Visa Applications and Intial Entry
Applying for a Visa
You can apply for a visa after you have received the appropriate documents from our offices. NOTE: Not all visits require a visa (see below). Students will receive either an I-20 or a DS-2019 from Caltech. Scholars may receive a DS-2019, an I-797A approval notice, or another appropriate document.
The first step is scheduling an appointment at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Each consular post has a different process for scheduling an appointment. Follow the instructions on the consulate's website, review the list of documents to bring to the interview, and pay attention to the timeline for visa appointments and issuance.
If you are applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa, you will need to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee before you go to the visa appointment. There is additional information about the F-1 visa application process and the J-1 visa application process for students on our website.
Note: An arrest or criminal record may impact your visa eligibility. Contact the International Offices for a referral to an immigration attorney.
Travel to the United States Without a Visa
International travelers who seek to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) as business visitors must apply for authorization and pay the relevant fee through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization Web Site (ESTA) prior to travel to the United States. Please confirm with the International Offices that this is an appropriate status for your intended visit to Caltech.
Canadian citizens are exempt from the general requirement to have a U.S. visa. Citizens of Bermuda are also visa exempt under certain circumstances.
Time Limits on Initial Entry to the United States
Once your visa is placed in your passport, you are ready to enter the United States. The following classifications have special considerations:
F-1 students may enter the United States up to 30 days before the I-20 program start date.
J-1 exchange visitors may enter the United States up to 30 days before or after the DS-2019 program start date.
H-1B scholars may enter the United States up to 10 days before the start date on the H-1B petition. However, H-1B scholars may only commence employment on the start date of the petition.
Dependents may not enter the United States before the principal student or scholar.
Please Refer to the link Travel to the United States 2020
Covid 19 Note
Please visit the Caltech Together website which is a mine of information about the Coronavirus; it's also outlines the Institute's rules and expectations for all individuals when they are strolling on the Caltech campus:
- Face masks are mandatory indoors and outdoors for everyone on campus, including children older than 2 years
- Beginning November 1, Caltech policy requires all staff, faculty, and scholars coming to campus to have a flu shot and to have confirmed their vaccination prior to arriving. While this policy does not directly extend to the spouses or family members off our researchers and scholars, we highly encourage you to consider getting immunized this year.
- Physical distance + Meetups: at this time, social gatherings—even outdoors—are not supported by local health officials. If you are coming to campus to stroll or play, it is expected that all visitors, including children, maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance from individuals from another household and that everyone consistently and reliably wear a face covering.
- Recent updates to Pasadena's health order allows for up to three households to socialize in a contained "pod", but it is strongly suggested that these activities not be organized on campus grounds.
NOTE: Please advise the International Offices of any changes to your original intended arrival date.