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Prior to Arrival


International visitors and postdocs should direct all immigration and visa questions directly to the International Offices.


Please note that your visa “clock” for tax purposes starts ticking the day you arrive in the U.S., an important factor for those international scholars  who come from countries that maintain a tax treaty with the U.S. The date of arrival is the date that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS – the tax collection agency of the U.S. government) uses, as opposed to your effective start date of employment at Caltech. For more general information regarding taxes and how they affect you, please see our Tax Considerations page.

Parameters of H-1B Visa

Under U.S. federal regulations individuals in H-1B status must be paid a wage/salary from their host institution (Caltech). Therefore, certain types of fellowships may not be compatible with this visa type. Please contact the Scholar Services office or your International Scholar Services advisor an immigration officer in the International Offices if you have any questions regarding this. 


Please see the Rental Listing Service link of the Caltech Housing Office for housing availability in the area. In addition, you may fill out an application to be placed on the waiting list for the limited Caltech apartments available to postdoctoral scholars. For more information and to submit an application, please click on the link: Finally, go to the Housing section of Craigslist and in the keyword box type "Pasadena" to obtain a further listing of housing available in the area. Please note that most landlords and rental agencies require a security deposit and/or the first and last month’s rent.

Transitional Housing

For other local area options for short-term accommodation see Travel Services' hotel and motel agreements document.

Child Care

There are two childcare centers affiliated with Caltech, Caltech Children’s Cente (CCC) and the Child Educational Center (CEC). The CCC is located on campus; the CEC is located about seven miles away, near NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, operated by Caltech in La Canada Flintridge. Both centers have waiting lists. It is advisable that you put your name on these waiting lists prior to your arrival. Additional information can be found on our Child Care and Child Care Assistance page.

Childcare Benefit Available to Scholars Paying US Taxes

If you decide to place your child in a daycare facility, it may be in your best interest to enroll in the Dependent Care Spending Account. Using this program, you may direct Caltech to set aside money every month from your paycheck for your spending account - which is not subject to federal, state income taxes, or social security tax. You may use the funds in these accounts to pay for eligible expenses with tax-free dollars. For more information regarding eligibility requirements for this and other benefits, see About Your Benefits.

Useful Things to Know

Here are some useful things to know and do prior to your arrival.

  • Expect your formal appointment letter and contract from Caltech. Read the terms and conditions of your appointment very carefully and keep in mind those terms applicable to you.
  • Bring your visa documents and other important documents (medical and immunization records, prescriptions, school records, credit history, good driver certificate for car insurance).
  • Sign up for the Caltech Postdoc Association (CPA) e-mail announcement list to learn more about social and other events for postdocs at Caltech and a place to post items to sell or buy.
  • Use Caltech’s Graduate Student Guide, the Technique, for even more information regarding life on campus and Southern California. You will be provided a hard copy of this resource upon arrival. 

Making Arrangements for Your Travel and Arrival

Please refer to your appointment letter and contract for specific reimbursable relocation expenses that may be applicable to you. 

See Caltech’s Travel Services for discount information regarding area hotels, motels, car rentals and shuttle services and moving companies. This page also includes information regarding per diem rates, exchange rates and travel warnings.

If your appointment includes reimbursement for relocation expenses, please verify with your faculty sponsor whether or not you must use a U.S. airline. Certain funding sources will only reimburse air travel on U.S. carriers.