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F-1 Student FAQs

Green wave

How do I maintain my nonimmigrant status? 

If you answer yes to all of these questions, you should be in status. If you need clarification or think you may out of status, please make an appointment with an OISS adviser as soon as possible. 

  • Did you check in with OISS when you arrived in the U.S.? 
  • Do you have a valid passport? 
  • Are you registered for a full course of study? 
  • For those who work off campus, did you follow the necessary immigration guidelines? 
  • Did you notify OISS of a change in your address?  

I've gotten married. What should I do?

Congratulations! If your spouse is not a U.S. citizen, you will need to request a dependent I-20 (F-2). If your spouse is currently in the U.S. on his or her own visa, he or she will need to process a change of status form as well if he or she wants to be your dependent. If your name has changed due to marriage, please update your passport to reflect the change. Once your passport is updated, OISS will have to change the name on your I-20. For any other situation, please make an appointment to see an adviser at OISS. 

I've had a baby. What should I do?

If your child is a U.S. citizen, he or she will not need an I-20. If your child is not a U.S. citizen, you will have to request a dependent I-20. Please note you will have to show you have financial support for your dependent before a new I-20 is issued. Currently, you will have to show $5000 USD for a spouse and $3000 USD per child. OISS also requires a copy of the passport information page for all dependents. 

Can I extend my I-20

Yes, it is possible for international students (F-1) to request an extension of his or her I-20. The extension must be requested before the current program end date listed on the I-20.

F-1 students must have his or her academic adviser complete the Program Extension Form.

How can I work and where?

Specific information can be found in the corresponding F-1 or J-1 Student Employment pages under the "Current Students" sections.

Students (F-1): All F-1 students are automatically authorized for on-campus employment. While you may be employed in most on-campus jobs, you must limit all employment to a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session. Full-time, on-campus employment is allowed only when school is not in session (holidays - e.g. spring break), or during summer vacations.

F-1 students may not work for an off-campus employer without prior written authorization. While you may be eligible to apply for work permission based upon practical training or economic necessity, you must limit employment (both on campus and off) to a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session.

"Practical training" is work which is directly related to your major field of study. You may be eligible for two types of training: (1) "Curricular Practical Training (CPT)" during your studies and (2) "Optional Practical Training (OPT)" after the completion of your studies. Such work may be performed anywhere in the U.S. You must apply for and be granted written authorization for practical training before beginning employment. 

What if I'm not getting paid for the work?

Even if you are not getting paid, you must have the appropriate employment authorization first. This is because if the company you work for decides to pay you or offer any reimbursement and you have not been approved, you will not be able to accept these funds.

I applied for Optional Practical Training and it hasn't been approved yet. What can I do?

If the application has been pending for more than 90 days, please contact OISS. Remember, once you mail your application to U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), OISS has no control over the processing time.

How do I get a Social Security Number?

For information on eligibility requirements and how to apply for a Social Security Number please read our guide.

How far in advance should I request a document, letter, or travel signature from OISS?

You should submit your request at least one week in advance. While the turnover time is normally quicker, this will ensure that you receive your document on time. DO NOT WAIT until the day or the day before you travel to request documents. If you do so, your document may not be prepared before you leave.

I want to add a dependent but I'm already in the U.S. What should I do?

Please fill the dependent request form. Make sure all information is the same as it appears on your dependent's passport. Please note you will have to show you have financial support for your dependent before a new I-20 is issued. Currently, you will have to show $5000 USD for a spouse and $3000 USD per child.

Someone is coming to visit me. Can OISS help this person get a visa?

OISS can only issue immigration documents to students or employees of Tulane and their dependents.

Can I study abroad if I'm an international student?

Yes, you can. Please contact the Office of Study Abroad for program information, and be sure to speak with an adviser at OISS before you start your program to ensure that you will not be out of status during your time abroad.

Schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor