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International Student Services: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the I-20 form?

The I-20 form is also called the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. It is the document that entitles you to apply for an F-1 student visa. The I-20 must be presented with your visa each time you enter the us. Please do not lose your I-20. Keep it in a safe and accessible place because you may be required to show your I-20 at any time during your stay in the US. You will learn more about your responsibilities as an international student at the International Student Orientation.

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What is my next step after receiving my I-20 form?

As soon as you receive your I-20, it is your responsibility to review the information entered into the document and verify that everything is correct, including your program dates. If anything needs to be corrected, you must let the International Student Advisor know as soon as possible, so that a new I-20 can be issued.

Now that you have received your I-20 form, you are ready to apply for the F-1 student visa. Before applying for your visa, you must first pay a SEVIS Fee, which is payment for your F-1 visa. You must pay this fee prior to your going to the US Consulate/Embassy. See the attached documents, The F-1 Student Visa and the Form I-20 and SEVIS Fee Information.

If you are a Canadian Citizen, you are not required to obtain a visa stamp from an Embassy/Consulate in your passport. You will, however, need to show proof that you paid the SEVIS Fee (your I-797 receipt). Instead of a visa stamp, your SEVIS Fee receipt, along with your I-94 will need to be presented with your Canadian passport and I-20.

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When should I purchase a plane ticket?

You should purchase your plane ticket once you have obtained your visa. Your destination may be either Oakland International Airport (OAK)—closest airport to HNU—or San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Other airports that are within one hour’s driving distance are San Jose SJC and Sacramento SAC. Please be advised that you are responsible for transportation from the airport to campus.

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When should I plan to arrive at Holy Names University?

The official International Student resident move-in day is Saturday, August 24. You can check-in to the dorms between 8am – 12pm on that day. However, to accommodate varying flight schedules and costs, International Students are permitted to move into the Residence Halls 1 to 3 days prior to August 24th. Please contact Housing and Residence Life as soon as possible after booking your flight if you will need early check-in accommodations. Please note that if you arrive without notifying Housing and Residence Life of your plans, we will not be able to accommodate you and you will have to stay at a local hotel.

Also, if you do arrive prior to August 24th, you will be billed separately through student accounts for your additional meals. Please be aware that if you do move in on campus before Orientation, there will be limited services.

The New Student Orientation will take place Saturday, August 24 to Tuesday, August 27. At this time you will meet with your academic advisor to schedule your classes, learn about various services on campus and meet all other new students. The mandatory International Student Orientation will be on Saturday, August 24, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. We understand that traveling internationally can be exhausting and that you will need time to adjust to the time difference and culture of HNU, but it is important that you attend orientation so as not to miss important information.

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I would like to travel in the U.S. before attending HNU. Is this possible?

Yes, you may travel before coming to HNU. However, you may arrive in the US no more than 30 days before the first day of instruction. For Semester students, the first day of instruction is August 28, and the earliest you may arrive is July 29.

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What items should I bring with me

You should carry all of the following documents with you when entering the US:

  • Valid Passport with F-1 visa
  • Valid I-20 (enclosed)
  • Original Acceptance Letter from HNU (enclosed)
  • Financial documents/bank statements
  • I-901 (SEVIS Fee) receipt

Depending on the length of your program, you will be studying at HNU from anywhere between one to four years. Take time to think about what personal items you will need during this time, such as clothes, toiletries, and personal mementos. Keep in mind that airlines have clearly defined limits to the number of bags you check in or carry on and the weight of each piece of baggage. You may choose to purchase some items in the US, too. Items such as notebooks, pens, toothpaste and shampoo are readily available in local shops. If you should need to bring in prescription medications, it is advised that you also carry a note from your physician.

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What about the weather?

The temperature in Oakland is considered mild with an average high of 73°F/22°C in the summer and an average low of 45°F/7°C in the winter. December through February tends to be rainy and cold, although it never snows. However, you should plan to bring a range of clothing, from warm-weather clothes to winter clothes, especially if you plan to travel while you are in the U.S.

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Where is HNU located?

HNU is located in the Oakland hills, 5 miles east of downtown Oakland and 15 miles east of San Francisco. Oakland is located east of San Francisco and connected by the Bay Bridge and is easily accessible by public transportation. Nearest cities include Piedmont, Alameda, Emeryville and Berkeley, which are all part of the San Francisco Bay Area appropriately named the “East Bay.”

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What will my address be?

Once you arrive at HNU you will be assigned a mailbox. However, your address will read:

  • Your Name
  • 3510 Mountain Blvd, #--
  • Oakland, CA 94619

If mail will arrive in advance of knowing your box number, please write “Resident” under your name.

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What will happen when I first enter the U.S.?

Once you arrive in the US you will be required to go through immigration inspection. Follow the signs for Non Citizens. You should have in hand your passport, I-20, I-94 card (you will receive this from an immigration officer), Letter of Acceptance, Financial Documents, and SEVIS Fee receipt. An immigration official will ask you a few questions related to the length and purpose of your stay in the US and will stamp your passport and mark your I-94. You should proceed to Customs and Baggage Claim to claim your baggage.

Please remember that an immigration officer has discretion to admit or deny entry of any visitor into the United States. Never lie or mislead an immigration officer and always have all of your immigration information with you when passing through your port of entry.

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How do I get to HNU from the airport?


A taxi from Oakland International Airport costs approximately $30 plus tip. Tip is usually 15% of the total cost, so your tip for a $30 ride will be around $4.50. (It is common to round up to the nearest dollar rather than use coins.)

If you are arriving at San Francisco International Airport, you may opt to take a shuttle to campus (see below). Taxis from SFO to HNU could range from $70 and up.


You may take a taxi or a Door-to-Door Airport Shuttle to the campus, which provides service between airports and passenger-specified locations in shared ride vans. Depending on the number of passengers, door-to-door shuttles may make multiple stops but are generally cheaper than taxis.

Uniformed shuttle coordinators are stationed in the shuttle areas outside baggage claim to assist you. Let the coordinator know your destination (Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Boulevard at Redwood Road in Oakland). The coordinator will guide you towards the appropriate shuttle. Shuttles generally cost $25 to $45 plus tip. If you are flying in after 6 pm, we recommend making a reservation; however, many companies also offer “on-demand” services from both SFO and Oakland Airports to Holy Names University and operate 24 hours. The following are a few of the companies that Holy Names students have used in the past:

Bay Porter Express
(415) 467-1800

Super Shuttle
(800) 258-3826

Public Transportation

General information regarding Bay Area travel, including maps and travel times can be found at www.511.org.

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Where do I go once I get to HNU?

Once you enter the front gate, please go directly to the Front Desk in Durocher Hall. The Residence Life Staff will assist you in moving into your new room. Click here for a campus map.

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How much money should I bring? Should I bring US dollars in cash?

You will need US dollars in cash for transportation and miscellaneous items during the first days of your arrival. It is not advisable to carry large amounts of cash when traveling. However, you may purchase traveler’s checks in your country before departure. You may exchange foreign currency or traveler’s checks into US dollars at an International Money Exchange Center at the airport at reasonable rates. If you choose to open a US bank account, you should keep most of your money deposited in the bank and only carry some cash to cover daily expenses. A checking account will allow you to own a debit or ATM (automatic teller machine) card that you can use to withdraw money from ATMs. Also, a bank account will allow your family from home to send you money directly to your bank if necessary.

Holy Names University does not recommend or endorse any particular bank, but provides the following information for your convenience.

Citibank, the closest bank to HNU, is located in Lincoln Square on Redwood Road.

Other local banks include:

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Do I need to purchase health insurance or receive immunizations?

All international students in the US are required to show proof of health insurance.

Please be advised that the following conditions must be met:

  • Your insurance must provide coverage for the entire academic year: August 28, 2013-August 28, 2014
  • Your plan must provide coverage for a maximum of at least US $50,000 per condition per plan year
  • Your plan must not have a deductible that exceeds US $1,000
  • Your plan must provide Pharmacy/ Prescription benefits
  • Your plan must provide for Primary Care in the SF Bay Area
  • Your plan must provide for Emergency Care in the SF Bay Area
  • Your plan must provide for coverage throughout the United States
  • Your plan must provide coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation

If your current insurance does not cover all of these aspects, you will need to purchase additional insurance.

You will not be permitted to enroll in classes until this criterion is met. Furthermore, you will be required to show proof of insurance and current immunizations when you apply for housing in the residence halls.

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If you have not submitted your immunization records to HNU, you should bring your immunization records with you. We strongly encourage you to get these immunizations prior to departing your home country. To live on-campus you must show proof of Tuberculosis (TB) and Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccinations. You will not be permitted to reside on-campus without proof of these immunizations and if you arrive without immunizations, you will be responsible for obtaining them.

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I plan to live off-campus. Where can I find an apartment or room to rent?

We recommend that you live on campus for at least one term. If you are planning to live off campus, keep in mind that rent cost in the Bay Area can be very expensive. We recommend that you search Craigslist and apartments.com to find local off-campus housing options. If you will be using public transportation to get around, make sure you do your research so that you can find an apartment that is accessible to public transportation and close enough to HNU.

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Is there anything else I need to do when I arrive?

It is mandatory that you check in with the International Student Advisor after you have arrived at HNU. The International Student Services is located in Brennan Hall room 53, in the Student Success Center. At that time, the International Student Advisor will sign your I-20 and also report your registration to the Department of Homeland Security. You will not be permitted to register for classes until you have gone through the registration process with the International Student Advisor. Failing to register also will automatically put your visa out of status and you will no longer be able to remain in the United States.

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Who should I contact if I still have questions?

Please contact the International Student Advisor if you have further questions:

  • Phone number from outside the US: 1(country code) 510 (area code) 436-1356 (local number).
  • For local calls within Oakland, dial 436-1356.
  • For calls on campus, dial 1356 from any campus phone.
  • E-mail address: international@hnu.edu

The International Student Services office is located in the Student Success Center, in Brennan Hall room 53, first floor.

Please contact the International Student Advisor once you arrive and no later than the International Student Orientation on August 24.

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