As an international student you have an obligation to understand and maintain your F-1 non-immigrant status. You will find basic F-1 regulatory information below. Making assumptions about immigration regulations or relying on the advice of friends is the quickest means of falling out of F-1 status. If you have any questions or concerns about your own F-1 status please contact International Student Services.
An F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by a United States Consulate abroad to an alien who plans to come to the United States to pursue full-time studies at a U.S. educational school or institution. Generally, the U.S. Consular Office has total discretion to grant or deny the visa. Foreign students who wish to obtain an F-1 visa must plan to pursue a full course of study in an approved academic institution in the United States.
When admitted into the U.S. on an approved F-1 visa, that student becomes an F-1 status holder. For those who are already in the United States on another non-immigrant status, such as B-1/B-2, H-1, etc., they may apply to change to F-1 status in the U.S. or travel outside the U.S., apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy and gain F-1 status by presenting the F-1 visa upon entry to the U.S. As long as your activity in the U.S. reflects the intent of your F-1 documents your F-1 status is maintained.
The spouse and/or unmarried, minor children of F-1 holders are eligible to come to the United States on an F-2 Visa. People in F-2 status may remain in the U.S. as long as the principle F-1 student maintains valid status. People in F-2 status are not eligible to engage in a course of study or work in the U.S.
Maintaining your F-1 non-immigrant status is your responsibility. International Student Services is here to assist you in that goal. Please refer to the list below for a reminder of your obligations to maintain your F-1 status.
- Maintain full time enrollment
F-1 students must be engaged in a full course of study every academic session or semester except during official school breaks as defined by their program of study. Students must make positive progress in that course of study. There are limited exceptions to the full course of study requirement which must be approved by International Student Services in advance.
- Limit on-line enrollment
No more than the equivalent of one course or 3 credits per session or semester may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken on-line or through distance education.
- Reporting your local address
Report any change of U.S. address to International Student Services within 10 days of your move.
- Work only when and where authorized
Please refer to the “Employment” section of this page for information on employment eligibility options, restrictions and benefits.
- Keep I-20 valid at all times
Report any changes in the information stated on your I-20 to International Student Services so an updated I-20 can be issued for you.
- Extension of Stay
You must contact International Student Services at least 30 days before the end date on your I-20 if you will need additional time to complete your academic program.
- Transfer Out
In order to transfer your F-1 status to another institution to engage in a program of study you must coordinate the release of your SEVIS data to your new institution. Please contact International Student Services at least 30 days prior to the start date of your new program to discuss the transfer of your SEVIS records.
F-1 students who do not follow F-1 regulations are considered to be out of status. Students who have fallen out of status are not eligible for travel signatures, employment eligibility, transfer to another school, or program extension. To regain F-1 status an application for reinstatement must be filed with, and approved by, USCIS. Please contact International Student Services as soon as possible if you believe you may be out of status.
F-1 students may leave the U.S. and return in F-1 status provided they have the correct documents with them upon re-entry. To reenter in F-1 status students must present a valid I-20 from the school they are attending with a valid travel signature from a Designated School Official on page 3. F-1 students must also present a valid passport, valid F-1 visa, and valid EAD and offer of employment (if on Optional Practical Training). To obtain a travel signature please contact International Student Services.
F-1 students who plan to travel to a country other than their home country must check with the Embassy of the country they are planning to visit to inquire about specific entry procedures. The Embassy.org site provides links to the websites of many foreign embassies in the U.S.
Students in F-1 status have a couple of opportunities to secure employment. Please click on each of the following options for more information.
- On-campus Employment
F-1 students may work on-campus. This is a benefit of the F-1 status. Students may seek employment on the campus itself or at one of the educationally affiliated hospitals provided the employment is related to the student’s field of study. As the primary purpose of an F-1 student is to pursue a full course of study, employment while enrolled is limited to no more than 20 hours/week while school is in session. Students may work 40 hours/week during recognized school breaks.
As an F-1 student you will need a Social Security Number in order to sign onto payroll.
- Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment authorization used for an integral part of an established curriculum" and "directly related to the student's major area of study." CPT is defined as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school." CPT is authorized on-campus by the Designated School Official. If your program requires any such employment experience please contact International Student Services to discuss CPT.
As an F-1 student you will need a Social Security Number in order to sign onto payroll.
- Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical training (OPT) is temporary employment for up to 12 months to gain practical experience in a student’s field of study. Students are eligible for OPT following one academic year. An academic year is 12 months for many of the Institute’s programs. Students may opt to use their OPT while they are enrolled. Pre-completion OPT must be part time a 20 hour/week or less. Students may use a combination of pre- and post- completion OPT although most students wait until they have completed their academic programs and apply for post-completion OPT. Post-completion OPT grants full-time employment eligibility for up to 12 months.
OPT is recommended by the Designated School Official. Once securing the recommendation an F-1 student applies for OPT approval with USCIS. Once approved USCIS will send the student and Employment Authorization Document card (EAD). The student’s employment eligibility dates are noted on the card. The student may not begin employment until the start date on the card has come to pass. Students on OPT must report change in address and all employment changes and periods of unemployment to International Student Services. Students may accrue up to 90 days of unemployment while on OPT.
None of the academic programs at the Institute qualify for the 17 month OPT STEM extension.
- Social Security Number (SSN)
A Social Security number (SSN) is issued to track earnings over a worker's lifetime. A Social Security Number is not employment authorization. Students holding F-1 status who are employed in the U.S. must apply for a Social Security number. Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible for a Social Security numbers. In order to issue a Social Security Number, the Social Security Administration requires evidence that you are eligible to work in the U.S. Present your passport, I-94 card, I-20 and indicated documents for the type of employment you have secured:
On-campus employment: An original letter from a DSO showing that you are authorized to work on-campus and; Letter from the hiring department verifying that you have accepted a job offer
Curricular Practical Training: Letter from the employer verifying that you have accepted a job offer
Optional Practical Training: Employment Authorization Document
The Social Security Administration must also verify your immigration documents and status with Immigration before issuing the Social Security number. Note that new students may not apply for an SSN earlier than 10 business days after arriving in the U.S.
A Social Security number is not required to obtain a driver's license, cell phone, credit card, insurance, admission to an academic institution or other "non-work" reasons.
Students who will not work on campus but who receive a taxable scholarship can apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes).