Hello, Current Students!
Living and learning in a different country is exciting, but can make you feel uncertain. The International Student Office (ISO) is here to assist International students with issues such as cultural adaptation, immigration regulations, and employment and tax paperwork, as well as with any other questions or problems which may arise.
No question is too big or too small. We strive to provide the support services that our students need to be successful at NAU. If you don’t see your answer here or if you have further questions, please stop by room 736 in the Student Services building or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Frequently Asked Questions!
There are only certain circumstances when International students are allowed to work in the U.S. The ISO must give authorization BEFORE any type of employment begins.
- You must receive a job offer from an on-campus employer before seeing the ISO.
- You may not work more than 20 hours per week during the school year but may work up to 40 hours per week during school breaks.
- After you get the written job offer from the on-campus employer and the authorization letter from the ISO then you must visit the social security office to get a Social Security card.
Before you can go to the social security office you must have the following information with you. These must all be original documents, not copies. Expired documents will not be accepted.
- Letter from the Department Head
- Letter from the ISO
- Filled out application for a SS card.
- Current I20
It is your responsibility to see the ISO so your I20 can be updated to reflect on-campus employment wages.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will authorize off-campus employment ONLY in cases of severe economic hardship occurring after a student’s enrollment in an academic program and after the student has been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year, or in emergent circumstances as defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). USCIS makes case-by-case decisions for off-campus employment for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond their control have created severe economic hardship. These may include the following: Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment (if the student is not at fault), Large increases in tuition or living costs, Substantial decrease in the relative value of currency the student depends upon to pay expenses, Unexpected changes in the financial conditions for a student’s sources of financial support, Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance or other substantial, unexpected expenses.
The F-1 student must be unable to get on-campus employment, or the pay from available on-campus employment must be insufficient to meet financial needs.
For each request approval, The student must file a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” and pay a fee to USCIS. If USCIS approves the application, the student will receive a Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) from USCIS and can begin working. Approval for off-campus employment is good for one year. If the F-1 student needs to continue working off-campus, the student must re-apply.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment that directly relates to your major and the experience must be part of your program of study.
The ISO authorizes CPT in conjunction with your student advisor. You will receive a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” that shows that the DSO has approved you for this employment.
You can work on CPT either full-time or part-time. You must have one full academic year of study in the U.S. before you are eligible for CPT.
CPT requires a signed letter from your employer. The letter must consist of the following information on the employer’s letterhead: the EXACT PHYSICAL ADDRESS (Street, Suite # if any, City, State, and Postal Code) of the internship, the duration of the internship including the start and end dates, and a general description of duties.
If you have 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you are ineligible for OPT, but part-time CPT is fine and will not stop you from doing OPT.
After you have been approved to do CPT by the ISO then you may get your social security card.
Optical Practical Training (OPT) is employment that directly relates to your major or course of study.
You can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level, (i.e., you may have 12 months of OPT at the bachelor’s level and another 12 months of OPT at the master’s level).
Your ISO will provide you with a new Form I-20 that shows the DSO recommendation for this employment but the decision is made by USCIS.
You must apply for work authorization by electronically filing a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send you a Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) upon approving your Form I-765. This application should be submitted 60 to 90 days BEFORE the date you wish to begin working.
You cannot start work until after you receive your EAD.
While school is in session, you may only work 20 hours per week.
- You may qualify for an additional 17 months of OPT under the following circumstances:
- The degree for your current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) program listed here.
- The employer from which you are seeking employment uses the E-Verify program.
- You have not previously received a 17-month extension of OPT.
- Your DSO has provided you with a new Form I-20 that shows the DSO recommendation for this employment on page three.
- You must apply for work authorization by electronically filing a Form I-765 with USCIS and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send you an EAD upon approving your petition.
- You may continue to work on your expired EAD for OPT up to 180 days while your 17-month extension petition is pending if you meet these conditions: You are currently in a period of post-completion OPT.
- You properly and in a timely manner filed your application for the 17-month extension with USCIS.
- You must report changes in name, address, employer and loss of employment to your DSO within 10 days of any change.
When you first come to the U.S. it is important that you do not arrive more than 30 days before your start date.
Always travel with your original I20/DS-2019, your passport, your visa and all other important documents. It is a good idea to keep a copy of all your important documents in a safe place so that if they are lost or stolen, it is easier to replace them.
As a continuing student it is important to visit the ISO before any trips out of the country. You must receive a travel authorization signature in order for you to be allowed back into the U.S. after ANY trips abroad. Plan ahead and get this signature early. The travel signature is good for 1 year but it is recommended every 6 months. It is NOT necessary to get a travel signature if you are not leaving the U.S. during your travels.
Before you leave the United States, contact the consulate of the country to be visited to inquire about visa and travel procedures. If you plan to visit Canada, contact the Canadian Consulate to determine if you need a visa to enter Canada.
Be sure to keep track of your visa and passport expiration dates. If you need to renew them, be sure to make an appointment as soon as you arrive back in your home country.
Students who complete studies have a “grace period” during which they may prepare to depart the U.S. The grace period for F-1 students is 60 days. (F-1 students on practical training must depart the U.S. within 60 days of the EAD card’s expiration date.) The grace period for J-1 students is 30 days. Students who leave the U.S. during the grace period will not be permitted to return to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status.
Texas driver licenses and Texas State IDs are issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Any international student, scholar, or dependent can apply for the Texas driver license.
Please refer to Texas Department of Public Safety Identification Requirements for a Texas Driver License for more information on driver’s license.
In addition to providing documentation verifying your identification, you will also be required to provide proof that either your domicile is in Texas and that you have lived here for at least 30 days in order to apply for an original Texas noncommercial driver license.
International students should visit the Registrar’s office in Room 736 to get a verification of enrollment letter. The DPS requires this of our students.
The U.S. Department of State Consular Affairs division indicates that the invitation letter should come from you (the inviter). We therefore recommend drafting a personal letter to invite a friend or family member to visit you in the United States for up to six months. This may be taken to the visa interview as a supporting document.
Your invitation letter can include, but is not limited to the following:
- Your own name and immigration status in the United States.
- If you are an F-1 or J-1 student, state your status as a full-time student at NAU and your degree level and field.
- Name and date of birth of the visitor Your relationship with the visitor (parent, sibling, friend, etc.)
- Reason for the visit (to attend graduation ceremony, birth of a child, tourism, etc.)
- Approximate arrival and departure dates of the visitor.
- How the visitor will be financially supported during the visit.
- State that the visit is temporary and that the visitor will be returning home by the specified departure date. The visitor should also be prepared to provide evidence of his or her intention to return home, such as proof of continuing employment, proof of property ownership, or evidence of any other compelling reasons for needing to return home.
You may also wish to provide your visitor with a copy of your:
- I-94 card
- Immigration Document such as Form I-20 or DS-2019
- Verification of Enrollment letter
- Unofficial transcript
A student must apply for reduced course load if, due to academic difficulties, he is unable to be enrolled full time. He must first obtain a letter from his academic advisor to verify his eligibility to be part time based on academic difficulties.
- Immigration regulations specify four academic difficulty reasons for which a reduced course load may be approved:
- Initial difficulties with the English language (usable only in student’s first year)
- Initial difficulties with reading requirements (usable only in student’s first year) Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
- Improper course level placement
A student may be authorized for a reduced course load on the “academic difficulties” basis only for a single term during any one course of study at a particular program level, and must resume a full course of study at the next available term (excluding summer).
A reduced course load for academic difficulties must consist of at least 6 credit hours for undergraduate students and at least 4 credit hours for graduate students.
The completion date on your I-20 or DS-2019 is an estimate. If you will not complete your program objective by that date, you must request an extension. The U.S. Immigration regulations require that I-20s and DS-2019s remain valid during the course of study.
F-1 students: You must contact the ISO before your I-20 expires by requesting a program extension if you will not finish your program by that date.
J-1 students: You must contact the ISO or your program sponsor before your DS-2019 expires and request a program extension.
- You are eligible for a program extension if:
- Your I-20 or DS-2019 has not yet expired.
- You have been continually maintaining lawful F-1 or J-1 status.
The delay in completion of your program of study was caused by compelling academic or medical reasons.
International students in F-1 status transferring from one school in the U.S. to another are required to complete a special transfer process. Failure to comply with the transfer regulations in a timely manner can be a violation of your visa status.
- Official Withdrawal formYou can get this from the Registrar or Miss Ward or one can be emailed to you. You need to fill this out.
- Foreign student advisor transfer formThis form is required in order to transfer your I20 to the new school.This form comes from the school you are transferring to. Many schools post these on their websites. You must fill out the student portion then give the paper to Miss Ward so she can fill out her part. Then, she can fax or email it for you or you may do this yourself.
Acceptance letter from your new schoolSome schools will provide this for you at the time you apply. Most will not give it to you until AFTER they have received a copy of the Foreign student advisor report.
Your I20 cannot be transferred to your new school until a copy of this letter is received by Miss Ward. This letter can be provided by the new school or the student himself. It may be faxed or emailed as well.
- Verification from the business office Showing that you don’t owe any money to NAU for tuition, housing, library fees or any other miscellaneous expenses. Go to the business office and ask them to call or email Miss Ward letting her know there is no balance on your account.
- Your new I20 comes from the school you are transferring to.
- If you have not communicated with the ISO AND it’s too late to begin classes your I20 will be closed.
If approved, NAU will enter the name of the school you want to transfer to and the “release date” into SEVIS. The “release date” is the official last day of your last quarter as stated in the NAU schedule. When this information is submitted to SEVIS, both the Department of Homeland Security and your new school will be automatically notified that you are a pending transfer to the new school with a specific release date.
Receive an I-20 from the new school. Under SEVIS regulations, your new school cannot issue an I-20 until the “release date.” After the new school issues the new SEVIS I-20, it is your responsibility to report to the school per its instructions. The new school will complete the transfer process after you arrive on campus.
Very important! Once the release date passes, NAU has no power to change anything in your SEVIS record or issue any documents in SEVIS.
- Maintain a full course load of studies every session/semester: students must register on time and successfully complete a full course of study each semester. This would be 12 credits for those in the University, 28 hours for students in the language school or 20 hours for students pursuing language training only.
- Arrive in the U.S. in time to start classes: You should plan on arriving in the U.S. BEFORE classes start. Those who arrive too late to register will have their I20/DS-2019 closed for failure to enroll. Be aware of start dates EVERY session/semester.
- Maintain health insurance as mandated by federal regulations for the duration of your program: Federal law provides specific guidance on the amount and type of health insurance required for visa holders.
- Obtain travel authorization signatures before leaving the U.S.: the I20 or DS-2019 must be signed by the DSO or ARO. A new travel signature is recommended every 6 months and is required every 12 months.
- Report any address, legal name change or change in phone number to the ISO: Federal law requires reporting any name or address change to the ISO within 10 days of the change. This can be done in person or by email sent to email@example.com
- Report any change of major to the ISO: Also,get ISO permission if you need to take less than a full course load for any of the following reasons: medical, academic or last semester.
- Keep a valid I20 or DS-2019: Know your program end date. As the expiration date approaches, speak to the ISO about your options after the completion of your program. Failure to extend your I20 or DS-2019 or change to another visa type after your program ends means you are out of status with immigration.
- After the program end date, do not stay in the US for more than 60 days: You need a new status or your program extended to stay more than 60 days beyond your program end date.
- Follow transfer procedures properly: If you plan to transfer to or out of NAU the transfer process must be started BEFORE or on the day classes begin. See the ISO for detailed instructions.
- Keep a valid passport: Be aware of your passport expiration date. Request a renewal six months before its expiration by contacting your country’s embassy. If your valid visa is in your old passport, travel with both passports or have your visa transferred. If you are traveling out of the country make sure your visa has not expired. Renew your visa when traveling to your home country as necessary. It would be helpful to get a verification of enrollment letter and an unofficial transcript from the Registrar if you are going for a visa appointment. PLEASE BRING ANY NEW PASSPORTS OR VISAS TO THE ISO SO WE CAN MAKE A COPY.
- Know the regulations on working in the U.S. You must see the ISO before you start ANY type of work. You are able to work for up to 20 hours per week on campus during the academic term, but you must obtain permission from the ISO before you can begin working. Working off-campus without authorization is a serious violation of your visa status and puts you at risk for deportation.