Students are eligible to apply for Berkeley housing on- or off-campus (many of which include meal plans), although accommodation is not guaranteed. Student
accommodation is in shared rooms and further information about housing options can be found on the University of California’s reciprocity webpages (note: the term ‘Reciprocity’ is used by the University of California to refer to their incoming exchange students). Many campus housing facilities are closed during term breaks, so students may have to travel or make alternate living arrangements during these periods.
Students who are not successful in applying for Berkeley accommodation can arrive up to 30 days before the start of term to look for housing in the local community. Additionally, Berkeley’s Community Housing Office provides information about external rental resources and advice about your rights and obligations as a private renter.
What about healthcare?
Students must ensure that they have suitable insurance for the year abroad. Medical treatment in the USA can be very expensive and exchange students will be enrolled in Berkeley’s mandatory campus insurance plan. The cost of this insurance will be confirmed in due course, but is normally in the region of $2,580 for the academic year (approximately £2,030) and is included in the estimated cost of living calculated by Berkeley.
LSE students are eligible to apply for cover under LSE's Travel Insurance policy, however, this is not a substitute for Berkeley’s insurance plan and cannot be used for general medical expenses in the USA. Rather, students may use this policy for travel insurance to and from the USA (for example, in case of lost luggage, for example) and/or for emergency medical care. To qualify for coverage, students who are selected for the LSE - Berkeley exchange will be required to complete a Risk Assessment form before they are issued with the policy cover note. Further information will be provided to relevant students as appropriate.
Most students will need to apply for a J1 exchange visitor visa to study at Berkeley (exceptions for U.S. and Canadian citizens can be found in the ‘Visa Information’ section here). J1 visa holders can arrive up to 30 days in advance of the start of term and stay up to 30 days after the programme dates (NB: the latter 30 days is called the “grace period” - students must stay in the US during the grace period, ie, no trips to Mexico or Canada unless you are counting on departing from there).
You should apply for your visa as soon as you receive your Certificate of Eligibility (the DS-2019) from Berkeley. To apply for your visa, contact the U.S. Embassy to confirm application procedures and application fee information, and to arrange your interview.
If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to plan for a longer visa application processing time. You should also contact the U.S. Embassy to explain your situation and to check whether they will require you to apply for a visa from your home country.
To comply with U.S. immigration policy, you will be required to study full-time and take at least 13 semester units each term, which equates to roughly four (4) classes. You can also participate in ‘academic training’, i.e. internships, during the year abroad.
Further information can be found on Berkeley’s Reciprocity and Visa Resources web pages. We advise that you read these carefully to check if you will be able to meet the requirements to be sponsored by Berkeley for your visa application.
How will the exchange affect my Tier 4 visa?
International students who are studying at LSE on a Tier 4 visa should note that any additional time spent on an exchange will count towards the five-year cap on degree level studies in the UK. During your time at UC Berkeley, LSE will withdraw sponsorship of your Tier 4 (General) visa. You will only be able to apply for your new Tier 4 visa to return to your studies at LSE from outside the UK. You should also note that the time taken to curtail your previous Tier 4 visa will also count towards the cap. The extra year abroad will not make your programme a four-year degree to be able to extend the cap to six years at degree level. If you are a four year PPE student or are planning to study a Masters programme of more than 12 months in length in the UK, we strongly recommend that you consider the possible implications of adding an additional year abroad to your programme of study on your future plans.