Establishing California Residency

Information and Resources

Legal Requirements

California state law requires that each student enrolled in or applying for admission to a California community college provide information and evidence to determine his/her residence classification for tuition purposes. The guidelines below will help you determine if you are a California resident for purposes of attending a California community college.

To qualify as a resident, the student must meet the following requirements:

  1. Must have been physically present in California
  2. Must have taken steps to make California his/her sole state of residence as of one year and one day prior to the first day of the semester for which the student is being admitted.

If the student was born outside of the United States, he/she must have met the above mentioned requirements, along with INS documentation that is dated at least one year and one day before the first day of classes for the semester he/she plans to attend.

Non-U.S. citizens will be evaluated for residency based on immigration status as permanent residents or on the type of visa held, length of stay in California , and intent to maintain California as a permanent home . Students on B, C, D, F, H-2, H-3, J, M, O-2, P, or Q visas and students not in the United States legally are precluded from establishing residency.

If the student is under 19 years of age, residency may be derived from his/her parent or legal guardian.

Residency Determination

The college will make the final determination of residency, but the burden of proof is on the student to demonstrate clearly, with proof, both physical presence in California and intent to establish California residence.

Each student at the time of admission or readmission will be classified according to his/her legal residence.

Be sure to submit all documents necessary to establish residency to the Admissions and Records Office.

The following will be accepted as proof of intent to establish California residence for tuition purposes:

  • State and federal tax returns with W-2 forms for the last two years with CA address
  • Automobile registration
  • California driver's license/California ID card
  • Voter registration
  • Documentation of California as the home state of record as required by the military
  • Bank account statements, active for one year prior to residence determination date (must show California resident address, not P.O. Box address).
  • California license for professional practice
  • Petitioner for divorce in California
  • Utility bills (for one year prior to residency determination)
  • Proof of employment (pay stubs for one continuous year prior to residency determination)
  • Mortgage statements - Cannot accept rental or lease agreements
  • Verification of public assistance

Conduct inconsistent with a claim for California residence includes but is not limited to:

  • Driver's license and/or vehicle registration in another state
  • Being a petitioner for a divorce or lawsuit as a resident in another state
  • Attending an out-of-state institution as a resident of that state
  • Declaring nonresidence for California income tax purposes
  • In the U.S. with a nonresident visa

Please note the following requirements: At least two pieces of evidence must be presented, and additional evidence may be required. The more evidence you can present to show intent, the easier it is to become a California resident for tuition purposes. A person begins to establish intent by doing as many of the above mentioned actions AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after his/her arrival in California.

Residency Questionnaire

This information has been extracted from the California Education Code sections 68000 and after, and California Code of Regulations, Title 5, sections 54000-54072.


Last Updated 12/18/18