International Graduate Student Enrollment Steps
On This Page
- Prepare for the Student Visa Process (F-1 Visa)
- Complete your Biola Enrollment tasks
- Entering the United States
- Arriving by Air in Los Angeles
Congratulations on your acceptance to Biola University!
As an international student, you will be asked to submit additional items prior to your arrival to the United States and Biola University. The International Admissions team is available to help you every step of the way.
Prepare for the Student Visa Process (F-1 Visa)
Note: The F-1 visa process is only required for international students studying on campus. International students studying fully online do not need an F-1 visa.
Submit the required international documents
The following documents are required for you to submit to the International Admissions Office. The International Admissions Office will verify the documents to create a Form I-20 for you and your dependents (if they will be coming with you to the U.S.). Please upload the following documents to your application portal:
- Copy of your passport
- All passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the program start date.
- Dependents (F-2 visa) must also provide valid passport copies.
- Affidavit of Support
- What is an Affidavit of Support? An Affidavit of Support is a document an individual (ex. Sponsor, family member, spouse) signs to accept financial responsibility for the student coming to the United States to study. The U.S. government requires the Affidavit of Support from all international students applying for an F-1 visa.
- If you will be sponsored, the Affidavit of Support is required. If you will be supporting yourself, this form is not required.
- You may have more than one sponsor, but each sponsor must complete an Affidavit of Support.
- Bank Statement or Certificate of Balance
- The bank statement or certificate of balance should have the date, sponsor’s name (if you will be sponsored) or your name (if you will support yourself), and the total balance available.
- The total balance should be equal to or more than the amount listed on the Affidavit of Support. *Note: The date should not be more than 3 months from the date of submission.
For international students living outside the U.S.
If you are an international student living outside the United States, please complete the following steps:
- After the required international documents are verified, the Form I-20 will be mailed to you.
- Check and sign your Form I-20
- Once you receive the Form I-20, please read the form carefully to make sure all the information is correct. After reading “Instructions to Students” on page 3, sign the form in blue ink at the bottom of page 1.
- Pay the SEVIS Fee, which is required for all international students applying for an initial F-1 visa and entering the U.S. with an I-20. *Note: The SEVIS fee is different from the F-1 visa fee.You have three payment options:
- ONLINE — You can pay with credit/debit card through fmjfee.com/i901fee. Make sure you print the payment confirmation page to serve as proof of payment at your visa interview.
- WESTERN UNION QUICK PAY™ SERVICE — The Western Union Quick Pay™ service is an acceptable payment method for the I-901 fee and is accessible in over 130 countries. Visit ice.gov/sevis/i901/wu-instructions for detailed instructions.
- CHECK OR MONEY ORDER — Visit ice.gov/sevis/i901 and send the check with the Form I-901. Payment must be payable in U.S. currency
- Apply for the F-1 visa. Complete the online application for the F-1 visa. You will also need to pay the visa application fee.
- Schedule an F-1 Visa Interview at the Nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate
- Before your interview, review the embassy’s website and bring required documents with you. Most embassies require payment for the SEVIS fee (Form I-901) prior to your arrival.
- During the interview, you must prove you are entering the U.S. solely for studying for the years indicated on Form I-20. Additionally, you will be asked to provide the following items:
- Proof of permanent residency in your home or other foreign country
- Valid passport
- Form I-20
- Affidavit of Support
- Proof of financial ability to support yourself (bank statements)
- A copy of your TOEFL/IELTS test scores
- Pass the F-1 visa interview and receive your F-1 visa
- If you pass the visa interview, the embassy will keep your passport to issue a visa stamp (this can take up to two days). Make sure the visa classification is stamped as an F-1 visa and that all the names are correct.
- *Note: This step is not required for Canadian citizens. Canadian citizens do not need a visa, but must have all the international documents listed above and the SEVIS fee receipt when going through the port of entry.
For international students currently studying in the U.S. on an F-1 visa
- Once the required international documents are verified, complete the Transfer Authorization Form.
- Once the Transfer Authorization Form is submitted to Biola’s International Coordinator (email@example.com), your current I-20 will be transferred to Biola.
- The updated I-20 can either be mailed to you or you can pick it up directly at Biola’s International Admissions Office.
Complete your Biola Enrollment tasks
All enrollment tasks should be completed through My Account. Enrollment tasks, such as setting up your Biola email account, registering for courses, and applying for health insurance, must be completed before you pay for the semester.
Once all the enrollment tasks are complete, you will be able to pay for the semester through My Account.
- Flywire — If you do not have a U.S. bank and would like to pay directly from your current bank account, Flywire would be a great option for you. Biola is partnered with Flywire to provide convenient, secure, and reliable international transfers. There will be a link in My Account (Student Financials) for you to pay through Flywire.
- Payment Options — Biola offers four payments options for your semester expenses.
- Please make sure to complete all enrollment tasks and pay for the semester by the deadline to avoid a late fee.
Entering the United States
This process is only required for international students studying on campus. International students studying fully online do not need information on entering the US.
You are allowed to enter the United States no more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your Form I-20. Please note, the immigration official at the Port of Entry has the final say on whether you will be allowed into the U.S. or not. Upon admission to enter, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will scan your traveler’s passport, generating an electronic arrival record with data elements. CBP will make your electronic I-94 (record of admission) available for retrieval on their website at cbp.gov/i-94.
Remember to have the following documents available at the Port of Entry:
- Passport (valid for a minimum of six months upon entry)
- F-1 Visa
- Form I-20
- SEVIS fee (I-901) receipt or proof of payment
- Copy of acceptance letter or other evidence of admission from Biola University
- Financial documents (bank statement and letter of sponsorship, if sponsored)
Canadian passport holders need to present the following documents at the Port of Entry:
- Canadian passport
- Original I-20 (or DS-2019) certificate
- Proof of SEVIS fee payment
- Proof of ability to pay school fees and living expenses in the United States (affidavit of Support and supporting bank statement)
- Proof of ties to Canada
Arriving by Air in Los Angeles
Los Angeles World Airport, known as LAX, is located about 27 miles west of Biola’s campus. When your flight arrives in LAX, you will need to do the following:
- Pass through immigration review. Present your passport, visa and I-20 to United States Customs and Border Protection officials. They will ask you some basic questions about the reason for your visit and ask you to fill out some paperwork. Before you leave the airport, make sure that you received an entry stamp in your passport. If you did not receive an entry stamp, bring your passport back to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who processed your documents to obtain one.
- Collect your checked baggage. Follow the signs to the baggage claim area to get your luggage. There will be a conveyor belt at the claim area marked with your airline and flight number. You may have to show your baggage claim ticket before exiting the area with your bags.
- Pass through customs. After you collect your baggage, you will go through Customs and Border Protection. Remember: You cannot bring fresh food or plants into the United States. For more customs information, visit U.S. Customs and Border Protection Travel.
- Make your way to campus. After you are processed through customs, proceed to the main airport terminal. You will need to make your own ride arrangements. Note: If you have registered for the GSPD orientation and have confirmed your ride arrangements with the GSPD office, please look for a Biola representative at the specified LAX terminal.
Schedule an appointment with Biola’s Immigration Services. Students with a “Transfer Pending” I-20 should check in within 15 days from their first day of classes. Students with a “Initial Attendance” I-20 should check in within 30 days from their arrival to the United States. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at +1 (562) 903-4720.
Global Student Programs and Development (GSPD) is a community for all global students at Biola. GSPD offers airport pick-ups, orientations, welcome ceremonies, and cultural workshops during the fall semester for new students — and you are welcome to join! Students are placed into groups according to education level. Orientation is required, so please remember to register.
View more information about the GSPD Graduate Orientation.
If you have any questions regarding airport pick-up service, arrival, orientation sign-up, or transition to life at Biola, contact GSPD at email@example.com.