An admitted international student will normally come to the United States on an F-1 student visa or a J-1 exchange visitor visa. Students are expected to return to their home countries at the completion of their studies. 

Please visit the Berkeley International Office website and New Students page to learn about the process of obtaining your visa. Berkeley International Office (BIO) is the resource for all UC Berkeley immigration-related matters.

To contact the Berkeley International Office, please send an e-mail to, or call (510) 642-2818. For questions on the NIF, please e-mail


Overview of the Steps to Getting Your Certificate of Eligibility (F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019)

Even though your primary source of information is BIO, we have outlined below the general steps you must complete in order to get your certificate of eligibility from Berkeley and make your visa appointment at the American embassy. 

The certificate of eligibility is the document that UC Berkeley provides to confirm to the U.S. government that you are admitted and eligible to attend our institution. You must have the original, hard copy with you at your visa interview and while traveling to the United States.



Access the NIF through CalCentral. Upload supporting documents as instructed on the NIF site.

10-15 working days processing time from Berkeley receipt of complete supporting documents until:

Optional: Return to NIF site at this time to see your SEVIS number and program school code. You can use this information to pay your SEVIS fee at and to set up a visa appointment at your nearest American embassy or consulate.

3-5 days or 1-4 weeks mailing time (depending on your shipping choice) until:

If you haven’t made your visa appointment yet, pay your SEVIS fee and make the appointment immediately. Take the certificate of eligibility to your visa interview, along with your admissions letter and any supporting documents required by the American embassy.

*Note for Canadian Nationals

Canadian nationals are not required to obtain a student visa stamp in their passports. Canadian nationals obtain F-1 or J-1 student status at the port of entry by presenting their certificate of eligibility and SEVIS fee payment receipt.