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Please note, all requests take a minimum of three (3) days to process. Please plan accordingly!

Get an I-20

Congratulations on being admitted to St. Francis College! As you may already know, your next steps are to start the process of obtaining the Form I-20. This is the document that allows you to remain legally in the United States during your studies.

In order to obtain the Form I-20 ("I-20"), the following documents may be emailed to


Work on-campus
As an F-1 student, you are permitted by law to work 20 hours per week during the fall/spring semesters and more than 20 hours per week during winter/summer semesters.

You DO NOT need work authorization to work ON-CAMPUS.

Our Career Center can help you edit your resume before you embark on your departmental job search. To visit them or schedule an appointment, visit room 2311 or call 718.489.5360.

Work off-campus
While some programs require work experience or an internship, others do not. However, we encourage all students to engage in off-campus work to gain experience in their field of study.

F-1 students are eligible to be authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) while they are enrolled and Optional Practical Training (OPT) after they complete their program of study.

Any off-campus employment must be directly related to your program of study.

Work Authorizations

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

  • Training directly related to your major area of study
  • Training that is part of the curriculum (ex. required internship, student teaching, etc.)
  • Occurs before your program end date on your I-20
  • Authorization is for one specific employer for one specific time
  • You must first secure the opportunity before CPT can be authorized
  • You may have more than one CPT opportunity at a time
  • You may work full-time (more than 20 hours) during semester breaks and part-time (less than 20 hours) during each semester
  • 12 months of full-time CPT eliminates the opportunity for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Occurs after you have been in active status for two consecutive semesters

There are two types of CPT:

  1. Required part of program – the program requires employment in the field of study to graduate.
  2. Non-required part of program – the practical experience is for credit and directly related to your field of study. You must be enrolled for the course while engaging in this type of CPT.

How do I get CPT approved?
Bring the following documents to room 2302:

  1. Title
  2. Start and end dates
  3. Brief list of job functions
  4. Number of hours per week
  5. Company name and address

How do I get a Social Security number?
If you do not have a Social Security number, please let us know and we will provide you with documentation to take to the Social Security Administration office on Pierrepont Street.

Do I have to pay taxes?
Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, money earned as an F-1 student will be subject to federal, state, and local taxes. Employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from your paycheck. By April 15 of each year, you must file a federal income tax return and a Form 8843, “Statement of Exempt Individuals.” You are required to file the 8843 form whether you owe taxes or not.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
An opportunity for F-1 students to participate in professional, temporary employment that is directly related to their major area of study, but not a part of the academic curriculum.

Types of employment allowed
Students may work part-time (at least 20 hours per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week).

Employment options include paid and unpaid options:

Paid employment

  • Multiple employers. Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program.
  • Short-term multiple employers (performing artists). Students, such as musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.
  • Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than employment relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-employed business owner. Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full-time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program.
  • Employment through an agency. Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency (before engaging in this type of work, speak with your international student advisor).

Unpaid employment
Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.

Click here for an OPT checklist and I-539 instructions.

Add my spouse/children to my I-20

When adding a dependent to an F-1 student’s I-20, a new I-20 must be made for the student (F-1) and a separate one for each dependent (F-2) showing the additional expenses for the dependent(s).

To generate a new I-20 for the student and their dependent(s), the Office of International Student Programs and Services will need the following:

1) Proof of funding (bank statements OR affidavit of support AND bank statements from the person who will be supporting your dependents) showing you have access to $3000 for each dependent
2) Dependent information:

  • dependent first and last name
  • dependent’s date of birth (month/day/year)
  • dependent’s country of birth
  • dependent’s country of citizenship
  • dependent’s gender
  • whether dependent is a child or spouse

3) Marriage certificate for spouse (translated to English, if not already in English)
4) Birth certificate for each child (translated to English, if not already in English)
5) Passport for each dependent

Obtaining an F-2 visa
An F-1 student’s dependent who are required to have a valid passport and visa for entry to the United States must apply for F-2 visas at their home country’s U.S. Consulate or Embassy. Each applicant must present the consular officer with a dependent Form I-20 and other documents that may be required to demonstrate eligibility for F-2 status, such as proof of relationship to the F-1 student and evidence of financial resources to support the dependents while in the United States. For additional information about what is required for a visa appointment, refer to the appropriate consulate or embassy website.

Once an F-2 visa is issued, the F-2 dependent would show their I-20, passport, and visa upon entering the United States. They are able to remain in the United States for as long as the F-1 student remains in ACTIVE status.


  • Full-time study is not permitted for the F-2 spouse. Part-time recreational study is permitted. (e.g. English language courses, music/pottery classes)
  • If the F-2 spouse wishes to study full-time they must first qualify for admission to a college or university. Then, they would need to request to change their status to that of F-1
  • F-2 children may only participate in full-time study at the kindergarten through 12th grade
  • F-2 children who wish to study full-time beyond high school must apply for a change of status to F-1


  • F-2 dependents may not accept employment in the United States

Social Security numbers

  • F-2 dependents are not eligible to receive a Social Security number

Stay for an extra semester

The Program Extension Request is to be used by F-1 students at St. Francis who are unable to complete their course of study by the program end date on the Form I-20.

  • Submit your request at least 30 days prior to the program end date listed on the I-20
  • If you fail to submit your request by the program end date, you will be considered out-of-status. If this happens, meet with the international student advisor to discuss reinstatement options
  • The extension will extend your I-20, but not your visa
    • You may remain in the U.S. with an expired visa but a valid I-20
    • If you travel outside the U.S., you will need a new visa to re-enter


  • Have continually maintained legal F-1 status
  • Seek an extension for a delay caused by a compelling academic or medical need, such as: change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or documented illness
  • For changes in funding source, provide financial documentation for the educational and living expenses during the extension.
  • NOTE: Delays caused by academic probation are NOT acceptable reasons for program extension.

Financial Documentation
If there is a change in your funding source, you must provide proof that you are able to continue meeting the expenses of studying at St. Francis College. This includes: living and education costs, plus living expenses for dependent family members, if any. This yearly total amounts to $43,188. If you are only extending your program for one semester, the total is $21,594.

Please bring the following documents showing funding for the duration of your extension:

  • A statement showing proof of renewed sponsorship or financial aid. Funding amounts must be clearly stated
  • Recent bank statements, issued within the past six (6) months
  • An updated St. Francis scholarship letter. Funding amounts must be clearly stated

To request a program extension, click here.

Enroll less than full-time

International students in F-1 status are required to maintain full-time enrollment during the school year. If you cannot or will not meet this requirement, you must request a reduced course load. Federal immigration regulations severely limit a student's ability to be less than full time, but it maybe allowed in some circumstances explained below.

If you drop below full-time without authorization after the add/drop period, the Office of International Student Programs and Services at St. Francis is required to report this to SEVIS and you will lose your F-1 or J-1 status.

According to 8 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) § 214.2(f)(6)(iii), the Designated School Official may allow an F-1 student to engage in less than a full course of study as provided below.

A student who wishes to drop below full time must obtain the approval from a DSO in advance, regardless what the reason might be. A student who drops below a full course of study (after the add/drop period) without prior approval of a DSO will be considered out-of-status.

A lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce course load, according to immigration regulations.

What is full-time?
Undergraduates: 12 credits per semester
Graduates: 8 credits per semester

Academic Difficulties
Immigration regulations specify four academic difficulty reasons for which a reduced course load may be approved:

    • Initial difficulties with the English language (only in the first year)
    • Initial difficulties with reading requirements (only in the first year)
    • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (only in the first year)
    • Improper course level placement (advisor must provide explanation)
  • A student may be authorized for an academic difficulty RCL only for a single term during any one course of study at a particular program level, and must resume a full course of study (see full-time requirements above) at the next available term (excluding summer).
  • A reduced course load for academic difficulties must consist of at least 6 credit hours for undergraduate students and at least 4 credit hours for graduate students.

A student may apply for RCL if, due to a temporary illness or medical condition, they are unable to be enrolled full-time (or, if necessary, no course load).

  • The student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist, to the DSO to prove the illness or medical condition.
  • The letter from the medical provider cannot be dated more than 30 days before the start of the term for which the RCL is requested.
  • The letter from the medical provider must recommend either that the student be part-time or not enrolled due to medical circumstances.
  • A reduced course load for a medical condition can be granted for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.
  • The student must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must authorize the drop below full-time for each new term.

Completion of Course of Study
A student must apply for RCL in their final term if fewer courses (i.e. less than full-time) are needed and required to complete the course of study.

The student must obtain a letter from their academic advisor to verify that the current term will be the final term for the student to complete their academic program.

To request a reduced course load, click here.

Regain F-1 status

Immigration Regulations

  • Be enrolled and attend classes full-time at the school listed on your current Form I-20. Full-time is 12 or more credits per semester for undergraduate students, and 8 or more credits per semester for graduate students. Exceptions to the full-time requirement must be authorized in advance by OISPS
  • Complete your studies before the program completion date listed on your I-20
  • Keep your I-20 valid by following proper procedures for a program extension, reduced course load, change in educational level, change in field of study, and transfer of schools
  • Remain in the U.S. for no longer than 60 days after completing your current program of study or after completing an authorized period of practical training
  • Keep your passport valid at all times unless you are exempt from the passport requirement
  • Accept no employment except that which is authorized in accordance with the immigration regulations
  • Report any change of address or phone number to OISPS within 10 days of the change

If you fail to maintain status, you are ineligible for any of the benefits of F-1 status (ex. employment authorization).
There are two ways to regain status: apply for reinstatement or depart the U.S. and seek a new admission to the U.S. in F-1 status.

The process to regain valid F-1 status can be challenging, stressful, time consuming, and financially cumbersome. We want to discuss your options with you. We also encourage you to contact an immigration attorney so you can make an educated decision and consider the risks with both options.

Schedule an appointment with your international student advisor to discuss both options.

Option 1. Travel and reentry
Before receiving an INITIAL I-20 with a new SEVIS number, you would need to provide updated documents, these include:

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of student visa
  • Financial Certificate
  • Affidavit of Support
  • Affidavit of Support-Free Room and Board (if necessary)

Option 2. Reinstatement
This option allows you to stay in the country while USCIS is reviewing your reinstatement application and while you are still enrolled and attending classes full-time. This option costs you money and could take between 12-18 months to be resolved. During the review period, you are not eligible to leave the country unless you want to abandon your reinstatement application and choose Option 1.

To request reinstatement, you must meet the following guidelines:

  • Have not been out of status more than five (5) 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, full-time course of study in the immediate future 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

In addition to the above mentioned guidelines, you must also meet the following:

  • 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 OISPS advisor, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or a willful failure on your part resulted in the need for reinstatement
  • The violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within the international student advisor’s authority to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you

Reinstatement checklist

  • Form I-539
  • Check or money order for filing fee, made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
  • Copies of all previously issued I-20s (including from any previously attended English language programs or other institutions other than St. Francis)
  • I-94 printout
  • Copies of financial support documents
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy or transcript and current (or future) course registration
  • A letter from you requesting reinstatement to F-1 status explaining your circumstances. You should explain that the violation of F-1 status resulted from circumstances beyond your control and/or that the failure to be reinstated would result in extreme hardship. Attach any additional supporting documents.
  • Copy of reinstatement I-20 from OISPS

Invite a friend or family member to visit me

We understand the massive commitment that our international students put forth in obtaining an American education and we recognize that our students may wants friends and family to visit from time to time, especially for graduation.

Your friends/family will most likely be arriving on a B-2 tourism visa. The next steps would be to have this person apply for this visa. To assist you, we have provided a sample letter of what you can write to assist them in this process.

Sample Invitation Letter

Apply for a STEM extension

Some majors have been designated as STEM fields; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, by the Department of Homeland Security may be eligible to apply for a 24-month STEM extension after your initial 12 months on post-completion OPT.

To see more information on what majors qualify as STEM, click here.

If you think you qualify or have any questions, be sure to schedule an appointment to discuss next steps.

Similar to applying for OPT, you may apply for the 24-month STEM extension up to 90 days before the end date on your initial post-completion OPT.

STEM Extension


  1. Original and completed Form I-765
  2. I-765 filing fee (see "filling fee" under link above) (check, money order, or credit card)
  3. G-1145-Notification of application via email/text message
  4. Original and completed Form I-983 (completed by student and employer)
  5. Two passport-style photos6.
  6. Copy of qualifying STEM degree transcript
  7. Copy of all previous I-20’s (pages 1 and 3 [old] or pages 1 and 2 [new])
  8. I-94 printout
  9. Copy of passport bio page
  10. Copy of F-1 visa (unexpired or expired)
  11. Copy of all previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) (front and back)1
  12. Copy of pages 1 and 2 of the new I-20 with the STEM extension recommendation (get after above items have been completed, including Form I-983, from OISPS)

Application Instructions

  • On checkbox “I am applying for” select “Renewal of my permissions to accept employment”
  • For question #3, make sure the address you list on this form will be accurate for at least 90 days, as this is where USCIS will send your Receipt Notice, Approval Notice and EAD. If you will use a reliable friend or family member’s address, make sure to use the C/O notation, (C/O Mary Smith, 123 Main St.. Anytown, Any State)
  • For question #20, write: (c)(3)(C)
  • For question #21, include the CIP code and/or your degree as listed on your I-20, your employer’s name, and their E-verification identification number

Final Steps

1. Check all documents for completeness and accuracy
2. Be sure to sign Forms I-20, I-765, and I-983
3. Make a copy of completed application packet for your records
4. Mail completed application packet to appropriate address:

United States Postal Service (USPS)

Express Mail (FedEx, UPS, etc.)



P.O. Box 660867


Dallas, TX 75266

S. State Highway 121 Business

Suite 400

Lewisville, TX 75067

Apply for a Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is required by the U.S. government for tax and employee reporting information. If you have obtained employment, on or off-campus, you will need to apply for a SSN. More information about what is required can be found here.

If you are applying for a Social Security Number (SSN) after being authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you will need to bring the following documents to the office below:

  • I-20 with CPT
  • Letter from employer (see CPT employer letter)
  • I-94
  • Verification letter from Office of International Student Programs and Services
  • Passport

Brooklyn Social Security Card Center
154 Pierrepont St.
6th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Brooklyn Social Security Card Center

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