Cal Poly

Frequently Asked Questions


Applying to the Program

Student Life



When do I need to apply for my student visa?

Apply for your visa appointment early! Keep in mind that June, July, and August are the busiest months in most consular sections, and interview appointments are difficult to get during that time. It is important to apply for your visa several months before your travel departure date.

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What is needed to apply for a student visa?

In general, all student visa applicants must submit the following documents and fees:

  • A valid passport (valid at least 6 months beyond your intended stay in the U.S.)
  • Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status (this is the form issued by the Cal Poly International Center)
  • Proof of funds as stated on your I-20.
  • Visa application forms DS-160, DS-156, DS-158, and in some cases, DS-157. Forms are available on the U.S. Department of State Website.
  • Visa application fees (refer to the instructions on the forms for fee amounts)
  • SEVIS I-901 fee. Pay this fee online, print the receipt, and bring it to the visa interview.

There may be additional requirements since each U.S. embassy and consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas. Therefore, students should consult embassy web sites or call for specific application instructions. To find the U.S. embassy website in your city, visit

It is important to remember that applying early and providing the requested documents does not guarantee that the student will receive a student visa. Also, because each student's personal and academic situation is different, two students applying for the same visa may be asked different questions and be required to submit different documents. For that reason, the guidelines listed above are general and can be abridged or expanded by consular officers overseas, depending on each student's situation.

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How long does it take to process my application?

It takes about 2 weeks to review your application. Therefore, you should send in your application 14 to 18 weeks prior to the start of the program to ensure ample time to prepare.

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How long will I wait to hear if I am accepted to the program?

You will be notified of the status of your application within 2 weeks.

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How will the VISIT program contact me?

We will use email as our primary form of communication. Check the email that you signed up with regularly for updates.

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Are there any classes that International Students cannot attend?

All classes are available through Open University provided the following conditions are met:

  • The professor and/or department chair give approval for the student to attend class.
  • The student has proof of having met course prerequisite or has been approved to attend the class if pre-requisites are required.
  • The student will not be taking a seat from a registered student at the university.

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As a student in the VISIT program do I qualify for any financial aid?

VISIT program students do not qualify for financial aid from Cal Poly.

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Will there be an orientation when I arrive at Cal Poly?

Yes. The International Center offers international student orientation at the beginning of each quarter. To view more information regarding orientation visit the New International Students page and scroll down to Quarterly Orientation Sessions for New International Students.

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How do I determine if Cal Poly classes will give me credit at my home University?

First, find at least 8 classes you have interest in by browsing through our class list on PASS. Print out the class descriptions available on PASS and take them to your college's advising center. They will determine if Cal Poly classes will substitute for classes at your home university.

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What liability does Cal Poly Extended Education and the VISIT program assume?

Cal Poly exercises great care selecting knowledgeable and competent instructors. We make no guarantees, expressed or implied that classroom instruction will result in specific gain. We cannot be held responsible for any loss, material or otherwise, incurred while following an instructor's directions. Extended Education is not responsible for any personal property left behind. Students take courses at their own risk.

Extended Education is not responsible for typographical or pictorial errors on our website or in any printed material that we may distribute. We reserve the right to correct all printed/web errors. Any typographical error related to any course or policy listed on our website will be corrected through a retraction posted in the applicable area.

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Do I need to take any placement tests to participate in this program?

All international students from non-English speaking countries registering must present a TOEFL score of 550 or higher (using the paper version) or 213 or higher (using the computer version) or 80 or higher (using the internet version). An average IELTS score of 7.0 is required for undergrads and 6.0 for graduate students.

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What is the student faculty ratio?

For quick facts including the student to faculty ratio check out the Cal Poly Quick Facts page.

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Does Cal Poly provide tutoring services?

All professors are required to hold office hours where students can come for extra help. Individual colleges and outside entities offer tutoring services as well. See the list of free campus tutoring services. For additional academic resources, please visit the Academic Skills Center.

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Are there International Student organizations on campus?

Yes. The International Club is a student club for international students. Take a look at The International Club website for more information. The International Poly Pals Program can also assist you with adjusting to life at Cal Poly and help you make friends with American and International students through small group activities and excursions. The Poly Pals can also assist you with adjusting to life at Cal Poly and help you make friends with American and International students through small group activities and excursions.

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What recreation facilities are available to me as a Cal Poly student?

As a Cal Poly student you will have access to all ASI run recreation facilities. Visit the ASI website for more information about facilities, equipment, and activities.

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If I wish to drive will I need to obtain a California Driver's License?

Yes. A California driver's license can be obtained at the San Luis Obispo Department of Motor Vehicles. Visit the California DMV website for more information. See the International Center Transportation page for more information.

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Am I allowed to work at a job while participating in this program?

On-campus employment may be possible. Off-campus work is restricted. Contact the International Student Advisor, Judy Mitchell, at for specific information about your visa status. Visit the Work Authorization page for more information.

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How accessible is the surrounding area to students living on campus?

The SLO Transit bus system is a convenient way for all Cal Poly students to travel within the San Luis Obispo city limits. Your PolyCard allows you to ride SLO Transit buses for free. The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has buses that travel between cities within San Luis Obispo County, but your PolyCard will not give you free access to these routes. To view the SLO Transit bus schedule and map, click here. You may also borrow a bike to easily get around town. See the International Center Transportation page for more information.

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If I choose to live on campus, will I be sharing a room?

Single rooms are available; however they are more expensive and limited in number. Visit the Housing website for more information.

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If I already have health insurance do I need to purchase CSU Healthlink?

No, but your insurance must meet our minimum medical requirements.

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What travel documents do I need for entry to the USA?

Students should have their current passport with their current visa stamp inside as well as current I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 Form (for J-1 students). Proof of I-901 SEVIS Fee Payment is also good to have. If you are Canadian, you will not have a visa stamp in your passport, but you will need to show your proof of funds along with the other documents including the I-901 receipt.

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How do I maintain my visa status?

F-1 and J-1 students in the VISIT program may only study at Cal Poly and must maintain a full course load (12 units for undergrads and 8 units for grad students) to keep their visa valid. Students may only work on campus. See the F-1 Responsibilities and Benefits page for more details or the J-1 Responsibilities and Benefits page.

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© 2015 California Polytechnic State University VISIT Cal Poly
Cal Poly Extended Education
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Phone: 805-756-2053