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Newly Admitted Students Checklist

International Students New to the U.S.:

Step 1: Accept your Admission to CSUSM

The International Admissions team recently sent you an email with your CSUSM admission letter, next steps, student ID number, and a link to confirm your acceptance. Please complete the link in your admission email then continue to step 2!

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Step 2: Receive your I-20 and Pay the SEVIS Fee:

When you receive your I-20 from CSU San Marcos (5-7 days after your admission), you must pay the SEVIS fee and make a Visa appointment for an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Paying the SEVIS Fee:

F-1 Visa students must pay a one-time SEVIS Fee of $350 U.S. Dollars to the Department of Homeland Security. We recommend you pay this fee as soon as you receive your CSU San Marcos I-20. Payment can be done online, by mail, or via Western Union. Payment information can be found at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Paying Online: Students find this option to be the most convenient.

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Step 3: Apply for your F-1 Student Visa & Attend your F-1 Visa Interview Appointment ASAP

Make a Visa appointment and go to an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Find a U.S Embassy or Consulate near you. 

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Step 4: Review Pre-Arrival Information Document 

The Office of Global Education has a document called “Pre-Arrival Info Packet” with information that will assist you with your arrival to CSUSM. Please read this document carefully for detailed information on pre-arrival requirements.

Pre-Arrival Information Packet Coming Soon!

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Step 5: Plan Housing Arrangements Before you Arrive

You must make housing arrangements before you leave your home country. You must confirm your on campus housing, homestay with a local family, or other off-campus housing before you arrive in San Marcos. The Office of Global Education cannot reserve housing for you. Please read the student housing options below.

Homestay with Local Families

Living with an American family in homestay is one of the best ways to learn about American culture and customs. Many students choose homestay for their first semester. You may contact the following homestay agency directly to apply for homestay: Housing Information: Homestay

Homestay also offers short term stays.  We recommend homestay if you are unsure where you want to live and need time to search when you arrive to the US.  You can request a one month stay and the host family will help you become acclimated to the San Marcos area.

Please note that homestays during the COVID-19 pandemic are limited. 

Campus Housing

CSUSM offers two options for on-campus housing: The UVA (University Village Apartments) and the QUAD. Please apply early. Campus Housing fills up many months before each semester. 

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Step 6: Meet the Immunization and Health Insurance Requirements 

You must complete the CSUSM Immunization Upload BEFORE arrival, and maintain adequate health insurance all year round.


There are three mandatory immunizations that you will need to show proof of: MMR, TB and Hepatitis B.

All required immunizations/vaccinations should be obtained and submitted BEFORE you begin classes. You can view all requirements and submit your proof to Student Health and Counseling Services. Please do not send this information to your international advisors. 

IF you cannot provide proof of immunization or unable to obtain one, you must arrange these during your first semester of school. The CSU San Marcos Student Health and Counseling Services provides the immunizations.

Health Insurance:

ALL international students on an F-1 visa must have health insurance coverage for the full year:

  1. Purchase CSU-sponsored health insurance from Aetna, offered by Academic Health Plans Student Insurance
  2. You are encouraged to purchase your health insurance before you arrive.
  3.  Purchase CSU-sponsored health insurance HERE. 

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Step 7: Prepare your Finances

You must bring enough money to pay for your tuition, homestay or housing fees, health insurance, books, and personal expenses. Click on Tuition and Fees to view the estimated expenses per academic year for International Students.

Students will receive an email with detailed information regarding the Tuition Payment Plan.

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Step 8: Prepare to Travel to the US

Entering the US

You are allowed to enter the United States no more than 30 days before the reporting date listed on the I-20.

When entering the Unites States you must clear U.S Customs at the Port of Entry and you will need to present the following documents.

  • Original Passport with Visa stamp
  • Form I-20
  • Evidence of Financial Resources
  • Proof of your CSUSM Health Insurance

Airport Information

Make your travel plans early.  San Marcos is about 37 miles (60 km) north of the San Diego International Airport (SAN) and 100 miles (160 km) south of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  We strongly recommend that you arrive at the San Diego International Airport.  If you have to change planes in the U.S., you must allow at least three hours to go through immigration and find your connecting flight. 

Transportation from the Airport

You must make your own travel arrangements from the airport to San Marcos.  We recommend that you arrive at the San Diego International Airport.  If you arrive in San Diego, and you are living in homestay, then you may reserve airport transportation with the homestay company.  You may also reserve an airport shuttle from Los Angeles International Airport, but this can cost about $200 and can take 2 hours to get to San Marcos.  Flights from Los Angeles to San Diego cost between $50 - $150.  You must reserve a shuttle or arrange your transportation before you leave your home country.  CSUSM does not provide airport transportation.

Companies that provide transportation from the airport include:

Getting to your new home

It is very helpful to print or write out your new address in the U.S. to give to the shuttle driver so that they know exactly where you want to be dropped off. Make sure you have your address with you when you board your flight to the U.S.

If you will be living in the University Village Apartments (UVA) on campus, your address will be: 305 Campus View Drive, San Marcos 92078

The front office of UVA is open during the following hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 8am-5pm
  • Saturday:12pm-10pm
  • Sunday: 3pm-8pm

If you arrive at UVA outside of these hours, you MUST call 760-750-6400 and the Resident Advisor on duty will open the door for you.

If you will be living in The Quad apartments, your address will be: 200 East Barham Drive, San Marcos 92078

The Front office of the QUAD is open during the following hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 8:30am-9:00pm
  • Saturday and Sunday: 3:00pm-8:00pm 

If you arrive at The Quad outside of these hours, you MUST call 760-750-3733 and the Resident Advisor on duty will open the door for you.

If you will be living in homestay, make sure you have your host family's address. 

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Final Step: Attend International Student Orientation

Attendance for our International Student Orientation is MANDATORY.

  • Fall 2024 Orientation Dates: August 20, 21 and 22, 2024
  • Check in: August 20, 2024 -- 9am
  • Location: Extended Learning Building
  • Parking: Parking Structure 2
    • You will need to purchase a parking permit online each day 
    • Daily Rate: $9.00

* We will send to your email a CAMPUS MAP with Orientation location on it. 

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Safe travels and we look forward to meeting you! 

If you have any questions you may email: