Arrival in the USA

Plan Ahead

Below, you will find pertinent information that will help you plan for your arrival at Fresno City College.

1. Apply for your Student Visa

  • A SEVIS I-901 fee is required for each new SEVIS record.
  • If you are transferring from another U.S. institution, your SEVIS fee should have already been paid and you will not need to pay this fee again.
  • Once you have received your new I-20 from Fresno City College, you must pay the I-901 fee.
  • Be sure to print out a copy of your payment confirmation for your records. 

  • Locate your consulate and embassies on the U.S. Embassy Site.
  • The following documents are required for your visa application and interview:
    • Admission letter from Fresno City College
    • I-20 issued by Fresno City College
    • Financial documents
    • Sponsor affidavit 
    • Passport (must be valid for a minimum of 6 months)
    • Any additional required documents (be sure to check the website for information and updates for the U.S. consulate in the city and country you are applying in.)
  • Be prepared to clearly explain your plans to return to live and work in your home country after you complete your study. 
  • Make copies and keep all documents that you submit for any USCIS procedure for your records.
  • More information on applying for an F-1 visa from the U.S. Department of State.  

Once you are approved for an F-1 Visa, you can start planning for your arrival.

2. Plan for Arriving in the United States

When making travel plans, please be aware that new international students may not enter the U.S. earlier than 30 days prior to the expected reporting date to the school (indicated on your I-20). The latest date you can arrive is the program start date. You want to give yourself ample time to acclimate to your new environment and participate in the mandatory International Student Orientation.  

Transferring students from another U.S. school are not subject to the 30-day-arrival limit. Transfer students may travel and re-enter in the U.S. any time between school programs, as long as the I-20 is properly endorsed by the Designated School Official (DSO).  

Please note that all students must re-enter the U.S. with their Fresno City College I-20. 

When entering the country, we recommend you  keep your original documents with you in a carry-on bag. It is wise to make at least two sets of copies of these documents: a copy for your family or friends before you depart and one copy to give to Fresno City College when you report to the college.  
Here’s a list of the important documents you may need to present at the U.S. Port of Entry: 

  • A valid Passport (minimum 6 months)
  • F-1 Visa
  • I-20 from Fresno City College
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • Proof of Financial Support 

Learn what to expect when entering the United States by visiting the Study in the States website

If you have any problems with your entry, please notify the International Student Program Office as soon as possible.  

3. Arrival

Check-In at School 

You must check-in with the school DSO within 10 days of your arrival.  

You are required to bring the following documents to complete your check-in:  

  • I-20
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Document (please print out a copy or ask for assistance at the International Student Program Office)
  • Passport(s)
  • Visa (Stamped inside your passport)
  • Address and Phone Number in the U.S.
  • Proof of Medical Insurance 

4. Transportation

In the Fresno Area

  • Bus Transportation
    The bus service in Fresno is called FAX (Fresno Area Express), and in nearby Clovis is the Clovis Transit.  Students who purchase an FCC Student ID Card, may receive a free FAX bus ride pass upon request from our Student Activities Office.  The City of Fresno FAX website provides information on all services and routes. 
    MyFAXBus is a free, easy to use, real time app for residents to track live buses, plan trips and ride the bus. It’s easy!
  • Car Ride Services
    A popular method of transportation is utilizing businesses that have contracted drivers to take you directly to your destinations.  You can download their company apps and contact drivers at all hours of the day or night. 
    • Lyft
    • Uber
    • Taxis:  Various companies are available to contact by searching online.  At airports, taxi drivers are waiting outside to help you immediately.
  • Bicycles
    Riding a bicycle may be just the right option for some students.  Be sure to purchase a lock.
  • Driving a Car
    Remember, you must obtain a California Driver’s license.  Options to purchase a car or rent a car can be found by searching online. 

Outside the Fresno Area


5. Housing

Affordable housing is one of the most attractive things about Fresno. The cost of living is below state average. Many of our students live in local apartments or stay with their local relatives. 

Note: You should be diligent about researching the right place for you. The International Student Program does not endorse any of the links or housing listed below.  

Below are some websites offer short term housing:

Hotel Piccadilly 
2305 W Shaw Ave.  
Fresno, CA 93711 

The Hotel Fresno  
3737 N Blackstone Ave. 
Fresno, CA 93726 

Radisson Hotel 
1055 Van Ness Ave. 
Fresno, CA 93721 

Best Western Plus Fresno Inn  
480 E. Shaw Ave 
Fresno, CA 93710 

La Quinta Inn  
2926 Tulare St.  
Fresno, CA 93721 

DoubleTree by Hilton 
2233 Ventura St. 
Fresno, CA 93721 

Current Student Housing Listing

Here are some websites where you can find local apartments/homes in Fresno: 

More resources for your housing search: The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Fresno

Fresno State Housing

Our current students are eligible to apply for Fresno State Student Housing based on availability. Students will need to provide proof of enrollment for each semester that they live in Student Housing. Please be advised that of the two types of contracts:

  1. Full academic year, which is August through May;
  2. Spring semester only, which is January through May.

Fall semester only isn’t available.

In addition to the room, all students are required to purchase a meal plan for the entirety of their contract.

Please be advised that signing a contract with Fresno State Student Housing is difficult to cancel, so do your research thoroughly before you sign any documents with Student Housing.

Please visit Fresno State Housing website to learn more about Student Housing.

Be extra cautious when looking for apartments online!  
Be suspicious that the property or transaction could be a scam if:

  • The advertised price is much lower than that of similar properties
  • Ads for the property have grammatical and spelling errors, or overuse capital letters
  • The ad uses uncommon spellings of words, like "favour" instead of "favor"
  • You can only work with an agent. The agent says that the owner who is too busy, out of the country, or otherwise unavailable to handle the rental.
  • The owner or agent requires you to sign the lease before you see the rental property
  • The owner or agent isn't able to let you enter the home or apartment or charges you a fee to view it
  • The owner or agent uses high-pressure sales tactics. They may urge you to rent quickly before someone else gets the property


  • Learn the basics of how rental listing scams work.
  • Get the terms of your rental, including fees, rent, and maintenance in writing.
  • Get a copy of the lease, signed by both you and the property owner/manager.
  • Do a search on the owner, real estate management company, and listing. If you find the same ad listed under a different name, that’s a clue it may be a scam.
  • Visit real estate websites. Check out if the home you want to rent is also listed in another city.  A scammer could have copied the photo or description of another rental to use in their ad.  


  • Don’t wire money as a deposit or payment of first and last month's rent. Wiring money is the same as giving cash; you can't get a refund, even if you find out the offer was a fraud.
  • Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Don’t pay a security deposit, fee, or first month’s rent before you’ve signed a lease.
  • Don’t rent a property that you are unable to see before signing the agreement.
  • Don’t send money for a rental overseas.
  • Don’t give your personal information or Social Security number to a property owner, without verifying their identity. 
    *Source: Housing Scams Website

6. Orientation