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You Have A Place To Belong Here

Life in the U.S.

Welcome to the United States! Moving to a new country is a big decision — we understand and we’re here for you. Familiarize yourself with the collection of resources and services to help you transition to your time in the U.S.


For New Students

Now that you’ve said “Yes!” to Biola, here’s a glimpse into what happens next.

  1. Check your Biola email regularly for important updates and reminders.

  2. Obtain your F-1 visa (and F-2 visa(s) for your dependent(s) if applicable).

  3. Prepare for your arrival to Biola.

  4. Move into on-campus housing.

    View Biola on-campus housing

  5. Attend Biola orientation(s) for new students

  6. Meet with Biola’s student immigration advisor

    Schedule an appointment with Biola’s student immigration advisor upon arrival in the U.S.

    Email the student immigration advisor at studentvisa.services@biola.edu to schedule your appointment.

    For international students living outside the U.S., schedule an appointment within 30 days of your arrival to the U.S.

    For international students currently living in the U.S. (transferred your I-20), schedule an appointment within 15 days of the first day of class at Biola.

 

GSPD

Global Student Programs & Development

Global Student Programs & Development (GSPD) is dedicated to Biola’s global community — including international students. From global orientation and community events, to other transition resources, GSPD aims to serve and equip students to thrive in a more globally-minded community at Biola.

FOR STUDENTS, BY STUDENTS

Becoming Biola

“Becoming Biola'' is a collection of stories and tips written for students, by students. Explore what life as an undergraduate student in Southern California is like.

Read Becoming Biola

U.S. Resources

In addition to settling into your life as a Biola student, we want to make sure you are equipped to live life in the U.S. Explore the following resources to help you get started.


Driving in the U.S.

It is always recommended that international students obtain a California Driver’s License if they plan to drive in the United States. A California Driver's License is also required when purchasing a car and obtaining car insurance. For the most current information on applying for a driver's license please visit the California DMV website.

Getting a Driver’s License

There are two big steps in getting a license: written test and behind-the-wheel driving test. After passing the written test you will be issued a permit that allows you to practice driving with an adult (18 years of age or older) with a valid California license. You may take the driving test when you are ready.

Written Test

  1. Make an appointment online or via telephone at 1-(800) 777-0133 to save time.

  2. Fill out form DL-44, which isn't available online, as the DMV only accepts its original form. You can pick one up from your local DMV; or call 1-(800) 777-0133; or simply fill it out when you come in for your license exam.

  3. Bring all your paperwork (Original):
    • Passport (with valid visa)

    • Form I-20

    • Form I-94, "Arrival/Departure Record" –– This may be a white, paper I-94 card stapled to your passport, or an electronic I-94 record. Obtain a printout from www.cbp.gov/i94.

  4. Pay the application fee of $32 (USD) in cash only.

  5. Give your Social Security number (If you have one) and your true full name.

  6. Have your thumbprint and your picture taken and take a vision test.

  7. Pass a traffic-laws-and-signs test. There are 36 questions on the test. A passing score is at least 31 correct answers. You have 3 chances to pass.

To study for the test you can use the California Drivers Handbook and sample practice tests.


Driving Test

  1. Make an appointment online or via telephone at 1-800-777-0133 to save time.

  2. Have an acquaintance drive you to the DMV, you will be using their car to take the test.

  3. Make sure the acquaintance has the following:
    1. Valid California driver's license

    2. Valid car registration

    3. Valid proof of insurance

  4. Arrive at the DMV at least 30 minutes before appointment time to take the test.

  5. Once you pass, you will be issued a temporary license until you receive your photo license by mail.

  6. If you fail,You can take the test three times. Although there is no minimum waiting period between tests, you must make another appointment each time you retest. Each additional test will require a payment.

Getting Insurance

Before you start driving — even if you are a new driver practicing to take the driving test, you must have car insurance. Compare online and do some research to find the best option for you.

ID Cards

The DMV issues ID cards to persons of any age to be used to prove your identity or age. The ID card looks like a driver license, but is used for identification purposes only and they do not allow you to operate a motor vehicle.

Opening a Bank Account

There are many banks in the area to choose from. Check out this Google Map to see banks in La Mirada, or see the list below for banks extending beyond the La Mirada area. We recommend Chase and Wells Fargo as they have experience dealing with international students.

To open up an account at most local banks, you will need at least two of the following documents. Once you have picked out a bank, before visiting you should contact them first by phone to see what they require.

  • Driver’s license or state ID

  • Student ID

  • Passport

Note: Most banks will also require a minimum amount of funds to deposit to open the account.

Campus ATM

ATM access to most of the local banks around Biola can be found at the lower level Student Union Building. This ATM machine will require a small fee for most withdrawals.

Bank of America

  • 12231 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada, 714-533-4470

  • 6210 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, 714-533-4470

  • 13415 Telegraph, Santa Fe Springs, 562-868-1448

  • 15742 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, 714-533-4470

  • 1933 Malvern Ave, Fullerton, CA 92833 (ATM)

Bank of the West

  • 12709 Valley View Ave., La Mirada, 562-921-1365

  • 17303 Carmenita Rd., Cerritos, 562-926-1379

  • 1330 S. Beach Blvd. Unit A, La Habra, 562-694-1931

Chase Bank

  • 12333 La Mirada Blvd, La Mirada, 90638, (562) 968-1440

  • 15128 Rosecrans Ave, La Mirada, (714) 521-1310

  • 15625 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, (562) 947-0321

  • 1300 West Imperial Hwy., La Habra, (562) 691-2226

  • 11618 East Rosecrans Ave., Norwalk, (562) 868-3796

  • 1300 West Imperial Hwy., La Habra, (562) 691-2226

Citibank

  • 15410 East Whittier Blvd., Whittier, 1-800-843-2265

  • 320 South Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832, 1-657-217-8563

Union Bank of California

  • 1970 West Whittier Blvd., La Habra, 562-905-2400

  • 12221 South Norwalk Blvd., Norwalk, 562-863-8759

  • 8510 Painter St., Whittier, 562-693-9636

Wells Fargo

  • 15056 Rosecrans Ave, La Mirada, 714-521-1674

  • 7560 Orangethorpe Ave, Buena Park, 1-714-228, 2560

  • 1190 S. Beach Blvd., La Habra, 562-697-6749

  • 1899 West Malvern Ave, Unit 7C-1, Fullerton, 1-714-578-8300

  • 11732Firestone Blvd., Norwalk, 562-406-7220

  • 13355 South St, Cerritos, 1-562-467-5340

Finding a Church

The Spiritual Development department lists some churches close to Biola without necessarily endorsing them. Additionally, below are churches that have been recommended by global students. Contact globalstudentservices@biola.edu if you are part of a local church community that other global students might be interested in!

Note: This list is for reference use only and Biola University does not endorse any of the churches.

View List of Churches

Church Address Language

Redeemer Church

15151 Cordova Road
La Mirada, CA 90638

Service in English

Granada Heights Friends Church

11818 La Mirada Blvd.
La Mirada, CA 90638

Service in English

The Church at Green Hills

2200 West Imperial Highway
La Habra, CA 90631

Service in English, Spanish and Korean

Calvary Chapel La Habra (CCLH)

1370 S. Euclid St.
La Habra, CA 90631

Service in English, Japanese and Spanish

Church of Southland

1380 S Sanderson Ave
Anaheim, CA 92806

Service in English (large Korean population)

Immanuel Church of Southern California

13106 Bailey St.
Whittier, CA 90601

Service in Korean, Japanese and Mandarin (translation available)

Sa-Rang Community Church

1111 N. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Service in Korean and English

First Baptist Church of Hacienda Heights

1157 Galemont Ave.
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

Service in English; multi-ethnic and multi-generational church

Sila Church

17054 Bixby Ave.
Bellflower, CA 90706

Service in Thai and English

Formosan Presbyterian Church

13702 Fairview St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Service in Taiwanese and English

First Presbyterian Church of Orange

191 N Orange St.
Orange, CA 92866

Service in Korean and English

Vineyard of Harvest Church (VOH)

21167 Commerce Point Dr.
Walnut, CA 91789

Service in Mandarin and English

New Life Baptist Church

3718 North Baldwin Park Blvd.
Baldwin Park, CA 91706

Service in Indonesian and English

Bethel Church

18700 Harvard Ave.
Irvine, CA 92612

Service in Korean

Opendoor Church

1218 S. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Service in Korean and English

Paying Taxes

All international students, scholars, and their dependents who are present in the U.S. during any part of the calendar year are responsible for filing annual tax forms. Filing tax forms is required for all F visa holders, including dependents. This is a requirement even if you did not work or earn any income while in the U.S.

Note: The Form 8843 is required of all students and dependents every year.

External Tax Resources

While GSPD cannot officially advise on individuals’ tax matters, we want to help you potentially find the resources that you need. Listed below are additional resources that may help:

Additional tax services for non-U.S. citizens:

Workshops and Webinars

Below are two resources, a Powerpoint presentation from the February 26 and March 12 tax workshops held at Biola earlier this Spring and a 35-minute webinar from Sprintax, a company that specializes in helping international students and scholars with their taxes.

Please contact globalstudentservices@biola.edu if you have any questions.

Finding a School for Your Dependent

If you are coming to Biola with your children, then you will need to enroll them in some form of schooling. Kids are required to start school between the ages of 5 (on or before September 1) to 18 in California, so you will need to enroll them as part of your process in transitioning to Biola.

Home schooling is an option but is much more expensive than public school unless you or your spouse have the time and proper education to function as teachers. In order to enroll your kids you will have to contact the school personally. This can be done through www.cde.ca.gov/schooldirectory/, search for the city that you live in and find a list of schools.

Here are some important links from the U.S. government that can be helpful:

For questions, please email globalstudentservices@biola.edu.