ J-1 students/scholars (and accompanying dependents, if applicable) to the U.S. for 30 days by issuing a Form I-515A if they are otherwise eligible for readmission but have some documentary deficiency. A student issued the Form I-515A will be given a date specific I-94 (with a 30 day validity period). It is essential that the I-515A be resolved.

If you are issued an I-515A, read the marked section identified by the CBP officer upon admittance to the U.S. to determine what documents you need to submit to Washington DC. You may need to contact the International Center for a travel signature, a replacement I-20/DS-2019, or advice. Be sure to submit original documents listed under the section identified by the CBP officer. Documents should be mailed to the address indicated on the Form I-515A. It is recommended that you use a receipt-based mailing option such as certified mail, so that you will have evidence that the documents were received by the government before the 30-day expiration period.

Please note that it is not guaranteed that you will be issued a Form I-515A, so please be sure to review your travel documents to ensure that you have all required documents and that all endorsements and documents are valid and accurate to avoid the possibility of denial.

How can I renew my F or J visa? What if my visa expires?

The U.S. visa (stamp or sticker in your passport) is a travel document which allows entry to the United States with a valid I-20 or DS-2019. You only need to have a valid F or J visa when you are re-entering the U.S.; you may remain in the U.S. with a valid I-20 or DS-2019. If you plan to travel and re-enter the U.S. from abroad after your visa has expired, you need to apply for a new visa before you re-enter. You can only apply for the visa outside the country at a U.S. Consulate.

If your visa has expired, but you maintain the status of a full-time student, you may stay in the United States. You will need to renew your visa when you travel home. We recommend that you take official transcripts, a letter from the International Center certifying your enrollment and the I-20 form with a current travel signature.  You may travel to Canada and Mexico for less than 30 days and re-enter with an expired visa.

How does my spouse/child under 21 join me in the U.S. as my F-2/J-2 dependent?

To obtain F-2/J-2 DS-2019 documents for your spouse and/or minor children under 21 years, please contact an International Student/Scholar Advisor. We will issue I-20/DS-2019 forms for your spouse/children to obtain F-2/J-2 status. Then, your family member will need to apply for and obtain the appropriate visa to enter U.S. (except Canadians) as your dependent. Your family will need official proof of your family ties, such as birth/marriage certificate.

How do I invite family members to visit?

Family members who are NOT children (under 21) or the spouse of the F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor should apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa. The B1/B2 visitor visa allows the individual to travel to the U.S. temporarily for business or tourism purposes. Family members from certain countries may be eligible to travel to the U.S. for visits of up to 90 days without a B-1/B-2 visa through the U.S. Department of State Visa Waiver Program. It is recommended that you give your family members a letter of invitation to document the purpose of their visit. Refer to Family Visitors to the U.S. for an invitation letter template and more details on the visa application requirements. If you are inviting family members to attend your graduation ceremony, you can also request a special letter of invitation from the International Center.

Can I get a driver's license?

California Driver's Licenses and Personal Identification Cards are issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For more information, you can refer to the Social Security/DMV section of our website.

Do I have an opportunity to participate in club or other activities as an international student?

Yes, you are strongly encouraged to do that. You can email them at isc.cpp@gmail.com.

I'm interested in finding a job while attending classes. Can I work?

U.S. government regulations require F-1/J-1 students to be in the U.S. for the primary purpose of attending school. In general, employment in the U.S. is restricted for students. On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and available full time during school vacation and holidays. On-campus employment includes work done as a teaching or research assistant as well as jobs in the university library, dormitory, dining facilities, laboratories, and administrative offices.

Under certain conditions you may be eligible for off-campus employment either in the form of practical training related to your academic program, or severe economic hardship employment authorization. You may not begin employment unless you have received official authorization. For more information, refer to the Employment section of our website.

Employment in the U.S. requires having a social security number. For more information on obtaining a social security, please refer to Social Security/DMV section of our website.

Can I work in the U.S. after I graduate? When can I apply for OPT?

After completing one academic year and maintaining your F1 status, students can work off-campus with authorization from USCIS called Optional Practical Training (OPT). In the final quarter, students apply for a post-completion OPT and receive up to 12 months employment authorization from the USCIS to work in areas directly related to your major.
Students with a major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), who are applying for a post-completion OPT and whose prospective employer is registered with E-Verify system, are eligible to apply for a 17 month extension.

You should apply before your final quarter is over. The application process requires you to fill out an employment authorization Form I-765 with the International Center. Final approval is made by USCIS. Please refer to the Employment section of our website.

J1 students only:
J-1 students can apply for an internship after your exchange program. The length is determined by the time enrolled in classes at Cal Poly Pomona. For example, if you are enrolled in school for one quarter, you are allowed only one quarter of internship.

Please see the International Advisor for more information.

How do I get a Social Security number?

F-1 students are only eligible for a Social Security number (SSN) when employed on-campus or approved for off-campus work permission; eligible F-1 students and J-1 students may apply at the International Center for a social security letter and then apply to the Social Security Administration for the Social Security number. For more information on the procedures please refer to Social Security/DMV section of our website.

Do I need a Social Security number before I begin working?

You can begin work (and be paid) while you are waiting for your Social Security number to be issued. However, you must have applied for a Social Security number if you are employed in the U.S. or if you have received and plan to accept an offer of employment in the U.S.

How can I find assistance regarding taxes?

International Center staff members are not authorized to give advice regarding taxes. We do have some helpful information about taxes and tax preparation on our website in the Income Tax Info section. The Internal Revenue Service is the U.S. department in charge of taxes; paper forms and information can be found on their site.

What is the International Student full-time enrollment requirement?

International students in F or J status must maintain full time enrollment. For continuing students, summer is generally considered the vacation term while the main academic year is fall, winter, and spring terms. During the academic year, undergrad students must take 12 units, and grad students must take 8 units. In some cases, international students may receive permission from the Advisor at the International Center to drop below full-time enrollment, including reduced course load, full-time equivalency for graduate students, and concurrent enrollment.

Can I take an online class and how many online class can I register for?

Yes, you may register for an online class, but you may only register for one online class per quarter.

What should I do if my I-20/DS-2019 will expire and I am not finished with my academic requirements?

If you need longer than the end date listed on your current I-20 or DS-2019 to complete your program, you must request an “Extension” of your I-20/DS-2019 to continue your studies. To do so, please consult with an International Student/Scholar Advisor. You are required to submit recent financial documentation to support your student expenses and you should meet with an International Student Advisor to request an extension 30-60 days before your current I-20/DS-2019 expires.

What financial support do I need to maintain the F1/J1 status?

You must have evidence that you have sufficient funds to pay tuition and living expenses for one year. The amount is subject to change so check with Admissions or with the Exchange Coordinator.

What do I need to do if I want to change my major or degree?

To change your major, contact the major department to learn about its requirements for changing majors. Once your major is changed, notify the International Center. There is a form you can obtain from the International Center office.  

I moved or I changed my name. How do I report my change of address or name?

You are required to report these changes within 10 days to both the International Center either in person or by e-mail so that your SEVIS record can be updated. Do not confuse this with updating BroncoDirect.  You should also update the changes on BroncoDirect as well.

I will go to a different academic institution in the United States. What is the procedure to move/transfer to a new school?

To request a transfer, you should submit our F-1 Transfer-Out Form and follow the instructions on the form. On your transfer release date, your SEVIS database record will be moved from Cal Poly Pomona sponsorship to your new institution. After that, your new school will be able to prepare an updated, “transfer” I-20 reflecting your new sponsorship. Once your SEVIS record has been transferred, you will no longer be affiliated with our institution from immigration perspective, so you should no longer work or study here.

I've changed my immigration status and am no longer F-1 or J-1. How should I report this?

If your immigration status is no longer sponsored by Cal Poly Pomona (such as F or J) it is your responsibility to notify the University of any change of status. To officially record your new status, the Office of the Registrar will need a copy of the approval form(s) you received from USCIS.

Where can I find information about the “green card lottery”?

The U.S. Department of State Diversity Immigrant Program (green card lottery) enables randomly chosen people to obtain permanent residence in the United States. For Diversity Visa information updates, please check the U.S. Department of State's Diversity Visa Program page.

I have some more questions. How can I meet with an advisor?

The International Center offers immigration advising services to F-1 students, J-1 students, and dependents. Our immigration advisors can respond to all issues relating to F and J immigration regulations and relevant immigration documents. Call 909.869.3267 to schedule an appointment with a student/scholar advisor. Appointments are usually available within 1 to 3 business days. You may also email questions to international@csupomona.edu.

My documents got lost/stolen. What should I do?

If you lost your documents on campus, we recommend contacting any "lost and found" desk or office in the building or department where you think you lost your passport.
Passports often contain text directing persons finding the passport to give it to local police authorities. Therefore, you should contact campus police. If you know that your documents were stolen, make sure to report it to the police and get a copy of the official police report.

Sometimes, passports found on-campus are delivered to the International Center. We always contact the student/scholar as soon as possible whenever this occurs. We recommend waiting at least one week (if feasible) before contacting your country's closest embassy or consulate about replacing your lost passport, since it often takes awhile for lost documents to be turned in to the appropriate office.

If your documents are never found, there are different procedures that you must follow to replace each one of the documents you lost:

    1. To replace your passport, you will need to contact your home country’s embassy or consulate in the U.S. and follow their instructions on what you need to do to obtain a new passport.
    2. You cannot replace your visa (a sticker with your photo placed in your passport) while in the U.S. Next time you leave the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. Fortunately, you do not have to have a visa in your passport while you are in the U.S., it is only required for travel.
    3. To replace your I-94 card, you will need to file an application (Form I-102) with USCIS. You can find the form and instructions at the USCIS web site Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document. Please note that if you are planning to travel outside of the U.S. soon, you may not have enough time to obtain a replacement I-94. You will receive a new I-94 card when you return. In this case you may be able to submit a copy of your I-94 card when you leave the U.S. and then get a new original card upon return. But if you don't have any travel plans in the near future, you should file for a replacement card with USCIS.
    4. You can request a replacement of your I-20 or DS-2019 from our office.
    5. If you are an F-1 student on OPT, and your EAD card was lost/stolen as well, you will have to apply for a replacement card with USCIS. Check box for “Replacement of lost Employment Authorization Document” at the top of Form I-765.

Where can I print and copy on campus?

  1. The Library
    1. Photocopying and Printing (Print Release Stations)
      All research workstations in the library have print capability. Printers are available in the following computer area:
      • 1st floor 24 Hour Computer Lab - 1 black and white printer
      • 2nd floor Productivity Center - 1 color printer, 1 black and white printer
      • 2nd floor Learning Commons - 1 black and white printer
      • 4th floor computer area - 1 black and white printer
      • 5th floor computer area - 1 black and white printer
      • 6th floor computer area - 1 black and white printer

      You can only print from the printing station located on the floor where you submit your print job. There are two print release stations in each printing station. Either BroncoBucks or cash (add to your Pharos Account first) may be used to activate the print release stations. If you're paying using BroncoBucks, swipe your Bronco ID card in the card-swipe on one of the print release station keyboard. If you are paying using funds in your Pharos Account, use the Login print release station to enter your BroncoName and BroncoPassword. Detailed printing instruction is posted on each printing station.

      You may add money to your BroncoBucks online (need to register for a Bronco Bucks Account first) with credit cards or in person at the Foundation Cashier's Office (Building 55), Los Olivos Cashier's Office, or the Guest/ BroncoBucks/Dining Services Office (Campus Center - Fall, Winter and Spring Quarters only) in cash, check, or debit card ($5.00 minimum).

      You may add money to your Pharos Account using the Pharos Print System Kiosk with cash, bills only. The kiosk is located in the Copy Room on the library 2nd floor across from the Circulation Desk near the entrance. The machine does not accept coins, nor does it give change.

  2. Copy and Mail Services
    The Bronco Copy 'N Mail, which is located on the lower level of the Bronco Student Center, provides copying and mail services for the campus at a reduced cost. The following services are provided.
      • Self-use - simple black image copies only, manual collating, hole punching and stapling.
      • Full service - simple black and colored images, on-line collating, hole punching and stapling.
      • Class handouts, syllabi, supplemental test and homework materials.
      • Transparencies - black and colored

    However, those places below will allow students print for free (8-10 pages/day) if you bring your own papers (must be blank printing papers => notebook paper are not allowed)

  3. Learning Resource Center - located on the 2nd floor of the University Library

  4. Asian & Pacific Islander Student Center - located in Building 95, directly behind the African American Student Center. It is between the Career Center and the University Library. Building 95 is referred to as the Cultural Centers.

    Feel free to email, phone or visit our office if you have further questions.