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How to establish residency

These are general guidelines on what it means to establish residency. If you are hoping to establish residency, contact your campus residence deputy to assess your situation.

Undergraduates: If you’re a nonresident undergraduate student with nonresident parents, obtaining California residency for the purposes of tuition is extremely difficult (this includes transfer students from community colleges and other postsecondary institutions within California). Virtually all nonresident undergraduates with nonresident parents remain nonresidents for the duration of their undergraduate career at UC.

Establishing physical presence and intent

To meet these requirements, you must be continuously physically present in California for more than one year (366 days) immediately prior to the residence determination date (generally the first day of classes) and intend to make California your home permanently. You can demonstrate your intention to stay in California by relinquishing legal ties to your former state and establishing legal ties to California.

Here are some ways you can establish intent:

  • Remain in California when school is not in session.
  • Register to vote and vote in California elections.
  • Designate your California address as permanent on all school and employment records, including current military records.
  • Obtain a California driver's license within 10 days of settling in California. (If you've never had a driver’s license in any state, then obtain a California identification card.)
  • If you have a car, obtain a California motor vehicle registration within 20 days of settling in California.
  • Work in California and file California resident income tax forms from the date of entry into the state. Income earned outside of California after that date must also be declared in California.
  • Establish and maintain active bank accounts in California banks and close out-of-state accounts.
  • Surrender all out-of-state identification (including driver's license).
  • Establish a permanent home where your belongings are kept.
  • Obtain a license for professional practice in California.

You’ll need to relinquish out-of-state ties and demonstrate intent while simultaneously meeting the physical presence requirement.

Absences from California

In order to demonstrate intent, it is important to stay in California during nonacademic periods. If you’re a nonresident student who is in the process of establishing California residency, and you leave California for more than one month during the summer before the term in which you are establishing resident status, your intent will be questioned.

Graduate and law students who must leave for nonacademic-related reasons for more than a month during the summer should contact the campus residence deputy to seek advice prior to leaving and filing for classification.

Financial independence

Nonresident undergraduates

This requirement makes it extremely difficult for most undergraduates who are not financially dependent on a California-resident parent to qualify for classification as a California resident.

If you’re an unmarried undergraduate under the age of 24 and your parent(s) are not California residents, you must be able to document (for example, using tax returns, W-2 forms, bank statements) that you have been totally self-sufficient for two full years prior to the residence determination date, supporting yourself, for example, through jobs, financial aid, commercial/institutional loans in your name only, and documentable savings from your earnings. This also means you can't have been claimed as an income tax dependent by any individual or have accepted gifts (cash or other support) that contributed to your subsistence for two tax years immediately preceding the term.

Exceptions to the financial independence requirement

You may not need to meet this requirement for establishing residency if: 

  • You’re a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • You’re a ward of the court or both of your parents are deceased.
  • You have legal dependents other than a spouse.
  • You’re married and won't be claimed as an income tax deduction by your parents or any other individual for the tax year immediately preceding the request for resident classification.

There are other exceptions, so make sure to contact your campus residence deputy office to learn if you meet the financial independence requirement. See the full policy for all exceptions to the financial independence requirement (pdf).

Graduate students

If you are a graduate student, you're presumed to be financially independent for purposes of residency unless your parents claimed you as a dependent on their federal tax return for the most recent tax year.

Graduate student instructors, teaching or research assistants, or teaching associates employed 49% time or more (or awarded the equivalent in university-administered funds, e.g., grants, stipends, fellowships) in the term for which resident classification is sought may be exempted from the financial independence requirement.

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