Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please refer to the following FAQs for questions not answered by the Pre-arrival Welcome Emails

Is there any way that I can get in contact with other reciprocity students who are going to UCSB? 
Yes. You can 'like' the UCSB EAP Reciprocal Exchange Facebook group page, where you can meet other EAP students and UCSB students who have studied or will study abroad.

I have questions regarding my visa and my DS-2019 form. Who should I ask? 
The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS). Your question may likely be answered by their FAQs, but if not, call them at 805-893-2929 or email them at Most EAP students are J-1 visa holders (unless you have a US passport). 

How can I get a Social Security Number (SSN) if I need one? Why might I need one?
If you wish to receive a Social Security Number (SSN), you should update your local addresses on GOLD and wait 10 days after your arrival date in the United States before visiting the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) in order to start the process for applying for a SSN. A student will need a SSN for a California Driver’s License, a California ID (so you do not need to carry your passport), or for employment off-campus.

I want to drive while in California. What are the requirements for this?
All students who plan to drive during their term abroad need to obtain a California driver’s license. For more information on how to obtain a CA driver’s license, refer to the California Department of Motor Vehicles website.
Drivers must have valid car insurance coverage, which can be expensive. Carefully consider and research the cost of driving before making any plans. Keep in mind that all UCSB students receive a free bus sticker for us during the academic year.

The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) also has a great resource on obtaining a license on their website.

Where can I find more information about on-campus jobs and internships?  
The best places to find on-campus jobs and internships related to your field of study are the Career Services office and your academic department at UCSB. To maintain J-1 visa status, you must be employed on campus or find internships related to the field of study on their DS-2019 form. You must also obtain permission from the UCSB EAP Office and the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) before starting employment or the internship program. If you are interested in these opportunities, consult your EAP Reciprocal Exchange Coordinators early!

How do I open a U.S. Bank Account?
At the required Cultural Awareness Laws and Immigration (CALI)  training, which will serve as your orientation, you will be provided with information on how to open up a U.S. bank account, including a map of where to find the banks, automated teller machines (ATMs), etc. If you have an ATM (cash) card with a 4-digit pin you should be able to withdraw money from any ATM in the U.S., but there is often a fee to do so. Please check with your bank to ensure ATM access in the U.S.

I heard that the alcohol policy in the U.S. is very strict and I may be required to show an I.D. card if I try to purchase alcohol - is this true?
YES! The alcohol policy in the United States is enforced more stringently than in your home country. All students are expected to follow state regulations regarding drinking (meaning no alcohol for students under 21 years of age). Even students who are 21 and older need to be aware of the policies regarding alcohol (see below). Please discuss these policies with your Reciprocal Exchange Coordinators or other staff members if you have any questions.

In addition to a legal drinking age of 21, alcohol in the United States has certain other restrictions:

  • To purchase any alcoholic beverage in a bar or supermarket students must show an identification card (I.D.) or a passport with their photo and date of birth as proof that they are 21 or older.
  • Many nightclubs will not admit people under 21, so you must provide your I.D. to gain admittance, regardless of whether you intend to purchase alcohol or not.
  • It is illegal to carry an “open container” (an open can, bottle, cup or glass of any alcoholic beverage: beer, wine, spirits, etc.) on the streets, parks, and beaches of Santa Barbara, Goleta, or Isla Vista. Violation of these policies or they may lead to fines and/or imprisonment.
  • Police are also very strict with students bicycling while intoxicated and the offense is treated as seriously as if someone were driving a car while intoxicated.

UCSB is now requiring all new students to complete an online tutorial related to alcohol and underage drinking.  The tutorial can be found at: