Im not an alien!! I think.
April 26, 2010 7:59 AM   Subscribe

How do i best go about becoming a California Resident (as a German/Slovak Citizen)

Im going to apply for a student F1 visa, but i would also like to be considered a california resident after living in california for one year.
I would be moving there in September and would like to receive the lower tuition fees the following september.
When is the best time to apply? Should i apply now, or just get my student visa now and get the resident clause when im in cali?
What kind of people do they reject and what will help me get accepted?
posted by freddymetz to Law & Government (24 answers total)
Also, i will probably need to prove financial independance, how is this possible? Im 19 years old by the way.
posted by freddymetz at 8:05 AM on April 26, 2010

Short answer: You can't.

Medium answer: Entering on an F1 or J1 visa makes it impossible to acquire CA residency for tuition purposes.

Longer answer: People are often confused about in-state tuition for public universities. I mean, you were there for a year, so you're a resident, right? Not so fast. State governments are generally not quite as dumb as a box of rocks, and they intend to subsidize the higher education of their own non-bullshit residents, not "residents" who are only there for college. So they drive a wedge, hard, between physical residency (or residency more generally) and residency for tuition purposes. Being a resident of CA does not make you a resident for tuition purposes; what makes you a resident for tuition purposes is being domiciled (and/or having your parents domiciled) in CA. Establishing a CA domicile means either having your parents move to CA, or establishing that you are independent from your parents (or are of a sufficient age for that to be assumed) and that you are a long-term resident of CA and not just there to go to college.

In your case, entering on an F1 means that your domicile is in your home country, not CA, that you are in the US solely to attend college, and that you are legally forbidden from establishing a domicile in the US.

The only way for you to establish CA residency in the US would be, maybe, to marry a US citizen and adjust status out of F1 to CR1 (conditional permanent resident). However, adjusting status from an F1 can be a tricky affair.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:22 AM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I am planning on staying in California long after my studies finish, so basically im planning on relocating to california, whereby 4 first four years will be at College. Me explico?
Can i argue somehow on these grounds? That i am coming to california to reside, and not primarily to study?
Which visa should i therefore apply for?
posted by freddymetz at 8:40 AM on April 26, 2010

Once your student visa expires, you have to leave. It's a non-immigrant visa. How is this supposed to work?
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:47 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am planning on staying in California long after my studies finish, so basically im planning on relocating to california, whereby 4 first four years will be at College.

"Really, I swear!" Probably not gonna fly, unfortunately.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2010

That i am coming to california to reside, and not primarily to study?

No no no. You won't get a visa, let alone get into the country, if you state this as your intention.

As a student, your only option really is the F-1 visa. J-1 is also a possibility but often it comes with strings attached of having to return to one's home country for some set time period (this differs by country, so make sure what the case is for your home country).

The other options are to marry a U.S. citizen, or get an employer-sponsored H1-B visa, but this requires first finding an employer willing to sponsor you for the visa, which will be difficult without a college degree. And if you managed to get that, you would have to work for your employer, not go to school. With a H1-B, whether you will get considered a resident of the state depends on the state.

You might want to see if you are eligible for the Diversity Visa Lottery. Once you have a green card you would be able to take steps to establish California residency.
posted by needled at 8:52 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

As ROU_X said above, the people in charge are not going to be swayed by your intent, as an undergrad, to remain in California. Doesn't really matter to them. In this case, you are not a person, you a situation and the situation has a bright line. There is no argument that can persuade them, because two of the legs of persuasion are not available to you, only logos, and that makes it easy for them to deny your application and move on. There is no enforceable guarantee that you can extend so that they can recover the difference if you move from California.

Most states have this sort of policy. My brother tried to use my address to establish residency in my state to go to college here, something I would have gladly extended. In that case, they said, you need to be here for a year first and then apply (for the tuition break). In his case, he had roughly two years to finish, was over 21, so he just established his residency in the Uni town, paid full bore the first year and got the in-state the second year.

I'm sorry that this doesn't help, but ROU_X's short answer is the correct one when it comes to tuition policies. You would probably be better off seeking scholarships, grants, or loans.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2010

Even undergraduates who are American but from outside California generally are unable to establish residency during their undergraduate time (that is, if you went to high school in Michigan, you're probably going to be paying nonresident tuition for the whole time you're at a California school) -- like people said above, it's in their interest to not allow you to be domiciled here, and if you are here to be an undergraduate, that doesn't count for the purposes of being domiciled here.

If you are an adult who is not an alien present in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status which precludes you from establishing domicile in the U.S. (e.g., a B, F, H2, H3, or J visa) and you want to be classified as a resident for tuition purposes, you must have established your continuous presence in California more than one year immediately preceding the residence determination date for the semester during which you propose to attend the University, and you must have given up any previous residence.

NONRESIDENT UNDERGRADUATES: The process of obtaining California residency for tuition purposes is extremely difficult for undergraduates with nonresident parents (this includes transfer students from community colleges and other post-secondary institutions within California). Virtually all nonresident undergraduates with nonresident parents remain nonresidents for the duration of their undergraduate career at the University.
posted by brainmouse at 9:13 AM on April 26, 2010

And as a followup (also from the previous link), you need to meet 1 of the following conditions to establish financial independence:

(1) you are at least 24
(2) you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces;
(3) you are a ward of the court or both of your parents are deceased;
(4) you have children;
(5) you are married; or
(6) you are a single undergraduate student who was not claimed as an income tax deduction by your parents or any other individual for the two tax years immediately preceding the term for which you are requesting resident classification, and you can demonstrate self-sufficiency for those years and the current year

So even best case scenario, you can't establish financial independence for two years, and to do so you need to a) be paying all your own tuition (out of pocket or from loans that your parent's income wasn't on when you got them, which is hard enough) and b) supporting yourself otherwise. And be able to prove it.
posted by brainmouse at 9:23 AM on April 26, 2010

You cannot do this on an F1 visa.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:27 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

That i am coming to california to reside, and not primarily to study? Which visa should i therefore apply for?

This page describes visa types available to persons intending to immigrate to the United States.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:33 AM on April 26, 2010

brainmouse is right. This is difficult for American citizens to do. I'm from Georgia but I'm attending college in Arizona, and there's just no way I can claim residency any time soon. They like to make it as difficult as possible.

The fact that you're not a citizen complicates matters even more.
posted by reductiondesign at 9:42 AM on April 26, 2010

Even undergraduates who are American but from outside California generally are unable to establish residency during their undergraduate time

This part isn't nearly as true in California as it is in other states. An American student who stays in California even when school is not in session, intends to stay in-state post-graduation, and can establish that s/he is financially independent (which is easier than most people think), can establish residency for tuition purposes. It generally takes about a year, if you follow the guidelines and timetables exactly, and don't leave the state for more than a few days at a time.


international students with F-1 or J-1 visas are not eligible to establish residency

Unfortunately for you, that part is true. A student visa will not give you the right to stay in California (or even the country) post-graduation, and that by itself is enough to keep you from paying in-state tuition.

The key here is that CA gives residents' tuition to people who genuinely intend to stay in the state, are laying down some roots here -- the theory is that when you stay, California adds another educated individual to the state's tax rolls and electorate, and that's worth subsidizing your education.

They can't genuinely expect that from you. Because, when your student visa expires after graduation, you won't be allowed to work, live or vote in California... which are the three things that matter the most when determining residency for tuition purposes.

In essence, you may say "But I intend to stay here"... but your paperwork (specifically your visa) says "The student will return to his home country within x days of graduation". You're not going to overcome that.
posted by toxic at 9:52 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, here is a cartoon that will help you understand how immigration works. (It is really very helpful).

Pretty much, to move here you have to:

Be a relative of a citizen
Be highly skilled (H1B- if your employer is willing to do the paperwork for you)
Be persecuted on grounds of race, religion or political affiliations

There is no way you can move here permanently adjusting your status from:
H2b worker

Source: I work at an immigration center.
posted by Tarumba at 10:50 AM on April 26, 2010

I forgot to say two things:
first, that it is either of those alternatives, not all of them at once!
Second, that you can become a resident if you are an investor with at least 1 million to invest in the USA. (unlikely since you want to lower your tuition, but still worth mentioning)

My brother in law is from Slovakia. We are trying to get him (and my sister) here, and I really think his already having a Masters is really helpful, specially to get an H1B. If your goal is to move here, you could always get a degree in Slovakia (way cheaper) and get an H1b here.
posted by Tarumba at 10:56 AM on April 26, 2010

Thanks for the tips guys, i'm definitely still going to study in california, so i'll try everything in my power to get a visa. I am relatively highly skilled, and have an impressive resume (even before college) and i think that i can argue that i would be an asset to the state. Studying at one of the top public colleges in the country will surely help.
Therefore i will probably enter on an F1 and try to change to a Conditional Resident (CR1) once i live there.
Is there a possibility of my student visa being revoked if my other application gets rejected?
posted by freddymetz at 11:33 AM on April 26, 2010

Is there a possibility of my student visa being revoked if my other application gets rejected?

The act of applying for adjustment of status immediately invalidates your F1. Filing for AOS means you intend to immigrate, but the F1 is only for people with no immigrant intent. So merely applying proves you can't have an F1.

How this might play out for you is that you'd leave the US, be denied entry on your way back, and then face an X-year ban on entering the US.

Frankly, if I were you, I'd ask the mods to delete or anonymize this thread, because in it you are clearly and distinctly planning immigration fraud. The bit where you say you want to enter on an F1, adjust to CR1, and live in the US? That means you're planning to enter on an F1 with immigrant intent, which is el fraudo grande. Changing to a CR1 also implies that you're planning to enter into a fraudulent marriage, since the CR1 can only be obtained (IIRC) through marriage. The odds that anyone at USCIS will see it are slim, but they have computers and can type your name into google just like anyone else.

If I were you, I would also abandon any intention to move to the US permanently. By all means come here for school, but understand that you are leaving when you're done. Obtaining a green card through employment is extremely difficult and expensive, especially outside academia.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:46 AM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

Therefore i will probably enter on an F1 and try to change to a Conditional Resident (CR1) once i live there.

You need to marry a US citizen (or permanent resident?) to get a CR visa. Do you have an American fianceƩ now? Then the CR might be an option for you.

I am relatively highly skilled...

You don't even have an undergraduate degree!

"Highly skilled" has a very specific meaning in terms of getting a H1-B visa. It requires employer sponsorship and it is a temporary worker visa, not an immigrant visa. You can typically stay for six years on an H1-B. For an E visa, you need employer sponsorship and, typically, at least an advanced degree (or maybe you're a world-class basketball player?)

Look, you seem to have absolutely no idea what you're doing here. You are clueless, and you're making bold assumptions about complex legal systems that will crush you like an insect given the chance. You need to talk to an American immigration attorney to get a better idea of the options available to you.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:58 AM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

************************PLEASE READ THIS**************************

I really, really think you should understand that you cannot apply for residency for California. You apply for residency in the USA. California does not have its own immigration policy. As you may(or should) know, the USA is one of the most difficult countries to move permanently to.

Some of the advice given here can be pretty harsh, but really, I know two people who have been banned from the USA (one of them just for getting here without a ticket back to her country). These stories are not made up. You cannot just show your resume and say "I'm highly skilled", somebody has to actually hire you full time. that means you won't be able to go to school (F1 is for full time students, and work opportunities are limited to in campus, part time openings, if available at all)

This post is really directing you to murky waters, because you are stating, in writing no less, that you intend to get a non immigrant visa with immigration purposes. That is a huge no-no.

CR1 visas are granted to people who are outside of the US (as with K1) and they are both mainly for spouses of citizens,. I hold a conditional residency, because I married a US citizen.

Go to visajourney, I think you could get valuable info there.

PLEASE BEWARE: You cannot argue your way into this country. You could have in the 70s, but not now. You need satisfying proof (and by satisfying, I mean an already decided amount of documentation) of absolutely any declaration you make. The system is completely foolproof. If not, we would not have so many undocumented immigrants.
posted by Tarumba at 12:08 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I just saw you got into UCLA. Please, please do not ruin it by screwing up your status here!

all I can tell you is: study insanely hard, get an awesome GPA, maybe an internship and hopefully a H1B visa. Do not do anything that could jeopardize your career. A UCLA degree is too good to waste, and you'll have years to carefully plan and analyse possibilities (and prospective employers).

posted by Tarumba at 12:20 PM on April 26, 2010

Ok thanks for the answers! This thread is just to explore my options, so im not planning any fraud of any sort. I just need to clear up what is legal and what's not.
Also, if i get a student visa for undergrad i have to leave the country after that. But what if i plan on graduate study afterwards in the us? Do i just apply for another student visa or is that not possible?
posted by freddymetz at 2:35 PM on April 26, 2010

oh by the way tarumba, you mention getting an internship. Is that possible on an f1 visa? If yes, does it have to be during my time at college (i.e. in the summer) or can it be after i get my degree?
posted by freddymetz at 2:37 PM on April 26, 2010

Large U.S. universities such as UCLA have departments just for handling international student issues such as visas.

Yes, it is possible to get an internship on an F-1 visa, and this can happen during the summer or after you get the degree. Currently F-1 students are eligible for up to 12 months of Optional Practical Training. On-campus employment does not require separate permission and is not subject to the 12-month OPT limit.

If you are accepted to a graduate program in the U.S., then you apply for a new student visa. You will need a new F-1 visa every time you change schools or educational programs.
posted by needled at 3:07 PM on April 26, 2010

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