International Students

Jill Meleedy in the Office of International Programs serves as the international student advisor for all international students who are studying at Emmanuel College on an F-1 visa. This webpage should serve as a resource for common immigration and visa questions. However, all F-1 students should contact Jill Meleedy with any questions regarding this information, or for assistance with questions that are not answered here. International students receive regular reminders via e-mail regarding this information.

International Student Resources

International students will provide the international student advisor with copies of their immigration documents at the F-1 Immigration Workshop upon arrival to Emmanuel College. If you need to renew your passport or visa, speak with the International Student Advisor, as you can receive a letter of support. Please also submit copies of your renewed documents within ten days.

Your passport must always remain valid. You will need an unexpired passport in order to enter the U.S.

A valid F-1 visa allows you apply to enter the United States at a Port of Entry. You will need an unexpired visa in order to enter the U.S. Your visa may expire while you are in the U.S., but you will need to apply for a new visa in order to re-enter the U.S. You may not apply for a U.S. visa from within the U.S.

Your Form I-20 is the immigration document which certifies your acceptance to Emmanuel College and details on your academic program including your major and program end date. The information on the I-20 must always be updated, so students should inform the International Student Advisor within 10 days of a change to any information (major, address, changes to academic program, etc.). You are responsible for keeping copies of ALL previous I-20s.

International students must inform the International Student Advisor of any updates to their personal information. When any of the information below changes, students must contact the International Student Advisor within 10 days. This is a requirement, and the College must update this information in SEVIS. International students will receive information at the beginning of each semester with instructions on how to update this information online. Information includes:

  • Name
  • Address (Local Address or Permanent Address)
  • Major (all students must inform the International Student Advisor after their major is declared during their sophomore year)
  • Minor
  • Program End Date/Expected Date of Graduation
  • Contact Information (Phone Number, Email Address)
  • Dependents
  • Marital Status

International
No special documentation is required for departure from the U.S. However, international students are required to have very specific documents with them in order to return to the U.S. If you plan to depart and re-enter during your academic program, you must have the following documents with you upon re-entry:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Form I-20 with a recent travel signature
  • Confirmation of enrollment/acceptance at Emmanuel College
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • Financial documentation  

I-94 Record
After your arrival in the U.S., international students are responsible for obtaining their I-94 record and providing this information to the international student advisor. This is mandatory each time you travel outside of the U.S. to ensure you are in lawful F-1 status. If you notice any errors on your I-94, or if you have trouble locating your I-94, contact the international student advisor immediately. I-94 records can be found at www.cbp.gov/I94.  

Travel signature
F-1 international students are required to obtain a travel signature on their Form I-20 every twelve months. This signature is an endorsement that you are eligible for travel and that you are in valid F-1 status. It is recommended that you obtain a travel signature every six months. Email the international student advisor as soon as possible if you anticipate needing a travel signature for upcoming travel.

Students on post-completion OPT are required to have a travel signature within the last six months when re-entering the U.S.

Students must be enrolled full-time in order to receive a travel signature.

Domestic
International students may travel anywhere within the U.S. Although students do not need any special documents within the U.S., they should carry all documentation (I-20, Passport, Visa, I-94 card, etc.) with them while traveling.

In order to maintain F-1 status, international students must remain a full-time student at Emmanuel College. At Emmanuel, full-time status is 12-20 credits. Students must also complete their degree requirements by the end date on their I-20. This typically means that students will take 16 credits (four classes) per semester.

Summer is considered vacation. Students may take courses during the summer, but it is not required.

If you anticipate graduating earlier than the program end date on your Form I-20, please contact the international student advisor so your I-20 can be updated.  

If you will not finish your degree requirements by the end date on your I-20, you must request a 'Program Extension'. Contact the international student advisor for more information.

At the end of your academic program, you will have a grace period, which indicates how long you are permitted to remain in the U.S. At the end of your academic program, you have 60 days to do one of the following:

  • Obtain a new Form I-20 from a new school
  • Apply for Post-Completion OPT or apply to change status
  • Depart the U.S.  

At the end of post-completion OPT, students have 60 days to do one of the following:

  • Obtain a new Form I-20 from a new school
  • Apply to change status
  • Depart the U.S.

International students are permitted to work on-campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the school year combined between all types of on-campus employment. Students may work full-time during the summer. Students do not need authorization from the international student advisor to work on campus. However, you will need to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) in order to be paid. Please contact the international student advisor for guidance on applying for a SSN.

There are two types of practical training, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). CPT and OPT allow students to gain experience in their major field of study. Both of these types of employment require authorization from either the International Student Advisor and/or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before you may begin working. Both types of training can be conducted after the completion of two semesters of F-1 status, either at Emmanuel or elsewhere.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
This training, conducted off-campus, must be authorized by the international student advisor and a new I-20 indicating your authorization must be created. CPT is completed before graduation, as it is part of your degree. CPT must earn credit or be required by your program for all students. In order to be authorized for CPT, you must be registered for a credit-bearing course at Emmanuel. You must have a job offer which is related to your field of study to be authorized. The internship placement will need to be approved by the faculty member teaching your internship or capstone course, and by the International Student Advisor for immigration purposes. You are permitted twenty (20) hours of CPT during the school year and forty (40) hours per week during vacation. You must complete a request form and submit it to the International Student Advisor for final approval. The International Student Advisor will print you a new I-20 and you may not begin working until you receive your new I-20. CPT may be paid or unpaid. Even if an internship is unpaid, you will still need work authorization. You are not permitted to begin any type of employment, even unpaid internships, without consulting the International Student Advisor, as you will need authorization to perform any type of internship. If the internship is not for credit and is not related to your major, you may need to apply for pre-completion OPT.  

Optional Practical Training (OPT)
This training, conducted off-campus, must be recommended by the International Student Advisor to the U.S. Government and is adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Homeland Security. The employment must be related to your major and academic field of study but does not need to earn credit or be required. Students can choose OPT before or after graduation, or a combination of both; however, F-1 students are only allowed a total of one year of OPT in each degree level. For pre-completion (before graduation), you are allowed to work twenty (20) hours per week during the school year and forty (40) hours per week during vacation. Post-completion OPT (after graduation) is full-time employment at forty (40) hours per week.

Volunteer positions that are strictly on an unpaid volunteer basis and for which you do not receive any academic credit, cash, check, stipend, T passes, free meals, etc. for conducting work do not need work authorization.

If you would like to volunteer, you should determine if the position is strictly a volunteer position, or if you would need work authorization. Volunteer positions are charitable or humanitarian in nature and are unpaid. The volunteer work must also not be something that the employer would hire and pay someone else to do. A volunteer employer or supervisor may require you to have work authorization. If so, you will need to speak with the International Student Advisor to see if a practical training option could be used.

Unpaid internships do not constitute volunteering. If the position is related to your major field of study, is for a for-profit organization, or is for your benefit as a training experience, then this would be considered an unpaid internship, and thus, you would need to acquire work authorization through practical training.  

Just because an internship or work opportunity is unpaid, does not mean that authorization is not needed. Always check with the International Student Advisor for guidance on whether you can accept an internship or volunteer position.

All F-1 international students present in the United States must file tax documents with the United States government each year, even if you did not earn money. To assist international students with this requirement, international students have access to a tax preparation software. Information about this software and instructions on how to complete your tax documents will be emailed to you early in the spring semester. Taxes are due on April 15th each year!

All new F-1 international students are required to attend the F-1 International Student Immigration Workshop. The international student advisor will email all new F-1 students in August each year with details on this session. The workshop will cover the immigration regulations for F-1 students.

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