Current Students - What You Need To Know...

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Are you Ready to Travel?

For all currently-enrolled students, you will need all of the following documents in order to return to United States form a temporary absence outside of the U.S. for less than 5 months:

If you are on OPT, you will need the following documents in order to return to the U.S.

Important Information on Traveling to Mexico - Click here to find out if you need a tourist visa to enter Mexico.

If you travel by car or trolley to Mexico, you still be go through U.S. inspection before you can return to the United States. You need a signed SEVIS I-20, your passport and valid visa. If your F-1 visa has expired, please contact our office prior to leaving. Keep in mind that international student are likely to go to a separate line (secondary inspection) that is NOT required of most U.S. travelers. Expect to wait from 1-2 hours. 

Click on the link below to learn more travel information posted by the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Download the travel reminders provided by SEVIS

Download Forms

Important Terms

Checklist for Students to Maintain F-1 Status

Students holding an F-1 visa must do the following to maintain status:

Watch a short video about your responsibilities for maintaining F-1 Status.

How to Print Your I-94 Card

Print your I-94 card.

Request to drop below 12 unit/full-time study

As you are aware, international students in academic classes, must maintain 12 credit units each fall and spring semester.  Full-time enrollment applies from the first day of the semester until the last day of the semester (dropping a classes DOES NOT count towards full-time status).  If you take an online class, no more than 3 units online count toward the 12 unit requirement. 

There are cases when international students can ask for permission to register for less than 12 units.  These cases must be approved by the International Office BEFORE changing your class schedule.  Please review each option, and follow the steps to find out if you qualify to change your enrollment. 

Graduation semester:  students who have completed one year of study and need less than 12 units to complete an Associate Degree or Certificate program can meet the academic counselor and Petition for a Degree or Certificate. All international students must register including an in-person class. 
Medical Injury or illness:  must include a doctor’s verification of medical injury or illness with a recommendation for the number of classes the student can take.
Concurrent Enrollment at MiraCosta and another college:   if you have a required class that is not offered at MiraCosta but is offered at another school, you can request to register at another school to maintain full-time enrollment.
Initial Difficulty with English language or American Teaching Methods:  if you enroll in a class too difficult for your English level, you may ask to change your enrollment. You must be ATTENDING class and your current teacher will have to approve your request to change your schedule. If you are having difficulty with classes, please visit the International Office immediately to receive help to change your schedule.

Employment Options

International students that have an F-1 status are eligible to work only when you have special permission.  Working without permission is a violation of F-1 visa regulations and can end your stay in the United States.  See F-1 student employment information posted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The following are a list of work options for F-1 visa students and the permission required:

On Campus

On campus employment is any job located on the MiraCosta College. Examples of on-campus employment are:  library assistant, academic tutor, computer lab assistant, student worker at the IIP, clerk at the bookstore and worker at the cafeteria.

Approval to work as an F-1 student

Here are the steps to follow to find an on-campus job:

Off Campus

Any employment outside of MiraCosta College requires special permission. This permission can take up to 90 days (3 months) to receive. There are 3 kinds of employment permission you can request:

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Students with an academic major that requires an Internship class or Work Experience class can receive permission to work off-campus to meet the requirements for their major. 

Approval to work as an F-1 student

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 students are allowed to ask the U.S. government for permission to work in a job related to your academic major at MiraCosta. You are allowed to request a total of 12 months of training. You can apply for part-time working permission while you attend school, or you can apply for 12 months of full-time working permission that begins after you complete a Certificate of Achievement or Associates Degree at MiraCosta College. 

Approval to work as an F-1 student

Economic Hardship

Students with a significant financial crisis during their academic studies can request special permission to work off-campus. An example of a financial crisis includes a significant devaluation of their home currency or an unexpected emergency with a sponsor. A student must provide proof of the financial crisis but must be able to show that they have some financial support to remain in the United States.

Approval to work as an F-1 student

Student interested in working outside campus on economic hardship must document to the CIS reasons why you qualify for economic hardship. The student needs to apply at least 60 days in advance and can not work for more than 19.5 hours a week while school is in session.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find a job at MiraCosta College?

On-Campus job listings are available at MonsterTrak (, however students will still need to contact the Career Studies and Services Center for a referral to the particular department for interview. To find out more about on-campus work options, contact the Career Studies and Services on the Oceanside campus, building 3700 at 760.757.2121 x6493.

If I am paid in cash, can I work at a local restaurant or help a friend? 

No. An international student must receive permission to accept any kind of employment. Employment is considered anytime you receive money or compensation. It is illegal to work without permission and it can end your stay in the United States.

Can I volunteer as an unpaid intern with a company or employer?

Yes. If the internship involves no form of compensation and is truly voluntary, you may volunteer without having to do any paperwork with the Department of Homeland Security. If, however, the internship provides a stipend or any compensation, students must obtain permission for practical training prior to starting their internship.

To know more information about employment in the U.S. as an F-1 student, visit the website hosted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) below.

Social Security Number

If you plan to work on campus after you have completed your first semester at MiraCosta College, you must obtain a U.S. social security number, which is used by the U.S. government to identify wage earners for tax purposes. To apply for a social security number you must have a job offer on campus or an authorization for work off campus and a letter from the Institute for International Perspectives confirming your student status. Social Security numbers will not be issued to students who do not qualify with those requirements.

A social security number is not required for opening a bank account, registering for school, filing a U.S. tax form or applying for a driver’s license. If you are required to file a tax return and are not eligible for a U.S. social security number, you will have to apply to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a Tax Identification Number (ITIN) on form W-7. This number may also be used for opening a bank account. MiraCosta will also issue to the student an identification number (ID) that is recognized only by MiraCosta College and can not be used as a social security number.

In order to receive a Social Security Number, you should apply in person at the Social Security Administration Office with the following documents:

Oceanside Social Security Office

Office Address:  
2160 S EL CAMINO REAL                                                                          
Oceanside, CA 92054             
Phone Numbers: 1-800-772-1213              
Office Hours: 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM (Monday to Friday)
Except Federal Holidays


Map showing the location of your local office


Located off Hwy 78 & El Camino Real, north of the Target shopping center & south of Fire Mountain Rd on the east side of the street. The building is set back off the street, partially blocked from view.

Income Taxes

Who Must File?

All international students, regardless of whether they have U.S. source incomes, must file federal income tax forms. In California, state income tax forms also must be filed if money is earned in the U.S. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code contains special provisions which apply to nonimmigrants in F status for whom certain income may be exempt from tax payment.

When and How To File?

April 15th is the deadline each year for filing a return on income earned during the preceding calendar year. Each year toward the end of January, every U.S. employer prepares a "W-2 Form" for each employee showing the amount earned during the preceding tax year and the amount of taxes, federal and state, withheld. This W-2 Form is used in preparing income tax forms, therefore it is very important that you do not lose or throw the form away. If the amount withheld exceeds the amount of the tax obligation, a tax return must be filed in order to receive the refund.

What Forms To File?

How to Complete Form 8843?

Tax Treaty Issues

How and where to get help?

San Marcos IRS Office
1 Civic Center Dr.
San Marcos, CA 92069
Monday-Friday - 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
(760) 736-7355

For additional information about tax filing for international students, please visit the Internal Revenue Service website and read the international student tax brochure provided by NAFSA.

Opening a Bank Account

If you are planning to transfer money from your country, it is to your interest to arrange the transfer prior to your arrival. Very few banks in the United States have a branch in other countries, so the transfer from your bank to a bank in the United States would be delayed and fairly expensive if not done properly. You should consult with the individual banks about the arrangements for transferring funds as well the different features, services and fees charged.

Most banks are open Monday through Friday from morning until mid-afternoon, and some are open also on Saturday morning. Upon opening an account, an ATM card will be offered in order to get money out of the account at any hour, day or night in the ATM machines. These cards can be used at automated teller machines (ATMs) all over the city, state, and country. ATMs from the Mission Federal Credit Union Bank are available at both Oceanside and San Elijo campus. There will be fees associated with using an ATMs that is not associated with your bank.

The two main types of bank accounts are checking accounts, which allow checks to be written, and savings accounts, which offer a place to keep money and earn interest. Some checking accounts also pay interest. Most people in the U.S. pay their bills with checks. Also checks may be necessary for paying your rent. Cash should never be sent in the mail to pay for a bill or for any other reason.

Requirements for Opening a Bank Account

In order to open an account at most banks, you will need two valid forms of identification. A passport and a MiraCosta College identification card are usually sufficient. Some banks will also require a Social Security Number or a Tax Identification Number. At least $100 is usually required to open an account, and there will be a monthly service charge for the account unless a "minimum balance requirement" (as much as $500 or higher) is maintained. There will also be a charge to have checks printed. Banks often have "hidden" fees so be sure to inquire about all possible fees.

Banks in the Area



Phone Number

Bank of America

Plaza Drive (inside Albertson’s Grocery Store)


Mission Federal Credit Union

2745 Jefferson Street, Carlsbad


Union Bank of California

2733 Vista Way, Oceanside


Washington Mutual

2580 El Camino Real, Carlsbad


Wells Fargo Bank

El Camino Real (inside Von’s Grocery Store)


Housing Information

Housing is the responsibility of the individual student and/or sponsor. MiraCosta College does not provide dormitories or college-approved housing for students. Below are listed some web sites and phone numbers of companies/organizations that can assist you with planning your arrival to San Diego County. MiraCosta College assumes no responsibility and has no knowledge of the condition of housing advertised or the character/reputation of housing providers. Information furnished is for your convenience only. It is compiled from and readily available on the web.


How can you take public transportation from the Los Angeles airport to Oceanside?

1. Take the Flyaway bus from the airport to the Los Angeles Union Station.  This will cost you $7.00.  For more information go to

2. Once you are at the Union Station, you need to take the Orange County Line of the Metrolink train.  This train will take you directly to the Transit Center in Oceanside.  This will cost you $14.50 one way.  See the links to the train station and train schedule. 

Public transportation is limited in San Diego and below we have listed some modes of transportation that you may use while living in California.

Bus System

Bus is another mode of transportation used by many of our students. The North County Transit has two bus lines that come to our campuses. Bus number 302 arrives in Oceanside and there is not a bus currently going to San Elijo campus. You may purchase monthly passes and pick up schedules at the cashier’s office at MiraCosta College. For more information on the routes and fares you may visit their website.

The Coaster

The Coaster is an option for students that want to travel from downtown San Diego to Oceanside. The coaster is a commuter train and monthly passes are available. For more information on the schedule and fares you may call toll free 800.262.7837 or visit their website.


The AMTRAK train is available to students that want to do some sightseeing while living in California. AMTRAK fares depend on the time of year, your destination, how far in advance you order your tickets, and whether you want coach or sleeper space.

For more information on San Diego commute you may visit:


Bicycling is used by some of our students as the most economical way to get around the MiraCosta College campus. If you plan to ride a bicycle you should be aware of some safety procedures:


The easiest but not the cheapest way to move around is to purchase an automobile. A reliable used car costs at least $2,500. Additional costs having a car are the mandatory insurance as well as necessary repairs.

Driver's License

In order to drive in the U.S., all international students must obtain a California Driving License even if you have a valid international license. Prior to receiving a license the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will require:

After you have completed this process, a temporary license will be issued until a confirmation on your status is received by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The actual driving license will be mailed to you as soon as this confirmation is received, and this process may take as long as 9 months.

For more information, please visit the DMV Web site.

Car insurance

If you purchase a car in California you must purchase insurance as well. The car insurance costs approximately $1,000 per year but it also depends on your driving records. Most insurance companies do require driving records for the past three years so it is advisable that you bring your driving records. In order for you to receive the cheapest insurance rate, you will need to "shop" (call or search through internet for the cheapest rate). Below, we have listed some web site addresses of car insurance companies:

Rent a Car

Renting a car is an option for students that want to do some sightseeing and travel to places such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, and Sea World. If you consider renting a car, you need to know that most car rental companies require that you must be over 25 years of age, have a valid driving license, and a credit card. Below are listed some car rental web sites:

Postal Services

The U.S. Postal Service delivers mail to homes and business Monday-Saturday. Mail is not delivered on Sunday or legal holidays. Special delivery and express mail is delivered seven days a week. When mailing a letter in the U.S. make certain to use the zip code as this will speed up delivery.

A few international students that have not yet arranged permanent housing receive a P.O. Box address from the United States Postal Services. The P.O. Box is used for receiving mail in that specific box regardless where you are living. Remember that if you consider getting a P.O. Box for your mailing address, you still must give the Institute for International Perspectives the address of the place in which you are living.

The closest United States Postal Services Office to MiraCosta College Oceanside Campus is located at Avenida del Oro Street next to the College Plaza. The postage rate for sending a letter or a bill within the United States is 45¢. The current postal rates can be found at:

Envelope Diagram

Major Legal U.S. Holidays

The following legal holidays are days in which many businesses, schools, and banks are closed in United States. For specific dates on the current year, please see the class schedule.

New Year's Day (January 1) The celebration, marking the first day of the New Year, occurs at midnight on December 31st with a grand party, a lot of noise, and toasts. 
Martin Luther King Day Celebrate the birthday of this civil rights leader on the third Monday in January.
Presidents' Day Observed on the third Monday in February, this holiday honors the birthdays of the first U.S. president, George Washington (February 22) and President Abraham Lincoln (February 12).
Memorial Day (last Monday in May) Commemorates U.S. soldiers who have died in wars. It is customary to decorate their graves with flowers or flags on this day. 

Independence Day (July 4)

A day of parades, picnics, fireworks, celebrating the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776

Labor Day

Celebrated on the first Monday in September honoring the importance of labor organizations in America. 

Veteran's Day (November 11)

"Armistice Day" marking the treaty date ending World War I. This holiday honors veterans of all wars with parades and speeches.

Thanksgiving Day

Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November with a huge traditional dinner consisting of a roasted stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin pie. The custom dates back to the pilgrims in 1621 who gave thanks for a bountiful harvest.

Christmas (December 25)

A joyful holiday of gift-giving, family reunions, Santa Claus, feasting, and decorated Christmas trees based on a Christian tradition.

International Student insurance and Safety Information

Mandatory International Health Insurance 2019-2020

MiraCosta College offers a group health insurance to eligible F-1 students. International students pay for group health insurance DIRECTLY to Relation Insurance Services on their website at the beginning of fall and spring semesters.



Important insurance documents

How to pay health insurance online

1. Go to:

2. Click on "Enroll" button

3. Click on the correct term you are signing up for, either new student or current student

4. Add "Enrollee" to cart and pay

DO I HAVE TO PAY? Yes. Health insurance is still a requirement for F-1 visa students to attend MiraCosta College.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A VISA/MASTERCARD? Download the enrollment form and purchase a money order for new students submit $883.75 and for current students submit $757.50 and bring to the International Office.

WHAT IS THE DEADLINE TO PAY FOR HEALTH INSURANCE? New students will need to submit proof of insurance by January 21, 2020. Current students will need to show proof of insurance renewal on January 31, 2020.

WHAT IF I DON’T PAY BY THE DEADLINE? A hold will be placed on your SURF account until your provide proof of insurance to the International Office so the International Office can remove your SURF hold.

WHAT IS COVERED UNDER THE NEW HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN: Visit the insurance company website for a Snapshot of the Plan Benefits and for Frequently Asked Question about the plan

How to use health insurance

Safety and Security Tips

The most common legal problem for international students is breaking drinking laws, such as driving after drinking alcohol, drinking alcohol under the legal age of 21 or giving alcohol to people under the age of 21.