Resources for International Students
The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office guides students and scholars through the process of obtaining an I-20 in order to apply for their visas. ISSS also advises on issues such as immigration status, employment authorization, and other student and scholar visa-related matters.
The office maintains an open and welcoming environment for all international visitors and invites them to utilize the office and website as a resource for information and appropriate referral.
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa, (F-1visa), to study at Ramapo College of New Jersey.
- The first step is to apply to Ramapo College of New Jersey.
- Once you are accepted, you will receive your I-20 for, which you will need to apply for your F-1 visa.
- Pay your SEVIS fee.
- Complete your DS-160 visa application.
- Schedule your interview.
- Attend your visa interview.
Applying for a Student Visa
After Ramapo accepts your enrollment, you will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. Ramapo will issue you a Form I-20. After you receive the Form I-20 and register in SEVIS, you may apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F-1 student. You must present the Form I-20 to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.
Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
F-1 Visa Requirements
There are several F-1 visa rules to keep in mind if you plan to apply for an F-1 student visa. You must meet these requirements for your application to be accepted:
- English language proficiency – You must meet the required English language proficiency score of the institution you are attending or be enrolled in courses that will help you improve your English proficiency. (Note that DMC graduate programs to NOT require English language testing scores)
- Sufficient funding – You must prove you have sufficient funds available to finance your studies and living expenses while in the US.
- Valid passport – Your passport should be valid for US travel for at least six months after your program completion date.
- Home country residency – You are required to have a residence in your home country to return to following the completion of your degree.
- Full-time enrollment – You must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution while your academic term is in session. Typically a DMC graduate student will enroll in 9 credits in each of the first three semesters (Fall and Spring semesters) and complete their thesis (3 credits) in their final semester – which is permitted under your visa.
Entering the United States
A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A visa only allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.
After you present your passport, visa, and Form I-20 at the port-of-entry, a CBP official will make this decision.
Learn about procedures for students entering the United States on the CBP website under Arrival Procedures for Students or Exchange Visitors.
Tuition & Cost Information
International Student Employment Reminders
Regulations related to employment while studying at Ramapo College of New Jersey
All F-1 students are required to follow the terms of their nonimmigrant status as stated in the regulations. As an F-1 student if you do not follow the regulations the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is required to report the violation in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) by terminating your SEVIS record. After termination of your record, you must depart the country immediately.
If ISSS is aware of your non-authorized employment, we must report it in SEVIS within 21 days by terminating your record.
The U.S. government takes illegal employment very seriously and we are required to reiterate these rules to you as well as report any unlawful activity to the government.
In order to be compliant with the regulations,
- Students should consult with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) before starting any on-campus employment
- Students must obtain authorization on the Form I-20 before starting curricular practical training (CPT)
- Students must obtain a recommendation on their Form I-20 and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authorization (Employment Authorization Document, (EAD)) before starting any other employment.
There are limited employment opportunities available in the United States for an F-1 student. As a reminder, these are the employment opportunities available to eligible F-1 students:
While it does not require authorization in SEVIS, you are still required to report your employment status to our office every semester in order to ensure that you are eligible for on-campus employment and that the employment meets the regulatory criteria for on-campus employment. Keep in mind, unless eligible for an exemption under emergent circumstances as recognized by the Secretary of Homeland Security, an F-1 student may only be employed 20 hours per week with on-campus employment when school is in session.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT must be integral to the student’s program of study and with an employer formally authorized by the school through a cooperative agreement. DMC graduate programs DO provide coursework which may integrate outside employment that qualifies as CPT.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
As an F-1 student, you may also be eligible for practical training directly related to your studies if you have been lawfully enrolled for one full academic year. You may be authorized for 12 months of practical training and 24 months of STEM OPT after completion of your program.
ISSS must first recommend you for off-campus employment on the Form I-20. You must then file a Form I-765 “Application for Employment Authorization,” with USCIS. If approved by USCIS, you will receive an EAD from USCIS. You may not begin employment until you have received an EAD. Similar to on-campus employment, you may only be employed 20 hours per week when school is in session, unless eligible for an exemption under emergent circumstances as recognized by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Even Unpaid “Work” Prohibited in Many Situations
Even if you are not receiving any form of compensation for the services provided, the activity still may be considered unauthorized employment. Active involvement in the creation of a company, for instance, may be considered work, and therefore be prohibited without proper authorization. Training or Volunteering for a company simply to gain experience could be deemed unauthorized employment as well, especially if duties are performed for which one would normally be paid. So, working as a trainee for a future job or volunteering to build a website for a company may provide valuable experience for one’s resume, it also may be grounds to find that the individual has committed a status violation.
Consult with ISSS
Immigration laws are complex. Violations, even if made innocently, often result in harsh consequences for the students. There are conflicting interpretations regarding what is or is not considered unauthorized employment. Thus, it generally is best to be cautious and conservative with respect to this particular issue. If you have been engaged in any of the activities described above, it would be best to cease the activity and seek the advice from our office immediately.