Failure to Maintain Status »
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) »
Optional Practical Training (OPT) »
Important Points to Remember »
Social Security Number »
Tax Information »
International Students are required to follow the regulations governing their student visa classification. Information on the regulations is on the second page of students’ I-20. Further information is available by contacting the International Student Advisor.
Maintain Your Status
International students are accountable for maintaining their ‘student status’ and knowing their responsibilities. International students who fail to do so may be subject to immediate deportation and may have difficulty getting a visa to enter the United States in the future.
In order to maintain your F-1 status, you must:
- Attend the school that issued you the I-20 visa. If you decide to transfer, you must tell your new school that you are a transfer student. After you are accepted to the new school, you must ask your former school to transfer your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record to the new school. Then, you must obtain a new, transfer I-20 from your new school.
- Notify the International Student Advisor if you plan to transfer from Becker College to another school.
- Be enrolled for a full course of study each term (vacation periods excluded): 12 credit hours for undergraduate students. Any deviations from this MUST be approved by the International Student Advisor.
- Not participate in any off-campus employment without proper authorization given by the International Student Advisor.
- Limit authorized employment, both on and off campus, to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
- Obtain a new I-20 if you change your major—contact the International Student Advisor for a new I-20.
- Complete your educational program by the date specified on the initial I-20 or APPLY TO EXTEND YOUR STAY AT LEAST 15 DAYS BEFORE THE EXPIRATION DATE ON YOUR I-20. Then complete the program by the new date specified on the new 1-20 issued for program extension. FAILURE TO EXTEND YOUR PROGRAM PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION DATE ON YOUR I-20 WILL BE A FAILURE TO MAINTAIN STATUS.
- Keep the International Student Advisor informed of your current address, telephone number, and email address. You must notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of any change in physical address within 10 days of the move. Forms to notify the INS of a change of address are available online at http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/ar-11.htm.
- Keep your passport valid at all times.
- Maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and all dependents in the United States.
A student who is not maintaining lawful F-1 status is considered to be unlawfully present in the United States. The student may request to be reinstated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and the USCIS will decide whether or not to re-instate the student. Violations of status and unlawful presence in the United States carry serious consequences, including deportation.
The following are violations of your student status:
- Failure to report to the International Student Advisor within the first 15 days of each semester, so that records in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) can be updated to show enrollment (attending orientation is sufficient).
- When first entering the United States, attending a school other than the one named on the I-20 and visa.
- Taking less than a full course load without prior authorization (12 units minimum for undergraduates).
- Failure to apply for an extension before the program end date on the I-20 (item # 5), if the program is not completed.
- Not making normal progress towards program completion/graduation.
- Failure to apply for change of level or transfer of schools.
- Exceeding the grace periods for presence in the United States of 30 days before the program start date, 60 days after program completion or completion of Optional Practical Training (OPT), or 15 days after authorized early withdrawal.
- Failure to report a change of address to the International Student Advisor within 10 days of the change.
- Conviction for certain criminal activities.
- Working on campus for more than 20 hours per week during the school term.
- Working off campus for more hours than authorized.
- Failure to inform the International Student Advisor of name and address of employer or any change in employment.
- Unemployment during Optional Practical Training (OPT) for more than 90 days in total (or 120 days if granted a STEM extension).
- Working without authorization.
Students who do not comply with these regulations will be considered out of status and it will be necessary for them to apply to immigration for reinstatement to student status. Be assured, it is easier to comply than to apply for reinstatement.
Employment for F-1 Visa Holders
International students who are maintaining a full-time course of study can work on campus part-time (20 hours per week) during the academic year, full-time during the summer months, and any periods when school is not in session. On-campus employment assumes that the work will not interfere with your studies and that you are maintaining good academic standing. You must secure a social security number to work on campus and receive clearance by the International Student Advisor (for status, insurance, current visa documents) to be eligible to work.
International students are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the school term and up to 40 hours per week between terms. No authorization is needed for on-campus work.
Students wishing to work on-campus may contact a department directly to ask about job openings. Students then apply with each department. International students are not eligible for “work-study,” a federal government-funded program for United States citizens. Certain positions offered on campus are only available as “work-study” positions.
After finding a position, have your supervisor fill out the Employment Verification Form. Bring the form to the International Student Advisor who will sign it. You will need this letter in order to obtain a Social Security Number [link to internal content] at the Social Security Administration office. You cannot work in the United States until you receive this number. It may take two or more weeks for the Social Security Administration to process your application and issue you a Social Security Card [link to internal content].
Students working on campus will need to meet with a payroll representative in the Becker College Business Office about the amount of taxes to be taken from the student’s paycheck (see page on taxes).
Employment under Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization permits you to work off-campus in a job directly related to your field of study. There are important differences between CPT and Optional Practical Training (OPT). You might use both kinds of practical training, though not simultaneously.
There are two kinds of Curricular Practical Training:
- Training that is required by the established curriculum, and may or may not carry academic credit.
- Training that is an integral, but not required, part of the curriculum, and that provides academic credit. Many internships fit into this category, such as those for Business or Psychology. Academic credit is necessary if your internship is not required to graduate. This means you must negotiate with your academic advisor to receive credit, perhaps through an independent study or internship that is already in the curriculum. You must enroll for the credit, pay tuition on it, and receive a grade.
Students who have been enrolled full-time for one academic year (generally nine months) in F-1 status and who are maintaining status at the time of application are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). The exception to this is for graduate students enrolled in programs that require immediate participation in paid training.
You Can Use CPT If:
- You attain eligible status, and before completion of your program.
- You receive a written offer of employment, showing the name of the employer, the location of the work, a job description, and the dates of the contract.
- Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your training, and have that person sign a CPT Authorization Request Form.
- Make an appointment to see the International Student Advisor after you have registered for the internship or independent study. Bring a copy of the job offer, the completed CPT Authorization Request Form, and your Form I-20. Contact Michelle Fatcheric (firstname.lastname@example.org) for an appointment.
- The International Student Advisor will endorse your Form I-20 to note the name, dates, and location of your employment. The endorsement on the I-20 is the only authorization needed to make your employment legal. Your employment authorization is specific to that job.
There is no limit on the amount of CPT you can use, but if you work more than one year of full-time CPT (more than 20 hours per week), you lose eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Part-time CPT will not subtract time from your OPT.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to accept up to one year of employment directly related to your academic major. Many students like to use twelve consecutive months of OPT after they complete their studies; although you can use some OPT before completion. While practical training restricts the kind of work you do, it does not restrict you to a particular job or location. You can go anywhere in the country. Understanding OPT can be important as you make plans for summer activities and for the end of your studies. Plan ahead!
Who is eligible for OPT?
Students who have been enrolled full-time for one academic year (generally nine months) in F-1 status and who are maintaining status at the time of application are eligible to apply for OPT.
You Can Use OPT:
- During your annual vacation period, if you intend to register for the next term.
- While school is in session, if you work 20 or fewer hours per week (part-time).
- After completion of course requirements for your degree, even if you still have to finish a required thesis, dissertation, project, recital, or portfolio.
- After you complete all degree requirements. The regulations allow only 12 months total of full-time OPT (anything over 20 hours per week). These months can be split: any full-time authorization used before you finish your degree will be subtracted from available months after completion. Part-time OPT authorization before you finish studies is subtracted at one-half the rate. For example, if you work part-time during a summer for four months, you would have ten months of full-time OPT still available. You get 12 months per education level (undergraduate, master, or doctorate).
When to Apply
If requesting post-completion practical training, you MUST APPLY BEFORE THE COMPLETION OF YOUR PROGRAM. Apply early. Many students get post-completion OPT before they have job offers. You continue in F-1 visa status during practical training, even if you are not working.
NOTE: The date when you complete your studies, not when you graduate, is most important. The graduation ceremony has no significance for your practical training application. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not authorize any OPT more than fourteen months after your completion date.
You will receive a “Notice of Action” receipt from USCIS approximately two weeks after you apply. This receipt will list your application receipt number (LIN#) and a USCIS phone number you can use to follow up on your application status. Once you receive your Notice of Action form, you may leave the United States and re-enter before you get your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. However, once you have received your EAD YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO RE-ENTER THE COUNTRY WITHOUT A LETTER OF EMPLOYMENT OR JOB OFFER. If you leave the UNITED STATES after graduation but before you get your Notice of Action or after you get your EAD card with no letter of employment, you may not be allowed back into the United States to complete your practical training. This is especially important for Canadian students who travel home frequently.
Expect to receive the EAD card (see below) at least 90 days from the receipt date listed on the “Notice of Action.”
NOTE: The address you put on the application should be valid for the next 3-4 months. If it is not going to be valid, talk to the International Student Advisor before you mail the OPT application.
The EAD is a small card laminated in plastic, and looks like a United States driver's license. You may not start work until you receive it, and you must stop working by the expiration date indicated. However, you are allowed 60 more days in the United States in F-1 status after that expiration date.
Travel Issues: Once you have graduated, you may not leave the United States after applying for OPT and still retain the OPT until after you receive your I-765 receipt notice (Notice of Action: Form I-797). Otherwise the OPT will be lost and you will not be re-admitted to the United States in F-1 status.
After receiving the EAD card, you may travel outside the United States if you already have a job or job offer, but you will need to bring the following documents with you when you re-enter:
- Current EAD card
- I-20 signed by an International Student Advisor within the last six months
- Valid passport and visa
- Letter from an employer stating that you have begun work or that you have been offered a job by the organization
- Go to the Becker College Office of the Registrar and confirm that you have applied for graduation (if it is post-completion practical training) and that your records reflect your correct major. Check with your academic advisor to be sure you know the exact date when you will finish your degree requirements.
- Complete the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Form I-765. On the Application for Employment Authorization, complete Items #1-16 and sign. Leave items blank if you have questions about them. The International Student Advisor can assist you with these questions.
- Go to the local post office and have a passport photo of yourself prepared according to USCIS specifications. Lightly print your name in pencil on the back.
- Email the International Student Advisor to make an appointment.
- On the day of your appointment, bring the Form I-765, your passport, I-94 card, two (2) passport photos, originals of any previous EADs, a check or money order in the amount of $380.00 payable to the Department of Homeland Security, and your Form I-20. The advisor will review your written materials, issue you a new I-20 showing your application for OPT and mail your application.
What is a Social Security Card?
A Social Security Card provides a unique identification number that allows the United States government to monitor and tax wages earned by employees in the United States.
A Social Security Card does not grant employment authorization, it simply provides a unique identifying number to allow employers to pay wages and deduct the appropriate taxes on behalf of the United States government. Each different immigration classification has varying rules regarding possible employment authorization.
You must be physically present in the United States in an immigration classification that permits employment. With regard to specific classifications held by most Becker College international students and scholars, the following eligibility criteria also apply:
- Students in F-1 status are eligible under any of the following circumstances:
- If they have been offered an on-campus job or already begun working at an on-campus job
- If they have been granted Curricular Practical Training employment authorization
- If they have been granted Optional Practical Training employment authorization and have received their Employment Authorization Document (EAD); and the validity period of the EAD has begun
- Scholars in TN status are eligible at any time up to 15 days prior to the end of the approved period of employment as indicated on their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (Card).
- Students in possession of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) are eligible to apply only after the validity period of the EAD has begun; and no later than 15 days prior to the expiration of the EAD. (Students in F-1 status, see #1 above).
When should you submit the application for the Social Security card?
If you have recently arrived in the United States for the first time in your current immigration classification, you must wait at least 10 business days after your date of arrival to submit an application for a Social Security card. This will allow the Department of Homeland Security adequate time to enter your arrival information into their database for verification purposes.
You may submit an application for a Social Security card to the Social Security Administration in person on any business day (except holidays) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. When possible, it is best to obtain the Social Security card prior to beginning any employment in the United States. If you begin employment without a Social Security number, you must inform your on-campus employer as soon as you receive your Social Security number for payroll purposes.
What documents should you submit for an application for a Social Security card?
You must present ALL of the following documentation:
- A completed application for a Social Security card. The application form is available at the International Student Advisor’s office, on-line at www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf , or at the Social Security Administration office.
- Unexpired foreign passport with United States visa stamped inside
- Original Form I-94 Departure card (small white card stapled into passport)
Where should you submit the application for a Social Security card?
Social Security Administration
51 Myrtle Street
Worcester, MA 01608
Receiving Your Social Security Card and Number
The Social Security Administration may need some time to verify your current immigration status before they can issue a Social Security card. In most cases, a Social Security card should be mailed to the address you listed on your application form within 14 business days. If you do not receive a Social Security card within 30-60 days, you should contact the Social Security Administration via telephone at 1.800.772.1213 or visit the Social Security Administration website at: www.ssa.gov to inquire about the status of your pending application.
The notation on the Social Security card should read Valid for Employment Only with INS Authorization which means that you may need to obtain work permission in order to commence employment. To find out more about employment authorization, please contact the International Student Advisor.
In the United States, employers take an estimated amount from each employee’s paycheck each pay period. In January of each year, the employee receives a W-2 notice from the company of the amount of taxes collected in the previous year. This form is very important. Between January and April 15, the employee must submit a tax form and the W-2 notices from each company for which they worked during the year. Sometimes the estimated amount taken out by the company will be a little too high and sometimes a little too low. So, the employee sometimes has to pay something to the government and sometimes receives a refund.
Please be aware that the United States tax rules governing international students are quite different from those governing United States citizens and United States resident aliens. For example, a tax treaty between your country and the United States may mean that you can pay a lesser amount of taxes. It is important that you are well informed. We recommend that you go to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service web site www.irs.gov to research the rules and regulations which may affect you.
All F-1 students are expected to file a tax form even if they have not worked in the United States. The required forms may be accessed at www.irs.gov and are also available in the International Student Advisor’s office.
We encourage you to contact the International Student Advisor anytime you plan to travel outside of the United States. This is particularly important as regulations and practices concerning reentry into the United States continue to change. Many students now experience significant difficulties and delays in applying for visas at United States embassies or consulates. When you return to the United States after travel abroad, you should bring your passport, Form I-20, and Form I-94 to the International Student Advisor so that your file may be updated. Immigration regulations require that we maintain current copies of your passport and immigration documents.
Travel within the United States
You may travel within the United States provided you maintain your lawful F-1 status and have a valid passport, Form I-20, and Form I-94 in your possession.
Travel Outside the United States before Completion of Studies
You may leave the United States at any time. You are permitted to return in F-1 status if you have a valid passport, valid F-1 visa stamp and a current Form I-20 that has been signed for travel on page 3 by the International Student Advisor. Only a Designated School Official (DSO) is authorized to sign a Form I-20. A travel signature is valid for one year except for travel to Canada, Mexico and adjacent islands, in which case the signature is valid for six months.
Procedures for returning to Becker College are different from those for returning to attend a different school. If you wish to attend a different school upon your return to the United States, you should notify International Student Advisor of your intention before your departure. You must obtain a new Form I-20 from your new school and present it to an immigration officer upon reentry the United States
Travel Outside the United States after Completion of Studies
The date you officially complete your studies is very important to your ability to travel and re-enter the United States If you attempt to return to the United States in F-1 status after your completion date, you may be denied the right to re-enter the United States unless you have been authorized to engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT) and have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and obtained a written offer of employment in your field of study.
If you depart the United States and wish to return after the date of your completion of studies, you must present the following documents to the CBP inspector upon arrival back in the United States:
- Your valid OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (USCIS Form I-766)
- Your Form I-20 which has been endorsed for travel within the last six months by the International Student Services Officer
- Your passport
- Your valid F-1 visa stamp
- Proof of employment in the field of study
Application for New F-1 Visa during Travel
F-1 students are allowed to remain in the United States with an expired F-1 visa stamp, provided that they are maintaining their status and their passport and Form I-20 are valid. Although you may remain in the United States with an expired F-1 visa, it will be necessary to apply for a new visa during your next trip abroad. You will need a valid F-1 visa in order to reenter the United States.
Students needing to apply for a new visa during a trip abroad should inform the International Student Advisor before travel. Security checks and supplemental visa application forms developed since September 11, 2001 have significantly delayed the visa application process in many countries. Students planning to apply for a visa in Canada or in a country other than their home country should first consult the International Student Advisor.
- Employment Verification Letter
- CPT Approval Notice