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International Student Enrollment Steps

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.

In addition to submitting your deposit and completing your enrollment steps through My Account, it is important to begin the process of applying for a visa.

Applying for a Visa

Our team is here to meet your needs and will work alongside you as you navigate the process of applying for a visa. The visa type and 1-20 level offered for four-year, degree-seeking students is an F-1 visa.

  • What is an F-1 visa? Your F1 visa allows you to enter the United States through U.S. Customs and Border Protection with the intention of studying at an educational institution in the United States.
  • What is an I-20? Your I-20 is issued by a university after admission and certifies your eligibility for full-time study once proof of financial ability is established.

Receiving Your I-20

In order to receive your I-20, you will need to submit the following required I-20 documents to your application portal or email them to your admissions counselor:

  • A copy of your passport
  • Affidavit of Support
  • Supporting bank statement or certificate of balance

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.

Download Biola's Affidavit of Support

Receiving Your F-1 Visa

Once Biola receives and reviews your required I-20 documents, you will receive the Form I-20 through FedEx.

Please note: Although Canadian citizens do not need to apply for a visa, they still need to submit financial documents, receive the I-20 and pay the SEVIS fee.

International Students Living Outside the U.S.

If you are an international student living outside the United States, please complete the following steps:

  1. Check and Sign Your I-20
    • Now that you have your I-20 form, your first step is to carefully read the form 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 (above your name).
  2. Pay the SEVIS Fee
    • What is the SEVIS fee? The purpose of the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee is to cover the costs of maintaining SEVIS, a web-based system for monitoring information about international students in the United States.
    • Who has to pay the SEVIS fee? All international students applying for an F-1 student visa and entering the U.S. with an I-20 are required to pay a SEVIS fee of $200. This is different from the visa fee.
    • How do I Pay the SEVIS Fee? You have three payment options. Keep in mind that you will need the SEVIS number to pay the SEVIS fee. This ID number is found on the upper left corner of the I-20, and begins with the letter “N”. Here are three ways you can submit your SEVIS fee:
      • ONLINE You can pay with credit/debit card at FMJfee.com if you submit your form online. Make sure to 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 with the Form I-901. Payment must be payable in U.S. currency.
  3. 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
    • If the visa is granted, they will keep your passport at the embassy to issue a visa stamp (this can take up to two days). Make sure the visa classification is stamped as F-1 visa and all the names are correct.
    • Check out these visa interview tips and review questions you may have to answer.
    • Please 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 when going through the port of entry.
  4. Schedule an Appointment with Biola's Immigration Specialist
    • Within 30 days leading up to your arrival to the United States schedule an appointment with Biola’s Immigration Specialist by contacting registrar@biola.edu.

International Students Currently Living in the U.S.

If you are an international student currently living within the United States on an F-1 Visa, please complete the following steps:

  1. Complete the SEVIS Transfer Authorization Form Download the SEVIS Transfer Authorization Form
  2. Transfer Your I-20 Have your current DSO (Designated School Official) release your SEVIS record to Biola University, as indicated on the Transfer Authorization Form.
  3. Schedule an Appointment with Biola's Immigration Specialist Within 15 days of the first day of class, schedule an appointment with Biola’s Immigration Specialist by contacting registrar@biola.edu.

Visas for Spouses and Children

If you are accepted into the program on an F-1 visa, then your spouse and children can apply for the F-2 visa (dependent visa). You will need to provide passport copies of your spouse and children and you must be able to prove through the Affidavit of Support and bank statements that they can be financially funded as well (Spouse: $10,000; Child: $4,000 per child).

Entering the United States

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Make your way to campus. After you are processed through customs, proceed to the main airport terminal. If you unable to attend Global Student Orientation, you will need to make your own pick up arrangements.

Global Student Orientation

Global Student Programs and Development (GSPD) hosts Global Student Orientation, a week-long welcome event full of helpful activities and workshops to help transition you to campus and the Southern California area. Register and learn more at our Undergraduate Global Student Orientation page.

If you have any questions regarding airport pick-up service, arrival, orientation sign-up or transition to life at Biola, contact GSPD at globalstudentservices@biola.edu.

Climate and Attire

Southern California has some of the most pleasant weather in the United States. Come prepared for sunshine, palm trees, warm days and pleasantly cool evenings. The following information details typical seasonal temperatures in the La Mirada:

  • Autumn (September, October, November)
    • Average Temperatures:
      • High: 79ºF (26ºC)
      • Low: 58ºF (14ºC)
  • Winter (December, January, February)
    • Average Temperatures:
      • High: 69ºF (21ºC)
      • Low: 47ºF (8ºC)
  • Spring (March, April, May)
    • Average Temperatures:
      • High: 73ºF (23ºC)
      • Low: 55ºF (13ºC)
  • Summer (June, July, August)
    • Average Temperatures:
      • High: 83ºF (28ºC)
      • Low: 65ºF (18ºC)

Like other cities on the West Coast, attire and lifestyle in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas are casual. Most students (male and female) typically wear jeans, slacks or shorts along with T-shirts or casual tops. However, you may want to bring at least one more formal outfit for special occasions.