Resources International Students
The IR/PS student body includes a a large number of international students. Resources and programs for international students, as well as their families, are available at the UC San Diego International Center. All international students are encouraged to contact IR/PS Academic Affairs and PIASO to suggest or request any student programming or services. This page addresses some of the common questions asked by potential and current MPIA students.
- 1. How do I apply to IR/PS?
- 2. What if I am enrolled at another U.S. university but am admitted to IR/PS?
- 3. So now that I am admitted to IR/PS, how do I get a U.S. visa?
- 6. What should I do if I am having trouble with my classes?
- 7. What should I do if I am doing very well in my classes?
- 8. What if I need to take fewer than 12 units of academic credit this quarter?
- 9. Do I need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?
- 10. Do I need to pay taxes?
- 11. Do I need a Social Security Card?
- 12. How do I get a Social Security Card?
- 13. I need a job during school or the summer after my first year at IR/PS. What should I do?
- 14. How do I become a teaching assistant at UC San Diego?
- 15. How can I work in the U.S. after I graduate?
Visa & Immigration
Student Identification & Email
Living in San Diego
- 22. How do I open a U.S. bank account?
- 23. Does UC San Diego offer health insurance?
- 24. What cultural activities are available at UC San Diego?
- 25. Social events
- 26. Transportation & living in San Diego
- Complete the graduate application according to the instructions outlined on the IR/PS Applying webpage.
- Once an international applicant has received an offer of admission, the Office of Graduate Studies will provide the applicant with a "Financial Statement for International Applicants." In this statement, the applicant must indicate the amount and source of the funds he/she will use for graduate study in the United States. Written evidence of sufficient financial resources must be provided before visa forms will be issued. Questions regarding the international applicant financial statement should be addressed to the Office of Graduate Studies/Graduate Admissions.
- Go to the international center at your current U.S. university.
- UC San Diego will issue a new I-20 form under your current visa.
- You must still submit a financial statement to the Office of Graduate Studies/Graduate Admissions.
- I-20 forms: your I-20 form will indicate a visa start date. Students can travel up to 30 days before that start date. Students are advised to travel to the U.S. at least two days before that start date of classes.
- Certificate of eligibility: Please note that the Office of Graduate Studies/Graduate Admissions will send these documents to you by email. You will receive an email with the package tracking information.
Check-In and Orientation
4. How do I check-in at UC San Diego?
Go to the UC San Diego International Center. You must bring:
- I-20 (F-1 Students) or DS-2019 (J-1 Exchange Visitors)
- I-94 arrival/departure card
- I-797 Approval Notice (if applicable)
- Contact information in San Diego (address, phone number, and email address)
- You must attend the IR/PS orientation.
- You can attend a later orientation at the International Center if you want to meet more international students, but this is not required, as the International Center will do a special orientation for IR/PS international students.
- Talk to the professor or teaching assistant (TA).
- Join a study group.
- Go to the Skills Development Center in the IR/PS computer lab.
- Look for a tutor.
- Talk to the professor or TA. You may be asked to be a TA in your second year.
- Join a study group.
- Apply to be a Dean's Fellow.
- Academic Affairs can provide you with a form for reducing your courseload. You will then have to take this form for approval at the International Center.
9. Do I need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?
Yes, if you get any kind of financial support from UC San Diego. More information on ITINs can be found through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
10. Do I need to pay taxes?
Yes. All international students must complete and submit tax documents, even if you do not actually pay any money to the U.S. government. Having completed tax forms is the best way to show responsibility and diligence to the U.S. government if you have visa troubles later on. More information can be found through the International House's Tax Support Center.
- View application process and follow steps.
- Go to the nearest Social Security Administration Office to file an application.
- You must get work authorization prior to starting a job.
- To qualify for work authorization, you must complete a full academic year.
- You can apply in the spring quarter for work during the summer.
- You must update the DS-2019.
- You must get a letter from the International Center.
J-1 visa holders who find a job on-campus:
- You must get a letter of work authorization from the International Center.
- Paperwork is the responsibility of the hiring department.
F-1 visa holders who find a job on or off campus:
- Work authorization is inherent in your visa status.
- Follow the work authorization procedures listed above.
- Attend the information session hosted by Academic Affairs about employment on campus (usually occurs mid-fall quarter).
- Get your Social Security Card.
- You may have to pass an English language exam if teaching a class subject that is not in your native language.
- You can apply up to three months prior to graduation.
- Go to a workshop at the International Center for practical training.
Visa & Immigration
16. My Visa has expired, what do I need to do?
The U.S. visa is the stamp that you received when you went to the U.S. embassy to request the entry into the U.S. This stamp is used for entry purposes only. Once you have arrived in the U.S. and your entry stamp has expired, unless you are traveling outside the U.S., you do not need to worry about this stamp. If you plan to travel outside the U.S., you will need a new visa stamp to enter the U.S. You will need to request this stamp at a U.S. consulate in a foreign country. For more information, please visit the International Center.
Student Identification & Email17. How do I get a student ID card?
A student ID card is a small card with your photograph and your student number. This card is used widely on campus as a form of identification to borrow materials from the libraries, to use the university meal plan, to charge items at the bookstore, and to use school facilities e.g. recreation center, computer lab. Instructions for obtaining your student ID card can be found here.
18. How do I get e-mail access through campus?
IR/PS uses its own email system called First Class. Instructions for accessing First Class can be found here.
19. Where can I find housing?
The International Center has information regarding short term and and long term living arrangements.
20. How do I find an apartment off campus?
The International Center provides links and resources for finding housing in the community.
- Check in with the International Center - there are social events for international graduate students, spouses and children throughout the academic year.
- Bring your spouse to IR/PS social events.
- Check with UC San Diego Extension for classes and activities that might interest your spouse.
Living in San Diego
22. How do I open a U.S. bank account?
The International Center's guide "Getting Started and UCSD" has information regarding opening a bank account.
23. Does UC San Diego offer health insurance?
All incoming graduate students are provided with health insurance through the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). Enrollment in this plan is mandatory and you will automatically be billed with your school fees.
24. What cultural activities are available at UC San Diego?
The International Center offers a wide array of activities. These programs help establish friendships and connections between our American volunteers and the international community. Activities include:
- English in Action Tutor Program
- Language Exchange Program
- Friday International Café
- International Partners Program (I-Partners)
- International Club
- American Pie
- Friends of the International Center
- Check the Social Calendar folder on First Class (IR/PS email).
- Get involved in student groups and help plan social events.
- Check with International Center for upcoming events
- Try to contact any cultural groups in San Diego and get on their email list.
26. Transportation & Living in San Diego
More on how to get around and what to do in San Diego can be found on IR/PS' About San Diego page.