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.
Employment for F1 Students
F-1 students may work in any on-campus job (when the payment is from the university). Such work is limited to 20 hours per week during the semester. Full time (anything more than 20 hours per week) is permitted during vacation periods. No special work permission is needed to begin working. You will need Social Security Number for the payroll.
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 can be used only before the student completes his or her study program Internships at ITU
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.
Vacation, Traveling & Visitors
Visa, Academics & Status Changes
Students that are currently enrolled should submit a completely filled out F-1 Student Travel Request Form to the International Student Office. You may submit the F-1 Student Travel Request Form any time during the trimester. During your study, each travel endorsement is valid for 12 months.
OPT Travel – All students who are actively on OPT should already have a current and updated I-20 endorsed on both the 1st page and 2nd page. As stated on the 2nd page of the I-20, “Each certification signature is valid for 6 months” meaning that if your I-20 is endorsed and all your employer details are up-to-date, then you are eligible to travel with your current I-20 and your employers approval at any time from the endorsed issue date. If you do not have a properly endorsed updated I-20, please submit a completely filled out F-1 Student Travel Request Form to the International Student Office in order to process your updated I-20.
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.
- 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.
- Include an Enrollment Verification Letter from the International Student Office
- If you are graduating and they are traveling to attend your commencement ceremony, provide details of the Commencement Ceremony, you may obtain a letter from the Office of Registrar.
- For additional information about U.S. consulate/embassy locations and application procedures, review the U.S. Department of State visa information.
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.
Eligibility to waive the medical insurance
Student receiving health insurance benefits provided by the U.S. employer of his or her parent, spouse, or domestic partner.
Student working in the U.S. and receiving health insurance benefits through his or her employer.
More information on:
ITU Health Insurance web page
J-1 students must meet separate minimum insurance requirements set by the U.S. Department of State.
Maintaining F-1/J-1 Status
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.
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 statu (“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
- Change of Address:
The students are required to inform the change of address 10 days. Please fill out the:
Change of Address Form
Maintaining F-1 Status
It is your responsibility to review and understand DCISS 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 your full-time enrollment. If you are not going be enrolled in courses full-time, you will need to meet with ISO Advisers prior to your action. We will explain how it will affect your immigration status and employment eligibility when you return.
- If there is a change in your registration or you are not going to be enrolled, some immigration action or process will need to occur. Have the absence approved by ITU, Academic Department and ISO
- F-1 Students: If you take a leave of absence for more than 5 months, you will not be eligible for OPT until you have completed three trimesters of full-time enrollment after your return from your leave.
- You cannot be authorized for work authorization while you are on an official school leave
- If your leave will be more than 5 months (From the term you requested LOA) and after submitting this form, your SEVIS record will be terminated for “Authorized Early Withdrawal”, which will not adversely affect your immigration record. The exact date of the termination will be based on the date you indicate on this form. You have to leave within 15 days of your leave being approved.
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?
Yes, as long as you do not miss class. If you plan on travelling internationally, you will first need to meet with an ISO Advisor regarding your travel plans. After doing so, please submit the Travel Endorsement Request Form here. Once you travel request has been approved, we will be able to endorse your I-20 with at travel signature. For transfer students, we do not advise travelling outside of the US before your program starts.
Note: Because of the spread of the novel coronavirus, ITU has issued a travel restriction for all university faculty, staff and students. If you need to travel, please contact ISO. ITU will continue to monitor the spread of this novel coronavirus and will send updates periodically.
How can I be eligible for an F-1 Annual Vacation?
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.