IAU does not endorse or recommend to students or others any of the published vendors. IAU has made no independent investigations of, and accepts no responsibility for, the use of published vendors. No special referral or incentive arrangement exists between IAU and any vendors, and IAU expressly disclaims giving any guarantees, warranties, or any other representations about such vendors.
ISO International Student Health Insurance
ISO Insurance is a leading insurance plan manager, solely managed by current and former international students. Their own academic experience has shaped the company, allowing them to offer students a wide range of insurance plans. They also provide and manage student health insurance plans for universities throughout the US. ISO delivers insurance plans that international students want – at competitive price. Through interaction with international students, they experienced a rising demand for insurance options as well as a true need for ACA comparable student health insurance by universities across the USA. Thus, ISO aims to offer top of the line student health insurance and short term limited duration plans. ISO’s insurance products are particularly designed for international students studying outside of their home country.
Select International American University on the ISO home page.
GeoBlue International Health Insurance
With over 20 years of international healthcare experience, GeoBlue delivers worldwide student health insurance solutions and services that provide borderless access to healthcare, coupled with high-tech, high-touch service. Students will have access to the largest healthcare provider network inside the U.S., ensuring they have the ability to get the care they need, when they need it.
Get started by checking out the GeoBlue Plan Options.
Housing / Living Accommodations
For F-1 international students who wish to find housing near IAU, student services can assist you with locating a local American homestay or assist you in finding an appropriate place to live (email@example.com).
Often, the office coordinates activities to help students find a compatible roommate to share expenses. They also provide information about the local neighborhoods, including popular restaurants, shopping areas, parks and recreation, and public transportation.
For detailed information about F-1 students, the admissions process, coming to USA, employment, OPT, etc., please review the F-1 Handbook (SEVP) designed specifically for IAU’s F-1 students.
What is a Homestay?
A homestay is a unique opportunity for international students to live with a local American host family. In addition to providing an affordable private room with an option of two meals per day or access to the kitchen, the program gives students a chance to experience American culture from a first-hand perspective and build cross-cultural friendships.
What can I expect from my Homestay Host?
You can expect your homestay host to be kind, show care for you, interact with you, provide guidance, and help you improve your conversational English speaking skills through practice. You are usually provided meals. Frequency may vary. Your room will be furnished, have good lighting, and have an area for you to study or prepare for your day.
*IAU does not endorse or recommend to students or others any home stay agency or any other off-campus rental property. IAU has made no independent investigations of, and accepts no responsibility for, the safety or other condition of those properties. No special referral or incentive arrangement exists between the IAU and any home stay agency or outside property, and the IAU expressly disclaims giving any guarantees, warranties, or any other representations about such properties, including their safety. Students or others who arrange for housing through a home stay agency or otherwise live off-campus must make their own personal choices with regard to the selection of living accommodations, and should individually investigate the safety and condition of any home stay arrangement or rental property. Home stay agencies and off-campus properties are provided as an information service only.
SEVIS school code#: LOS214F01373000
Applying For Your U.S. Visa
The F-1 applicant should apply for his/her student visa well in advance of the date s/he would like to depart for IAU. Remember that s/he is required to show proof of having paid the Federal SEVIS Fee when s/he appears for your visa interview. Holiday and vacation periods are very busy times at the US embassies and consulates world wide, and it is important for him/her to have his/her visa in time to arrive and begin orientation and registration activities no later than the start date on your I-20. Appointments are now mandatory for all student visas, and some U.S. embassies and consulates require that appointments be made at least four to eight weeks in advance. The actual visa interview may be as early as 120 days prior to his/her planned arrival date in the United States.
All U.S. embassies and consulates have a website where you can read the latest information on visa procedures.
F-1 Handbook (SEVP)
Click here to locate the embassy or consulate near you.
Click here for information on waiting times for student visa appointments.
Click here for more information on how to obtain a visa.
Click here for more information on Study in the States.
Remember These Ten Points Before Applying For Your Visa
The following ten points are from Gerald A. Wunsch and Martha Wailes and are reprinted from the website of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Carefully read all these points before applying for your student visa.
- Ties to home country — Under U.S. law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the USA. Ties to your home country are the things that bind you to your hometown, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country. Each person’s situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter which can guarantee visa issuance.
- English — Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview.
- Speak for yourself — Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.
- Know the program and how it fits into your career plans — If you are not able to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the USA relates to your future professional career when you return home.
- Be concise — Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the consular officer short and to the point.
- Supplemental documentation — It should be clear at a glance to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2–3 minutes of interview time, if you’re lucky.
- Not all countries are equal — Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the USA.
- Employment — Your main purpose of coming to the USA should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.
- Dependents remaining at home — If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family members will need you to remit money from the USA in order to support themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.
- Maintain a positive attitude — Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.
Strategies For The Visa Appointment
- Academics: Be definite and clear about your educational plans. You should be able to explain precisely what you wish to study and why you chose International American University for your education. Be especially prepared to explain reasons for studying in the United States rather than your country.
- English: Anticipate that the visa interview will be conducted in English. Do not bring parents or family members with you to the visa interview. The consular official will want to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.
- Ties to Your Home Country: Demonstrate convincing reasons for consular officials to believe that you intend to return home after studies in the United States. Emphasize ties to your home country such as employment, family obligations, bank accounts, family members at home, property or investments that you own or will inherit, and clear explanations of how you plan to use your education to help your country or pursue a career when you return home.
- Financial Documentation: Be prepared to prove financial ability to pay for your education and living expenses. While some students will be able to work part time during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their education. You must show the consular officer that you have the annual amount in United States dollars listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. Your financial evidence should be in the form of bank statements, affidavits of support, scholarship award letters, etc.
- Be Concise: Because of the volume of visa applications, all consular officials are under considerable pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impression they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers short and to the point.
- Not All Countries Are The Same: Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from these countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities in the United States.
- Dependents Remaining at Home: If you have a spouse and/or children remaining behind in your home country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular official gains the impression that your family members will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support them, your student visa will almost surely be denied.
How to Prepare For The Visa Interview
- Acquire knowledge of the process. Get free, accurate information from the U.S. Embassy website in your country. It will give you the specifics of what they will require and expect you to know. For example, you must know when to apply. Visas should be applied for no more than 90 days prior to the expected date of arrival at the University as listed on the I-20.
- Be prepared. Bring the following to the visa interview: the I-20 form (issued to you by our University), all school documents, test scores, your acceptance letter from the University, evidence of funding, bank statements, real estate holdings evidence, family’s employment positions at home, business card if you work, letters of recommendation for your educational plan, letters from future employers in your home country, and any documents that you feel would help you prove your ties to your home country and intent to return home. Be completely familiar with all information on the I-20 form, especially the finance information.
- Answer the questions the officer asks. Avoid prepared speeches. Don’t use a prepared script. Know your personal plan or story. Know or develop your own personal career plan, your story of why you are going to the USA, what you plan to study and why you selected International American University, and what you plan to do in your home country after graduation. Your sincerity and the reasonableness or plausibility of your plan will be most persuasive. They are looking for evidence that you have given serious thought to your plans. Do you have ambition, and is it believable in the context of your country?
- Tell the truth. If the Consular officer thinks you are lying, you won’t get a visa. If you don’t know an answer, tell the officer you don’t know. Tell him if you don’t understand the question and ask him to rephrase it. This is not a test; it is an interview. They know that English is your second language and you may be nervous; stumbling over one question is not fatal. However, one dishonest or faked answer could result in not getting your visa.
Practicing For The Visa Interview & The Five Issues
Five Issues With The Visa Interview. The questions you will be asked in your interview will be used to determine the following key issues:
- Whether the sole purpose of your travel is to pursue a program of study.
- Whether you have the ability and intention to be a full-time student in the U.S.
- Whether you possess adequate funds to cover all tuition, living and anticipated incidental expenses without taking unauthorized employment.
- Whether you have sufficiently strong social, economic, and other “ties” to your home country to compel your departure from the U.S. upon completion of the planned program of studies.
- Whether you are telling the truth.
The Consular officer simply needs to be able to say “Yes” to these five questions to provide you a student visa. Your job is to convince the officer to say “Yes.”
All the questions asked will seek to answer the five key questions above. Some may be designed to directly answer those issues, others are indirect ways of getting an answer. Look at the five issues and think carefully about how you address them. Then write a few paragraphs which answer each of these five questions: sincerely, truthfully, completely, concisely and persuasively. Read the letter out loud to a friend or relative. Re-write it. Read it out again. This is your story. You may or may not have the opportunity to tell some of your story at the interview, depending on the questions being asked. The most important part of the interview is that you respond to the question asked, not that you tell your story. However, having developed your story ahead of time you will naturally be able to tell it if a question relating to it comes up.
Sample Questions That Are Often Asked Of Our Applicants
- How did you learn about IAU?
- How many other universities did you apply to?
- Why did you choose IAU?
- Why not a bigger school?
- Which school did you graduate from?
- Tell me why you want to go to America?
- Where do you work now?
- How much do you earn now?
- What is your academic background and why do you want to pursue this program/degree?
- What is this program?
- How is the program structured academically and financially?
- What is meant by “Internship” on the I-20?
- Do you want to work in the U.S.?
- What are your resources to pay your university charges?
- Why didn’t you apply for a graduate program directly after your bachelor’s degree?
- Why don’t you study for this degree in your home country?
- What arrangements have you made for your wife (and children) during your absence?
- What will you do after you go back to your home country?
- Have you taken GRE, GMAT or ESL? If not, why not?
Have a friend or relative ask you these questions and provide responses.
Quotes From Other Students About Their Visa Interviews
Student quote #1: Americans are very straightforward people. When you go to the embassy, be simple. Don’t try to be too polite. When you greet the visa officer just say, “Hi,” and it is good enough. Especially don’t try to persuade them about any point (returning to your home country, etc.), because it causes suspicion. Be honest and realistic, as honesty has a great value for them. There are also a lot of other delicate points. The first time I went for my visa interview, when the officer asked what my plans were for the future, I used the phrase “If I return to Iran, I will…,” She finally told me that “if” was a big “IF” and she suspected I might never return, and she rejected my visa. On my second interview, I used this phrase instead: “When I return to Iran, I will…,” I think it made a whole lot of difference.
Student quote #2: I really don’t know what exactly to explain about obtaining my visa, because it was so easy in Bulgaria. The written questions you sent me with all other documents about how to pass the interview were very useful. In Bulgaria, I think it is not so difficult to obtain a visa because the people that can’t pass the interview are a very small group. To me, the most important things are:
- Have good English, and don’t talk too much. Just speak exactly on the question, and don’t try to impress them that you are so smart. These officers are smart enough, and they really can see many things in the one or two sentences that you say.
- Have very clear documents. If you can show everything on the documents it is half of the interview.
- Be prepared. The officer asked me only two or three questions about what my job is, where I have been working, and how I heard about the University. I think what the officer really wanted to know was why I was going to the USA. Was it to improve my knowledge, or just to get inside the country without any specific reason?
- Be confident. Just don’t give any sense of doubt. Take it easy and listen to the questions.
Student quote #3: My visa interview was very brief; it only took about a minute. I think it’s not only because the consul had a lot of people to interview that day, but also because I was ready with all the documents that he asked for (I-20, bank statements, employment certificate, etc.). The supporting documents that the admissions office sent me in preparation for my visa interview helped me a lot. All those reminders, sample interview, and checklists contributed much to the success of my visa interview. One important thing is that one should be honest in what he says, because it would always show in the way he speaks with the consul. Practicing an interview with a friend also helps.
Student quote #4: The thing is you should not care for the interview as your life. You should take it easy and don’t be frightened on seeing the Visa Officer. Just talk to him confidently in such a way that you feel that whether or not you get the visa, it doesn’t matter. It requires more than confidence. Sometimes the visa officer may put you in a tricky situation. Then you should be able to face it boldly by kicking off the ball. My strong advice is for Indians to join in U.S. visa groups, which you can find in the Yahoo groups list. Once you join, everyone will be mailing you their interviews and you can go through hundreds of different interviews and can keep track of the situation at the embassy.
Student quote #5: These were the questions asked to me by the Visa Officer at the Consulate:
- “How did you gain admission to the University?”
- “What made you want to study again after taking a break of three years after your last degree?”
- “What was your TOEFL score?”
- “What are your plans after finishing the degree?”
- “Who is your sponsor and what is his occupation?”
Before attending the visa interview, I prepared myself in such a way that every answer of mine should be convincing and to the point. I convinced the officer that as soon as I finish my degree I’ll return back to my home country. This is the most important point and before giving any reply, we should remember this.
Student quote #6: First of all, I was well prepared. I brought all the necessary documents and even had all other supporting documents that I thought would be helpful. The admissions office had specified for me most of these documents in the process of applying to the program. When I first met the visa officer, his first question was, “Who will pay for the education?” I replied, “Some portion will be paid through internship and the rest by me.” He continued by asking whether I have the money or not. I told him that I have money and he wanted me to show him my bank statement, and I did that.
Student quote #7: Getting my visa in Bulgaria was really easy. The interview itself was very easy and fast. The officer just asked me a couple of questions. “What are you planning to do after you graduate?” I said, “I will return to my country and will continue to work for my current employer.” Then she changed the subject and started to ask me about my family and if I have any relatives in the USA. The whole process was about two or three minutes long.
Student quote #8: My experience was interesting, but I want to tell about it by giving some advice.
- Take a full set of documents, especially documents from the University which describe your payment plan. Obviously, documents about payment require a bank statement.
- Dress neatly and smile.
- You should listen to the interviewer’s words carefully, but do not make him feel that you are straining to understand. Usually this is difficult, because of the noisiness of the place where the interview is conducted.
- Be prepared to answer any question about the University, about yourself, relatives, previous job, and education.
- Be extremely prepared to speak about your future plans. This leads to thinking about what you will do after graduation. Speak confidently and honestly, because the interviewer’s job is to crack your psychic defense. If you are dishonest, they will easily recognize it. Remember a proverb: “The bitter truth is better than a sweet lie.” Of course, speak no unnecessary words. Just answer on what they ask. Every additional word will hamper the progress.
Student quote #9: We did not have any problem getting a visa from the U.S. embassy in Nepal. In my case, the visa officer did not even check the financial statement, which is normally checked by each visa officer. She just turned the pages quickly and asked whether I had enough money to spend for my education. That’s all. I do not think there are any special points to be taken carefully. Only having a genuine attitude is enough. Providing you do not try to use the University’s name as a medium to escape from your country, I think getting a visa will not be a difficult job.
Student quote #10: I handed all my documents to the visa officer including the job agreement I have with my boss. After reading it, he asked nothing but why I chose this school and why I chose a program with curricular practical training. I told him my personal plan, and explained that I’ve compared many universities but no other offered a program that matched both my own needs, and those of my company in China. I explained that this is why my boss has agreed to let me go to study and to re-hire me on my return. I also told the interviewer about my younger brother who is enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Florida in Computer Networking. The interview lasted about ten minutes. I felt from the beginning that he never planned on giving me the visa, but after he listened patiently to me, he finally relented and said, “Good luck.” So we can still get visas, even in Beijing, even being refused before.
Remember, many of our international students did not receive their visa after their first interview. So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately get the result you desire. You can always try again for another entry date. We wish you the best of luck!
What To Bring With You To The Visa Interview
Be sure to bring the following with you to the visa appointment:
- Required photo(s)
- Visa fee or proof of visa fee payment
- Federal SEVIS Fee payment receipt
- U.S. non-immigrant visa application forms (unless you will completing it at the consulate or embassy)
- IAU admission letter
- IAU SEVIS I-20
- Test scores and academic records
- Proof of English proficiency
- Proof of financial support
- Evidence of ties to your home country
- Any other documents required by the embassy or consulate
Remember that if you plan to attend IAU, you must present the visa officer with a I-20 issued by IAU. You cannot apply for a U.S. visa using another school’s I-20, and then try to attend IAU, as that is considered to be a fraudulent entry by the U.S. Immigration authorities.
Upon Arrival To U.S.
Most new international students generally arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), about a 60 minutes drive from IAU. For most students, it will be their Port of Entry (POE), the first entry point into the U.S. as a legal non-immigrant. Please find below a guide on procedures on the aircraft, customs at the POE, and baggage claim.
On the aircraft, prior to landing, the flight attendant will distribute customs declaration forms and U.S. Customs and Border Protection forms. One important form is the I-94 arrival/departure document.
Important reminders when filling out I-94 document:
- Print clearly, with one letter in each space
- Date of Birth is in order of MONTH, DAY, YEAR
- Any mistakes will result in a correction procedure that is quite time consuming. Minor mistakes can cause major delays with certain applications that may be filed upon arriving on campus so please be attentive and careful when filling out the I-94 document.
Upon arrival, students will present their:
- Passport and Visa
- I-94 document
All newly admitted F-1 students must check-in in-person with IAU’s Designated School Official (DSO) within 10 days of arrival to the U.S. All F-1 students are required to attend the new student orientation (NSO). Failure to check-in in-person with IAU’s DSO within 10 days of arrival to the U.S. will result in the termination of your SEVIS record.
Legal Immigration Services
4929 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1015
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Tel: (323) 939-8200
Fax: (323) 939-8400
F-1 Employment Authorization & Internships (CPT/OPT)
F-1 Students Working in the U.S.
F-1 international students may be legally authorized to work in the United States for any employer (through Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training). F-1 international students can only work in the U.S. after receiving authorization and with certain restrictions. F-1 international students may still need to seek authorization even if an internship is unpaid.
For more information please visit:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
To engage in CPT, you must have:
- Received a job offer that qualifies before you submit your CPT authorization request.
- A letter offering internship employment from your employer.
Students must have been offered a specific training opportunity that must fall into one of the following categories:
- To satisfy an internship requirement expected of ALL students in your program and necessary for the completion of your degree.
- To satisfy an internship elective which counts towards the completion of your degree. The internship elective must be listed in your school’s bulletin and must state in the official course description that it is specifically designed to allow students enrolled in the course to engage in off-campus internships.
- The internship may be done to engage in the research necessary and integral to the completion of the doctoral dissertation.
CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT) POLICY UPDATES:
IAU has made policy updates pertaining to CPT that differ among students’ program start dates. Please see explanations of the 4 policy updates along with the chart to see the updates that specifically apply to you:
- CPT Extensions: The procedure for extending CPT with the same employer through the upcoming term.
- CPT Maximum: The maximum duration of CPT that students can engage in during their program.
- CPT Start Date: The earliest students can engage in CPT.
- Part-Time VS Full-Time: Employment types (part-time or full-time) that students can engage in depending on the term.
REQUIREMENTS FOR CPT
(Effective for new students starting Spring 2019 and onward.)
Graduate students (MBA & DBA) are required by the established curriculum to participate in an internship immediately. F-1 graduate students are required to participate in CPT immediately in order to meet the internship requirement.
Undergraduate students (ASBA & BBA) must meet one of the following requirements to be eligible to apply for CPT.
- 1Must first complete one academic year (i.e., two terms) as a full-time student at IAU, OR
- Have completed one academic year as a full-time student at a non-language SEVP-certified institution; please note that the degree/certificate student was working toward/received cannot be solely for ESL or learning the English language
After you have found an employer, IAU DSOs MUST receive pertinent CPT documents five (5) business days prior to the employment start date. A student cannot start working without receiving the CPT I-20. Unauthorized employment will result in termination. You must apply for CPT before or within the first 3 weeks of the session.
Please prepare, scan, and submit by completing the Career Services Inquiry Form & the CSV Team will respond as soon as possible:
FROM STUDENT – Internship Application & Cooperative Educational Agreement
- Page 1: Fill out the top portion
- Page 2: Read the terms & conditions on Page 2 and initial the bottom portion on Page 2
- Page 3: Fill out the Employer Information and Student Information
- Page 3: Supervisor/HR and the student must sign in the following sections, respectively: Supervisor Signature and Student’s Signature
FROM EMPLOYER/HR – Offer Letter (sample)
Employer/HR must submit a copy of the offer letter to firstname.lastname@example.org; offer letters from students will not be accepted. The letter must contain, but is not limited to, the following information:
- Start Date (as early as the current session start date)
- Supervisor’s Name and Signature
- Job Description and Job Duties (must be business-related)
- Please include the statement: This employment will serve as “Curricular Practical Training” while the student is pursuing his/her [PROGRAM NAME] at International American University.
- Must be on an official letterhead that includes company contact information (e.g. address, phone number, etc.)
The student’s CPT will be under review once both documents have been submitted. Information provided from the above documents must be consistent (e.g. start date, contact information, etc.) in order for an IAU DSO to process. Once approved, the Office of Student Support will register you in the corresponding BUS 440/640 Internship Course required for CPT and send you an updated electronic registration form; the Office of Student Finance shall assess the applicable tuition. Students are responsible for completing weekly assignments in IAUonline as well as having their supervisors complete the Employer Satisfaction Survey found under Week 8 upon the end of the course. Failure to complete necessary assignments and the Internship Completion form will result in failure of the BUS 440/640 Internship Course.
An IAU DSO must authorize you for CPT. Once you receive CPT authorization, you can only work for the specific employer and for the specific dates. Your CPT authorization will also specify whether you are approved for part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) CPT employment.
If you exceed 12 months of full-time CPT for 12 months, you will not be eligible for OPT. So make sure you watch the dates and hours closely – don’t jeopardize your OPT!
Effective for new F-1 students starting Fall 2018 and onward:
- F-1 students enrolled in a new educational level cannot exceed 12 months of practical training. F-1 students enrolled in the same educational level with previous practical training in that level will be deducted from CPT eligibility at IAU
Effective for new F-1 students starting Spring 2019 and onward:
- Students enrolled in mandatory terms (Spring/Fall) are only approved for part-time CPT Employment; students enrolled in non-mandatory terms (Summer) can be approved for either part-time or full-time CPT employment.
- Students eligible for immediate CPT who begin their program during the non-mandatory Summer term may only participate in part-time CPT as this counts as their initial mandatory term.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Students who have fulfilled one year of academic training and are eligible for graduation may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT allows applicants to work full-time up to 12 months after graduation in a position that is related to their program of study.
Students who would like to apply for OPT are required to mail their application to USCIS or apply online (www.uscis.gov). IAU assists students in filing for OPT with USCIS. Please note that OPT processing time may take 90 days or more. For that reason, IAU urges students to apply for OPT as early as 90 days before the student’s program end date but no later than 60 days before the program end date. Not all applicants are eligible for OPT.
Please see IAU’s Designated School Official (DSO) with any questions about this deadline. Because of the long processing time, IAU recommends that students speak with a DSO at the beginning of the semester that you expect to graduate from IAU. The IAU DSO will determine if the student is eligible to apply for OPT.
How to Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
In order to apply for OPT, the student must first petition for graduation and receive a Notice of Graduation Eligibility. OPT eligible students are strongly encouraged to apply about 60-90 days prior to graduation date to ensure timely filing.
- PETITION FOR GRADUATION: Fill out the correct graduation petition. IAU recommends students to submit graduation petitions 4 months prior to their expected graduation date.
- APPLY FOR OPT: After you receive your notice of graduation eligibility, please collect the documents* listed below and fill out the Career Services Inquiry Form to make an OPT appointment. IAU recommends students apply for OPT 3 months prior to their expected graduation date.
*DOCUMENTS TO COLLECT FOR OPT:
After you receive your notice of graduation eligibility, please collect and bring the following documents upon meeting with us.
- Notice of Graduation Eligibility
- OPT Application – Filled out & printed.
- Copy of Valid Passport – Must not be expired.
- Copy of Visa
- Copy of I-94
- Copy of I-797 Notice of Action, **If Applicable – If you did not come to the U.S. initially on an F-1 visa and had to apply and were approved for a change of status to an F-1 visa.
- Copy of Form I-797 Notice of Action OR EAD Card, **If Applicable – If you have previously applied and were approved for OPT.
- Copy of Form I-20(s) for CPT from a non-IAU program, **If Applicable – If you have previously applied and were approved for CPT.
- 2 Photo Headshots (2″ x 2″) – Photos must be professionally printed and have a white background. Photos cannot be used from previously submitted applications. These online passport photo services will handle everything for you, from cropping and printing photos to mailing them to your door:
- DHS OPT Processing Fee ($410.00) – Check made payable to “DHS”, OR complete G-1450 form for credit card payments. (DISCLAIMER: Please note that USCIS has had challenges processing credit card payments. IAU highly recommends that the $410.00 Processing Fee is paid by either a Check or Money Order.)
- IAU OPT Processing Fee ($150.00) – Check made payable to International American University, OR pay HERE and select Optional Practical Training (OPT) Processing Fee ($150)
What To Do After Being Approved for OPT
Students on OPT must provide IAU with employment information (please see the documents below) within 90 days from the approved OPT start date. Students must also report any employment changes by filling out the Career Services Inquiry Form.
- Job Placement (IAU GRADUATE) – to be completed by IAU GRADUATE
- OPT Job Offer Letter – must contain Employment Identification Number (EIN); Your employment must be related to the field of your study.
- Copy of EAD card, OR of I-797A
Vacation, USCIS Processing, & Maintenance of Status Services (Special Cases)
Change of Non-Immigrant Status
Reinstatement of F-1 Status - Out of Status
- Are currently enrolled or intend to enroll for a full-time course load
- Can establish that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control
- Have not engaged in unauthorized employment
- Have not been out of status for more than 5 months
- Do not have a history of repeated violations
- Are not deportable from the US on any other grounds
- Have been accepted or have gained re-admission into one of IAU’s programs
Processing times for reinstatement applications vary; however, it may take as long as 6 months for the application to be adjudicated by USCIS. Students are required to register full-time at the next available session before the reinstatement process may begin. During this period, students are not be eligible for any type of employment until the reinstatement is approve and may not exit the U.S. to travel.
IAU will process Reinstatement to regain F-1 Status on a CASE BY CASE basis. Please note there is a fee for this request. To see if this is the right option for you, please email us at email@example.com or call us to make an appointment with a DSO!
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)
- FULL-TIME. F-1 students must be full-time students at the institution that they are authorized to attend by USCIS. This means enrolling in at least 12 undergraduate units or 9 graduate units each mandatory semester (Spring & Fall) or the initial starting term.
- ADDRESS. F-1 students must have a permanent home address outside of the United States. That address must be on file with the institution granting the Form I-20.
- PASSPORT. F-1 students must keep their passport valid at all times, up to six months into the future.
- FINANCES. F-1 students must be able to support themselves without working illegally during their entire stay in the United States.
- PHOTOCOPIES. F-1 students should make photocopies of passport, Form I-20, and Form I-94. F-1 students should keep the photocopies of these documents in a safe place. If original documents get lost or stolen, having copies will make the replacement process much easier.
- TRAVEL, CONSULT. F-1 students must not travel outside the United States without first consulting with an IAU DSO at least 2 weeks before their travel. The IAU DSO will check student’s documents and sign the Form I-20, so that they will not have any difficulties reentering the United States. F-1 students from certain countries may need to obtain special “visitor visas” to enter Canada. If a student has a family emergency and needs to leave immediately, they should contact an IAU DSO for immediate assistance.
- TRAVEL, OPT. If an F-1 student is eligible and would like to apply for Optional Practical Training, the student will be advised that they should not travel outside the USA until they have been issued the work permit from DHS.
- DURATION OF STATUS (D/S). F-1 students will have a notation on either a digital or physical nonimmigrant Form I-94 indicating that the student is authorized to remain in the United States as long as they maintain a valid status.
- GRACE PERIOD. A 60-day grace period is available to students who have completed a program of study or completed authorized Optional Practical Training. A 15-day grace period is available to F-1 students who need to cancel/withdraw from classes due to illness, a family emergency or financial difficulties. However, prior approval by a DSO is required before the cancellation/withdrawal takes place. Failure to obtain prior approval results in no grace period and the loss of legal status.
- REENTRY. An F-1 student may leave the United States and return within a period of five months. To return, you must have: 1) a valid passport; 2) a valid F- 1 student visa (unless you are exempt from visa requirements); and 3) your Form I-20, page 2, properly endorsed for reentry by your DSO. If you have been out of the United States for more than five months, contact a DSO.
- NOTICE OF ADDRESS. When an F-1 student arrives in the United States, the F-1 student must report your U.S. address to the DSO. If an F-1 student moves, he/she must notify the DSO of your new address within 10 days of the change of address. A DSO will update SEVIS with the new address.
- VISA OVERSTAYS. A nonimmigrant visa stamp in a student’s passport will be void in the United States beyond the period of authorized stay. A student cannot seek a new visa other than from their country of citizenship. (Illegal Immigration Reform & Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996)
- PERIOD OF STAY. An F-1 student may remain in the United States while taking a full course of study or during authorized employment after their program. When F-1 status ends, the student is required to leave the United States on the earliest of the following dates: 1) the program end date on the Form I-20 plus 60 days; 2) the end date of OPT plus 60 days; or 3) the date of termination of the program for any other reason.
- BE AWARE OF THE DATES ON FORM I-20. Students should plan the education program so that they will not be out-of-status and be enrolled in the appropriate number of units (this means the completion of the appropriate amount of units for the student’s program at the end of Fall or Spring semester). (Illegal Immigration Reform & Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996)
- EXTENSION. Students must plan their extension of stay in a timely manner to meet the immigration deadline. (Illegal Immigration Reform & Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996)
Refer to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website. For additional information, students should contact an IAU DSO and schedule an appointment.
USCIS Request for Evidence
If you have a request, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and send us s canned copy of your Form I-797. Please note there is a fee for this request. For more details, please call us to make an appointment with a DSO!
Visa Renewal & Traveling Outside the U.S. - Out of Status
Please note that although this route may be faster than reinstatement, it is quite risky. Students who have a VALID F-1 Visa may travel to regain status. However, students who do NOT have a valid F-1 Visa must return to their HOME country to renew their F-1 Visa.
Please note there is a fee for this request. To see if this is the right option for you, please email us at email@example.com or call us to make an appointment with a DSO!