California and Non-California Residents: What’s the Difference?
Who is considered a California resident?
To be considered a California resident, you must meet 1 of the following requirements:
- If you are under the age of 18, your parent(s)/legal guardian(s) must have had legal residence within California for at least 1 year and 1 day prior to the 1st day of the semester for which you want to be considered a California resident.
- If you are 18 but not yet 19, you and your parent(s)/legal guardian(s) must have had legal residence within California at least for 1 year and 1 day prior to the 1st day of the semester for which you want to be considered a California resident.
- If you are 19 or older, you must have had legal residence within California for 1 year and 1 day prior to the 1st day of the semester for which you want to be considered a California resident. If your parent(s)/legal guardian(s) live out-of-state, you must be financially independent (see Non-California Residents item #2 below).
- If you are a non-US citizen with a visa that does not prevent you from establishing residency in the United States, you can establish residency in California. To do so, you must have legal residence in California for 1 year and 1 day prior to the 1st day of the semester for which you want to be considered a California resident.
Who is considered a non-California resident?
Students who do not meet 1 of the California residence requirements above (as of the day before the first day of the semester) are required to pay the nonresident tuition fee in addition to the enrollment fee paid by all students. Non-California resident students include:
- Minors (students under 18 years of age and not married) whose parent(s)/legal guardian(s) reside outside of California, even if such the minor has lived in California for 1 year or more.
- Students who are financially dependent on parent(s) or legal guardian(s) who reside outside of California, even if such the student has lived in California for 1 year or more.
- Students holding visas that prevent them from establishing residency in the United States may be restricted in their enrollment and will have to pay non-resident tuition. Students who are citizens and residents of another country are also required to pay an additional per unit capital outlay fee.
Exceptions authorized by the State of California:
- Special Immigrant Visas (Education Code 68075.6 grants immediate nonresident tuition fee exemptions to eligible Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders and refugee students who settled in California upon entering the United States). This exemption is granted for one year from the date the student settled in California upon entering the United States. The exemption applies to the following:
- Iraqi Citizens or nationals (and their spouses and children) who were employed by or on behalf of the United States Government in Iraq (Pub.L. No. 110-181, § 1244)
- Afghan and Iraqi translators (and their spouses and children) who worked directly with the United States Armed Forces (Pub.L. No. 109-163, § 1059)
- Afghanistan nationals who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (Pub.L. No. 111-8, § 602)
- Refugee students admitted to the United States under Section 1157 of Title 8 of the United States Code
- Active military personnel are exempt from the nonresident tuition fee, provided they are in California for a purpose other than attending a state-supported institution of higher learning (such as a college).
- Dependents of military personnel stationed on active duty in California are given a waiver of non-resident fees.
- Non-resident students who have completed three years of high school in California and graduated in California or attained credits from a California high school equivalent to three or more years of full-time high school course work and attend a combination of elementary, middle and/or high schools in California for a total of three or more years and graduated from California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term may qualify for a waiver of nonresident fees by filing an affidavit.
- To apply for any of the above exceptions, fill out the AB540 form or affidavit. Make sure to return it to the Laney Admissions and Records Office, Building A.
For step-by-step residency requirements and instructions click here.
To change you status from nonresident to California resident, you must prove that you have had a physical presence in California for 1 year and 1 day prior to the 1st day of the semester for which you want to be considered a California resident. You must also prove your intent to make California your permanent home for the past year (California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 54024). If you are a VISA student, you must comply with your VISA regulations, in addition to proving physical presence and intent.
You can prove your physical presence and intent in many ways. If you believe you are a California resident per the residency requirements above, you must provide the necessary documents listed below. You must present a minimum of 2 proofs from 2 different categories numbered below. All official documents presented must be valid, readable, dated at least 1 year and 1 day prior to the residence determination date, and be properly identified with your name and California address.
Students who are in the process of requesting a change of residency status must provide the required documents by the posted Residency Reclassification Date for the term they seek reclassification. These dates are available in the printed class schedule for each term and in the Academic Calendar.
Bring at least 2 of the following items to the Office of Admissions and Records (Student Services Building 9B, 1st floor) to establish yourself as a California resident:
- Current California driver’s license, Department of Motor Vehicles documentation of California driver’s license, or a California Identification card.
- California Motor Vehicle registration—California Registration Certificate.
- A bank statement or letter of verification from bank with a California address.
- Records of Income:
- Documentation of employment—check stub, letter from employer on company letterhead, and company identification (all three items).
- California Resident State Income Tax Form 540NR (required by law of any part-year, taxpaying resident of California), or 540 or 540A, from previous year. If the end of the tax year does not fall 1 year and 1 day prior to the residence determination date, 1 of the following documents so dated is also required: check stubs, letter from employer on company letterhead, or other verification.
- Federal Income Tax Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ from previous year with California address. If the end of the tax year does not fall 1 year and 1 day prior to the residence determination date, 1 of the following documents so dated is also required: check stubs, a letter from the employer on company letterhead, or other verification.
- California Voter Registration Card.
- California home loan papers, tax receipts, escrow papers, or documentation of a residential lease covering the required period.
- Selective Service Registration Card with your permanent California address.
- Maintaining permanent military address or home of record in California while in armed forces—DD-214.
- Documentation of the student as a California resident having received rehabilitation, unemployment, welfare, or other California State Services: service receipts or agreements of certification by the appropriate agency showing the student as recipient.
- Petition for a divorce in California (legal document).
- License from California for professional practice (legal document).
- Documentation of active resident membership in California professional, service, or social organization—school organization not accepted.
As per California Code of Regulations Section 54026 the burden is on the student to demonstrate clearly both physical presence in California and intent to establish California residence. Below are some examples of conduct that might cause the state government to consider you a non-California resident. Conduct inconsistent with a CA residency claim includes but is not limited to:
- Driver’s license and/or vehicle registration in another state.
- Being a petitioner in a divorce or lawsuit as a resident in another state.
- Attending an out-of-state educational institution as a resident of that state.
- Declaring non-residence for California income tax purposes.
- Presence in the United States as a citizen of another country with a nonresident visa.
For step-by-step residency requirements and instructions click here.