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International Student Travel Procedure

If you plan to travel internationally. we want to ensure that all of you have an uninterrupted traveling experience, please be sure to do the following:

1. Signature on Form I-20:

All of you should travel with a valid, signed Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.” Please come to our office during normal business hours with your passport and your I-20 form so that we could provide you with a travel signature.

2. Apply for passport or visa renewal:

If you have either an expired passport or one that will expire within six months you should apply for renewals while at home. If you have an expired visa you must apply for renewal prior to re-entering the U.S. You should check the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country to make an appointment once you know your travel dates. Please visit the following website for the list of U.S. Embassies abroad. http://www.usembassy.gov/

If you are traveling on expired or soon-to-expire documents you may have trouble when seeking re-entry into the United States.

If you are traveling to a third country please check the visa requirements for that country before travel.

3. Students on OPT:

If you are employed on OPT you should travel with a valid I-20, EAD and a letter from the employer verifying employment. This will assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection in verifying your information upon re-entry. Please contact our office for further instructions but don’t forget to get a valid travel signature before you leave the country!

4. Travel with all required documents:

You should travel with all required documents but should never place those documents in checked luggage. The required documents include at least the following: a valid, signed Form I-20; a valid passport (good for more than six months, unless otherwise exempt); a valid nonimmigrant visa, if required; and financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses. Failure to have all required documents may jeopardize your ability to re-enter the United States.

5. Departure:

Please surrender your I-94 card during your flight check in process at the departure point.

Exception: Students traveling to Mexico or Canada for less than 30 days should not surrender your I-94 (please contact us for more information).

6. Re-entry:

Please verify your new I-94 card for the following information before leaving the immigration section;

Date: Date you arrive in the U.S.

Class: F-1 or J-1

Valid Until: D/S

Maintaining Legal F-1 Status

As an F-1 student, you must meet certain obligations in order to maintain legal immigration status. Maintaining status is necessary in order to receive the benefits of F-1 status such as employment and program extension, and can be crucial to a successful application for a change or adjustment of status in the future. United States immigration law places responsibility upon the individual student to know and follow all relevant immigration regulations. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S. Due to the complexity of U.S. immigration regulations, we recommend that you consult with ISSS anytime you have questions or concerns related to your F-1 status.

1.Report to the Office of International Students and Scholars (ASB-123) within 15 days of the start date on the I-20 or DS-2019 for initial registration. If you attended the International Student Orientation and provided the Office with copies of your documents, this is not necessary.

2. Verify that immigration documents are valid or unexpired at all times.

  • Passport– valid for at least six months into the future.
  • I-94 card– (white card stapled in passport) marked “F-1 D/S” or “J-1 D/S”
  • I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students)- stamped by an immigration inspector or activated by the International Student Advisor.

3. Register for a complete full course load every semester.

  • Undergraduate (BA/BS) students must always complete at least 12 credits every semester
  • Graduate students are ordinarily required to complete 9 credits in order to be considered full-time.

4. Make normal, full-time progress toward program completion and complete within specified time periods (start and end date on I-20 or DS-2019). Extensions other than for medical or other unavoidable academic reasons are not permitted.

5. Obtain;ISSS approval BEFORE a reduced course load registration is finalized. Retroactive approval of part-time enrollment once registration has ended is NOT possible.

6. Do not accept off-campus employment without written authorization from the ISSS or USCIS (Immigration authorities). Full-time students in F-1 or J-1 status work no more than 20 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours during vacation periods and school breaks.

7. Report any change of address to the Ramapo College Registrar’s Office and;ISSS within 10 days of your move.

8. Apply for an extension of your I-20 or DS-2019 before your documents expire if you need more time to complete your program. An extension request submitted after your I-20 or DS-2019 has expired cannot be processed. Failure to complete your program of study on time or to obtain a timely program extension may constitute a violation of immigration status.

9. Contact the ISSS immediately if there are any changes to your I-20 or DS-2019, or to your personal or academic situation. Examples of such changes include but are not limited to the following:

  • change of name or citizenship
  • change of school, major, or degree level
  • withdrawal or termination from program due to academic or medical reasons
  • departure from the U.S. for research, study, or a leave of absence
  • transfer to another institution in the U.S.

10. Obtain a travel signature when traveling internationally. Students appearing at a port of entry without a properly signed I-20 or DS-2019 can be denied admission to the United States.; Students who are planning to travel outside the United States and whose visa is expired should make an appointment to see the International Student Advisor to obtain guidance in seeking a new visa.

11. Maintain valid health insurance while in the United States.

Remember, maintaining legal status in the United States is your individual responsibility!

Dependents

Dependents are defined as spouse and minor children under 21 years old of the F-1 student. Please be aware that each of your dependents will need his/her own I-20 in order to obtain an F-2 visa at the U.S. embassy/consulate and to enter the United States. F-2 status holders may not accept employment or engage in business under any circumstances.
The F-2 spouse of an F-1 student may not engage in full time study, and the F-2 child may only engage in full-time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade). The F-2 spouse and child may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature.

Grace Period

When an F-1 student successfully completes his/her academic program or Optional Practical Training, there is a 60-day grace period during which the F-1 student and any F-2 dependents may stay in the U.S. but may not work or travel nor reenter in F-1 status. Students who leave their program for any reason prior to completion are eligible for a 15 day grace period provided they notify ISSS in advance.

Taxes

In general, F-1 students must file federal tax forms every year that they are in the U.S. The deadlines to file the forms are April 15, if U.S. money is earned (this includes money earned from graduate student assistantships), and June 15, if no U.S. money is earned.

F-2 dependents must also file a form.

The ISSS will provide tax training designed to help F-1 students prepare their federal US tax return during the month of March of every year.

Social Security

F-1 students must already have an offer of on-campus employment in order to apply for a social security number.

Our school is closest to the Paterson Social Security Office.
The office is open Monday thru Friday, 9:00am-4:00pm

The exact address is:

1St Floor, Federal Office Building

21 Clark Street / Fed Plaza

Paterson, NJ 07505

Phone: 1-800-772-1213, 1-800-325-0778

Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (Except Federal Holiday)
Students applying for a Social Security number should bring the following documents with them to SSA:

  • SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019
  • Passport
  • I-94
  • A letter from Ramapo College confirming that you are employed. This letter can be obtained from your International Student Advisor.
  • A letter of offer of employment from employer. This letter should confirm:
    • identity of the student employee
    • job description
    • anticipated or actual employment start date
    • number of hours the student is expected to work
    • employer identification number
    • employer contact information, including the telephone number
    • and the name of the F-1 student’s immediate supervisor
    • original signature
    • signatory’s title
    • date

It should also be noted that a student may work while the application for the SSN is being processed.

Employment

U.S. government regulations require F-1 students to be in the U.S. for the primary purpose of attending school. In general, employment in the U.S. is restricted. The following employment possibilities exist for F-1 students:

  • On-campus employment: Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and available as full time during school vacation and holidays. On-campus employment is defined as work done on the premises of the school who issued I-20. ;If anyone other than Ramapo College will be paying you, please consult with ISSS prior to accepting employment.
  • Off-campus employment: Under certain conditions you may be eligible for off-campus employment either based on economic need or practical training. You may not begin the employment unless you have received official authorization.; All off-campus employment authorization must be coordinated through ISSS.

On Campus Employment

F-1 students are eligible to work on-campus while attending classes. The work does not need to be related to your field of study. You must maintain legal F-1 status while engaging in on-campus employment.

Although there are some limited exceptions, on-campus means typically means work performed on the school’s premises (college libraries, laboratories, book store and cafeterias) and paid by Ramapo College.; Please consult with ISSS prior to engaging in any employment that does not meet these basic guidelines.;

Requirements:

  • You must be maintaining valid F-1 status and enrolled in a full course of study during the academic year.
  • You may work up to 20-hours per week on-campus during the academic year.
  • You may work full-time on-campus during vacation periods and official school breaks (winter break, summer break).
  • F-1 students are not eligible for “Work Study.”; If an on-campus position is advertised as “Work Study only,” only students who have been awarded federal Work Study funds may apply.; This type of aid is typically only available to US citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  • Once you have completed all requirements for your academic program, you are no longer eligible for on-campus employment.

Finding and Applying for On-Campus Jobs

Visit www.ramapo.edu/careercenter/campus-jobs/ for more information on finding an on-campus job.; You may also inquire directly with the office or department where you are interested in working to find out if they have any positions available.

Optional Practical Training

OPT is defined in the Federal Regulations as temporary employment directly related to a student’s field of study. During OPT, a student remains in F-1 status, their SEVIS record remains active, and the student must report changes in address and employment to ISSS. When granted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the student receives an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which authorizes employment for a specific time period.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

To be eligible for OPT, the student must:

  • Be in valid F-1 immigration status
  • Have completed at least one academic year (two semesters) of full-time study

MAXIMUM LENGTH

  • The standard OPT period is a cumulative maximum of 12 months.
  • Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12-month limit at 50%.
  • An F-1 may become eligible for another 12 months of OPT if he/she advances to a highereducational level.
  • Some students may be eligible for a 17-month STEM extension of OPT

OPT APPLICATION PROCESS

Below is brief overview of the process.

  1. Review the OPT Packet
  2. Attend an OPT Information Session
  3. Prepare your application materials and drop them off at the ISSS front desk.
  4. ISSS will review your materials and prepare your new OPT I-20 within 5 business days.; You will be notified via email when the new I-20 and application materials are ready for pick up.
  5. Mail your completed OPT application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Vermont Service Center
  6. USCIS will review your application and upon approval issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that authorizes you to work in the US for a specific time period.; You may not begin working until you have the EAD and the start date on the EAD has arrived.

WHILE YOU ARE ON OPT

Your F-1 status continues through the OPT period.

You must stop your employment when the end date on the EAD card is reached, but may remain in the U.S. for a 60-day grace period following your period of OPT.

You may begin working once:

  1. you have obtained the EAD card (you may not begin employment if your OPT has been approved but you have not yet received the EAD in the mail)
  2. and the begin date on the card has been reached.

The EAD is not employer specific, so you may change employers at will. However, employment must be directly related to the field of studies. Any employment outside your field of study is unauthorized and is a substantive violation of your status.

Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT)

On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule allowing certain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees, and who meet other specified requirements, to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT. The 24-month extension will replace the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available to STEM students (see 73 FR 18944). Eligible students may now apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.

Eligibility for the STEM OPT Extension 

To qualify for the 24-month extension, you must:

  • Have been granted OPT and currently be in a valid period of OPT;
  • Have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a school that is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency and is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) when you submit your STEM OPT extension application.
    • Previously obtained STEM degrees: If you are an F-1 student participating in a 12-month period of post-completion OPT based on a non-STEM degree, you may be eligible to use a prior STEM degree earned from a U.S. institution of higher education to apply for a STEM OPT extension. You must have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions, and cannot have already received a STEM OPT extension based on this prior degree. The practical training opportunity also must be directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree.
      • For example: If you are currently participating in OPT based on a master’s degree in business administration but you previously received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, you may be able to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor’s degree as long as it is from an accredited U.S. college or university and the OPT employment opportunity is directly related to your bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
    • STEM degrees you obtain in the future: If you enroll in a new academic program in the future and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level, you may be eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.
      • For example: If you receive a 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor’s degree in engineering and you later earn a master’s degree in engineering, you may apply for an additional 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your master’s degree.
  • Work for an employer who meets all the requirements listed below in the STEM OPT Employer Responsibilities section.
  • Submit the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization up to 90 days before your current OPT employment authorization expires, and within 60 days of the date your designated school official (DSO) enters the recommendation for OPT into your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record.

Q & A

What types of employment are allowed for students during an OPT STEM extension?

Students authorized for an OPT STEM extension must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer in a position directly related to each individual student’s STEM degree.

What does a student need to know about an employer in order to complete the Form I-765 when applying for the STEM extension?

The student must have the employer’s name as listed in E-Verify and the employer’s E-Verify company identification number or a valid E-Verify client company identification number. This information must be listed in Item 17 of the Form I-765.

When does a student’s period of STEM extension OPT start?

If the student has properly filed for a STEM extension, the student’s period of STEM extension OPT starts the day after the expiration of the student’s original period of optional practical training. The student must comply with all the requirements for students with a STEM extension

Can a student change employers while the STEM extension application is pending with USCIS?

Yes. However, if the STEM extension period has started, the employer must also be an E-Verify employer. The student must report the change in employment to his or her DSO. The DSO must update the student’s employer information in SEVIS and the student should submit an amended Form I-765 to the appropriate USCIS Service Center, providing the new employer’s E-Verify number and a copy of the USCIS receipt notice for the first Form I-765. A brief letter explaining the submission should also be included. There is no fee associated with submitting the amended Form I-765.

Social Security Number

If you do not yet have a Social Security Number (SSN), you may apply for one after you have received the EAD card and the begin date on the card has been reached.; If you already have a SSN, do not apply for a new one. Social Security Numbers are for life.

You do not need your SSN to begin working. On your first day of employment, you will be asked to complete employment paperwork. If you do not yet have your SSN, you may write “applied for” in the space where the SSN is to be provided. Once you receive the Social Security Card in the mail, provide the number to your employer.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Address Notification Requirement

You are required to update your address by sending an email to iosawami@ramapo.edu ;within 10 days of any change, even while you are on OPT.

OPT Employment Requirements and Reporting

You are expected to be employed in your field of study during OPT, and you are required to submit employer information to SEVIS. The maximum period of unemployment is 90 days. ;It is recommended that you keep documentation of all your employment. In the future, you may be asked to provide proof that your employment during OPT was in your field of study or that you did not exceed 90 days of unemployment.

Specifically, you should maintain evidence – for each job – of the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the job title, contact information for your supervisor or manager, and description of the work.; Full-time, part-time, and unpaid volunteer or internship opportunities are permissible under OPT.

Students are required to report changes in employment to ISSS as soon as possible. To report periods of employment along with employer information, send an email to iosawami@ramapo.eduInclude your employer’s complete name, address (street, city, state, and ZIP code), and start date of employment.; Send an email update anytime your employment circumstances change.

If you cannot find employment that meets the definition of OPT employment, you may have the following options:

  • Apply to Ramapo College or another university to continue your education by a change of level or transferring to another institution.
  • Depart the United States.; Be sure to notify ISSS at iosawami@ramapo.edu if you decide to depart the US and abandon any remaining OPT.; Your SEVIS record will be inactivated.
  • Change status to another legal status, if eligible. ;Notify ISSS at iosawami@ramapo.eduupon approval of your new status, so that your SEVIS record can be inactivated, if necessary.; Please provide a copy of the approval notice via email or fax (201-230-7989).

Travel Outside the U.S. and Reentry

For important information on travel while you’re applying for OPT, refer to the Travel Advisory “Travel while on post-completion OPT”. This section includes important information on documents required to reenter the U.S. while on OPT, plus information about applying for a new visa stamp.

If your F-2 dependents travel outside the U.S. and reenter without you during your OPT period, they should carry their own original documents along with photocopies of all the documents you are required to carry for reentry. The list of required documents is provided in the Travel Advisory.

“Cap Gap” Relief for OPT – H-1B Transitions

Some students may be eligible for an extension of OPT and F-1 status due to the new Cap Gap Relief rules. For more information please visit or call ISSS (website).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment option available to F-1 students where the practical training employment is considered to be an integral part of the curriculum or academic program.; According to the immigration regulations, this employment may be an internship, cooperative education job, a practicum, or any other work experience that is either required for your degree (as defined in the course catalog) or for which academic credit is awarded. CPT is an internship (not a long-term job) opportunity for F-1 students to put classroom theory into practice. CPT is granted for students who have maintained their status and is not an entitled benefit.

An F-1 student may be authorized by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at the Roukema Center for International Education to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Students who have received one year or more of full time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion academic training. A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to ISSS. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving his or her Form I-20 with the International Student Advisor’s endorsement.

CPT is approved as full or part-time (20 hours/week or less) and for a specific employer, place of employment, and time period. CPT can only be granted for up to one semester at a time and you must be registered for the internship or practicum class during the same semester in which CPT will be. Authorization dates for Curricular Practical Training are based on the academic calendar of Ramapo College. If you are engaged in CPT for academic credit during fall or spring semesters, the dates of employment are the same as the beginning and ending dates of the course. However, during the summer, students who register for a CPT internship course for the first summer session may be given authorization until the last day of the second summer session if their academic advisor deems the additional time to be necessary for project completion. You must request any changes (employer, location, hours/week) or new period of CPT prior to the changes taking place or before the new period of CPT will begin. If you are engaged in part-time CPT, you must continue to remain enrolled as a full-time student during normal enrollment periods. If you are engaged in full-time CPT, you may be enrolled for less than full-time but you cannot cease to be enrolled altogether during normal enrollment periods.

Examples of CPT include co-op programs, an internship or practicum, or a graduate student engaging in research that is directly related to the thesis or dissertation.

A note of caution:

While CIS regulations provide a variety of opportunities for you to be employed during your time in F-1 status, working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your status. You should therefore consult with ISSS staff before taking up any employment. It is your responsibility to comply with all CIS regulations, which apply to F-1 students. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students.

Please submit the following to the Office of International Students and Scholars Services and allow us 3-5 business days to process your CPT paperwork:

  1. 1. Academic Verification Form completed by your Major Academic Advisor or Professor.
  2. 2. A signed letter from Employer (on company’s letterhead) confirming job offer, job title, job description, beginning and ending dates, number of hours of work per week, exact location (address) of the job and the supervisor’s name and contact information.
  3. 3. CPT registration verification