Frequently Asked Questions for International Students in F-1 Visa Status

  • Are international students eligible for financial aid?
    International students are not eligible to apply for US federal or state financial aid, but are eligible for other sources of financial aid and scholarships.
    Click here for information on the International Student Grant available through the Office of Financial Assistance and Employment.
  • Can I apply for a Social Security Number?
    If you are employed on campus or approved for off campus work, you may be eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN).
    Click here if you are eligible for a Social Security Number and how to apply.
  • Can I work off campus?
    In order to work off campus, you must obtain work authorization from ISSS prior to engaging in any employment.
    For detailed information on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) click here.
    For detailed information on Optional Practical Training (OPT) click here.
    For other types of employment (including on-campus employment) click here.
  • Do I Have To Be Enrolled Full Time?
    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires that you be enrolled full-time (12 credits, if undergraduate; 9 credits, if graduate; 11 credits for all Law programs) each academic semester, except during the semester you are graduating, when you need enroll only for the credits still needed. Completing an "Incomplete" does not count towards enrollment.
    Please refer to Full Course of Study Requirements and Exceptions for more information.
  • I’m traveling outside the U.S., what documents do I need to re-enter the U.S.?
    To reenter the U.S. after a temporary absence (i.e., an absence of five months or less), you must have a properly endorsed (signed) Form I-20, a valid passport, and a valid F-1 visa (not required for citizens of Canada).
    Please refer to Travel and Reentry for more information.
  • What happens if I try to enter the U.S. without a valid travel signature?
    If you arrive at a US port of entry without all the required documents, the customs officer may deny you entry into US. As an alternative, the officer may issue you an I-515A. This document allows you temporary admission into the US. To maintain your nonimmigrant student status, you must submit the required documentation listed on your I-515A to ISSS immediately in order for your documents to be reviewed and sent to DHS within 30 days.
    Please refer to Traveling without a valid Form I-20 for more information.
  • My visa expired. Can I renew my Visa in the U.S?
    It is not possible to obtain an F-1 visa in the U.S. If you plan to travel outside of the US with an expired visa, you need to apply for a new visa while outside of the U.S.
    Please refer to Travel and Reentry for more information.
  • I have not finished my academic program and my I-20 will expire at the end of this semester. Do I need to do anything?
    If you are unable to complete your degree program within the time period indicated on the admission I-20, you may request a program extension if the delay is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Application for extension MUST be made prior to the completion date on your I-20. If your delay in completing your program is not for one of the reasons discussed above, or if you do not apply prior to the completion date on your I-20, you will be considered to be out-of-status and must apply for reinstatement.
    Please refer to Extension of F-1 stay for more information.
  • I will transfer to a different academic institution in the U.S. What is the procedure to transfer my SEVIS record?
    In order to transfer out of UM, you must submit to ISSS the Transfer Out74-Transfer-out-form-notification-F-1 form along with the Transfer-in form for the new school and your most recent Form I-94.
    You may be applying to many schools, but your SEVIS record can only be transferred to ONE school. Once we transfer your record out, we CANNOT retrieve it after the release date, and you will have to contact the school you requested that it be transferred to. Your transfer release date will be the end of the current semester unless otherwise requested, provided you have a valid reason. The new school cannot issue you a new I-20 until the record is transferred.
  • Am I required to file taxes?
    If you were present in the US during a calendar year, you are required to file tax paperwork in the following year.
    Please refer to Tax Filing Requirements for more information.