Have a question about your immigration status, taxes or traveling within and outside of the U.S.? You’re in the right place.
As an international student, it is of utmost importance that you maintain your international student visa status. Make sure you’re aware of all the requirements and forms, and respond to the international student advisor as he sends out notices regarding immigration updates and notices. If you have questions, please connect with the staff at the Fried Center for Global Engagement.
- Maintaining your international student status
Upon entry to the United States an F-1 student must maintain status. The F-1 regulations begin immediately upon entry and continue until final departure. A student is admitted for Duration of Status (D/S).
F-1 students must comply with the following requirements in order to maintain lawful status:
- Report to the DSO for SEVIS registration upon arrival at Hope College
- Attend the school that you are authorized to attend
- Pursue a full course of study or engage in authorized practical training following completion of studies
- Make a normal progress towards completing a program of study
- Apply for a timely extension of stay
- Obtain a new Form I-20 for a change in academic or program level of study
- Follow SEVIS I-20 transfer procedures if applicable
- Abide by the F-1 grace period regulations
- Report change of address to the DSO within 10 days; DSO reports change in SEVIS
- Maintain a valid passport
- Do not engage in unlawful employment
- Depart the U.S. in a timely manner
- Extending your I-20
F-1 students are admitted to the United States for “duration of status” or “D/S” and must complete their academic program by the completion date on the Form I-20 or apply for a program extension. Program extension can be given to students who have continually maintained status (see section above) and whose completion dates will be delayed due to valid academic or medical reasons. A student’s SEVIS record must be updated with a program extension prior to the expiration date on the current Form I-20; otherwise, the student will be considered out of status and will need to apply for reinstatement (see section on reinstatement below). The student may apply for an extension of program at any time, so long as it is prior to the completion date on the Form I-20.
- Reinstating your I-20
You are maintaining lawful status if you are making normal progress toward completing a course of study and complying with the immigration regulations.
If you fail to maintain status, you are ineligible for any of the benefits of F-1 status (for example, employment authorization). There are two ways to regain status:
- Apply for reinstatement
- Depart the U.S. and seek a new admission to the U.S. in F-1 status
Option 1: Reinstatement
When requesting reinstatement, you must establish to the satisfaction of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you:
- Have not been out of status more than five months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrate that the failure to file within the five-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that you filed for reinstatement as soon as possible under these circumstances)
- Do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of immigration regulations
- Are currently pursuing, or intending to pursue in the immediate future, a full course of study at the school which issued the Form I-20
- Have not engaged in unauthorized employment
- Are not deportable on any ground other than overstaying or failing to maintain status
You must also establish that:
- The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, a natural disaster or inadvertence, oversight or neglect on the part of your ISS adviser, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or a willful failure on your part resulted in the need for reinstatement
- The violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within the international student adviser's authority to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you
If the USCIS approves the reinstatement request, the adjudicating officer will endorse your I-20 to indicate that you have been reinstated and will return the I-20 to you. If USCIS does not approve the reinstatement request, you may not appeal the decision and need to prepare to leave the U.S. immediately.
To apply for reinstatement, please contact the Fried Center for Global Engagement to schedule an appointment with the DSO to review your eligibility for F-1 reinstatement and discuss the application process.
Option 2: Travel and Reentry
In some cases, it may be advisable to depart the U.S. and re-enter with a new I-20 rather than applying for reinstatement. You may do this by obtaining a new I-20 from the school you are currently attending or wish to attend, then departing the U.S., applying for a new F-1 visa if the F-1 visa stamp in your passport has expired, and returning to the U.S. Note that students who violated status are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation. A re-entry to the U.S. after a status violation is viewed by Immigration as “initial attendance” in F-1 status. As such, you are bound by restrictions placed on new students, such as the academic year waiting period for eligibility for practical training.
To request a new I-20 for travel and reentry, please contact the Fried Center for Global Engagement to schedule an appointment with a DSO or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a new I-20.
- Reduced Course Load Request
An F-1 student is required to maintain full-time enrollment unless eligible for a legal vacation. Students with academic or medical problems who are not eligible for a vacation semester must obtain advance approval to be registered for fewer than 12 hours. A request for advance approval must be based on one of the following reasons:
- Academic problems
- Medical problems
Students must have continuously maintained status to apply. Requests for graduating students should be submitted at least two weeks prior to the close of registration. For all F-1 students, registering for less than 12 hours without advance approval will result in your falling out of status. Reinstatement would then require approval from the immigration service.
- On-Campus Employment
Students in F-1 status are eligible to work on campus incident to status. Authorization is based on the end date on the Form I-20 or actual program completion date, whichever occurs first. Employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Full-time employment is allowed during the annual vacation or when school is not in session.
Employment may occur either on the school’s premises, including commercial firms that provide direct services to students on campus, or at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school.
For students making their initial entry, employment may begin no sooner than 30 days prior to the start of classes.
On-campus employment resources
- Off-Campus Employment
Opportunities to work off-campus are greatly restricted and a work permit is always required.
In addition, F-1 students must be lawfully enrolled on a full time basis for one full academic year to be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Employment based on Severe Economic Hardship. Please contact the International Student Advisor to complete the paperwork for the CPT and OPT.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Must be in F-1 status and have been enrolled full time for two semesters (fall and spring) before the CPT can start
- Work must be required or an integral part of program and directly related to major
- Pre-completion of degree only
- Academic credit MUST be received for the employment experience and the course MUST count toward degree requirements
- Employment authorization usually cannot extend beyond the end of the academic term for which credit is received
- Must remain enrolled full time during fall and spring semesters
- Can be part time (up to 20 hours per week) or full time (more than 20 hours per week)
- No time limit; however, if used 12 months full-time, optional practical training is forfeited
- Employment is employer specific (i.e., must have a job offer to apply)
- Application is made to Fried Center for Global Engagement, Martha Miller Center #118
- The authorization process is usually 30–60 minutes; however, it is strongly recommended that you apply at least one–two weeks in advance because it must meet strict eligibility requirements
- No application fee
CPT Frequently Asked Questions
CPT Application Request
Sample Employer Offer Letter
To learn more about CPT, visit the ICE website - Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Must be in F-1 status and have been enrolled full time for two semesters (fall and spring) before the OPT can start
- Work must be directly related to major
- Limited to 12 months total per higher degree level
- Can be part time (up to 20 hours per week) or full time (more than 20 hours per week), but each requires a separate application
- Can only be full time after completion of degree
- Does not require a job offer to apply
- Application is made to the U.S. government (after receiving recommendation from Fried Center for Global Engagement)
- Processing time varies; 2–3 months is typical
- $410 application fee
OPT Application Guidelines
Complete I-765 form and submit it to the Fried Center for Global Engagement with supporting documents.
To learn more about post-completion OPT, visit the following ICE website: Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Social Security & Taxes
All international students must obtain a social security number (SSN) before they are permitted to work on campus.
The U.S. tax system can be a bit confusing. Anyone who earns money while living in the U.S. must file a tax return. Read more about tax filing procedures.
International students pay state tax and, depending upon income, federal tax. The regulations for international students are different than those for U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents. The Center for Global Engagement will offer a tax-filing workshop early in the spring semester.
- DRIVER'S LICENSE
- A Michigan Driver’s License or Identification Card is often required in order to cash checks, open a bank account or buy something with either a check or a credit card. Without one of these documents, you will need to carry your passport with you at all times, which is not recommended. You can easily obtain one of these documents at the Secretary of State Office. An appointment is recommended. See the identification requirements here.
- Travel outside of the U.S. and re-entry
Travel within the U.S.
While traveling please make sure to carry your original passport and I-20 with you at all times.
Make sure you know which route you are taking when you travel through the U.S. Many American students traveling east from Michigan drive through Canada. If this is your route, you must follow the “Travel outside the U.S.” guidelines below.
Travel outside of the U.S.
All F-1 and J-1 students traveling to other countries (including Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean) will need to have their I-20 signed by a Designated Student Official (DSO). Please remember to plan ahead and set up an appointment to have your I-20 signed. In addition to a valid passport, visa and I-20, you may also be required to get a visa of the country you plan on visiting.
- Amy Otis, Senior Director (PDSO/RO)
- Habeeb Awad, International Student Advisor (DSO/ARO)
- Jasmine Lowell, International Education Coordinator (DSO/ARO)
Martha Miller Center257 Columbia AvenueRoom 107Holland, MI 49423