Visiting Student Researchers & Special Students
Congratulations on your admission to a Caltech non-degree academic program. To receive your immigration document, follow the steps below.
Step 2: SEVIS Transfer Release Form
SEVIS transfers are only applicable to students who are currently in the United States and who are moving from another U.S. school to Caltech.
Step 3: Passport Biographical Page
Upload to Caltech DropBox with recipient as email@example.com. File name should follow this example: “LAST NAME, First Name PASSPORT.”
NOTE: DropBox documents are saved for 24 hours only. Upload only Sunday through Thursday to account for differences in international time zones and work hours. Include passport pages for accompanying spouse and dependents.
Step 4: Proof of Funding
Immigration requires that schools assess each student's ability to meet estimated academic and living expenses before issuing an F-1 or J-1 nonimmigrant document that will be used for visa acquisition and entry to the United States. Funding may include personal bank statements, letter from sponsoring agency, etc. Students whose Caltech admission letters indicate full funding from Caltech are exempt. All others must submit proof of funding directly to ISP. File names should follow this example: “LAST NAME, First Name FUNDING.”
Use the estimates and links below as reference.
- Living Expenses: $2,500 per month
- Dependent, if applicable: $835 per month for each dependent
- Tuition, if applicable: $1,986 per term for those invited by the Graduate Studies Office as "Special Students"
- The minimum tuition rate must be paid if you require enrollment verification (via official school transcript) and if no Caltech stipend will be provided.
- If a Caltech stipend (salary) will be provided, the tuition rate will exceed the minimum rate and your inviting department may cover tuition expenses.
Step 5: ISP creates I-20 or DS-2019
ISP will create your immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) within 7 business days after you have completed applicable Steps 1-4 above. You will receive an email from ISP when the document is ready to be mailed to you. ISP sends all documents via the United States Postal Service (USPS); however, you will have the option to request express mailing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What visa classification will I be given?
ISP will issue you the I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility) for F-1 status. The majority of Caltech international students enter the United States in F-1 status. The F-1 visa category is entirely appropriate for the Visiting Student Researcher (VSR) and Special Student program at Caltech.
However, in some cases, the DS-2019 for J-1 "student non-degree" status may be more appropriate, particularly if
- the financial sponsor requires it, or
- a married student is bringing a spouse to campus, or
- the student expects to transfer to another U.S. institution for a second non-degree program
What if I want to request a DS-2019 to apply for a J-1 visa?
If you desire a DS-2019 to allow you to apply for a J-1 student visa, review the Additional Requirements of J-1. If, after reviewing the J-1 qualifiers and restrictions, you still wish to request a DS-2019, inform ISP when submitting your proof of funding, Intake Form, J-1 Supplemental Form for English Proficiency, and Health Insurance Attestation.
When can I apply for a visa?
You may apply for the student visa up to 4 months prior to the I-20 Program Start Date. There is no limitation on when you may apply for the J-1 student visa prior to the DS-2019 Program Start Date.
When can I enter the United States?
You may enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the Program Start Date as printed on the I-20 or DS-2019 (SEVIS Transfer students exempt). Failure to enter on or before the Program Start Date may result in delay or denial of U.S. entry. Contact ISP if your arrival will be delayed, as ISP may need to update your I-20 or DS-2019 Program Start Date.