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Arriving and Living in the U.S.

Arrival Information

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. All F-1 student visa holders are required by law to begin full-time studies within 30 days of their entry into the country. Please do not attempt to enter the United States more than 30 days before the program start date; you may be denied entry. If you have problems receiving your visa or with your flight arrangements, contact Biola University admissions immediately.

We recommend that you carry all of the following documents with you while traveling:

  • Form I-20, passport and visa
  • SEVIS I-901 fee receipt (you may be asked to show proof of payment at the U.S. port of entry)
  • Copy of acceptance letter or other evidence of admission from Biola University’s ELP
  • Proof of finances: bank statement and letter of sponsorship (if sponsored)

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 (for F-1 visa holders) 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 are taking part in the Global Student Orientation, a representative from Biola’s Global Student Programs and Development can meet you at the airport, give you a ride to campus and help you move into your on-campus housing. Please contact us at (562) 903-6000 (ext. 5804) or to make the proper arrangements. Alternatively, you can take advantage of California’s shuttle options at our local airports.


Biola offers a variety of housing options according to students’ program level and marital status. ALP students are welcome to live in undergraduate housing, while AEP students are encouraged to take advantage of graduate housing. Lang-Learn students should connect with an admissions counselor to determine the best housing option.

  • Undergraduate Housing: Single undergraduate students younger than 20 years old by the first day of classes are required to live in Biola housing all year (unless they are commuting from their parent’s home). Students living in a residence hall must have at least a 10-meal-per-week plan. Please contact with any questions.
  • Graduate Housing (Non-Married): Single graduate students have the option to live in Biola’s Graduate Housing and purchase a meal plan. Housing is limited so it is good to apply as soon as you have been admitted to Biola. Please contact with any questions.
  • Married & Family Housing: Married undergraduate or graduate students have the option to live in Biola’s Married & Family Housing and purchase a meal plan. Housing is limited so it is best to apply as soon as you have been admitted to Biola. Please contact with any questions.
  • Commuter Information: The Department of Commuter Life serves Biola’s commuter students through resources and events, and provides a "home away from home." Please contact with any questions.

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.

Location and Community

Biola University is located in the heart of Southern California on the border of Los Angeles and Orange Counties — one of the largest and most diverse metropolitan areas in the world. If you’re ever looking for adventure or entertainment, you’ll be a short drive from world-famous beaches, snow-dusted mountain ranges, Disneyland and all the opportunities of Los Angeles.

Our location doesn’t compromise safety. Biola is ranked as one of the safest colleges in California and is protected by a full team of campus safety officers who maintain twenty-four-hour supervision of our campus. In fact, our Campus Safety captain, John Ojeisekhoba, was even named Campus Safety Director of the Year in 2015. He and his team are dedicated to ensuring that you’ll always feel safe at Biola.

What truly sets Biola apart is our community. All staff, students and faculty on Biola’s campus are Christian, and we’re committed to knowing and loving God and one another more deeply. Together, through the power and grace of God, we are leaving a tangible impact on our world and an eternal impact on the kingdom.

We recognize that pursuing an education in another country comes with unique perspectives, challenges and experiences. That’s why our Global Student Programs and Development brings together over 600 global students from more than 40 home countries. In addition to providing support throughout your transition, GPSD offers a welcoming global community in which to develop your intercultural identity. To learn more about their leadership, community and services, explore their department.