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Pre-Arrival Information

Step 1: Receive Approval Notice

Once USCIS approves the H-1B petition submitted by UC San Diego on your behalf, they will send ISEO an I-797 Notice of Action Approval.

ISEO will notify you and your department contact via email when we receive the original approval notice from USCIS. The email will contain a copy of the approval notice.

If you would like your original approval notice, you will have the option to pickup in person or provide us with a label to have the approval notice shipped to you.

Step 2: Review your Form I-797

This I-797 represents USCIS approval of your H-1B petition. All of the information on the I-797 approval must be accurate, please review your I-797 and report any errors immediately to ISEO.

If your H-1B petition was submitted as a Change Of Status, Extension, or Port (transfer), then your I-797 will include an attached I-94 record at the bottom. This information should be checked as well.

If your H-1B petition was submitted through Cosular Notification, your I-797 will not include an attached I-94 record. You will receive an I-94 after applying for an H-1B visa and entering the U.S. in H-1B status.

Step 3: Understand your H-1B Status

H-1B status is for internationals in a "specialty occupation" that requires "theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge" and a Bachelor's or higher degree. H-1B petitions are employer-sponsored petitions, and ISEO has the sole authority to represent UC San Diego in filings with the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

Departments may initially petition for up to three years of employment and later request extensions to total six years. You may be able to extend your H-1B status beyond the six year limit, if you have an approved I-140 immigrant petition and are not able to file an adjustment of status petition due to visa bulleting backlog. Time spent outside the U.S during the six years of H-1B can be recaptured.

H-1B appointments must be full-time and fully salaried (stipends not allowed). 

Substantive changes in H-1B employment must be approved by USCIS with an amended petition submitted prior to the change in employment circumstances; substantive changes include moving between represented and nonrepresented positions or between different represented positions, or from research to clinical care.  A normal stepwise progression within an employment series (e.g. Assistant Project Scientist to Associate Project Scientist) will not require an amended petition.

Step 4: Apply for a Visa

If you are not in the U.S. you will need to apply for an H-1B visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate (except Canadians). You will need:
  • Valid Passport*
  • Original I-797 (current H-1B approval notice)
  • Copy of your H-1B petition (including I-129 and LCA)
  • Letter from your employer/sponsoring department certifying continued employment at UC San Diego
  • If you were previously in J status and subject to the 212e Two-Year Residency Requirement, bring your I-612 waiver approval or proof of fulfilling the two-year requirement.

*Please note: If your passport expires before the end date on your I-797 H-1B approval notice, your status end date will be reduced accordingly on your physical or electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure record.

For those currently in the U.S., please see change of status or transfer-in procedures.

Step 5: Prepare to Enter the U.S.

Review your Immigration Documents
Review your passport and visa page. Your first/given name and last/family name should be the same on both documents. If there are any errors, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consular Post immediately.

Place your original passport with valid visa, support letter, employment documents, and I-797 approval notice in your purse or carry-on baggage to present to the inspector upon entering the U.S.

Apply for I-94 prior to entry, if entering via land border (not air/sea)
If you are entering via land border you MUST apply for an I-94 within seven days prior to entering the U.S.; there is a $6 application fee. After entry, you can retrieve your I-94 online.

If you are entering via air or sea you do NOT need to apply for an I-94 prior to your entry. After entry, you can retrieve your I-94 online.

Find Housing

Should you be looking for housing options around UC San Diego, or would like more information on how to set-up a new home, the housing page has helpful resources on living in San Diego.

Be Aware of Potential Scams
Be aware of potential scams—people trying to extort money from you around topics such as Social Security Numbers, Housing deposits, and Taxes.

Please refer to the following link for helpful resources to learn about protecting your identity and information while in the U.S.:

If you are unsure, please contact your department or as we may be able to provide you with the resources to help you determine if you are encountering a scam.

Step 6: How to get to San Diego

Arrival at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

San Diego is located 112 miles (180 kilometers) south of Los Angeles.  

If you are arriving at Los Angeles Airport (LAX) will need to take a commuter flight, bus, train, or shuttle to San Diego. 

Arrival at San Diego International Airport (SAN)

Also known as Lindbergh Field, San Diego International Airport is located 11 miles (18 kilometers) south and slightly east of UCSD.

A taxi to the UCSD area costs about $40. Shuttle service to UCSD costs about $20 for a one-way fare.

Once you arrive to the U.S., visit our Arriving in the U.S. webpage for arrival instructions.