Current Students - What You Need To Know...
For all currently-enrolled students, you will need all of the following documents in order to return to United States form a temporary absence outside of the U.S. for less than 5 months:
- SEVIS I-20 form with travel recommendation at the bottom of page 3 --- request this signature from the International Office at least 3 days before your planned travel.
- Valid passport and valid F-1 visa
- Signed SEVIS I-20 (within the last 6 months)
- I-94 card [if your I-94 card is removed when exiting the United States, you must receive a new card when re-entering U.S.]
- All previous I-20 issued
- Proof of medical insurance and photo identification
- Proof of registration for current semester
If you are on OPT, you will need the following documents in order to return to the U.S.
- Valid passport and valid F-1 visa
- I-20 form with OPT travel recommendation printed at the bottom of page 3
- Employment Authorization Card showing approved OPT
- A letter from your current employer showing you are working in a job directly related to your field of study you completed; or looking for work directly related to your field of study.
Important Information on Traveling to Mexico - Click here to find out if you need a tourist visa to enter Mexico.
If you travel by car or trolley to Mexico, you still be go through U.S. inspection before you can return to the United States. You need a signed SEVIS I-20, your passport and valid visa. If your F-1 visa has expired, please contact our office prior to leaving. Keep in mind that international student are likely to go to a separate line (secondary inspection) that is NOT required of most U.S. travelers. Expect to wait from 1-2 hours.
- Change of Address Form - This form should be filled out within 10 days of your move. You must sumbmit the form with your signature to the International Office
- Special Request Form - This form should be completed when you need a travel signature on your I-20, transfer to another school, or any other special request. The form must include your name, student ID, mailing address, email address and signature when you turn it in to the International Office.
- Form 8843 - All international students are required to file form 8843, even if you did not earn any income in United States. See sample form 8843.
- Passport - This document is issued by the government of your country and is required to depart and re-enter your country as well as the United States. Your passport must be valid at all times during your stay in the United States.
- SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) - An electronic tracking system developed by the U.S. government to track the full-time academic status of all international students.
- U.S. Visa - Stamped in your passport by the U.S. Consulate. It enables you to enter the U.S. anytime the visa is valid. Normally, international students in the U.S. have an F-1 visa.
- Immigration Status - This refers to your visa category, such as F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, B-2, currently in effect for a temporary visitor to the United States.
- I-20 Form - The document sent to you after you have been admitted to the college. The document is used for applying for F-1 visa as well as for entering in the United States.
- I-94 Card - You will be given an I-94 card either on the plane en route to the U.S. or at your point of arrival. It is also known as Arrival/Departure Record. The I-94 card will be completed by immigration authorities and will state how long you are authorized to stay in the U.S. It will also be stamped with your admission number and D/S (Duration of Status). Beginning May 21, 2013, all I-94 cards will be issued electronically. You will no longer receive a paper version at the point of arrival. You can access your electronic I-94 card at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - The U.S. government agency which enforces U.S. immigration laws.
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) - Responsible for immigration investigations, detention, removal, intelligence and SEVIS.
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD) - Small plastic card issued by the USCIS.
- Maintaining Status - See Checklist for Students to Maintain F-1 status
Students holding an F-1 visa must do the following to maintain status:
- Have a valid, unexpired passport
- Attend the school that you are authorized to attend
- Pursue a full course of study
- Make normal progress towards completing a course of study
- You must have permission prior to engaging in any kind of employment, practical training, or internships
- Have a valid SEVIS I-20 and apply for timely extensions
- Follow school transfer procedures
Watch a short video about your responsibilities for maintaining F-1 Status.
Click here to print your I-94 card.
As you are aware, international students in academic classes, must maintain 12 credit units each fall and spring semester. Full-time enrollment applies from the first day of the semester until the last day of the semester (dropping a classes DOES NOT count towards full-time status). If you take an online class, no more than 3 units online count toward the 12 unit requirement.
There are cases when international students can ask for permission to register for less than 12 units. These cases must be approved by the International Office BEFORE changing your class schedule. Please review each option, and follow the steps to find out if you qualify to change your enrollment.
Graduation semester: students who have completed one year of study and need less than 12 units to complete an Associate Degree or Certificate program can meet the academic counselor and Petition for a Degree or Certificate. All international students must register including an in-person class.
Medical Injury or illness: must include a doctor’s verification of medical injury or illness with a recommendation for the number of classes the student can take.
Concurrent Enrollment at MiraCosta and another college: if you have a required class that is not offered at MiraCosta but is offered at another school, you can request to register at another school to maintain full-time enrollment.
Initial Difficulty with English language or American Teaching Methods: if you enroll in a class too difficult for your English level, you may ask to change your enrollment. You must be ATTENDING class and your current teacher will have to approve your request to change your schedule. If you are having difficulty with classes, please visit the International Office immediately to receive help to change your schedule.
International students that have an F-1 status are eligible to work only when you have special permission. Working without permission is a violation of F-1 visa regulations and can end your stay in the United States. See F-1 student employment information posted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The following are a list of work options for F-1 visa students and the permission required:
On campus employment is any job located on the MiraCosta College. Examples of on-campus employment are: library assistant, academic tutor, computer lab assistant, student worker at the IIP, clerk at the bookstore and worker at the cafeteria.
Approval to work as an F-1 student
- maintain your full-time student status F-1 student status and have a valid I-20 form
- work no more than 19.5 hours during academic semesters or up to 40 hours during school breaks
- last day of authorized on-campus employment is the graduation day
Here are the steps to follow to find an on-campus job:
- Visit the IIP and request a letter to verify your F-1 student status
- Bring the letter from the IIP to Career Studies and Services. On-Campus job listings are available at CareerPoint, however students will still need to contact the Career Studies and Services Center before you can interview with a supervisor on-campus.
- Once you receive a job offer, visit the IIP and request a letter to apply for a Social Security Number. You need your new supervisor to sign the letter to verify you have an on-campus job.
- Complete the new employee paperwork required for each on-campus job at Career Studies and Services. You will need to sign the On-campus Employment Agreement Form.
Any employment outside of MiraCosta College requires special permission. This permission can take up to 90 days (3 months) to receive. There are 3 kinds of employment permission you can request:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Students with an academic major that requires an Internship class or Work Experience class can receive permission to work off-campus to meet the requirements for their major.
- Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act issued by the U.S. Department of Labor
- Resources for International Students requesting Curricular Practical Training issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Approval to work as an F-1 student
- You must have been an F-1 student for at least one academic year
- Your academic major at MiraCosta must include Occupational Work Experience or Internship as a course meeting a degree requirement
- You must enroll and receive a grade for a Occupational Work Experience or an Internship class during the semester that you are allowed to work
- CPT is granted for a specific job title, a specific company and for only one semester at a time.
- You must complete Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Form and have your I-20 form approved for CPT by the IIP before you begin working.
F-1 students are allowed to ask the U.S. government for permission to work in a job related to your academic major at MiraCosta. You are allowed to request a total of 12 months of training. You can apply for part-time working permission while you attend school, or you can apply for 12 months of full-time working permission that begins after you complete a Certificate of Achievement or Associates Degree at MiraCosta College.
Approval to work as an F-1 student
- must have been in a student status for at least one academic year
- must file application to the Department of Homeland Security (will take up to 90 days to receive permission after filing an application)
- can apply for part-time OPT (no more than 20 hours per week) while attending school or full-time after graduation.
- must apply for all OPT permission BEFORE you complete your degree or certificate
- can only work in a job directly related to your academic major
Students with a significant financial crisis during their academic studies can request special permission to work off-campus. An example of a financial crisis includes a significant devaluation of their home currency or an unexpected emergency with a sponsor. A student must provide proof of the financial crisis but must be able to show that they have some financial support to remain in the United States.
Approval to work as an F-1 student
- Must have been in a student status for at least one academic year
- Must provide proof of their financial crisis
- must file application to the Department of Homeland Security (will take up to 90 days to receive permission after filing an application)
Student interested in working outside campus on economic hardship must document to the CIS reasons why you qualify for economic hardship. The student needs to apply at least 60 days in advance and can not work for more than 19.5 hours a week while school is in session.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find a job at MiraCosta College?
On-Campus job listings are available at MonsterTrak (http://www.monstertrak.com), however students will still need to contact the Career Studies and Services Center for a referral to the particular department for interview. To find out more about on-campus work options, contact the Career Studies and Services on the Oceanside campus, building 3700 at 760.757.2121 x6493.
If I am paid in cash, can I work at a local restaurant or help a friend?
No. An international student must receive permission to accept any kind of employment. Employment is considered anytime you receive money or compensation. It is illegal to work without permission and it can end your stay in the United States.
Can I volunteer as an unpaid intern with a company or employer?
Yes. If the internship involves no form of compensation and is truly voluntary, you may volunteer without having to do any paperwork with the Department of Homeland Security. If, however, the internship provides a stipend or any compensation, students must obtain permission for practical training prior to starting their internship.
To know more information about employment in the U.S. as an F-1 student, visit the website hosted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) below.
If you plan to work on campus after you have completed your first semester at MiraCosta College, you must obtain a U.S. social security number, which is used by the U.S. government to identify wage earners for tax purposes. To apply for a social security number you must have a job offer on campus or an authorization for work off campus and a letter from the Institute for International Perspectives confirming your student status. Social Security numbers will not be issued to students who do not qualify with those requirements.
A social security number is not required for opening a bank account, registering for school, filing a U.S. tax form or applying for a driver’s license. If you are required to file a tax return and are not eligible for a U.S. social security number, you will have to apply to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a Tax Identification Number (ITIN) on form W-7. This number may also be used for opening a bank account. MiraCosta will also issue to the student an identification number (ID) that is recognized only by MiraCosta College and can not be used as a social security number.
In order to receive a Social Security Number, you should apply in person at the Social Security Administration Office with the following documents:
- Application Form (print out page 5)
- Valid passport
- Valid visa
- Signed SEVIS I-20
- Second Identification that has the date of birth and also it has to be one year old
- Letter from the Institute for International Perspectives with information about your on-campus employment or authorized practical training
- If you are on OPT, you also need to bring your EAD card and the I-20 Form with OPT recommendation on page 3.
Oceanside Social Security Office
2160 S EL CAMINO REAL
Oceanside, CA 92054
Phone Numbers: 1-800-772-1213
Office Hours: 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM (Monday to Friday)
Except Federal Holidays
Located off Hwy 78 & El Camino Real, north of the Target shopping cetner & south of Fire Mountain Rd on the east side fo the street. The building is set back off the street, partially blocked from view.
Who Must File?
All international students, regardless of whether they have U.S. source incomes, must file federal income tax forms. In California, state income tax forms also must be filed if money is earned in the U.S. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code contains special provisions which apply to nonimmigrants in F status for whom certain income may be exempt from tax payment.
When and How To File?
April 15th is the deadline each year for filing a return on income earned during the preceding calendar year. Each year toward the end of January, every U.S. employer prepares a "W-2 Form" for each employee showing the amount earned during the preceding tax year and the amount of taxes, federal and state, withheld. This W-2 Form is used in preparing income tax forms, therefore it is very important that you do not lose or throw the form away. If the amount withheld exceeds the amount of the tax obligation, a tax return must be filed in order to receive the refund.
What Forms To File?
- Form 8843: All international students are required to file form 8843, even if you did not earn any income in United States. See sample form 8843 here.
- Form 1040NR-EZ: If you earned income in United States, you also need to file form 1040NR-EZ. The instructions for filling Form 1040NR-EZ can be found here.
- Form 540NR: If you earned income in the United States, you are also required to file 540NR for the California state taxes. The instructions for filling Form 540NR can be found here.
How to Complete Form 8843?
- First, click here to open the form.
- Enter your name, your SSN (if you do not have an SSN, then leave blank), your home address in your country and the address in United States.
- You will need to complete only Part I and Part III
- In Part I, enter the immigration status with which you entered the United States (for example, F-1 or B-2 if you came as a visitor). Then enter your country of citizenship, passport information and approximately how many days you were in United States (don't worry about being exact).
- In Part III, lines 9 and 10 have been already completed. Please fill out line 11, 12, 13, and 14.
- Sign your name and date in page 2 and mail to the address listed in page 3.
- The deadline for mailing the form 8843 is June 15.
Tax Treaty Issues
The United States has income tax treaties with a number of foreign countries. Under these treaties, residents (not necessarily citizens) of foreign countries are taxed at a reduced rate, or are exempt from U.S. income taxes on certain items of income they receive from sources within the United States. These reduced rates and exemptions vary among countries and specific items of income. Learn more information on U.S. Tax Treaties on the IRS website.
- Find out if you are eligible for any treaty benifits, click here for the entire tax treaty table.
How and where to get help?
- The Internal Revenue Service has an office in San Marcos, CA. They provide face-to-face assistance during tax season (from January to mid-April). You do not need to make an appointment. The service is on first-come-first-serve basis.
San Marcos IRS Office
1 Civic Center Dr.
San Marcos, CA 92069
Monday-Friday - 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
If you are planning to transfer money from your country, it is to your interest to arrange the transfer prior to your arrival. Very few banks in the United States have a branch in other countries, so the transfer from your bank to a bank in the United States would be delayed and fairly expensive if not done properly. You should consult with the individual banks about the arrangements for transferring funds as well the different features, services and fees charged.
Most banks are open Monday through Friday from morning until mid-afternoon, and some are open also on Saturday morning. Upon opening an account, an ATM card will be offered in order to get money out of the account at any hour, day or night in the ATM machines. These cards can be used at automated teller machines (ATMs) all over the city, state, and country. ATMs from the Mission Federal Credit Union Bank are available at both Oceanside and San Elijo campus. There will be fees associated with using an ATMs that is not associated with your bank.
The two main types of bank accounts are checking accounts, which allow checks to be written, and savings accounts, which offer a place to keep money and earn interest. Some checking accounts also pay interest. Most people in the U.S. pay their bills with checks. Also checks may be necessary for paying your rent. Cash should never be sent in the mail to pay for a bill or for any other reason.
Requirements for Opening a Bank Account
In order to open an account at most banks, you will need two valid forms of identification. A passport and a MiraCosta College identification card are usually sufficient. Some banks will also require a Social Security Number or a Tax Identification Number. At least $100 is usually required to open an account, and there will be a monthly service charge for the account unless a "minimum balance requirement" (as much as $500 or higher) is maintained. There will also be a charge to have checks printed. Banks often have "hidden" fees so be sure to inquire about all possible fees.
Banks in the Area
Bank of America
Plaza Drive (inside Albertson’s Grocery Store)
Mission Federal Credit Union
2745 Jefferson Street, Carlsbad
Union Bank of California
2733 Vista Way, Oceanside
2580 El Camino Real, Carlsbad
Wells Fargo Bank
El Camino Real (inside Von’s Grocery Store)
Housing is the responsibility of the individual student and/or sponsor. MiraCosta College does not provide dormitories or college-approved housing for students. Below are listed some web sites and phone numbers of companies/organizations that can assist you with planning your arrival to San Diego County. MiraCosta College assumes no responsibility and has no knowledge of the condition of housing advertised or the character/reputation of housing providers. Information furnished is for your convenience only. It is compiled from and readily available on the web.
- Local Housing Information MiraCosta College provides Housing Information for convenience to those person(s) seeking housing and those wishing to advertise the availability of housing. MiraCosta College assumes no responsibility and has no knowledge of the condition of housing advertised or the character/reputation of those seeking housing.
- Oceanside Chamber of Commerce web site offers information on relocation to the Oceanside area, local attractions, and area map, etc. You can also get information on temporary housing (hotels/motels) options. Use 92056 zip code to locate hotels/motels that are close to our Oceanside campus.
- If you are interested in participating in a homestay program, you may contact the homestay providers directly:
- Airport pick-up services can be arranged directly with the Y.E.S. ESL International Inc. or Homestay Services International.
How can you take public transportation from the Los Angeles airport to Oceanside?
1. Take the Flyaway bus from the airport to the Los Angeles Union Station. This will cost you $7.00. For more information go to http://www.lawa.org/flyaway
2. Once you are at the Union Station, you need to take the Orange County Line of the Metrolink train. This train will take you directly to the Transit Center in Oceanside. This will cost you $14.50 one way. See the links to the train station and train schedule.
Public transportation is limited in San Diego and below we have listed some modes of transportation that you may use while living in California.
Bus is another mode of transportation used by many of our students. The North County Transit has two bus lines that come to our campuses. Bus number 302 arrives in Oceanside and there is not a bus currently going to San Elijo campus. You may purchase monthly passes and pick up schedules at the cashier’s office at MiraCosta College. For more information on the routes and fares you may visit their website.
The Coaster is an option for students that want to travel from downtown San Diego to Oceanside. The coaster is a commuter train and monthly passes are available. For more information on the schedule and fares you may call toll free 800.262.7837 or visit their website.
The AMTRAK train is available to students that want to do some sightseeing while living in California. AMTRAK fares depend on the time of year, your destination, how far in advance you order your tickets, and whether you want coach or sleeper space.
For more information on San Diego commute you may visit: http://www.sdcommute.com
Bicycling is used by some of our students as the most economical way to get around the MiraCosta College campus. If you plan to ride a bicycle you should be aware of some safety procedures:
- A helmet is strongly recommended. A helmet is mandatory if you are under 18 years of age.
- Reflective clothing is crucial if you are riding at night, as well as a headlight, rear light and reflector.
- Bicyclists must comply with the same traffic regulations as motorists, so you need to obtain a copy of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handbook.
The easiest but not the cheapest way to move around is to purchase an automobile. A reliable used car costs at least $2,500. Additional costs having a car are the mandatory insurance as well as necessary repairs.
International students must obtain a California Driving License even if you have a valid international license. Prior to receiving a license the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will require:
- A social security card or a letter of denial from the social security office.
- Your passport, I-20 and a valid I-94 card.
- A written test as well as driving test.
After you have completed this process, a temporary license will be issued until a confirmation on your status is received by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The actual driving license will be mailed to you as soon as this confirmation is received, and this process may take as long as 9 months.
For more information, please vist the DMV Web site.
If you purchase a car in California you must purchase insurance as well. The car insurance costs approximately $1,000 per year but it also depends on your driving records. Most insurance companies do require driving records for the past three years so it is advisable that you bring your driving records. In order for you to receive the cheapest insurance rate, you will need to "shop" (call or search through internet for the cheapest rate). Below, we have listed some web site addresses of car insurance companies:
- http://automobileinsurances.com - Receive fast auto insurance quote online and compare rates from leading car insurance companies instantly.
Rent a Car
Renting a car is an option for students that want to do some sightseeing and travel to places such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, and Sea World. If you consider renting a car, you need to know that most car rental companies require that you must be over 25 years of age, have a valid driving license, and a credit card. Below are listed some car rental web sites:
The U.S. Postal Service delivers mail to homes and business Monday-Saturday. Mail is not delivered on Sunday or legal holidays. Special delivery and express mail is delivered seven days a week. When mailing a letter in the U.S. make certain to use the zip code as this will speed up delivery.
A few international students that have not yet arranged permanent housing receive a P.O. Box address from the United States Postal Services. The P.O. Box is used for receiving mail in that specific box regardless where you are living. Remember that if you consider getting a P.O. Box for your mailing address, you still must give the Institute for International Perspectives the address of the place in which you are living.
The closest United States Postal Services Office to MiraCosta College Oceanside Campus is located at Avenida del Oro Street next to the College Plaza. The postage rate for sending a letter or a bill within the United States is 45¢. The current postal rates can be found at: http://postcalc.usps.com/
- Sender’s name and address
- The name of the receiver
- The business name of the receiver
- The street address of the receiver
- The city where the receiver is located
- The state where the receiver is located (CA for California, NY for New York). To find the abbreviation of each state in the U.S., go to: http://www.usps.com/ncsc/lookups/usps_abbreviations.html
- Mailing barcode generated by the U.S. postal service
- The zip code where the receiver is located. To find the zip code in the U.S., go to: http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/welcome.jsp
The following legal holidays are days in which many businesses, schools, and banks are closed in United States. For specific dates on the current year, please see the class schedule.
|New Year's Day (January 1)||The celebration, marking the first day of the New Year, occurs at midnight on December 31st with a grand party, a lot of noise, and toasts.|
|Martin Luther King Day||Celebrate the birthday of this civil rights leader on the third Monday in January.|
|Presidents' Day||Observed on the third Monday in February, this holiday honors the birthdays of the first U.S. president, George Washington (February 22) and President Abraham Lincoln (February 12).|
|Memorial Day (last Monday in May)||Commemorates U.S. soldiers who have died in wars. It is customary to decorate their graves with flowers or flags on this day.|
Independence Day (July 4)
|A day of parades, picnics, fireworks, celebrating the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776|
|Celebrated on the first Monday in September honoring the importance of labor organizations in America.|
Veteran's Day (November 11)
|"Armistice Day" marking the treaty date ending World War I. This holiday honors veterans of all wars with parades and speeches.|
|Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November with a huge traditional dinner consisting of a roasted stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin pie. The custom dates back to the pilgrims in 1621 who gave thanks for a bountiful harvest.|
Christmas (December 25)
|A joyful holiday of gift-giving, family reunions, Santa Claus, feasting, and decorated Christmas trees based on a Christian tradition.|
Student Accident and Sickness Insurance Information (August 1, 2013-July 31, 2014)
Get flyer with the 2013-2014 policy number and instructions here.
- Provider: International students must purchase the health insurance provided by Student Insurance, Inc which can be obtained through MiraCosta College.
- Maximum Benefit for mandatory basic coverage of is $500,000 per Insured person per policy year. The health insurance fee for international students at MiraCosta College is $699 for six months. Students must pay this fee at the time of registration for each Spring and Fall semester. When you pay for classes in Fall semester, your insurance coverage dates are August 1 through January 31. When you pay for classes in spring semester, your insurance coverage dates are February 1-July 31. If you believe that you have health insurance equivalent to the one that is provided through Student Insurance, Inc. you must complete a health insurance waiver form (available at the International Office) each semester and have that coverage approved by our office prior to your registration. Highlights of Coverage and Services (PDF) .
- Cost for dependent insurance: If you want to enroll your wife or husband or children, you must complete a Registration Form for dependents and pay for each dependent separately. The cost to cover your spouse is $1,980 for 6 months. The cost of enrolling one child is $702 for 6 months. The cost for dependent children (3 or more) is $1,944 for 6 months.
- To see a doctor: International students who want to see a doctor, should contact the Health Services Offices (available at both Oceanside and San Elijo campus). If the Health Services Office is closed, you should contact a health clinic listed on the Health Insurance flyer.
- The co-pay amount to see a doctor is $25.00 and there is a $75 policy year deductible. However, if you visit Health Services and they refer you to a doctor, they will give you a co-pay/deductible waiver which will waive the co-pay and deductible! If you go to the Emergency Room, there is a $100.00 co-pay (ER co-pay is not waived). Whether you need to pay additional fees for your doctor's visit depends on which clinic and which doctor you see. Please contact the Student Insurance Agency by calling (800) 367-5830 or visit the website and click on “FIND A DOCTOR”.
- To obtain a copy of the International Student Accident & Sickness Health Insurance Brochure, you can click here to download an electronic copy.
- To request prescription reimbursement: Please use the claim form via Medco Pharmacy.
Emergency and Safety
- In case of medical emergency, click here for instructions.
- Flu info in many languages: http://www.ebscohost.com/flu/
- In case of emergency evacuations, follow the tips for students provided by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Contact us if you have any questions