This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section is designed to give general guidance on common topics. If you do not see your question answered, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for your answer.
To Find answers to other common questions about community colleges: Click Here
- What is a community college (junior college)?
- Why attend a community college?
- What community colleges are in Peralta Community College District (PCCD)?
- Does Peralta Community College District issue I-20 forms?
- How do I obtain an I-20 from PCCD?
- I have a different visa (B, J, other), can I apply for F-1 status without returning home?
- How do I apply for a change of status?
- I am on a different visa and just want to take a class, can I?
- What programs are offered at each college?
- Does Peralta offer English as a Second Language (ESL)?
- How do I know which level I will take?
- Can I apply to more than one college at PCCD?
- Should all documents for the application be translated into English?
- Is TOEFL, IELTS or another language test required for admissions?
- How much money should appear on my bank statement?
- Can I submit a letter from the bank instead of a bank statement?
- What are the exact fees for international students?
- What is the AC Transit (Easy Pass) fee and do I have to pay?
- Is health insurance required?
- Is the Health Center Fee Insurance?
- What does the Health Center Fee cover?
- Do I need to submit the Certification of F-1 Status (Transfer Form)?
- I have been offered a scholarship and need an I-20 prior to receiving the award. What do I do?
- When is the application deadline?
- Do you accept late applications?
- Where do I mail the application?
- Can I mail my application to Berkeley City College, Laney College, College of Alameda or Merritt College?
- I received my visa, when can I enter the country and what should I do when I arrive?
- What if my visa application is denied?
- How do I get a refund if I am denied an F-1 visa?
- What is a full-time student?
- What is a unit?
- What does Grade Point Average (GPA) mean?
- How do I create a student account?
- How do I access my Student Center through Passport?
- Where can I find the class schedule and college catalogs?
- How do I add classes?
- I have a hold on my account, why?
- How do I access my Peralta Email account (and setup a forward)?
- How do I order Official Transcripts?
- What are the deadlines to drop classes and get my money back (refund policy)?
- Where can I get information on transferring to a university?
- What do I when:
A community college, also called junior college, is a post-secondary institution that offers certificate programs, Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees and other programs. In addition, many students complete their first two years of undergraduate study at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution.
Typically, students attend community college to:
- Improve English Skills
- Enroll in a Certificate or Vocational Program
- Transfer to a 4 year university to obtain a Bachelor Degree
International students choose to attend community colleges for several reasons:
- Lower Cost
- High Transfer rates to 4 year universities such as UC/CSU’s (2+2)
- Smaller Class sizes
- ESL preparation
- Flexible Admissions Requirements
- Improve and develop new skills
YES. The Peralta Community College District is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue I-20 forms for the four colleges it serves: Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College & Merritt College. The I-20 form certifies a student’s eligibility to study at a school in the United States.
You can find us through American Association of Community Colleges under the name of the college as well as under Peralta Community College District. In addition, Education USA
- Overseas Applicants: Once you complete our International Student Application Process you can have your I-20 mailed to you prior to your visa interview
- Transfer Applicants: will receive a new I-20 after completing the International Student Application Process and enrolling in full-time in their first semester.
If you are in the U.S. on a different visa, please come to our office with your Passport and legal documents (I-94, Visa, DS 2019, etc) so our international team members can review them. It may be possible to apply for a Change of Status but your legal documents must be reviewed first.
If you are currently on a visa other than F-1 (such as a J, B or other non-immigrant visa) and would like to apply for a change of status, please come to our Admissions Office and speak with Nha Le, International Admissions Specialist or Thomas Torres-Gil, International Specialist. They will be able to answer your questions on applying for college and changing your status.
Please bring your Passport with the Form I-94 and other related documents.
You can find additional information about applying for a change of status on USCIS’s I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
In most cases, yes it may be possible to enroll in a class or two. However, each visa has certain restrictions. Please come to our office with your Passport and legal documents for a specialist to review. You will also need to create a Peralta student account.
Yes. Each campus offer ESL classes. College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College offer all four levels (High Beginning, Intermediate, High Intermediate & Advanced). However, Berkeley City College only offers High Intermediate & Advanced only (it does not offer High Beginning or Intermediate). In addition, BCC’s ESL classes start two weeks after the semester.
Click here to learn more about the ESL Program and classes
Before enrolling, all students must take a placement exam that determines their level. It is encouraged that you prepare for the test and do your best.
No. Your I-20 must be at one college and your college and major must match. You may enroll at the different campuses during your semester but you can only apply to one college.
Yes. All documents submitted for review need to be translated in English by a professional translation company or entity. You may refer to our Transcript Evaluation Services page for references only.
No. However, having a TOEFL score will help assess whether or not ESL classes may be required prior to our placement test. A score of 61 ibt, or 6 on the IELTS test typically indicates that students are at the highest two ESL levels and may take some AA classes.
Please Note: All new matriculating students will be required to take an assessment test for Math and English regardless of any language test score.
We require a bank statement, or combined statements, of more than $21,000 USD. This is the amount reported for 1 full year (12 months) of study, living and other expenses during your stay and includes 30 units. The statements must include: name on the account, date and overall/final balance.
No. All funds for support must be in the form of a bank statement. A letter from a bank that states the balance is unacceptable.
At the moment, $4,132 USD is the cost for one semester at 12 units and at 1 campus:
- $230 Non-Resident Tuition (per unit)
- $46 Enrollment Fee (per unit)
- $15 Capital Outlay Fee
- $2 Campus Fee (per campus)
- $2 Student Representation Fee (per campus)
- $38 AC Transit Pass (per semester; must be enrolled in at least 6 units)
- $18 Health Fee (per semester) – ($15 for Summer Session)
- $123 Health Insurance Fee (per month)*
*Health Insurance Fee price for the spring 18 semester to be confirmed
AC Transit (also known as Easy Pass) is for all students who enroll in 9 or more units. The fee is mandatory as the result of a vote that students of each campus made. Please visit AC Transit Easy Pass Information page for more information.
Yes. Health (medical) insurance is required for all F-1 international students. You can choose any company of your choice. Upon submitting your application, you will need to provide our office with the information of the company you are being covered by or purchase one prior to selecting your classes for the semester. Please see our Health Insurance website for more information
No. The Health Center Fee is not a replacement for Health Insurance. It does provide many services for students, however, if you have a medical emergency (in an accident, serious illness, etc), you need Health Insurance to cover that.
If you are a student with an I-20 at another school and are transferring to Peralta, YES, you need to complete the top portion and have your DSO at your current school complete and fax back the bottom portion
If you are a student on a different visa or applying from overseas (need a new I-20), No, you do not need to complete the Transfer Form.
If you have been offered a scholarship to attend college, you will need to provide an official copy of your scholarship letter prior to being issued an I-20. Please send proof of your scholarship award to our office for review by our international admissions specialist.
Deadlines to Apply:
|Semester (Dates)||Overseas||Transfers (Already in U.S. on F-1 Visa)|
|Spring (January-May)||November 1||December 15|
|Summer (June-July)||April 1||May 15|
|Fall (August-December)||June 1||July 15|
Applications may be accepted late on a CASE BY CASE BASIS ONLY.
We no longer will be accepting mailed applications beginning October 9, 2017.
No. Do not mail your application to any of the campuses. Doing so may result in a delay (or loss) of receiving your application.
Students arriving on a new I-20 (not transferring the I-20), the earliest you may enter the country is 30 days before your Program Start Date. If you arrive any earlier at the Port of Entry, you may be denied entry.
If you are a transfer student, please speak with a Designated School Official (DSO) before travelling to ensure you have the proper I-20 to return.
If your visa application is denied, you may have your I-20 deferred to a future semester or request a refund.
You are entitled to a full refund of your tuition deposit if you are denied a visa. Please complete the Refund Form and return it to the international office.
Please Note: Wire Transfer Payments can only be returned by check and credit card payments will be returned to the same card.
The Department of Homeland Security requires all international (F-1) students to maintain a full-time course load. International students at the Peralta Colleges are required to maintain a minimum of 12 units each fall and spring semester. Only one class at a total of three (3) units is allowed to be taken as an online class. If summer is your first semester, you must be enrolled in one class, minimum.
11.5 units does not equal 12 units, sorry, you need more =)
A unit is a measurement of credit that a student receives for a class and is referred to as a credit at other institutions. One unit often (but not always) equals one hour of instruction per week.
Grade Point Average (GPA) is calculated by dividing the total amount of grade points earned by the total amount of unit hours attempted. Your grade point average may range from 0.0 to a 4.0. Colleges and universities consider each students GPA when determining qualifications for admissions. F-1 students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA to maintain status. Universities may require at least a 2.5 GPA for admissions.
To begin the process for creating a student account as a transfer student, please visit Peralta’s Apply + Enroll page. If you are a new student applying in your home country, please refer to your acceptance letter that was sent to you by email for instructions. If you are transferring from a California community college or CSU please login in to your account at www.cccapply.org.
Please visit Peralta’s Student Center (Passport). You will need to know your Campus ID (a number given by Peralta) or your Social Security Number and full date of birth.
Current Schedule of Classes/Catalogs. You may also purchase these in the Bookstore on campus.
After accessing your Student Center, click on Add a Class or visit Admissions and Records. Please make sure the class is open, you have met the pre-requisites and it is not too late to add classes.
Click on the Hold for the specific reason. It may be due to being a new International Student (contact email@example.com); non-payment of tuition and fees; matriculation hold (see a counselor) or another reason. The Holds Information page contains a complete list.
9. How do I access my Peralta Email account (and setup a forward)?
All students are required to use their Peralta student email as official communication to students will be sent only to their Peralta email address.
Please review the instructions to access your How to Setup Your Peralta Student Email Account
- Use and reply through your peralta email account
- Do not give your password to anyone (including sponsors, agents, family members); if you do, make sure you trust them
- Check your email daily or often
You can order Official Transcripts through your Student Center (under My Class Schedule) or through Admissions and Records. For a full list of ways, please visit Admissions and Records Official Transcript Request page.
- Transfer Requirements: www.assist.org
- TAG Agreements (with University of California): UC Transfer Admission Guarantee
- UC Transfer Planner: UC Transfer Admission Planner
- CSU Transfer: CSU Mentor Transfer Requirements
- Articulation Agreements & Transfer Pages:
- Berkeley City College Articulation Home
- Laney College Articulation Home
- Merritt Transfer Center
- College of Alameda Transfer Center
Come to the International Office to meet with a counselor and petition for below 12 units (Counselor Hours)
Come to the International Office to meet with Thomas Torres-Gil for a Program Extension
Come to the International Office with your Passport and I-20. Your I-20 must be signed by a DSO for you to travel
For advice on how to maintain your F or M student status, you may follow this link.
While we cannot provide you with tax advice, here is some general information for F-1 students. Please review the IRS’s webpage or visit a tax professional for information for yourself. F-1 International Students must file form 8843 each year. Some students may also be required to file 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ (Federal) along with form 540NR (CA). Please visit these pages below for additional information and guidance:
Tax Workshop Slides 2016 (pdf)
- IRS International Tax Payers information page
- Form 8843: Statement for Exempt Individuals
- Form 1040NR Federal Government: U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens
- Form 540NR California State: California Nonresident Tax Return
- 1098-T Homepage Peralta Colleges
There may be some free online services that will help you file taxes. There is no “filing fee” if students file taxes themselves or find a free service. Individuals may elect to pay a company to help them file taxes. Below are some common ones:
- H&R Block