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Newly Admitted Students Checklist

Undergraduate Students New to the U.S.:

Step 1: Accept your Admission to CSUSM and Request Shipping of your I-20

You may request your I-20 by clicking on the link included in the email sent from International Admissions and the Office of Global Education. Please request your I-20 as soon as possible.  In addition, you have two options for receiving your I-20: request it be sent by regular U.S. Postal Service mail within the U.S. to a local mailing address or outside the U.S. to your permanent address (length of delivery unknown); OR you can personally pay for the shipment of your I-20 through eShipGlobal. (FedEx, UPS or DHL)

"eShipGlobal" is an online service that allows students to easily pay for Express Mail with a credit card (Visa, MasterCard or Discover cards only).  Do not request delivery through the FedEx, DHL or UPS websites. All Express Mail related communication will be handled by the eshipGlobal service. To pay for Express Mail delivery through eshipGlobal, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to: (link is external) (works best with Internet Explorer & Mozilla Firefox browsers).
  2. Click on "Sign up" under the Students section.
  3. Register for an account by completing the online form. Have the CSUSM Student ID number, mailing address, e-mail address, phone number and credit card information ready.
  4. Email with your eshipGlobal Order number.
  5. For any difficulties, use the “Help (link is external)” link in the eshipGlobal site for step-by-step instructions. The Office of Global Education is unable to resolve technical problems associated with the eshipGlobal service.

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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, 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 at least 3 business days before applying for a visa. 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: Reiew Pre-Arrival Information Document sent to your Email

The Office of Global Education has sent you an E-mail with an attachment document called “Pre-Arrival Info Packet”. Please read this document carefully for detailed information on pre-arrival requirements.

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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.

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.

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 Office of Global Education Immunization Form BEFORE arrival, and maintain adequate health insurance all year round.


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

IF students cannot provide proof of immunization, they must arrange these during their first semester of school. The CSU San Marcos Student Health and Counseling Services provides the immunizations.

Health Insurance:

You may meet the health insurance requirement in one of two ways:

  1. Purchase CSU-sponsored health insurance from Aetna Student Insurance (offered through Wells Fargo). You are encouraged to purchase your health insurance before you arrive. Purchase CSU-sponsored health insurance. 
  2. If you wish to purchase a health insurance from your home country you must receive prior approval from the Office of Global Education. Please send details of the health insurance coverage before purchasing it to the Office of Global Education for evaluation. Please note that if the outside health insurance does not conform to CSU requirements, the Office of Global Education will require you to purchase the CSU-sponsored health insurance. 

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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

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 2019 Orientation Dates: August 20, 21, & 22, 2019
  • Check in: TBD
  • Location: TBD
  • Parking: Lot C
    • You will need to purchase a parking permit each day – permit booth located in the upper back corner
    • 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: