Information for F-1 Students

Here is some useful information and forms for F-1 visa students to help you achieve your goals. Please review the information and contact the International Services Office if you have any questions.

An F-1 visa is a temporary student visa that allows international students to study full-time at an accredited academic institution. International students wishing to participate in an English language course in the US may also be eligible for an F-1 visa. View the F-1 Regulation document for more information.

Curricular Practical Training is a work authorization that allows an F1 student to engage in work opportunity that is an integral part of an established curriculum. At WSU, this language is interpreted to mean that student is either engaging in internship that is required component of their degree program, or the student is engaging in an optional experience for which they are enrolled in an internship or practicum course.


Eligibly Requirements

There are certain eligibility requirements that students must met in order to qualify for Curricular Practice Training, including:

  • Achieving good academic standing
  • Enrolling as an F-1 student for at least one academic year (Fall and Spring semesters)
  • Maintaining lawful F-1 status
  • Working towards completion of a degree program

In order to be considered under the CPT guidelines, the type of employment must follow specific criteria:

  • The employment is related to the field of study and commensurate with the level of the study
  • The employment or internship does not exceed 20 hours per week during the school year. Students who work on campus or have an assistant-ship for 20 hours per week are not eligible for CPT during the academic year.

Additionally, one of the following parameters must be met:

  1. The internship is required of all students in the degree program. The academic program determines the appropriate enrollment based on their procedure.
  2. The student is enrolled in an Internship or Practicum course which reflects on the transcript the work experience off-campus. The enrollment must occur in the term when the work is being performed.

Part-time vs. Full-time

Students can be authorized for the two different types of CPT:

  • Full-time: work more than 20 hours per week
  • Part-time: work 20 hours or fewer per week

Students can only use 11 months and 29 days of full-time CPT, if they plan on applying for OPT after they graduate. There is no cap on the amount of the part-time CPT a student can use.


When to Apply

You are eligible to apply for CPT any time before the beginning of the employment or internship. The employment is not authorized until you have received an I-20 with the CPT authorization.


Application Procedure

To apply for CPT, please bring the CPT Request Form (PDF) and a letter from the employer the International Services and Cultural Outreach located in Kryzsko Commons 233. The letter from the employer must include:

  • Job title
  • Start and end dates of the employment
  • Number of hours per week
  • Wage or salary
  • Location of employment. If the location of the employment will be on the site of a separate employer, then list the name of that employer as well as the name address of the employer of record. (i.e., the entity that will issue the paycheck).
  • Description of the work

If you are requesting full-time employment during the academic year, the employer's letter must include the certification that you will have full access to the intellectual property produced by the research for the publication in dissertation in addition to all items listed above.


Authorization

Once you have obtained the information requested, call the International Services Office at 507.457.5303 to make an appointment. Bring the completed CPT application package with you.

If approved, the advisor will authorize CPT and make the appropriate notation on your current I-20. The endorsed I-20 is the official document authorizing the employment.

 

OPT is “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study”. It provides students with an opportunity to gain employment experience for one year following completion of their program of study.

 

Types of OPT

Pre-Completion OPT - work authorization for a student who is enrolled full-time and has not yet completed their program of study. Students who are eligible to register for the next term may be approved to work for less than 20 hours per week (part-time) when school is in session and more than 20 hours per week (full-time) when school is not in session.

Post-Completion OPT - work authorization for a student who has completed her/his program of study. Graduate students can apply and engage in Post-Completion OPT while they continue to work on their thesis, capstone paper or comprehensive examination. Fill out the Post-Completion OPT Application (PDF).

STEM Extension –  an additional 17-month work authorization for Post-Completion OPT for certain eligible STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) degree holders. Review the STEM Extension Eligibility Document (PDF) to learn more.

STEM Extension Application Form (PDF)
STEM Extension Employment Verification Form (PDF)

 

Who is eligible for OPT?

A student can apply for OPT if:

  • The student is currently in valid F-1 status
  • The student has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year

Who is not eligible for OPT?

A student cannot apply for OPT if:

  • The student is enrolled in an intensive English-language or certificate program
  • The student has exceeded 12 months of full-time CPT
  • The student has already received the benefit of OPT for their current program level

Inviting Family Members to Visit the U.S.

Information about the Visitor's B-2 Visa

If you are graduating soon and would like to invite your parents or other family members to attend commencement, here are some suggestions to help them apply for a visitor's visa (B-2) at a US consulate or embassy in your home country.

  • Write a letter of invitation. In your letter include the following information
    • The purpose of the visit
    • Your relationship to the individuals
    • Your status at Winona State University
    • The length of time they will be visiting
    • Itinerary of the visit
  • Include an Enrollment Verification Letter from the Registrar’s Office to confirm your student status

For additional information about U.S. consulate/embassy locations and application procedures, review the U.S. Department of State Visa Information page.

Providing your family members with a letter of invitation may help their chances of obtaining a visa. However, there is no guarantee a visa will be issued. The success of the applicant's request for a visa lies in their ability to prove that they have no intention of staying permanently in the U.S.

If you are suffering a severe economic hardship due to unforeseen changes in your financial circumstances, you may apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work off-campus. For instructions on how to apply, view the Severe Economic Hardship Packet (PDF)

 

Pre-conditions
Student must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year and currently in good standing as a student. Student must prove that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status. Retirement of your sponsor is not a valid reason to apply.

Duration
Granted by USCIS. in increments of one year at a time or until the program end-date, whichever is shorter; authorization ends when a student transfers his or her SEVIS record to another institution.

Hours per week
Whether a student is working on or off-campus, students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session. During summer and winter break periods, students may work full-time.

Field/level of work
Can be in any job - does not have to be related to course of study.

Approval process
Must apply for an Employment AuthorizationDocument (EAD) from USCIS. with the assistance of the Designated School Official (DSO).

Important Note
Student cannot begin employment until he or she receives the EAD from USCIS.

Full-time F1 students are eligible to work on the WSU campus.


Eligibility

  • F-1 Students must be enrolled full-time to be eligible for on-campus employment
    • Exceptions to this must be authorized by the Center for International
      Studies prior to a student's registering for less than a full course load.
    • Violation of the student's F-1, such as falling below a full course load
      without authorization, automatically nullifies any employment
      authorization.
  • Employment must not exceed 20 hours/week while school is in session
    • The student may hold more than one job. The total number of hours,
      however, may not exceed 20 per week during academic terms.
  • Employment may be 40 hours (+) per week during vacations/breaks
    • Students are eligible to work full-time when school is not in session, such
      as during the annual vacation, provided the student will continue to be a
      full-time student the term following the break.

Note: Employment is terminated upon completion of studies, or upon transfer of your SEVIS record to another school.

 

Taxes

  • International students are subject to state and federal taxes but are exempt from Medicare and Social Security taxes (if the student has not been in the U.S. for more than 5 years).

 

If you plan to work on-campus, you can find more information in the WSU Student Employment Handbook (PDF). This handbook is provided as a comprehensive guide for students regarding all aspects of student employment at Winona State University. 

International students in F-1 status are required to maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year. If you cannot or will not meet this requirement, you must complete a Request for Reduced Course Load Form (PDF) and meet an advisor in ISCO to discuss your request.

A Reduced Course Load (RCL) based on the academic difficulty can be approved only once while pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.

Important: By reducing your load of classes does not mean you will pay less tuition. For additional information, visit the Refund Policy Page.

The International Services Transfer-out form (PDF) is used to notify the International Services Office of your intent to transfer to another academic institution. Please read this document in detail. Upon receipt of this completed, signed form, we will release your SEVIS record so the new school can issue a new I-20.


Before we can transfer your record, you will need to do the following:

  • Provide a copy of the admission letter from the university in which you wish to transfer.
  • Either write the desired SEVIS release date on the transfer-out form for the new university
    or provide your desired release date in writing to the International Services Office. Please keep in
    mind that you may no longer study or work on campus after the SEVIS transfer date.

 

Before your I-20 record is transferred to the new institution, you must complete the following:

  • Student Account: Check your student account to be sure you don’t have a balance. No transcripts
    or diploma will be released if your student account shows a balance is due.
  • Laptop: Return your laptop and tablet to the IT office.
  • Transcripts: Fill out the transcript request form and mail it to the Registrar’s office.
  • Housing: Fill out a vacate notice at least 30 days prior to your departure, make sure you have your
    apartment checked out completely and that everything is clean so your deposit will be fully
    refunded. Be sure to cancel utilities if needed.
  • International Services Office: Contact the ISO before you leave and leave and provide your contact
    information.
  • Community: Leave forwarding address with the Post office, credit card companies, banks, cell
    phone companies, etc.

Any F-1 student who wishes to transfer to Winona State from another institution in the United States should submit the Transfer Recommendation Form (PDF). Please return to the International Services office when complete.

If you need an Academic Good Standing letter from International Services, please fill out the Academic Good Standing Letter Request Form (PDF) and submit it to the International Services Office.

If you have lost any of your immigration documents (passport, I-20, I-94, EAD card), you should immediately take action to find out how they can be replaced.


Replacement of Passport

Please contact your Consulate in the U.S. and file a report with the Winona State Department. Please note that
the visa stamp cannot be replaced. See “Replace visa” section.


Replacement of I-94 Card

  • Complete I-102 form
  • Include a $330 check; make check or money order payable to “Department of Homeland Security"
  • Provide a copy of previous I-94 card, both sides (if available)
  • Mail all items to:
    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    PO Box 21281
    Phoenix, AZ 85036
  • The process will take 4 to 6 months to complete. If you are planning to leave the United States within the next 30-45 days, you will not need to apply for the replacement. (It cannot be completed within this period of time.)

Replacement of EAD Card (F1 OPT)

  • Complete the I-765 form requesting “replacement of EAD”
  • Include a $380 check; make check or money order payable to "Department of Homeland Security"
  • Include a copy of I-20 endorsed for OPT in the last 30 days. Contact ISO for a new endorsement.
  • Provide copies of passport (biographical pages and expiration date) and I-94 card (front and back).
  • Include two photographs as per USCIS instructions.
  • Provide copies of any previously issued EAD cards.
  • Mail all application materials (a check list is included with the application package) to USCIS:
    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    PO Box 21281
    Phoenix, AZ 85036
  • It may take up to 3 months to receive a new EAD card.

Replacement of I-20

Meet with a ISO advisor to have a new one prepared. 

Important: If you have not maintained your F1 status, you must meet with the International Services Office regarding reinstatement. To apply for reinstatement of you F-1 status, please fill the 1-20 reinstatement Application Form (PDF). 

Traveling within the United States

  • Bring a copy of your current I-20 or DS-2019 and your passport with you.
    Most of the time, you will not be required to present it to anyone, however,
    if for some reason you are detained by an immigration officer, you will be
    asked to present it.
  • You will be asked to present an official picture I.D. such as a Driver's
    License, I.D. Card, or Passport when traveling by Plane or Train.
  • When visiting U.S. airports (even if not traveling) it is recommended you
    carry your passport or copies of all immigration documents and a state ID.
  • Your passport must be valid for 6 months into the future at all times.

 

Traveling outside the United States

Documents to carry with you

  • I-20/DS-2019 (with travel signature* dated in the last 6 months)
  • Valid Passport (valid for 6 months into the future on date of re-entry)
  • Valid United States visa (exceptions to Canada/Mexico/Islands for 30 days or less)
  • Recommended: Carry proof of enrollment (past and future)
  • If on OPT – also carry your EAD card and proof of employment (strongly recommended)
  • If you changed immigration status while in the US – carry change of status approval notice (I-797)

*To obtain a travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019, bring this to ISO at least 3 weeks before you depart, drop it off with a note to sign for travel or meet with an international student advisor during walk-ins, and this will be ready in 10 business days.

 

Reminders

  • Check to see if the countries you are visiting require you to obtain a visa (e.g. transit visa).
  • If your visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new US visa at a US Consulate/Embassy abroad–plan your time accordingly. For additional information on visa renewal and frequently asked visa questions visit the Department of State travel page.
  • Surrender your I-94 card when leaving the U.S. (exceptions to Canada/Mexico/Islands for 30 days or less)
  • For additional information on travel please view the government travel resources page.

 

Other things to consider

  • Continue to check your WSU email while you are away. All university notices, including information that could affect your immigration status, will be communicated via email.
  • Make certain that there are no holds on your student account.
  • Whether you are traveling within or outside the USA, please bring your insurance card with you. If you have never received one, contact Health Services at 1.507.457.2326. 

Extending Your I-20
If you are not able to finish your program by the end date noted on your I-20, you may request an extension of your program.  Please check # 5 on your I-20 for the program end date.


Deadline for Extensions:
An extension of your I-20 must be completed before the end date listed on the document. To allow sufficient processing time, please submit your extension request with all the required documents to International Services at least two months prior to the end date of your I-20. If your I-20 expires while you are still a student, you may be considered in violation of your status.


Application Instructions:

  1. Complete the I-20 Extension Form, and obtain the required signature from your faculty or academic adviser.
  2. Attach your DARS report, which can be printed from your WSU Account.
  3. Attach a copy of your valid passport ID page, and proof of funding as instructed on the Form.
  4. Submit the completed Extension Form and the required proof of funding to the International Services office. If your extension is approved, a new I-20 will be ready for you in the International Services office within 5 business days.

Please Note: Visiting Exchange Students must receive approval from their home institution before contacting WSU International Services Office to ask for an extension.