Maintaining your nonimmigrant status is not hard, but the nuances of living on a student visa take time to learn. We’re here to provide you with resources, training, and more to make all of this second nature.
As a nonimmigrant student living in the United States, you’ll be required to follow very specific immigration procedures outlined and enforced by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. Ursuline College is authorized by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to sponsor your Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (I-20). As such, both the College, as the sponsor and you, as the student, have certain reporting and procedural expectations which are required for you to lawfully remain in the United States.
Several members of Ursuline’s faculty and staff have been authorized by the US government as Designated School Officials (DSOs) to serve as your partners in this process. Guidance on key points of interest are noted below, but never hesitate to contact us for further clarification of these and other immigration rules.
After your arrival in the United States, look up your I-94 Arrival Record online. Download or take a screen shot and save this for your records. No more than 30 days prior to your I-20 start date but before the start of classes, attach this document to an email and send it to your Designated School Official (DSO) to verify your arrival. You will receive an email reminder to verify your arrival prior to the start of classes.
You’ll also be required to complete an in-person international student orientation. At Ursuline, this is a one-on-one meeting with your DSO to discuss maintaining your nonimmigrant status along with other important points of interest for living in the United States.
International orientation is a second orientation, and not to be confused with your Academic Orientation, at which you will schedule your classes with your Academic Advisor. International students are required to complete both orientations.
Make plans to schedule your international orientation appointment with your DSO after arriving in the US and prior to the end of your first week of classes on campus.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work authorization available you once you have been attending Ursuline full-time for at least two consecutive semesters as long as you are seeking employment in the US in your field of study.
There are two kinds of OPT: pre-completion and post-completion. Pre-completion OPT is available to you while you are enrolled at Ursuline and post-completion is available following the completion of your program of study. You only have 12 months of eligibility for both types of OPT combined, so participating in pre-Completion OPT will impact the amount of time available to you to seek post-completion OPT after graduating. If you have received a Bachelor’s degree in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics), you may be eligible to apply for a 24-month STEM extension of OPT.
The average processing time for USCIS to issue the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for OPT is 90 days. However, you can always check current USCIS processing times online. If you wait too long to apply for your EAD, there is no way to expedite the process. Please see the Office of Counseling and Career Services to discuss your plans for OPT well in advance of applying for OPT.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT), conversely, is granted for work experiences such as co-ops and internships for which you will receive academic credit. CPT can be authorized by your DSO after one full year of academic study. USCIS approval is not required, and no EAD is issued. Simply provide your DSO with a documentation from your academic advisor that you will receive credit for the internship, along with course name and number, and an offer letter from the intended employer describing the employment. This letter should also verify your supervisor’s name and contact information, location, and the start date.
All international students and their dependents are responsible for filing annual tax forms (often called “tax returns”). This is a requirement even if you did not work or earn income in the US. Although Ursuline does not advise on individuals’ tax matters, we’ll help you find the resources you need. Here are some resources to assist you:
Learn about federal income tax obligations, including determining tax residency, which forms should be filed, and when by downloading the NAFSA Federal Income Tax Brochure. Additional information is available from the Internal Revenue Service.
For assistance filing taxes, we recommend:
As an international student, you are required to hold a US health insurance policy. Please contact your DSO for policy options and more information about this requirement.
As an F-1 student, your legal spouse and children under age 21 are permitted to apply for F-2 status to accompany you or follow separately to the US. To request Certificates of Eligibility (Form I-20) for eligible family members, please contact your DSO.
During your orientation appointment, your DSO will review basic rules for your immigration status. Be sure to familiarize yourself with this important information about maintaining your F-1 status prior to this meeting.
Social Security and Medicare are US government programs that provide benefits for US citizens and permanent residents, usually for retirement. These programs are financed by withholding taxes from the paychecks of US workers. If you are employed as an F-1 student, you may be considered a “resident for tax purposes” and be required to pay these taxes.
A Social Security card is required for everyone who works in the US, even nonimmigrants. You will receive a unique Social Security Number (SSN) which will be printed on your card. You keep this number for life, and you should keep your card and number secure as SSNs are often the targets of identity theft. If you lose your card, you will need to file for a replacement, rather than for a new SSN. A Social Security card is not a work permit.
You will be eligible to apply for a SSN with a job offer letter and/or work permission. F-2 dependents are not eligible for Social Security numbers.
See your Ursuline DSO for assistance applying for your SSN.
Prior to leaving the US for any international travel, be sure to visit your DSO to receive an updated travel signature on your Form I-20. For re-entry to the US, you will be required to have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the US, and a properly endorsed Form I-20 (with a travel signature from the DSO that is dated within one year of the travel) or a Form I-193, waiver of passport or visa requirement.