Do You Need a Student Visa?

Visa Type

You may need an F-1 student visa to enter the United States for Summer Sessions. Apply for this visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country, with an I-20 from Berkeley International Office (BIO), the responsible office for issuing these documents for the university.
B1/B2 vistor visas and the Visa Waiver Program (VWP/ESTA) restrict study. BIO cannot assist nor advise in these cases.

Do You Need An I-20?

You will need an I-20 from UC Berkeley if you plan to be enrolled full-time (see this definition of full-time enrollment) in Berkeley Summer Sessions and if during the semester prior to summer you are any of the following:

  • Outside the United States
  • Attending another U.S. school as an F-1 or J-1 student, and you do NOT plan to resume your studies at that  school or another U.S. school after Summer Sessions
  • In the United States in a nonimmigrant status (ex: J-1, F-2) and you want to change to F-1. (Contact Berkeley International Office immediately for instructions. This process will require travel outside the United States and re-entry with an appropriate visa.)
  • A UC Berkeley student returning to school after withdrawal from a degree program for one or more semesters

*UC Berkeley will not issue initial J-1 DS-2019s. We only work with J-1 student visa holders who are considering transferring their SEVIS record. Because eligibility for J-1 transfer is stringent, the student will likely need to depart the United States and re-enter as an F-1. Contact us directly at for special instructions.

How to Obtain an I-20:
Required Documents

After you have completed your Summer Session enrollment and application, you will need to obtain your I-20. Log onto your CalCentral account. You should have a task that indicates that you should Complete the Visiting Summer International Student (VSIS) form. Through a series of questions, the system will determine whether or not you need an I-20. Be prepared to upload the following required documents:

  1. Financial documents showing proof of funds in the amount of 6,300 USD to support your stay in the United States. Additional funding for F-2 dependents is also needed (2,550 USD for F-1 spouse; 2,250 USD for each F-1 child). If your funding documentation is insufficient, you will be asked to submit additional evidence of funds.
  2. Passport biographic page showing your full name and date of birth
  3. Official evidence of English proficiency requirement (EPR),if applicable
  4. All documents must be legible. If a document is deemed illegible or corrupted, you will be asked to upload it again. 
  5. After all required documents have been uploaded via VSIS, they will first be reviewed by the Summer Sessions Office (allow 5 business days). Then, Berkeley International Office will be able to view all your required documents. You can check the status of your I-20 and find mailout information about your package when you log into VSISYour I-20 will be issued 15 business days (3 weeks) after you have submitted a complete form. Incomplete applications, insufficient documentation, or enrollment that is less than full-time will lead to delays in the issuance of your I-20. Please note that mailing will take additional time.

Students Who Do NOT need an I-20 from UC Berkeley

In the following cases, you do NOT need to request an I-20 from UC Berkeley:

  • If you are attending another U.S. school in F-1 or J-1 status and you plan to resume your studies at that school immediately after your Summer Session program. Make sure to check your plans with your current school's international office. Your I-20/DS-2019 must have an end date AFTER August 12, 2022. If so, you are allowed to take classes part-time or full-time at UC Berkeley during Summer Session only.
  • If you are in the United States in a nonimmigrant status other than F-1 or J-1 and that status allows you to be a full-time or part-time student.
  • If you are a continuing F-1 or J-1 UC Berkeley degree-seeking student who was enrolled in the spring semester prior to Summer Session. You should already have an I-20 or DS-2019; check the expiration date to make sure it will remain valid for the summer.

WARNING! Visitor Visas or Visitor Entry: BIO can neither advise nor assist students who choose to enter the United States using B1/B-2 or ESTA /Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Study restrictions apply. All international students are strongly encouraged to enroll full-time and obtain the appropriate student visa status.

UC Berkeley Fall Admits Starting in Summer Session

If you have been admitted for a degree program in the Fall term and you will start your program early by enrolling in Summer Session, you must complete the Nonimmigrant Information Form (NIF) to request your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1). When completing the NIF, indicate that you are a Fall admit so we can prepare an I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) to cover your summer and fall program dates. See also Fall Admits Starting in Summer.

Continuing UC Berkeley Students

If you have an F-1 or J-1 student status, you will not need to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 for summer classes unless it expires before the end of the summer.

Returning UC Berkeley Students

If you have withdrawn from a degree program at UC Berkeley for a semester or more, and you are planning to return as an F-1 or J-1 student in the Summer, use the Nonimmigrant Information Form (NIF) for requesting your I-20 or DS-2019. For more information, see Returning Students.