When can I arrive in the U.S.? Can I come early to travel?
U.S. government regulations allow you to arrive no more than 30 days prior to the first day of the semester. It is important to take this into consideration when buying your airline tickets and planning your arrival. Your DS-2019 start date will match the first day of the semester, which may or may not correspond to your actual first day of classes.
Can I come to the U.S. as a tourist during the summer?
You can come to the U.S. prior to your EAP Reciprocity studies as a tourist, but you would need to exit the country after your leisure travel and reenter the country under the J-1 status before classes began. We recommend that you reserve any plans for travel within the U.S. for after your EAP Reciprocity studies (during the 30-day grace period) or during school vacation periods. See the UC Berkeley Academic Calendar for precise dates.
How long will it take to process my visa application?
The processing time for your visa application will vary depending on local conditions. Please contact the nearest U.S. consulate/embassy for specific information and instructions. Check with the consulate/embassy often to keep up with any changes in procedure. You can access visa-related info on the EAP Reciprocity webpage.
What is SEVIS?
SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, an electronic system by which student and scholar data is transmitted directly to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. On October 1, 2001, a U.S. law passed called the "Patriot Act" mandated schools to use SEVIS to report certain data on individuals with F-1 and J-1 status to the government. Certain students and scholars are required to pay a SEVIS Fee when applying for a new visa stamp to enter the U.S.
I would like to attend a summer course or English language instruction in the U.S. before coming to UC Berkeley. Can I use my UC Berkeley issued I-20 or DS-2019 to enter the U.S.?
No. The institution where you will be completing summer study or English language instruction will issue you a visa document so that you may attend their school. You must enter the U.S. using the visa document issued by the institution you will be attending first. If you plan to participate in a summer study or English language program:
- Contact the Universitywide Office of EAP to inform them of your plans.
- Contact Berkeley International Office to discuss the possibility of transferring your visa sponsorship to UC Berkeley after your arrival.
- Prior to your arrival in the U.S., inform the visa advisor at the summer study or English language program that you will need to transfer your visa document sponsorship to UC Berkeley. The visa advisor will assist you with the transfer at the appropriate time.
I would like to participate in a work program in the U.S. before coming to UC Berkeley. Can I use my UC Berkeley I-20 or DS-2019 to enter the U.S.?
No. The organization that will sponsor your summer work or internship will issue you a visa document so that you may participate in their program. You must enter the U.S. using the visa document issued by the sponsoring organization. If you plan to participate in a work program, contact the Universitywide Office of EAP and to inform them of your plans.
How do I maintain my student status once I arrive in the U.S.?
What is full-time enrollment?
Undergraduates must enroll in a minimum of 12 units for immigration purposes (at UC Berkeley, most colleges require 13 units minimum enrollment). Graduates must enroll in the minimum number of units as required by their department for full-time enrollment.
What will happen if I am not able to enroll full-time?
Full-time enrollment requirements are strictly enforced. Students who need less than full-time enrollment must receive the approval of the Berkeley International Office office prior to pursuing a reduced course of study. A reduced load may be approved by a Berkeley International Office Advisor under very strict immigration guidelines. If not approved, you will fall out of status. It is critical to see an advisor before falling below full-time.
When do I need to leave the U.S.?
J-1 students have 30 days after the end date of their DS-2019 or completion of program to depart. F-1 students are allowed a 60-day grace period. You may not exit and re-enter the U.S. in J-1 status during this grace period.
If you are planning to withdraw prior to the end of your program, contact Berkeley International Office for approval. Upon approval, you have 15 days to depart. You may not exit and re-enter the U.S. during this period as a J-1 or F-1 EAP Reciprocity student.
Can I return to my home country or travel outside the U.S. during vacation periods?
Yes. But before you leave the U.S., make sure your I-20 or DS-2019 has been signed by a Berkeley International Office adviser and that your F/J visa will be valid for re-entry. Travel endorsements will be given at orientation and can also be obtained at Berkeley International Office.
Immediately after my EAP study program, can I exit the U.S. (to travel to Mexico or Canada, for example) and re-enter in the tourist status or as a visa waiver visitor before returning to my home country?
Please discuss such travel plans with a Berkeley International Office adviser.
Can I work on-campus during my program?
Yes, but first you need to receive a work permit from Berkeley International Office. Any on-campus job (when payment is from the university) is limited to 20 hours per week during the semester or full-time during vacation periods. The on-campus employment request form can be found on our Student Request Form webpage.
Can I work off-campus?
During your first semester, off-campus employment is not allowed. Prior to completing your program, you may apply for Academic Training, which is a type of off-campus work authorization for employment in a student's field of study (does not need to be an “academic” job). One semester EAP students are allowed four months of Academic Training and two semester EAP students are allowed nine months of Academic Training. However, you must receive authorization from Berkeley International Office before starting work.