International Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Transferring to Cabrillo from another school

Even if you are applying to Cabrillo College as a transfer student, you must apply before the deadline. Fall semester: July 1st, and Spring semester: December 1st.

If you go to another country during your break, you have to use the I-20 from Cabrillo College when you come back to the US. Remember to tell us if you will be travelling outside of the country so that you can take your new Cabrillo I-20 with you.

No, don't throw away any I-20s you have. You have to keep all I-20s from every school you have attended as a permanent record of your immigration status in the US. Sometimes, the USCIS will ask you to show your old I-20, so please staple all I-20s together and keep them with your passport.

Not anymore. A new California Law, Assembly Bill 705, enables all students to take transfer level English, ESL and most Math classes right away, which reduces the time and money you'll spend to achieve your goals. With this in mind, Placement Services will provide you with course information so that you can make the best choices for your academic needs. Please visit Placement Services to find out more information about how to complete the Placement Process.

Official transcripts can be ordered from your previous college or university directly. Please contact them for more information on the process. You can usually have them either sent to yourself, or to us directly. If you have them sent to yourself, do not open the envelope as this is what qualifies them as "official" transcripts. You can include the sealed envelope with the rest of your application documents at the time of submission. If you have official transcripts sent to us directly, please do not send them until your application has been processed and you have received a student ID number by email. Make sure the transcripts are addressed to the International Student Program rather than Admissions and Records to avoid confusion. Please contact us with any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective students & Application process

You are considered an "international" or "non-immigrant" applicant if you need a visa to reside and study in the United States. These are typically applicants with F, J, and B status. If you are a US citizen, permanent resident, refugee, undocumented, AB540, H1B, or any other visa category you will not be considered an international applicant even if you currently reside outside of the US.

Cabrillo only requires a score of 480 on the paper based TOEFL, 157 on the computer based TOEFL, or 54 on the internet based TOEFL. Our ETS school code is 4084. In addition, Cabrillo College has TOEFL articulation agreements with some of the local Intensive English Language Programs which allow students to transfer to Cabrillo without the TOEFL score requirement. Please contact ELS for programs in Silicon Valley and MIIS for programs in Monterey.

If the bank statement you provide is not in your name, you must ask your sponsor to also write you a short letter stating that they are willing to use their funds to support you financially during your studies at Cabrillo. Please include this signed letter with your initial application. If you don't have $25,056 all in one account, you can show multiple accounts that add up to the desired total; if you do this, please follow the same process by providing a letter of support for each of the accounts that are in a sponsor's name.

You may be eligible for college credit at Cabrillo through classes you have taken in other countries. However, please do not send us your foreign college transcripts as we do not have the ability to properly evaluate these courses. Instead, please contact one of the listed foreign transcript evaluation services for more information. They can provide you a report, which you then give to us showing what credit you have received elsewhere.

Depending on the time of year when you submit your application, you will receive your I-20 from by mail within 2-3 weeks. Please let us know if you would like us to send it by express courier mail. After you receive the I-20, you will need to pay your SEVIS fee and schedule your visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate.

Gaining F-1 Visa Status

A visa represents permission from the Department of State for the bearer to enter the United States in a particular visa category. Those who wish to come to the US as students or scholars, and have been issued the Form SEVIS I-20 or SEVIS DS-2019 by an educational institution or sponsor are eligible for the F-1 visa or J-1 visa. Once a visa is issued, it appears in one page of the passport, it is machine readable and many times includes photo of the bearer. The visa has a period of validity that the bearer should be aware of and indicates the number of times that it can be used, either "multiple" (M) or a limited number such as "1" or "2."

There are two categories of US visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant. Immigrant visas are for people who intend to live permanently in the US. Nonimmigrant visas are for people with permanent residence outside the US but who wish to be in the US on a temporary basis – for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study. More information on student visas can be found on the USCIS website and the State Department.

Since visa requirements and processing times are not the same in every country you should contact the US Embassy in your home country. If you do not reside in your home country at the moment, you can still apply for an American visa at the nearest American Embassy or Consulate. Visa wait times for interview appointments, visa processing time information for each US Embassy or Consulate worldwide, and more information about the visa application process is available online from the State Department. You may apply for your F-1 student visa up to 120 days before your program start date.

The I-20 is a very important document and you must have a valid and active I-20 while you are in the US as an F-1 student.. This form allows you to apply for a visa and to enter and re-enter the US. It also shows what, where and when you are studying and it must be current at all times. Cabrillo is required to report any changes you make to your study program, your name, or your address to the US Department of Homeland Security through the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) system. The I-20 is one of your most important immigration documents while in the US and is updated every semester.

As a Canadian citizen, you do not need an F-1 visa. However, you will need to maintain F-1 status as an international student at Cabrillo, and you will still have an I-20. You can learn more here.

Exchange visitors are allowed to take classes at Cabrillo, but have a special application process. Please email us for the appropriate forms. If you wish to change your visa status from J-1 to F-1, you can learn more about your eligibility and the application process through the USCIS website. More information can also be found here.

Visitors with a tourist visa are generally not advised to take classes at Cabrillo since it violates the regulations of the B-1/B-2 visa. More information can be found through USCIS. If you want to change your visa status from B-1/B-2 to F-1, you must first apply for admissions to Cabrillo, and then apply for "Change of Status" through USCIS. Please contact us for more information.

Maintaining your F-1 Status

The visa stamp in you passport is an "entry permit" only, so you need not be concerned if it expires once you have already entered the US. However, if you plan to travel out of the US and re-enter, you will need to go to the US Consulate (preferably in your home country) and apply for a new F-1 visa. You will need to provide proof of sufficient funding to cover your tuition and living expenses and a signed SEVIS I-20 showing that you have maintained your F-1 status. An official transcript and proof of your close ties to your home country are also recommended. The US Embassy is not obliged to issue you a new visa.

After your I-20 expires, you have 60 days to either transfer to a new college or university, or return to your home country.

While we cannot offer legal advice, we can provide information for you to make informed decisions. Please see our Immigration Regulations page and scroll down to the section titled "Know Your Rights" for more information.

Planning your arrival

For fall semester, registration begins in mid to late May and for spring semester, registration begins in mid December. You should enroll in as many classes as you can before your arrival through WebAdvisor.

New students have to complete the Placement Process and attend the orientation for new students, so we recommend that you arrive 3-4 weeks before the start of the semester. You may enter the US up to 30 days before the start of your program, which is listed on your I-20 form.

Please be sure to read carefully through all emails and letters that are sent to you about course registration. We recommend that you take math and English classes in your first semester. Once you complete a guided placement form, you will be provided with course information so that you can make the best choices for your academic needs. You can also contact our Academic Counseling Department and make an appointment (see below) with a counselor to discuss your schedule.

You should schedule to meet with a counselor for more information which can be done by emailing our Academic Counseling Department . You can schedule this in advance before your arrival to California and we can meet over Zoom. You will learn a lot about course registration at the International Student Orientation the week prior to the start of the semester, but you should enroll in classes earlier if possible. Please keep in mind that our international counselors will be your best resource for international-specific questions (regarding your visa, change of status, OPT, CG 51, etc). However, any academic counselor can help you make an education plan and research which classes you should take to reach your academic goals.

While Cabrillo does not offer housing for any students, we can offer a few resources for you to explore. Please read our housing link for more information.

Funding your education

While federal and state aid is primarily only available to US citizens, international students can still apply for scholarships from private organizations, educational institutions, corporations and more. Cabrillo's Financial Aid Department maintains a database of current scholarship resources which international students are encouraged to explore. More resources can be found on the NAFSA website for additional information and suggestions on budgeting and financial literacy.

As an international student with a non-immigrant visa, you will not be eligible for in-state tuition regardless of how long you have resided in California. We recommend you consider working on campus and applying for financial scholarships to help fund your education.

We really don't know the reality of your costs as this varies for each student. Our financial requirements are based on what we predict your costs will be, but depending on where you live, how many units you take, and the nature of your lifestyle, your costs can range quite a bit.

This also changes based on the student's situation. Depending on the levels of the courses you begin in and your educational goals and how many classes are required for that degree (among many other factors) you can expect to enroll in 12-18 units per semester. Be aware that certain programs may require you to be in more than 12 units, such as student athletes and students admitted to programs like Nursing, Rad Tech, Dental Hygiene and more.

You are eligible to work on your college campus up to 19.5 hours per week during Fall and Spring semester and 39.5 hours during Summer semester. If you plan to work on campus in your first semester, you must be enrolled in Counseling and Guidance (CG) 51, Planning for Success, taught by our international counselor. You can learn which campus jobs are available through Cabrillo Student Employment. You will also be eligible to apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training), which is permission to work in your field of study for up to one year after you finish your degree at Cabrillo College and you've been in F-1 status for at least nine months.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. Authorization for optional practical training is granted by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Students can complete OPT once per educational level on a continuously upward basis. If you are interested in OPT, you will need to speak with the International Student Advisor and apply as early as 60 days before your expected graduation date.


F-1 international students can only take one class online (per semester) to reach the minimum full-time enrollment requirement of 12 units per semester. Please contact the international student counselors regarding the guidelines during COVID-10. 

You must first be granted admissions to another college or university. At that point, you should consult with the International Counselor to get your SEVIS record transferred so they can issue you a new I-20.

If you are planning to travel outside the US, you must first get a travel authorization signature on your I-20 form. You can only get this from three people: Motoko Nakazawa-Hewitt, Anna Zagorska, or Amy Lehman. Please make this request at least two weeks before your planned travel dates to ensure we can help you properly and efficiently.

Studying in a foreign land can be confusing, and we are happy to help you! Please refer to the links above, or our directory to learn more about the staff and counselors who work with the International Program at Cabrillo. We look forward to getting to know you better and hearing from you soon!

International Student Services
6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA USA