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 email@example.com for your answer.
1. What is a community college (junior college)?
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
2. Why attend a community college?
International students choose to attend community colleges for several reasons:
- Lower Cost
- Transfer Program (2+2) with guaranteed admissions to 4-year universities such as UC/CSU’s
- Smaller Class sizes
- ESOL preparation
- Flexible Admissions Requirements
- Improve and develop new skills
3. What community colleges are in Peralta Community College District (PCCD)?
4. Does Peralta Community College District issue I-20 forms?
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
5. What programs are offered at each college?
Each college offers specific programs. You can review the entire Majors & Academic Programs.
6. Does Peralta offer English as a Secondary or Other Language (ESOL)?
Yes. ESOL is offered at Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, and Laney College. Course offerings vary by semester.
7. How do I know which ESOL level I will take?
Before enrolling, students go through our Placement process. As part of that process, our Counseling staff will help students enroll in the correct level.
8. How do I obtain an I-20 from PCCD?
- Please visit our International Admissions Homepage. Overseas and Change of Status applicants receive an Initial I-20 after completing our admissions process. Transfer applicants receive an I-20 if leaving the country before the semester begins or in their first semester.
1. How do I apply to be an F-1 student?
To apply as an F-1 student, please visit our International Admissions Homepage. It contains our application steps, deadlines, required documents, and other information.
2. Can I apply to more than one college at PCCD?
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.
3. Should all documents for the application be translated into English?
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.
4. Is TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, or another language test required for admissions?
No. However, having a TOEFL score will help assess whether or not ESOL classes may be required prior to our placement test. A score of 61 TOEFL ibt, or 6 on the IELTS test typically indicates that students are at the highest two ESOL levels and may take some academic level classes.
5. How much money should appear on my bank statement?
Please see our International Application Checklist for what is currently required.
6. Can I submit a letter from the bank instead of a bank statement?
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.
7. What are the exact fees for international students?
Fees are updated on the Tuition and Fees section.
8. Is health insurance required?
Yes. Please visit our International Student Health Insurance Page for more information.
9. Is the Health Center Fee regarded as Health Insurance?
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.
10. What does the Health Center Fee cover?
11. Do I need to submit the Certification of F-1 Status (Transfer Form)?
Transfer applicants are required to have our Transfer-In Form submitted with their application. Our admissions team reviews this form with all application materials.
Change of Status and Overseas applicants are not required to complete the Transfer-In Form. Please visit our Application Checklist for this form.
12. I have been offered a scholarship and need an I-20 prior to receiving the award. What do I do?
If you have been offered a scholarship to attend college, you will need to provide an official copy of your scholarship letter and upload it to your application. Please let our admissions team know as well so they can advise you on the next steps.
13. When is the application deadline?
Please visit our International Application Deadlines.
15. Do you accept late applications?
We typically do not admit late applicants. Any exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis. We encourage all applicants to apply by the deadline to ensure eligibility for admissions.
16. Where do I mail the application?
Our application is completely digital. The only paper materials we may require are checks for application fees or other documents required by our admissions team for specific applicants.
17. I received my visa, when can I enter the country and what should I do when I arrive?
Overseas applicants arriving on an Initial I-20 (not a Transfer Pending 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 traveling to ensure you have the proper I-20 to return.
18. What if my visa application is denied?
If your visa application is denied, please let our admissions team know so they can advise you on your options.
1. I have a different visa (B, J, other), can I apply for F-1 status without returning home?
If you are in the U.S. on a different visa, please contact our office. We will review your Passport and legal documents (I-94, Visa, DS 2019, etc) and check to see if you are eligible to apply for a Change of Status.
2. How do I apply for a Change of Status?
- Apply for admissions to PCCD
- After our admissions staff confirms eligibility, complete the international admissions process
- Submit to USCIS the I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status application, and required documents.
3. I am on a different visa and just want to take a class, can I?
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. First, obtain a Peralta ID by completing OpenCCC International Application:
4. I am an overseas US citizen and want to take classes, can I?
Yes, you may enroll in Peralta Colleges as an overseas US citizen. However, you are not considered as an international student, so you should complete the regular, domestic application from the college’s website.
1. What is a full-time student?
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.
2. What is a unit?
A unit is a measurement of credit that a student receives for a class and is referred to as credit at other institutions. One unit often (but not always) equals one hour of instruction per week.
3. What does Grade Point Average (GPA) mean?
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 4.0. Colleges and universities consider each student's 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.
4. How do I access my Student Center through Passport?
Students receive an email with their login credentials and a link to 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.
5. Where can I find the class schedule and college catalogs?
Current Schedule of Classes/Catalogs. You may also purchase these in the Bookstore on campus.
6. How do I add classes?
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.
7. I have a hold on my account, why?
Click on the Hold for a specific reason. It may be due to being a new International Student (contact firstname.lastname@example.org); non-payment of tuition and fees; matriculation hold (see a counselor) or another reason. The Holds Information page contains a complete list.
8. How do I access my Peralta Email account (and set up 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.
9. How do I order my Official Transcripts at PCCD?
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 the Admissions and Records Official Transcript Request page.
10. What are the deadlines to drop classes and get my money back?
11. Where can I get information on transferring to a university?
- 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
12. What do I when:
A. I am not enrolled in 12 units?
- Meet with an advisor as well as complete the Reduced Course Load request through GPS.
B. My I-20 Program End Date is nearing (I-20 is about to expire)?
- Meet with an advisor as well as complete the Program Extension request through GPS.
3. I am planning on traveling outside of the U.S.?
- Come to the International Office with your Passport and I-20. Your I-20 must be signed by a DSO for you to travel
C. I am returning home or transferring to another school?
- Meet with an advisor as well as complete the Departure Request or Transfer Out Request through GPS.
D. How do I “maintain” my F-1 status?
- The main way to maintain your F-1 status is to follow our office instructions, enroll full-time, and let us know if you are leaving the country (even for a short time), transferring out, and keeping us updated. For more information, you may also visit Study in the States Page on Maintaining Status.
14. Do I need to pay taxes if I’m an F-1 student?
- 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 1040 NR-EZ (Federal) along with the 540NR (CA).