California State Residency Requirements for Community Colleges

The following information is extracted from California Education Code sections 68000 and after, as well as California Administrative Code Title V, sections 54000-54072.

Each student at the time of admission or returning to Sierra College (after being absent for more than one semester) will be classified according to their legal residence. Evidence may be required to prove physical presence in California and intent to make California the student’s permanent home.

On this page, you can learn more about:

Need help? Contact Admissions and Records.

Residency Reclassification Requirements and Petition

Residency determination must be made as of the first day of the semester of application and is determined based on the information provided in your college application.


Students wishing to have their residency re-evaluated are welcome to submit their completed Residency Reclassification Petition and required documentation.

A Legal Resident of California Must Do Three Things

1. Obtain physical presence in California one year and one day prior to the residency determination date. View California residency date range. 
Note: The one-year period begins when you are not only present in California but also have demonstrated clear intent to become a permanent resident of California.

Acceptable evidence of physical presence:

  • Owning residential property or continuous occupancy of rented or leased property in California
  • Current registration to vote and voting in California
  • Having a current license for a California business (Nursing License, Business License, Cosmetology License, etc.)
  • Showing California as a home address on State or Federal tax forms with a date sensitive paystub
  • Evidence of California employment (W-2) with a date sensitive paystub
  • Official Transcripts from a California high school
  • Evidence of receiving services from a state or county government in California (CalFresh, WIC, Unemployment, Medical)

2. Demonstrate a clear intent to make California your permanent place of residency:
Note: All of these forms of evidence are factored in equally.  

Acceptable evidence of intent:

  • Possessing California Driver's License or ID Card
  • Possessing California motor vehicle license plates (Vehicle Registration, Vehicle Insurance, Pink Slip, etc)
  • Establishing and maintaining active bank accounts with California addresses
  • Holding active membership in service or social clubs (Ex. Religious Attendance, Lions Clubs, Hunting/Fishing License, etc.)
  • Utility bills (gas, water, power, landline telephone, television, and/or internet provider)
  • Documentation of credit agreements with California businesses 

3. Not be involved in conduct inconsistent with a claim of California residency. Some examples of inconsistent conduct are:
Note: Sierra College considers these factors above all others.

  • Maintaining voter registration in another state
  • Being a petitioner for divorce in another state
  • Attending an out-of-state institution as a resident of that state
  • Declaring non-residency for state income tax purposes
  • Maintaining a driver's license and/or vehicle registration in another state

Special Residency Rules


Minors under 19 (as of the first day of the semester applied for) and unmarried derive their residence from their parents. If the parent is a California resident and the minor student arrives in California before their 18th birthday, that student receives California residency. If the student arrives after their 18th birthday, proof must be shown that the student's parent(s) is a California resident and claimed the student on their CA-540 tax form for the current and preceding year. 

AB 2210: Special Immigrant Visa (SIV Holders)

Education Code section 68075.6 grants an immediate nonresident tuition fee exemption 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.

This 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
  • Afghan and Iraqi translators (and their spouses and children) who worked directly with the United States Armed Forces
  • Afghanistan nationals who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan
  • Refugee students admitted to the United States under Section 1157 of Title 8 of the United States Code

Foreign Students

If you are in the United States with a Visa that allows establishment of residency, then the one year physical presence and intent will apply.  IF your visa precludes you from establishing residency, then you would be charged the non-resident enrollment fees. You must provide the visa information when submitting your application.  You may be asked to show a copy of the visa to prove residency. 

The following visas can establish residency:

The following Visas cannot establish Residency status for the community college:

  • B-1, B-2, D-1, D-2, H-2, H-3, M-1, M-2, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, Q, and OUT OF STATUS. 

Persons with the following Visas must contact our Designated School Official (DSO) in the Admissions and Records Office for information concerning applications and admittance to Sierra College:

  • F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2

California Residency Date Range

Students seeking to be reclassified as a California resident must obtain various documents that fall within a date sensitive time period for that particular term. The documents must cover at least one day within the time period listed below for the term you are seeking to be reclassified for.

Spring 2024: July 21, 2022 – January 21, 2023

Summer 2024: December 9, 2022 – June 9, 2023
Fall 2024: February 18, 2023 – August 18, 2023 
Spring 2025: July 26, 2023 – January 26, 2024
Summer 2025: December 8, 2023 – June 8, 2024


California Nonresident Tuition Exemption - AB 540 (AB 2000 and SB 68)


Some students may qualify for an AB 540 waiver. This waiver entitles students who qualify to have their non-resident fees waived for the semester.


General Information

Any student, other than an undocumented student, who meets all the following requirements, shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at California Community Colleges.


  1. Attendance: The student must have attended one or more of these California schools for three or more years
    • Semesters attended in a California high school;
    • Classroom hours completed in a California adult school;
    • Noncredit classroom hours (or in limited cases, semester and/or quarter units) completed at a California community college
    • Credits in semester and/or quarter units completed at a California community college
  2. The student must have:
    • Graduated from a California high school or
    • Attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term (for example, passing the GED or California High School Proficiency Exam)
    • Associate degree or
    • Minimum transfer requirement to a CSU or UC

An undocumented student who is without lawful immigration status must file an affidavit with the college stating that they filed an application to legalize their immigration status or will file an application as soon as they are eligible to do so. Students who are nonimmigrants (for example, those who hold F [student] visas, B [visitor] visas, etc.) are not eligible for this exemption. The student must file an exemption request, including a signed affidavit with the college that indicates the student has met all applicable conditions described above. Student information obtained in this process is strictly confidential unless disclosure is required under law.  Students eligible for this exemption who are transferring to another California public college or university must submit a new request (and documentation, if required) to each college or university under consideration. Nonresident students meeting the criteria will be exempted from the payment of nonresident tuition, but they will not be classified as California residents. They continue to be "nonresidents."  AB 540 may provide undocumented student (including DACA students) with eligibility for state financial aid programs and scholarships. These students remain ineligible for federal financial aid.

How to Request This Exemption from Nonresident Tuition

Complete the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request form and submit to the Admissions and Records Office. You may be required to submit education transcripts (Sierra College transcripts and/or Other School transcripts) to validate requirements with your completed exemption request form.


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Article ID: 74019
Mon 3/18/19 4:13 PM
Wed 1/10/24 9:44 AM