Information for Applicants from Foreign Institutions
In addition to the Application for Admission and application fee, registering with the LSDAS and taking the LSAT, J.D. applicants who have earned undergraduate degrees from academic institutions outside the United States or Canada must have their foreign transcripts evaluated by a credentials evaluation service.
Note: LL.M. applicants, see the details for foreign applicants in the Application Process pages for your particular LL.M. program of interest.
The one exception to this requirement is if the foreign education was completed through a study abroad, consortium or exchange program sponsored by a U.S. or Canadian institution, and the work is clearly indicated as such on the home campus transcript.
For information on completing this requirement, contact the service providers directly.
Obtaining Your Visa
If you are a non-immigrant student, your stay in the United States will require compliance with the rules and regulations of the U.S. Government. These rules and regulations are complex and subject to change. Helpful information is available at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' website, the U.S. Department of State's page regarding U.S. visa policy and procedures; and the U.S. Network for Education Information. Please understand that it is your responsibility to attain current, valid procedural information regarding your specific visa requirements.
To allow time to overcome any unforeseen problems that might arise, be sure to have a valid passport and apply for your visa several weeks before you plan to travel. It is important to remember that applying early and providing the requested documents does not guarantee that you will receive a visa. Also, because each student’s personal and academic situation is different, two students applying for the same type of visa may be asked different questions and be required to submit different documents.
The Registration and Academic Records Office can often answer Visa questions.
International Banking Transactions
If you need to transfer money from abroad, Travelex Global Payments is one option to assist in exchanging funds. They convert nearly any foreign currency into U.S. dollars and offer a competitive exchange rate regardless of the amount. Southwestern does not specifically endorse this vendor – it is listed only as an example of a service provider that you may wish to explore. Please consult their website for more information, and contact them directly to determine whether you can benefit from their services.
International students must remember that all law school tuition and fees are required to be paid in U.S. dollars, by check or U.S. money order (payable to Southwestern Law School). Checks must be drawn from U.S. bank accounts or from banks that have branches in the U.S. No money orders in non-U.S. currency will be accepted. Click here for more information on banking.
International/California Driver's License
If you plan to rent or purchase a car in Los Angeles, you should bring an international driver's license with you, as it takes at least a few weeks to get a California driver's license. Please be aware that most banks or stores will not accept an international driver's license as an identification card. However, your passport will work fine for this purpose.
Obtaining a California Driver's License
A passport, visa stamp and I-20 Form will allow a foreign student to take the written and driver's test (requirements may vary for students from Canada and Bermuda). To avoid long lines at the DMV, you can make an appointment online or over the phone.
Note: The International Driver's Permit/License (IDP) obtained from the DMV does not authorize a foreign student to drive in the state of California. For information on obtaining a driver's license, visit or contact the Registration and Academic Records Office.
Foreign Student Health Insurance Policy
It is mandatory for foreign students to have health insurance while attending Southwestern.
Obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN)
If you are temporarily in the U.S. as a student, you DO NOT need a Social Security number or card to register for or attend Southwestern.
If you chose to obtain a SSN, you must present the following items at a local Social Security Office:
- I-20 Form as proof of lawful alien status
- documentation from the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) at Southwestern stating your need for the SSN*
- at least two original or notarized documents (not photocopies) as proof of age and identity, which can include your birth certificate or passport (and one additional piece of documentation with your name and photograph, such as a passport or a school identification card).
*One such example is a job offer and a letter from the PDSO in Southwestern's Registrations and Academic Affairs Office.
The Social Security Administration will verify your documents before they issue a Social Security card; this process can take one to four weeks. There is no charge to get a Social Security card; it is a free government service. Please contact the Social Security Administration for more information and to ensure requirements and procedures have not changed.