Employment

The federal government defines an 'employee' as "an individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration" 8 CFR 274a.1(f). Therefore – if you receive any compensation (examples include; paycheck – meal voucher – stipend) you are considered an employee and therefore should ensure you have authorization to engage in that employment.

There are many types of employment authorization that an international student may obtain, however – please always remember that any form of off-campus employment must have authorization prior to engaging in that employment. Unauthorized employment is considered a serious violation of F-1 or J-1 immigration status. Anyone who violates the rules or engages in unauthorized employment will be out of status and must apply for reinstatement.

Any questions surrounding employment should be directed to ISSS for further clarification.

On-Campus Employment

All international students have the benefit of on-campus employment – please remember that the primary purpose while in the United States is to gain an education – not necessary to engage in employment.

Those in F-1 student status do not need to seek additional authorization from ISSS and may work anywhere on campus that accepts student workers.

Those in J-1 student status must have authorization for any employment on-campus and this must be updated in your SEVIS record. Please complete the J1 Student On-Campus Employment Authorization Request form and submit to ISSS for review and to receive your authorization letter.

Note - Employment will be authorized in 12-month increments and all employment changes must be submitted to ISSS within 10 days.

Other Notes:

  • All international students can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session – you may work more than 20 hours during designated breaks (i.e. winter/summer break)
  • Some on-campus jobs may be difficult to obtain since some offices/areas can only hire 'work-study' eligible students. 'Work-study' is a federal financial aid award provided to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Note – you are not 'work-study' eligible.  Some areas that provide 'non work-study' employment are; Aramark Dining Services – Library – Tutoring Services
  • 'Full' Graduate Assistantships are equal to 20 hours of work per week and is considered 'full-time' inclusive of your study requirements. You are not allowed to engage in additional work in addition to your full graduate assistantship.
  • Partial Tuition Scholarships – for those granted partial scholarships where you are required to perform service to the Department – these hours will count towards your '20-hour limit' while school is in session.
  • Please refer to your financial aid award for additional information.

Off-Campus Employment

Benefits for F/J student visa holders do vary when it comes to 'off-campus' employment. View the generalities below and check out resources for more detailed information.

F1/J1 Students – Employment options are a benefit of the F-1 / J-1 visa - failure to follow the regulations or engaging in unauthorized employment is considered a serious violation of status and will require reinstatement. All off-campus employment must be authorized prior to beginning work.

Types of off-campus employment authorizations include:

F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is defined as an academically integrated part of an established curriculum. This employment (either paid or unpaid) can be defined as “alternate work/study, an internship, a required cooperative education agreement with the approval of your program – or – any type of cooperative agreement between a sponsoring employer and Clarkson University”.

Note – Due to the fact that USCIS uses a broad definition of employment, any activity for which a student receives a benefit – monetary or otherwise – including unpaid internships or volunteering, will require CPT authorization.

CPT Eligibility & Notes

  • Training must be related to your field of study & degree level
  • Training must be required by the program or adviser
  • Training must receive credit for the experience and be concurrent with the employment – exceptions will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
    • Note – It is the student's responsibility to register – pay – and complete the course according to the established objectives
    • Note – graduate students who have completed 30/90 credits will be reviewed for CPT eligibly and may need to apply for optional practical training
    • Note – graduate students working on thesis or dissertation where the training experience will provide data needed for your research project may enroll in research credit that will count as 'CPT credit'. This data cannot simply be 'related' and must be an 'integral' part of the research for your thesis or dissertation. An additional letter from your research adviser is required that explains how the training is an 'integral part of the research'
  • You must be in lawful F-1 status and have been a full-time student for a least (1) academic year
  • CPT is 'employer specific' – therefore you must have an offer letter (according to the CPT application instructions) before CPT can be approved
  • Training can be part-time or full-time –
    • Part-time CPT (less than 20 hours/week) – you may only be authorized for part-time training if you are engaged in coursework concurrent with CPT. There is no limit to the length of time you may participate in part-time training – however – authorizations will only be granted on a semester by semester basis
    • Full-time CPT (more than 20 hours/week) – you may be authorized for full-time training during semester co-ops – during summer breaks – or – while participating in 'employment for doctoral dissertation'.
    • Note– you will become ineligible for optional practical training (OPT) if you participate in twelve (12) months or more of 'full-time' CPT
  • CPT Extensions – must submit a new CPT application with supporting materials for ISSS review
  • Changing employers while on approved CPT is not allowed. You must submit a new CPT application for review and approval.
  • You may begin CPT employment once you receive your 'CPT I-20' with ISSS endorsement on page 2.

CPT Application Procedures:

  • The following materials must be submitted to ISSS for review –
  • Meet with your academic adviser to review your training experience and complete the 'CPT Application' form
  • Proof of course enrollment – screenshot of enrollment on PeopleSoft or add/drop form is acceptable
  • Employer letter – for CPT purposes only – that inclues;
  • Your name & job title
  • Exact dates of employment
  • Number of hours you will work each week
  • Brief description of duties or copy of the job description
  • Statement indicating – 'the employer will be cooperating with the school in achieving the curricular purposes of the employment/training'.

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT):

(OPT) is a benefit for those in F-1 status that allows you to work off-campus in a job related to your field of study. This training must be requested in SEVIS by Clarkson University and approved by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). This is an application with an associated fee.

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OPT Eligibility & Notes

Eligibility

  • You must be in lawful F-1 status and have been enrolled as a full-time student for at least (1) academic year.
  • Have a valid passport with at least 6-months validity and not have exceeded 12 months of full-time CPT.

Notes

  • You do not need a job to apply for OPT
  • You cannot expedite this application
  • You cannot begin working until USCIS approves the OPT and only during the validity period detailed on your 'Employment Authorization Card' (EAD)
  • OPT is categorized into (3) types –
  • Pre-Completion (c-3-a) – training completed prior to the completion of your program
  • Post-Completion (c-3-b) – training completed after the completion of all course requirements excluding thesis or equivalent
  • STEM Extension (c-3-c) – students with a science – technology – engineering – or – mathematics degrees may be eligible for an additional 24-months of OPT
  • You can apply for your OPT benefit 90 days prior to – when you want OPT to begin (Pre) – when your I-20 will end (Post) – or – when your post-OPT will expire (STEM)
  • Application for post-OPT must be submitted by the end of your 'grace period'
  • STEM extensions must be filed prior to the end of your post-OPT expiration
  • NOTE – you will have continued work authorization while STEM is pending

    OPT Application Process (Pre & Post)

    1. Step 1 – Review your completion plans (or training experience if pre-completion) with your academic adviser AND view the 'ISSS_OPT Information' presentation in Moodle.
    2. Step 2
      • Prepare the following documents before scheduling an 'OPT Advising' appointment with ISSS.  During your appointment – your application will be reviewed and we will discuss your requested start date for OPT. Once this is finalized – ISSS will request your OPT recommendation in SEVIS and provide you with an updated I-20 endorsing OPT on page 2. A copy of this I-20 will be provided to you and you will keep the original with all previously issued I-20's.
        • OPT Request form (for advising purposes only) (link to Resources – Forms)
        • Form I-765 – this is the OPT application reviewed by USCIS
        • OPT Fee – made payable to USCIS for $410 (credit cards now accepted – see below)
        • TWO (2) U.S. passport style photos taken within the last 30-days – this is very important, failure to provide correct and current photos would result in significant delays to your application
        • Copies of your passport – visa – I94
        • Documentation of previous employment, such as:
          • SEVIS Employment History page (can be obtained by ISSS)
          • Copy of any previously issued EAD card, and/or
          • Copies of all I-20's endorsed for CPT
    3. Step 3
      • Mail your application to USCIS within 30-days of ISSS recommendation, failure to mail this within 30-days will result in denial of your application and you could lose the OPT benefit.
      • Application to USCIS (in this preferred order) –
        • OptionalG-1145 – e-Notification from USCIS by email or text confirming receipt of your application
        • Check or money order for $410 made payable to USCIS
        • Form G-1450 may be used for credit card payments
        • Two (2) U.S. passport size photos taken within the last 30-days
        • Form I-765 – typed and signed
        • Copy of OPT I-20 signed by ISSS & student
        • Copy of SEVIS 'Employment Information Page' – obtained by ISSS
        • Copies of passport – visa – current I-94
        • Copy of previously issued EAD card or I-20's endorsed for CPT (if applicable)
      • SEND to the USCIS lockbox address that has jurisdiction over your 'mailing address' used on the form I-765.
        • Note – An address in NY will submit to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox
        • USPS use – USCIS / PO Box 660867 / Dallas, TX 75266
        • For Fedex, UPS, DHL use – USCIS / Attn: AOS / 2501 S. State Hwy 121 Business / Suite 400 / Lewisville, TX 75067
    4. Step 4
      • ISSS will receive your official receipt notice from USCIS approximately 7-10 days after it is received at the lockbox location. ISSS will email you a copy and you can track the status at USCIS.
      • After you application is processed – and – if approved, ISSS will receive your approval notice. At this time we will email you to confirm if you are still at CU or the address to mail your documents. Your card will generally arrive 3-5 days after your approval notice.
      • Important Reminders while on OPT
        • During OPT you continue to be a CU F-1 student and you must continue to report any changes to your contact information – address – and – employment status within 10 days. You will use the 'OPT Update' form and email ISSS
        • Engage in work directly related to your major course of study
        • Be sure to have a current signature for travel while on OPT
        • OPT will terminate if you plan to transfer to a new program – contact ISSS to understand the best date to process your 'immigration transfer' based on your employment status
        • Do not be unemployed more than 90 days (post-completion OPT only)
        • Notify ISSS of any changes to your status or planned departure (permanent) from the U.S.

    H-1B Cap-Gap Extensions

    For any student on post-completion or STEM OPT who is the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition with an October 1 start date will have their F-1 status and work authorization automatically extended.

    This extension is valid until the H-1B petition is; rejected – withdrawn – or – approved to Oct 1 of the current USCIS fiscal year. Your employer must see this extension on your Form I-20 to continue working.

    Please submit to ISSS an 'OPT Update' form with a copy of your H-1B receipt/approval notice.  ISSS will update your SEVIS record and mail you an updated Form I-20 showing the cap-gap extension.

    OPT Application Process (STEM)

    F-1 students who are currently on OPT employment based on completion of a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field may be eligible for a 24-month extension to their post-completion OPT period for a maximum duration of 36-months.

    STEM Eligibility Requirements

    Step 1

    Prepare the following documents and email to ISSS – this is to review your extension eligibility and process your STEM I-20

    • 'STEM Extension Request' Form – this will collect the information needed to recommend your STEM extension. Please be sure to complete a statement of how your work is related to the field in which you received your degree
    • Copy of completed Form I-765
    • Form I-983 Training Plan – this is a requirement for the STEM extension recommendation. This purpose is to ensure students continue a rigorous training program that builds on the skills obtained as a full-time student. The student and supervisor must agree on the components and both must sign this form before submitted to ISSS for review
      • The role of the 'student' in the work place
      • The goals & objectives of the proposed training
      • How the employer will provide oversight of the plan – and –
      • What set of measures and assessments will be used

    Step 2

    ISSS will forward your STEM I-20 after reviewing and recommending your request in SEVIS.

    Mail your application to USCIS within 60-days of ISSS recommendation, failure to mail this within 60-days will result in denial of your application and you could lose the OPT benefit.

    Application to USCIS (in this preferred order) –

    • Optional – G-1145 – e-Notification from USCIS by email or text confirming receipt of your application
    • Check or money order for $410 made payable to USCIS
    • Two (2) U.S. passport size photos taken within the last 30-days
    • Form I-765 – typed and signed
    • Copy of STEM I-20 signed by ISSS & student
    • Copy of SEVIS 'Employment Information Page' – obtained by ISSS
    • Copies of passport – visa – current I-94
    • Copy of previously issued EAD card or I-20's endorsed for CPT (if applicable)
    • Your most recent degree that shows your degree name – date awarded – and – field of study (CIPP Code)
      • This can be your diploma – or – an official transcript
      • Note – the field of study shown must be on the approved list of STEM fields of study. Your program/major is attached to a 'CIPP code' that will be verified by ISSS.
    • SEND to the USCIS lockbox address that has jurisdiction over your 'mailing address' used on the form I-765.

    Step 3

    Update ISSS when you receive your EAD card. For those that use the ISSS address on the form I-765 – we will email you when your receipt notice is received and when your EAD/approval is received.

    Note – you are able to continue working while your application is pending with USCIS. Please contact ISSS if your application is pending more than 90 days.

    Employment & Reporting Requirements

    • Employment Notes
    • Employment must be paid
    • Employment must be at least 20 hours per week (full-time)
    • Employment must be directly related to your course of study
    • You may not accrue more than 150 days of unemployment throughout the entire 36-month OPT period. Time spent out of the country will count toward the 150-day period of unemployment unless,
      • The travel is a period of authorized leave approved by your employer – or –
      • The travel is for the employer

    Reporting Requirements –

    All reporting forms will be emailed to ISSS using the 'STEM OPT Update_Validation' form

    • Self Evaluations – students must submit self evaluations via USCIS Form I-983 during the first 12 months on STEM extension – and – at the completion of the 24-month extension period or at the conclusion of employment, whichever comes first. Evaluations should be submitted within 10 days of the required date.
    • Students & employers must report to ISSS a change in any of the following via Form I-983
      • Employer name & address
      • Decrease in compensation
      • Reduction in hours worked to less than 20 hours per week
      • Employers EIN
      • Termination of employment
    • Students are required to report within 10 days, any change in the following; Use 'STEM OPT Update_Validation' form and email ISSS.
      • Legal Name
      • Residential Address
      • Employer name & address
      • Change in current employment, including loss of employment – change of status to H-1B – transfer to a new F-1 program – or – change in employers. Note – if you change employers, you and your employer will need to complete a new I-983 and submit to ISSS.
    • Students are required to report a 'validation report' every 6-months – regardless if there is a change or not. Use the 'STEM OPT Update_Validation' form and email ISSS.

    Eligibility for a Second Period of STEM OPT after a Higher Degree

    You may be eligible for a second period of 24-month STEM OPT if you enroll in a new academic program and earn another qualifying degree in a STEM major. All eligibility noted above applies

    Eligibility based on a Previously Obtained STEM Degree

    Student on post-completion OPT that is not identified as STEM eligible that has previously earned a STEM eligible degree from an accredited U.S. higher education institution may be eligible for a STEM extension under certain conditions:

    • Have received both degrees from currently accredited & SEVP certified institutions
    • The STEM degree earned was conferred within the last 10 years at the time of application
    • Your previous degree is assigned a STEM eligible code found on the STEM Designated Degree list at the time of your application
    • You haven't already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree
    • Your employer meets the criteria listed above
    F-1 & J-1 Severe Economic Hardship (EH) –

    Employment Authorization based on 'Economic Hardship' is permission granted to F-1 / J-1 students by USCIS to work off-campus “based upon severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control”. [8CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(c)]

    EH Eligibility
    • You must be in lawful F-1 / J-1 status and have been full-time for at least (1) academic year
    • You agree that acceptance of employment under 'EH' will not interfere with full-time enrollment
    • You must demonstrate that you are experiencing 'economic hardship' based on unforeseen circumstances that recently occurred since your last I-20 was issued
      • Unforeseen Circumstances may include
        • Other substantial & unrelated expenses
        • Unexpected medical bills
        • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of your source(s) of support
        • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
        • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment resulting from circumstances beyond your control
    • You must demonstrate that on-campus employment opportunities on campus are unavailable or insufficient
    EH Notes
    • You may not begin employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
    • You may work for any employer at any job – on or off campus
    • Employment for 'EH' is limited to 20 hours/week while school is in session – can be more during breaks
    • Employment for 'EH' is typically issued for 1-year and may be renewed by filing a new application
    • Employment Authorization under 'EH' is automatically terminated when you graduate – transfer to another university – or – violate your F-1 status in any way
    EH Application Procedures –

    Step 1 – Prepare the following documents and submit to ISSS for review

    • 'Economic Hardship Request' form
    • A cover letter from you addressed to USCIS, which includes:
      • Explanation of your 'unforeseen economic hardship' circumstances – and –
      • Explanation of your efforts to obtain on-campus employment
    • Evidence and/or documentation of your economic hardship, examples can include;
    • A letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances
    • Proof of currency devaluation in your home country
    • Documentation of unexpected changes in the financial situation of your sponsor
    • Copies of medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses
    • Letter from your department and/or financial aid office verifying that your assistantship or financial aid has been unexpectedly terminated

    Step 2 – Mail your application materials to USCIS

    • Optional – G-1145 – e-Notification from USCIS by email or text confirming receipt of your application
    • Check or money order for $410 made payable to USCIS
    • Two (2) U.S. passport size photos taken within the last 30-days
    • Form I-765 – typed and signed
    • Copy of 'EH' I-20 / DS-2019 signed by ISSS & student
    • Copies of passport – visa – current I-94
    • You cover letter explanation & supporting documentation of your 'unforeseen change' in financial circumstances

    SEND to the USCIS lockbox address that has jurisdiction over your 'mailing address' used on the form I-765.

        Note – An address in NY will submit to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox

    USPS use – USCIS / PO Box 660867 / Dallas, TX 75266

    For Fedex, UPS, DHL use – USCIS / Attn: AOS / 2501 S. State Hwy 121 Business / Suite 400 / Lewisville, TX 75067

    J-1 Academic Training (AT) –

    Academic Training (AT) is work, training or experience related to a student's field of study. Eligibility conditions for J-1 Academic Training include – (22 CFR 62.23(f)(3)) This training must be requested prior to the program end date on your DS-2019

    AT Eligibility
    • The student is primarily in the U.S. to study rather than to engage in academic training
    • The student is participating in the academic training that is directly related to his or her major field of study
    • The student is in good academic standing
    • The student receives written approval in advance from the responsible officer (ISSS) for the duration and type of academic training
      • Note – students with DS-2019 forms not issued by CU must contact their sponsoring agency for AT consideration. These instructions to not apply.
    AT Notes
    • AT is an authorization that allows you to engage in employment within your field of study that will apply knowledge and skills learned
    • AT is an 'extension' of your J program and you must maintain J-1 status and update ISSS with any changes to your address and or employment extensions
    • You must maintain health insurance coverage during the entire period of your exchange – including academic training
    • AT will be authorized for the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training, provided the time period you have requested is approved by your academic adviser and ISSS
      • This time period may not exceed the time it took you to complete your full course of study or 18-months, whichever is shorter.
      • PHD student will be authorized for a maximum period of 36-months, provided you have a post-doctoral research position
      • Part-Time or full-time employment for 'academic training' will count the same against 18 or 36 month time limit
      • Students in non-degree programs may have authorization from 16-32 weeks only
    • You will only have (1) period of academic training – regardless of how many degrees you receive
    • Any training authorized prior to completion of studies will be deducted from the 18 or 36 month time period
    AT Application Procedures –

    To apply for Academic Training, please submit the following to ISSS prior to the program end date on your DS-2019.

    • An offer letter from your prospective employer on their official letterhead which includes,
      • Brief description of duties to be performed (goals & objectives)
      • Exact starting & ending dates of your employment & location
      • Number of hours per week & salary
      • Supervisor's name, title, address & phone number
    • 'J-1 Student – Academic Training' form – be sure to give your adviser a copy of your 'employer letter' for use in completing their recommendation
    • Submit both items to ISSS  for review. If approved, you will receive an updated DS-2019 form authorizing the academic training.

    Immigration Status

    The term immigration status refers to the non-immigrant classification granted to you by the United States and includes compliance with the terms & conditions of the classification you were allowed to enter the United States (F-1 or J-1).

    Some key maintenance status steps are:

    • Complying with deadlines & reporting requirements
    • Engaging in the activity according to your 'classification' (i.e. study or research)
    • Avoiding prohibited activity

    Your immigration status is stamped on your I-94 card. This document may be electronic or paper depending on if you entered the country by air or through a land port of entry.

    Tips to Maintaining Status

    The U.S. Government places the responsibility for maintaining your legal status on the student or scholar. Understanding and reviewing the regulations that govern your immigration status is essential. Failure to comply with these regulations could jeopardize your legal status and have negative consequences for future U.S. immigration related applications.

    Minimum status requirements:

    • Always have a valid passport with at least 6-months validity
    • Always have a valid I-20 or DS-2019 (check travel signatures from ISSS)
    • Engage in appropriate activity according to your F-1 / J-1 classification
    • Do not engage in unauthorized employment

    Maintaining F-1/J-1 Student Status

    It is strongly recommended to carry your immigration documents at all times, even short trips within the U.S.

    • Maintain a valid passport & I-20 / DS-2019 at all times
      • Passport cannot expire and must have at least 6-months validity when travelling
      • I-20 / DS-2019 travel signature – your forms must have a valid travel signature every year. This can only be signed by a designated official in ISSS office
      • Visa Stamp – this does not need to remain valid while in the U.S. as this is a travel document only
    • Report to ISSS each semester you are enrolled at Clarkson University. This reporting indicates you are here and maintaining full-time enrollment. Please note – this will be completed through normal ‘check-in’ procedures with Student Administrative Services (SAS)
    • Maintain ‘full-time enrollment’ every academic term except during official school breaks – or -  unless approved in advance by ISSS.
      • Undergraduate – minimum 12 credits per semester
      • Graduate - minimum 9 credits per semester
        • Note – quarter programs must enroll in at least 6 credits per quarter
        • Graduate Exception – for students in M.S. or Ph.D. thesis programs, you will only need to enroll in 1 credit hour to maintain full-time status once your 30/90 credits have been met
      • Other Enrollment Notes:
        • Financial aid awards may require enrollment in more than the regulatory minimum
        • Never drop below ‘full-time’ without proper authorization from ISSS. Failure to complete will result in termination of your immigration status
        • All international students are only allowed to take 3-credits online toward your full-time enrollment requirement
    • Make normal progress towards degree completion by completing your studies by the program completion date on your I-20 / DS-2019
    • Keep & maintain a valid I-20 / DS-2019 by following procedures:
      • To apply for an extension of stay
      • For changes in educational levels or programs of study
      • For transfer of schools (immigration transfer)
    • Maintain insurance coverage for the duration of your status (J-1 students only)
    • Abide by the F-1 / J-1 grace period rules (Duration of Status)
      • F-1 visa holders have a 60-day grace period from the program end date on your I-20
      • J-1 visa holders have a 30-day grace period from the program end date on your DS-2019
      • Allowable activity during your grace period:
        • Prepare for departure from the U.S.
        • Move to another immigration status
        • Apply for post-completion training (F-1 students only)
        • Transfer to a new degree – program – or – University (F-1 students only
        • J-1 students must complete all post-completion training or immigration transfer prior to the date on the DS-2019
    • Report any changes of address to ISSS within 10-days of the change – this includes dorm changes.
    • Do not work on or off campus unless specifically authorized to do so.

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    Edits & Updates to Immigration Status

    Changing Immigration Status  A change of status is a change of ones primary purpose for being in the United States. Those presently in the United States in a non-immigrant status in good standing may apply to change to any other non-immigrant status for which they qualify.

    Changing immigration status (there are two options to change status)

    • Travel - exit the U.S. with an initial entry DS-2019 and apply to a U.S. Consulate/Embassy to obtain the proper visa - then - re-enter the U.S. using the new F1 / J1 visa status.
    • USCIS Application - For non-immigrants currently, residing in the U.S. can apply to USCIS (US Customs & Immigration Services) for a change of status to F-1 / J-1 student status.
      • Note - Any benefits of the F-1 / J-1 status are not available until the change of status application is approved by USCIS
      • A change of status application to USCIS can be a lengthy process - please anticipate at least 6-months processing time. Applicants must be in status and eligible for F / J classification at the time you apply - and - also be eligible at the time of adjudication.
      • Your current non-immigrant status must still be valid at least 30-days prior to your requested F / J program start.
      • Important Note - USCIS does not issue visa stamps (travel documents) and if approved you will need to obtain a visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy if you plan to travel out of the country
      • J-1 / J-2 dependents subject to 212(e) home resident requirement are not eligible to change status in the U.S.

    Program Completion

    Program completion occurs when you have finished your degree program or your I-20 / DS-2019 expires, whichever happens first. You will begin to receive communications from ISSS when we estimate you will complete your program (typically this is in line with your I-20 / DS-2019 program end date) requesting notification of your completion plans.    

    After completion of your academic program - you have the following options;

    • Depart the U.S. by the end of your grade period and end your F-1 / J-1 status
      • F-1 students have a 60-day grace period
      • J-1 students have a 30-day grace period
    • Change to a different non-immigrant visa status by the end of your applicable grace period for F-1 / J-1 status
    • Move to a new academic program at CU
      • F-1 students must submit paperwork for the change in program / degree level by the end of the 60-day grace period
      • J-1 students must apply for change in program / degree level before completing their studies
    • Transfer to a different school to begin a new academic program
      • F-1 students must submit a transfer request by the end of the 60-day grace period
      • J-1 students must submit a transfer request before completing their studies
    • Being working
      • F-1 students must apply for OPT before the end of their 60-day grace period. You are strongly encouraged to apply early due to lengthy processing times.
        • Note - students who have completed all course-work needed for the degree program may apply for post-completion OPT and finish up thesis / project requirements.
      • J-1 students must request Academic Training before completing their studies.

    Please meet with an international advisor if you are not sure which option is best for your situation.

    Program / Degree Changes

    The F-1/J-1 student status admits you to the U.S. to work toward a specific educational objective - if this objective changes then you must update your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) to reflect those changes.

    When you need a new document:

    • Changing your major - or - adding a second major
      • Note - if by changing our major or adding a second major you will need more time to complete the program - you must follow program extension guidelines
    • Changing your degree level
    • Changes in our funding source and / or financial aid offer
      • Note - graduate assistantship updates will only take place if your appointment is for 1-year or 2-semesters.

    The Process

    • Follow University guidelines for changing or adding a major
      • Note - see admission requirements for the program you wish to apply to for degree level changes
    • Submit to ISSS

    ISSS will review your update and email once the I-20 / DS-2019 has been updated.

    Program Extensions

    An International Student in F-1 / J-1 student status who is 'making normal progress towards degree completion but who is unable to complete his/her course of study by the expected completion date on your I-20 / DS-2019 may be eligible for a program extension.

    You will need to meet with your academic advisor to review your program objectives and if your academic advisor recommends an extension for you to complete your degree then you will complete the necessary form(s). Once this has been completed - submit to ISSS for review and if approved a new I-20 / DS-2019 will be issued to you.

    Please note - in order for extension approval, there must be a compelling academic or medical reason. If there is no compelling reason for the extension then you must complete by the date noted on your I-20 / DS-2019 or apply for reinstatement of status.

    Program Extension Application

    • Meet with your academic adviser to discuss your academic plan and what compelling reason exists for your situation
    • Complete a Program Extension form and have this signed by your adviser
    • Note - you adviser must complete and sign the reason for the extension.
    • Complete a Certification of Finances with supporting financial documentation for the extension period.
    • Note - short summer extensions will require enrollment
    • Submit to ISSS your program extension request - certification of finances - and - supporting financial documentation

    ISSS will review your eligibility and if approved will notify you by email to pick-up your updated I-20 / DS-2019.

    Program Transfers

    International Student & Scholar Services can assist you with processing your immigration transfer out of Clarkson University. Please be sure to communicate with your new school and/or international adviser that you are currently in the country in F-1 / J-1 student status and will be processing an immigration transfer to their school. In some cases, they will require additional documentation completed by ISSS.

    How to process an immigration transfer out of CU as an F-1 student

    • Following admission guidelines for the school or program you have applied to
    • Once you have been admitted, and decided on the school you plan to attend - complete the International Student Transfer Out form and return to ISSS with a copy of your letter of acceptance to the new school/program.

    Transfer Eligibility

    • Be maintaining F-1 status at CU
    • Be admitted to a program at the transfer-in school
    • You must be able to begin full-time enrollment at the transfer-in school by the next available term or session - and this must be no more than 5-months from the end of your studies or withdrawal from CU

    Transfer Notes for students who enter the U.S. for the first time in initial entry

    For students who enter the U.S. in F-1 student status for the first time in 'initial entry' - you are strongly encouraged to enter with the visa and I-20 document from the school you wish to attend. However - if you do enter using CU documents - your 'immigration transfer' in 'initial status' is a bit different:

    • You must be able to begin the preferred program within 30-days
    • You must completed the 'Initial Student Transfer 'Out' Form' and return with the following:
      • Copy of your CU I-20
      • Admission letter to the new university
      • I-94 copy
      • Copy of passport/visa with entry stamp

    Transfer Notes for students on Optional Practical Training

    • You will complete the transfer out procedures as noted above
    • You must be able to resume full-time enrollment at the transfer-in school within 5 months of the transfer release date or the date your OPT authorization ends - whichever is earlier
    • Your OPT authorization ends on the transfer release date

    Reinstating Immigration Status

    Reinstatement is for F-1/J-1 students who have failed to maintain their immigration status and therefore must apply to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) to have their status reinstated to lawful status. This approval is at the discretion of USCIS.

    Students who lose F-1/J-1 status and who wish to apply to regain legal status have two choices:

    • Option 1 - You may file an application for reinstatement within the U.S.
      • J-1 students, please contact ISSS to discuss the reinstatement process
    • Option 2 - Reinstatement through ravel - exit the U.S. and reenter with new immigration documents

    In some cases it may be necessary to exit and re-enter the U.S. to reinstate status. You are strongly encouraged to meet with an international adviser first to discuss your eligibility and any potential risks you may encounter.

    Application Procedure

    Meet with an international advisor to discuss your eligibility for reinstatement by travel. If eligible, prepare the following and schedule an appointment with ISSS;

    • Current Certification of Finances with all sources of financial documentation for you and any dependents
    • ISSS will review your reinstatement eligibility, if eligible - your current SEVIS record will be terminated for the appropriate termination reason and a new form I-20 will be issued for travel
    • Once you receive the new initial entry I-20 - pay the SEVIS fee
    • Depart the country and apply for a new F-1 visa
    • Re-enter the U.S. with your new I-20 - visa stamp - and - SEVIS fee payment
      • NOTE - you are not able to enter more than 30-days prior to the program start date on your new initial entry I-20
    • Upon return to CU - meet with ISSS to complete your reinstatement check-in.

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