F-1 Visa, OPT and Employment Status

Published by EGE News Monday, December 11, 2017

International Students

Ellacy Global Education (EGE) would like to welcome all international students to to the United States.  Your respective university is your primary point of contact should you have questions on your F-1 Visa or immigration status.  However, if your university is not available, EGE has extensive experience, and would be glad to assist in any way.

Please utilize the information below as a guide for keeping your immigration status current. It is your responsibility to secure and maintain your status as a student in the United States. If we can be of any help in facilitating your status, please let us know.

Immigration Status

  • International students attending high schools and universities in the U.S. must have a current F-1 student visa.
  • An I-20 document ("Certificate of Visa Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F-1 Student Status") is necessary to apply for the F-1 visa. Your respective school  issues I-20's to its incoming international students when they accept the offer to enroll to the respective school in the U.S. The school must annually endorse each student's I-20.
  • International students transferring to from one U.S. school to another U.S. school must complete a “Transfer Clearance Form” from your current school to your destination school.
  • The student is responsible for maintaining legal status by keeping his/her passport valid, registering annually with your school, and reporting changes in status and location. The student must report any change in level of study or change of program as soon as it is approved by your school.
  • Travel abroad requires considerable advance planning to comply with all immigration regulations. A valid passport, F-1 visa stamp, a current I-20 with a travel signature good for 12 months (6 months if on OPT), and an enrollment statement are generally all required.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorizes students to obtain paid, professional-level employment related to their fields of study for a period of 12 months.
  • International students must not over stay the completion date indicated on the I-20 without requesting a program extension. If you are unable to complete your studies by the specified date, you must apply for an extension at least 90 days before the completion date to maintain legal status in the U.S. Contact your respective international office to process the extension.

Requirements for an F-1 student visa

For a comprehensive list of requirements and steps to apply for an F-1 visa, please visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange/student.html. Please be sure to gather:

  • A valid passport. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry.
  • A completed Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160)
  • A passport photo
  • Proof of enrollment or acceptance letter at the time of interview
  • A SEVIS I-20 and SEVIS I-901 fee receipt

You may be required to provide:

  • Evidence of financial support
  • Evidence of your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study (e.g. a bank statement from the country of residence, proof of property ownership and/or evidence of family ties).

The Social Security Number

All individuals who receive income in the U.S. are required to have a Social Security Number (SSN). As such, foreign national students who wants to work on-campus or under OPT are required to obtain a SSN.  A SSN will allow you to receive your stipend, register with the school’s insurance company, file for taxes and carry out other financial transactions. While your school will help facilitate the process of obtaining a SSN by providing immigration documents and a letter certifying student status, it is the responsibility of the student to properly apply and obtain a SSN.

Students must be present on campus and have been registered in SEVIS 10 business days prior to reporting to the social security office to receive a SSN.

Tax Information

Please see the Tax Information for International Students to learn about the U.S. tax system and responsibilities related to federal and state taxes.

All International students have the legal responsibility to file U.S. tax returns, if applicable.  Any graduate student's stipends (that are part of their graduate position/program) are considered taxable income, federal and state taxes are withheld from students' paychecks. Many factors impact whether an international student pays annual income taxes or receives a refund of all or some of the withheld taxes—such as the student's residency status and the terms of any tax treaty his/her country may have with the U.S.

Students must seek out to learn more about federal tax issues from USCIS.  The Internal Revenue Service can provide additional information and tax advice to international students, and a google search should be able to help students to find the right resources on the USCIS or IRS websites.

More Information

For more information on F-1 Visas, OPT, Employment, or tax issues, please see the additional resources below:

Contact Your Representative

For assistance with any immigration related affairs, please contact your respective school representatives.