International Student Office

The International Student Office (ISO) is proud to guide students through the study abroad processes, including travel and visa information, curricular practical training, and more.

Important Dates and Deadlines

International Student Office (ISO), Spring 2022 Trimester

*Note to students: please submit your ISO documents before these deadlines to allow ISO enough time for I-20 processing. These are deadlines for ISO to process I-20s. Any questions about deadlines, email ISO*

Deadlines for I-20 Processing for Spring 2022 Admits

Category Deadline
Initial I-20s (for visa interview) and Change of Status I-20s (for applying for F-1 within US)

Dec 10, 2021

SEVIS Transfer Deadline (for students to transfer their F1 SEVIS record to ITU) Jan 5, 2022
2nd Master students (ITU graduates who are doing their 2nd ITU Masters degree) Jan 5, 2022
Non-F1 student document processing Jan 5, 2022

Employment

In-Campus Employment

Off-Campus Employment

Practical Training

This type of work authorization allows a student to accept employment in the field of study. The two types of practical training that can be considered by an F-1 student include the following:

Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

This is work authorization that is only granted during a student’s degree program of study. This is handled via ITU’s Internship program. Students submit an internship application, which goes through a review process to ensure the position is relevant to the program of study. Students must wait until receiving a CPT I-20 from the university before they begin working. More information can be found on the Internship page here.

Optional Practical Training (OPT).

This type of authorization requires an application to the USCIS after approval from an adviser at lSO Office. The process can take three months or more to issue the work authorization permit. There is a limit of 12 months of full-time Optional Practical Training. Some students can extend their OPT up to 24 months if the student’s program of study is in an approved STEM field.

More information on OPT

Vacation, Traveling & Visitors

Visa, Academics & Status Changes

F-1 students who wish to travel must submit a Travel Request Form in order to receive a travel-endorsed I-20. For currently enrolled students, this travel endorsement is valid for 12 months. Students must remember to follow the ITU Attendance Policy. Missing classes during a period of travel may result in being dropped from the class, which would jeopardize F-1 status. For students on an active period of OPT, the travel endorsement is only valid for 6 months.

Inviting family members to visit the US

During your studies, you may want to invite your parents or other family member to visit. They may apply for a visitor’s visa (B2) at a US consulate or embassy in their home country.

Procedures;

  • Write a letter of invitation. Include the purpose of the visit, your relationship to the individuals, a statement of your status here, itinerary details and the length of time they will be visiting (usually less than three months). It is best to emphasize the temporary nature of the invitation and to demonstrate their intention to return to their home country following the visit. If you will provide their financial support while they are here, include that information as well.
  • You may also want to provide an attendance letter which states your dates of attendance at ITU. Contact the Registrar’s Office at registrar@itu.edu to request an attendance letter.
  • If you are graduating, you may also provide some brief details about the Commencement ceremony. You will receive a Commencement RSVP with information about the Commencement ceremony. You may refer to the information in the RSVP.
  • For additional information about U.S. consulate/embassy locations and application procedures, review the U.S. Department of State visa information.

Health Insurance

Medical Insurance

Federal and state laws require that international students maintain adequate health insurance while attending ITU. A good insurance policy gives you access to excellent medical facilities and provides protection against the enormous costs of healthcare in the U.S.

For more information about health insurance, please contact the Accounting Office at bursar@itu.edu.

Maintaining F-1/J-1 Status

SEVIS

SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is a nationwide, Internet-based system that the U.S. government uses to maintain accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2). SEVIS provided a unique SEVIS ID number. A student should have only one active SEVIS ID and it should stay with you for as long as you study continuously in the U.S. even if you change your major or transfer to a new school. (If you are out of the U.S. for more than five consecutive months, then you will need a new I-20 to re-enter the U.S.). SEVIS maintains personal information about you and your academic status.

SEVIS Violation

It is your responsibility to remain compliant with immigration and university regulations. If you are not compliant with regulations, we may be required to terminate your SEVIS record. SEVIS termination means that you are not in legal status (“out of status”) according to the Department of Homeland Security. If you are out of status, please contact ISO.

Reasons for the termination of a SEVIS record include:

  • Unauthorized employment
  • Unauthorized withdrawal from classes
  • Unauthorized drop below full course of study
  • Expulsion and suspension
  • Failure to enroll in classes
  • Failure to report OPT employment (automatic action by SEVIS)
  • Accrual of 90 days of unemployment while on OPT (automatic action by SEVIS)

 

In most cases, the termination of your SEVIS record means that you must make plans to immediately depart from the United States. There is no grace period after a termination. You have two options: travel outside the United States with a new I-20 or submit a reinstatement application to regain your status.

The best ways to ensure that your SEVIS record is not terminated are:

  • Always remain in a full course of study OR request and receive permission from ITU before dropping below a full course of study or withdrawing from all classes
  • Always work only with permission (CPT I-20) or EAD during OPT
  • Do not break university or U.S. laws
  • Always check your ITU email for important reminders
  • Do not let your I-20 expire
  • Always report changes in your residential address within 10 days of any change.

Maintaining F-1 Status

It is your responsibility to review and understand guidelines for maintaining F-1 status to ensure compliance with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) F-1 regulations during your study with ITU.

Failure to comply with F-1 regulations may result in the termination of your F-1 status and loss of future eligibility to enter the U.S.

Please read more information on: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/maintaining-status

During an Academic Program

Making academic progress is very important for all students, especially international students who come to the United States on an F or J student visa. To maintain an F-1 or J-1 immigration status, the regulations require students to make academic progress towards a degree and towards graduation.

  • Attend the required Orientation session before the first trimester at ITU and check in with ISO within 30 days of your arrival

  • Keep your passport valid

  • Maintain full-time enrollment. Enroll in and complete a minimum of 9-credits every trimester (note: only one of these classes each trimester may be online)

  • Attend all meetings for enrolled classes and maintain appropriate levels of participation to pass those classes

  • Do NOT engage in any off-campus employment while attending ITU unless first obtaining specific authorization on the back page of an updated I-20 (employment must begin and end within the dates of that authorization)

  • Report any change of residential address within 10 days

  • Request an extension BEFORE the end date listed on page 1 of the I-20 if unable to complete an academic program within the period listed on that document

  • Obtain a signature from a DSO on the back page of the I-20 when planning travel abroad

F-1 and J-1 Enrollment Requirement

International students in F-1 and J-1 status are required to maintain full-time enrollment during the school year. If you cannot or will not meet this requirement, you must request a reduced course load with ISO. Federal immigration regulations severely limit a student’s ability to be less than full time, but it maybe allowed in some circumstances explained below. If you drop below full time without authorization after the drop/add deadline, you will lose your F-1 or J-1 status.

According to 8 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) § 214.2(f)(6)(iii), the Designated School Official (DSO) may allow an F-1 student to engage in less than a full course of study as provided below.

A student who wishes to drop below full time must obtain the approval from a DSO in advance, regardless what the reason might be.

During an Approved Period of OPT or STEM Extension

  • Report any change of residential address within 10 days
  • Report any new OPT or STEM Extension employment within 10 days
  • Verify ongoing OPT employment every 6 months
  • Submit required evaluations during a STEM Extension (12-months and end of employment)
  • Obtain a signature from a DSO on the back page of the I-20 when planning travel abroad

Online Course Policy for F-1 Students

Starting Fall 2013, ITU began to offer courses in an online format. These courses are available to our international students, but the U.S. federal government limits the number of online courses that a student on an F-1 visa can count towards a full-time course load during the trimester.

F-1 students can only take ONE online course (3 credits units) toward their minimum number of credit units for full-time enrollment during the trimester. This policy applies also to students with other nonimmigrant visa status who are in the process of changing their visa to F-1.

Students with a nonimmigrant visa status should not rely on online courses to meet the enrollment requirements for their visa status.

Federal Regulation 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) states:

For F-1 students enrolled in classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted if taken on-line or through distance education in a course that does not require the student’s physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class. An on-line or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio, or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, or satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing. If the F-1 student’s course of study is in a language study program, no on-line or distance education classes may be considered to count toward classroom hours or credit.

Reduced Course Load

All F-1/J-1 students are required to enroll full-time every semester, with limited exceptions. A reduced course load (RCL) is permission to be registered below full-time during a semester if you qualify for one of the exceptions
To qualify for a reduced course load you will have to meet one of the requirements below.

 

  • Academic Difficulties
    Students whose current degree program at ITU is their *first academic program in the United States* and who are facing difficulty with the English language, reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with American teaching methods, may request a reduced course load in their first term.
  • Medical Conditions
    A student must apply for an RCL if, due to a temporary illness or medical condition, s/he is unable to be full time enrolled. The student must provide a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist on letterhead corroborating the illness or medical condition, and recommending that the student be either part time or not enrolled due to medical circumstances.The letter must have been issued no earlier than 30 days before the start of the term for which the RCL is requested.Reduced course load for health reasons may be approved for no more than 12 months in total during a student’s degree program. Approval for reduced enrollment will be given for one trimester at a time by a DSO. Students with an on-going medical condition must submit a new request form for each additional term. Return the RCL form with the letter to ISO. An academic advisor signature is not required for medical reduced course load.
  • Completion of Course of Study
    You are graduating during the current term and needs less than 9 units to complete the graduation requirement. This option may be used only one time & last course MUST be on campus (not online) or at another university).

Leave of Absence

Your F-1/J-1 status is based on enrolling in classes full-time. If you plan on taking a leave of absence from your program, you will need to meet with ISO prior to the end of the class registration period to discuss your situation. Your SEVIS record might need to be terminated, and you might need to leave the US. If you take a leave of absence for more than 5 months, you will not be eligible for OPT until you have completed three additional trimesters of full-time enrollment after your return.

If your leave of absence lasts more than 5 months and you wish to re-enter the US to continue your program, your previous I-20 and SEVIS ID will no longer be valid. You must re-enter the US on a new Initial I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number. You will need to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again to the government.

Suspension

Your F-1/J-1 status is based on your full-time enrollment. If you have been suspended from your academic program, please speak with us about the effect on your immigration status.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I travel during the trimester?

Students may travel during the trimester as long as they do not miss class sessions. Unexcused absences may result in being dropped from classes, which will jeopardize your legal status. If you plan on traveling internationally, contact ISO before your travel so we can sign your I-20 with a travel endorsement. For new transfer students, we do not advise traveling outside of the US before your program starts.

How can I be eligible for an F-1 Annual Vacation?

F-1 students may apply for F-1 Annual Vacation if they have completed a full course load for 3 consecutive trimesters. Contact ISO for more details about Annual Vacation eligibility.

Am I eligible for OPT?

If you have not been granted OPT at the same education level prior to joining ITU and you are on F-1 for your final trimester, you will be eligible to apply for OPT.

Are ITU’s degrees STEM eligible?

All of our Masters of Science programs are eligible for STEM. Our MBA program is not.