/ Center for Global Engagement

Immigration Information

Have a question about your immigration status, taxes or traveling within and outside of the U.S.? You鈥檙e in the right place.

As an international student, it is of utmost importance that you maintain your international student visa status. Make sure you鈥檙e aware of all the requirements and forms, and respond to the international student advisor as he sends out notices regarding immigration updates and notices. If you have questions, please connect with the staff at the Fried Center for Global Engagement.

Maintaining your international student status

Upon entry to the United States an F-1 student must maintain status. The F-1 regulations begin immediately upon entry and continue until final departure. A student is admitted for Duration of Status (D/S).

F-1 students must comply with the following requirements in order to maintain lawful status:

  • Report to the DSO for SEVIS registration upon arrival at Hope College
  • Attend the school that you are authorized to attend
  • Pursue a full course of study or engage in authorized practical training following completion of studies
  • Make a normal progress towards completing a program of study
  • Apply for a timely extension of stay
  • Obtain a new Form I-20 for a change in academic or program level of study
  • Follow SEVIS I-20 transfer procedures if applicable
  • Abide by the F-1 grace period regulations
  • Report change of address to the DSO within 10 days; DSO reports change in SEVIS
  • Maintain a valid passport
  • Do not engage in unlawful employment
  • Depart the U.S. in a timely manner
Extending your I-20
 

F-1 students are admitted to the United States for 鈥渄uration of status鈥 or 鈥淒/S鈥 and must complete their academic program by the completion date on the Form I-20 or apply for a program extension. Program extension can be given to students who have continually maintained status (see section above) and whose completion dates will be delayed due to valid academic or medical reasons. A student鈥檚 SEVIS record must be updated with a program extension prior to the expiration date on the current Form I-20; otherwise, the student will be considered out of status and will need to apply for reinstatement (see section on reinstatement below). The student may apply for an extension of program at any time, so long as it is prior to the completion date on the Form I-20.   

Reinstating your I-20
 

You are maintaining lawful status if you are making normal progress toward completing a course of study and complying with the immigration regulations.

If you fail to maintain status, you are ineligible for any of the benefits of F-1 status (for example, employment authorization). There are two ways to regain status:

  1. Apply for reinstatement
  2. Depart the U.S. and seek a new admission to the U.S. in F-1 status

Option 1: Reinstatement

When requesting reinstatement, you must establish to the satisfaction of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you:

  • Have not been out of status more than five months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrate that the failure to file within the five-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that you filed for reinstatement as soon as possible under these circumstances)
  • Do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of immigration regulations
  • Are currently pursuing, or intending to pursue in the immediate future, a full course of study at the school which issued the Form I-20
  • Have not engaged in unauthorized employment
  • Are not deportable on any ground other than overstaying or failing to maintain status

 You must also establish that:

  •  The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, a natural disaster or inadvertence, oversight or neglect on the part of your ISS adviser, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or a willful failure on your part resulted in the need for reinstatement

 OR

  • The violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within the international student adviser's authority to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you

 If the USCIS approves the reinstatement request, the adjudicating officer will endorse your I-20 to indicate that you have been reinstated and will return the I-20 to you. If USCIS does not approve the reinstatement request, you may not appeal the decision and need to prepare to leave the U.S. immediately.

To apply for reinstatement, please contact the Fried Center for Global Engagement to schedule an appointment with the DSO to review your eligibility for F-1 reinstatement and discuss the application process.

Option 2: Travel and Reentry

In some cases, it may be advisable to depart the U.S. and re-enter with a new I-20 rather than applying for reinstatement. You may do this by obtaining a new I-20 from the school you are currently attending or wish to attend, then departing the U.S., applying for a new F-1 visa if the F-1 visa stamp in your passport has expired, and returning to the U.S. Note that students who violated status are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation. A re-entry to the U.S. after a status violation is viewed by Immigration as 鈥渋nitial attendance鈥 in F-1 status. As such, you are bound by restrictions placed on new students, such as the academic year waiting period for eligibility for practical training.

To request a new I-20 for travel and reentry, please contact the Fried Center for Global Engagement to schedule an appointment with a DSO or you can email intladvisor@hope.edu to request a new I-20.

Reduced Course Load Request

An F-1 student is required to maintain full-time enrollment unless eligible for a legal vacation. Students with academic or medical problems who are not eligible for a vacation semester must obtain advance approval to be registered for fewer than 12 hours. A request for advance approval must be based on one of the following reasons:

  • Graduation
  • Academic problems
  • Medical problems

Students must have continuously maintained status to apply. Requests for graduating students should be submitted at least two weeks prior to the close of registration. For all F-1 students, registering for less than 12 hours without advance approval will result in your falling out of status. Reinstatement would then require approval from the immigration service.

Print the request form.

On-Campus Employment
 

Students in F-1 status are eligible to work on campus incident to status. Authorization is based on the end date on the Form I-20 or actual program completion date, whichever occurs first. Employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Full-time employment is allowed during the annual vacation or when school is not in session.

Employment may occur either on the school鈥檚 premises, including commercial firms that provide direct services to students on campus, or at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school.

For students making their initial entry, employment may begin no sooner than 30 days prior to the start of classes.

 On-campus employment resources

Off-Campus Employment
 

Opportunities to work off-campus are greatly restricted and a work permit is always required.

In addition, F-1 students must be lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year to be eligible for curricular practical training (CPT), optional practical training (OPT) and employment based on severe economic hardship. Please contact the international student advisor to complete the paperwork for the CPT and OPT.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

  • Must be in F-1 status and have been enrolled full-time for two semesters (fall and spring) before the CPT can start
  • Work must be required or an integral part of program and directly related to major
  • Pre-completion of degree only
  • Academic credit must be received for the employment experience and the course must count toward degree requirements
  • Employment authorization usually cannot extend beyond the end of the academic term for which credit is received
  • Must remain enrolled full-time during fall and spring semesters
  • Can be part-time (up to 20 hours per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week)
  • No time limit; however, if used 12 months full-time, optional practical training is forfeited
  • Employment is employer-specific (i.e., must have a job offer to apply)
  • Application is made to Fried Center for Global Engagement 
  • The authorization process is usually 30鈥60 minutes; however, it is strongly recommended that you apply at least one鈥搕wo weeks in advance because it must meet strict eligibility requirements
  • No application fee

CPT Frequently Asked Questions
CPT Application Request
Sample Employer Offer Letter

To learn more about CPT, visit the ICE website 鈥

CPt Extensions

Request for extending current CPT authorization dates for this current semester or May/June/July terms.

CPT extensions are for the purpose of adding a short amount of time onto an existing CPT authorization. Remember that CPT cannot overlap into the next semester without a new application. To request an extension of your current CPT authorization, please submit the CPT Extension Request Form via email to intladvisor@hope.edu.  If you have questions about extending your CPT, please contact the Center for Global Engagement for assistance.

If you need to extend the dates of your CPT authorization, it is the student鈥檚 responsibility to contact the Center for Global Engagement two weeks before the course鈥檚 end-date approaches. CPT authorization is contingent on enrollment in a specific course. 

  • CPT Start Date: An international student cannot begin their internship experience before the class begins, as printed on the official academic calendar on the Registrar鈥檚 Office website. 

  • CPT End Date: If student's internship experience is not finished and able to be officially graded by the end of the course, students have two choices to consider:
    • Choice One: The student may consider a second CPT approval for their internship.  The student would need to register (and pay tuition) for an additional internship course to continue/finish the internship experience.  Of course, there must be enough instructional hours to earn the additional course term credits.
    • Choice Two: If a student is not finished with their internship course because they are still working on a project and/or paper, the course instructor must send their extension request to intladvisor@hope.edu that includes:
      1. Confirming that the instructor had already submitted an "I" grade to the Registrar Office
      2. Confirming the instructor support for the extension request of the current CPT through a specific date within acceptable dates for the semester
      3. An explanation of the academic necessity for the work authorization extension

Note: The requests must be done two weeks prior to the internship term course end date, as printed on the official academic calendar on the Registrar鈥檚 Office website. 

Student Responsibility

Employer Approval 鈥 CPT Extension Request Form  

  • The student must contact their employer to request additional dates. 
  • The employer must print the completed CPT Extension Request form on the official company letterhead and give it to the student
  • The student then submits the completed request to the Center for Global Engagement or sends it as a pdf to intladvisor@hope.edu two weeks prior to the internship course end 
  • Students are not allowed to continue working on site if they did not receive the CPT additional dates approval in their SEVIS record

Note: Please complete the CPT Extension Request Form with your employer.

CPT Extension Request Form

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  • Must be in F-1 status and have been enrolled full time for two semesters (fall and spring) before the OPT can start
  • Work must be directly related to major
  • Limited to 12 months total per higher degree level
  • Can be part-time (up to 20 hours per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week), but each requires a separate application
  • Can only be full-time after completion of degree
  • Does not require a job offer to apply
  • Application is made to the U.S. government (after receiving recommendation from Fried Center for Global Engagement)
  • Processing time varies; 2鈥3 months is typical
  • $410 application fee
  • The earliest date USCIS can receive your online OPT application is 90 days before your date of program completion
  • The latest date USCIS can receive yor OPT online application is 60 days after your date of program completion
  • USCIS must receive your OPT application no later than 30 days from the date your new Form I20 was issued to you by the Center for Global Engagement

OPT Application Guidelines

To learn more about post-completion OPT, visit the following ICE website:

Social Security & Taxes

Social Security

All international students must obtain a social security number (SSN) before they are permitted to work on campus.

Taxes

The U.S. tax system can be a bit confusing. Anyone who earns money while living in the U.S. must file a tax return. Read more about tax filing procedures.

International students pay state tax and, depending upon income, federal tax. The regulations for international students are different than those for U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents. The Center for Global Engagement will offer a tax-filing workshop early in the spring semester. 

DRIVER'S LICENSE
A Michigan Driver鈥檚 License or Identification Card is often required in order to cash checks, open a bank account or buy something with either a check or a credit card. Without one of these documents, you will need to carry your passport with you at all times, which is not recommended. You can easily obtain one of these documents at the Secretary of State Office. An appointment is recommended. See the identification requirements .
Travel outside of the U.S. and re-entry

Travel within the U.S.

While traveling please make sure to carry your original passport and I-20 with you at all times.

Make sure you know which route you are taking when you travel through the U.S. Many American students traveling east from Michigan drive through Canada. If this is your route, you must follow the 鈥淭ravel outside the U.S.鈥 guidelines below.

Travel outside of the U.S.

All F-1 and J-1 students traveling to other countries (including Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean) will need to have their I-20 signed by a Designated Student Official (DSO). Please remember to plan ahead and set up an appointment to have your I-20 signed. In addition to a valid passport, visa and I-20, you may also be required to get a visa of the country you plan on visiting.

  • Amy Quincey, Senior Director (PDSO/RO)
  • Habeeb Awad, International Student Advisor (DSO/ARO)
  • Jasmine Lowell, International Education Coordinator (DSO/ARO)