F-1 & J-1 Visas
If you will be coming into DePauw University as an international student, you will most likely need to study in the US on an F-1 (4-year) or J-1 (exchange) visa.
While there are many regulations to keep in mind, here are a few basics of the F-1 and J-1 visas.
Visa Guidance from the US Government
The primary website where the US government posts information for international students is called Study in the States. Please visit this website to educate yourself about the visa application process and what you must do once you are inside the United States to maintain valid F-1 Degree-seeking Student immigration status or J-1 Exchange Student immigration status.
It is your responsibility to learn about the requirements to apply for a visa and actively maintain the immigration category for your academic program in the United States. ISA staff will help you understand your immigration requirements and provide important support throughout your four years at DePauw.
Financial documents: All international students must provide proof of financial support in order to complete their application and be considered for admission to DePauw. Refer to the Admissions website for more, detailed information about what documentation to provide.
I-20: The I-20 is the student immigration document that you will receive post admission in order to receive your F-1 visa. After receiving your I-20 Certificate of Eligibility, read through the entire document carefully, and then sign and date on Page 1. By signing your immigration document, you agree to comply with all the terms and conditions listed there.
DS-2019: The DS-2019 is the student immigration document that you will receive post admission in order to receive your J-1 visa. After receiving your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility, read through the entire document carefully, and then sign and date on Page 1. By signing your immigration document, you agree to comply with all the terms and conditions listed there.
I-901 SEVIS Fee: All new students are required to pay a SEVIS I-901 fee before scheduling a visa interview at a US Consulate or Embassy in their home country. Several payment options are available. The most convenient one is to pay online by using a credit card. Once you have paid the SEVIS fee, make an appointment for a visa interview as soon as possible at the US Embassy or Consulate nearest to you. Visa processing times vary widely depending on the embassy or consulate, so please visit the US Department of State website to learn about the application process at your US Consulate or Embassy. Begin preparation of the required materials as early as possible in order to ensure a timely arrival to campus.
When entering the US, you will be required to present the payment receipt for the SEVIS I-901 fee to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official, in addition to your passport and I-20 Certificate of Eligibility (for F-1 Degree-seeking Students) or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility (for J-1 exchange students). Therefore, make sure that you carry these three documents with you. Do not pack these documents in your checked luggage.
Visa: You will need to take the following documents to your visa interview. Each US Embassy or Consulate may require that you provide additional documents, so check your US Embassy’s or Consulate’s website to confirm exactly which documents it will require. Usually, the following documents are required to apply for a student visa:
I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility student immigration document
Passport valid for at least six months from the day of your interview
Letter of admission from DePauw University
SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
When the visa is granted, it is stamped onto the passport.
Passport – This document will be provided by your home country. Please make sure to have a valid passport at all times.
I-94: This is a form used by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to keep track of the arrival and departure to/from the U.S. of people who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Upon your admission to the United States at a port of entry, you will be issued a Form I-94. International students who enter the country at an air or sea port of entry are issued an electronic form, while those who enter the country at a land port of entry are issued a paper Form I-94. You may locate your recent I-94 on the CBP I-94 website.
Every student is responsible for keeping their most recent immigration documents safe and unexpired at all times. These include I-20/DS 2019, I-94, Employment Authorization Card.
Expired immigration documents shall be kept safe as they will be valuable supporting documents in a number of immigration applications.
Maintaining Valid Immigration Status
Maintaining immigration status according to the Department of Homeland Security is fulfilling the purpose of your visa and following the regulations associated with that purpose. For F1 degree-seeking students and J-1 visiting students this purpose is studying. To maintain status:
- Know Your Responsibility: It is the visa holder's (i.e. the student’s) responsibility to be informed of and follow the immigration rules of their visa type and to maintain status. Failure to maintain status can have serious negative and lasting consequences.
- Know SEVIS/Student Immigration Records are Permanent: SEVIS (student) immigration files are permanent. Immigration officials making decisions about issuing visas and admissibility at the US border have full access to these student immigration records.
- Read all ISA communications for Immigration Updates: Read all ISA email communication (e.g., emails from firstname.lastname@example.org, emails from ISA staff, ISA Weekly Newsletter). These communications often include important immigration information vital for maintaining status.
- Follow the Regulations: Students must follow the government regulations for their respective visa type as well as well as school policies (academic, student conduct, etc.)
Actions Students Must Take to Maintain Status
AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR PROGRAM:
- At the Beginning of your Academic Program, you should enter the US no more than 30 days prior to the program start date listed on your I-20/DS-2019;
- You should confirm your arrival and check-in with the Housing Office (email@example.com);
- You should confirm your arrival in the US with the ISA office immediately (firstname.lastname@example.org).
DURING YOUR PROGRAM:
- Enroll each fall and spring term full time (at least three credits)
- Attend all classes and demonstrate satisfactory academic progress toward your degree
- If school is too difficult or if you need to drop a class, discuss it with ISA staff (or another Designated School Official, "DSO") before you make class adjustments and submit any necessary paperwork to do so.
- If you plan to declare or change your major, notify ISA at email@example.com
- If you change your legal name or address, notify ISA within 10 days
- If you want to take advantage of an internship or training experience, discuss the procedure with ISA and follow all rules to pursue any internship or training.
- Work only after acquiring proper authorization and retain evidence of any authorized employment for your records
- Make sure that your I-20/DS-2019 has not expired
- Ensure you have a valid travel endorsement in your I-20/DS-2019 before any international travel
- Ensure you have a valid passport
- File US taxes and/or submit required forms to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Indiana Department of State for each calendar year within the duration of your program.
- If you want to take a leave from school, follow the appropriate school procedure and consult ISA on the appropriate immigration procedure
- Consult with ISA if you want to extend or shorten your program (e.g. graduate early or graduate late)
AFTER YOUR PROGRAM
- Prepare to leave the US within the mandated preparation for departure period, according to your reason for leaving (e.g. completion of program, authorized early withdrawal)
- Apply for OPT within the statutory deadline
- Transfer your SEVIS record if you are accepted to graduate school
Violation of Status
Any failure to maintain status constitutes violation of status.
If you do not maintain status, it is a very serious matter and needs to be addressed in a timely manner. Contact the ISA Office to discuss your options and the regulations. You can also contact an immigration lawyer for professional advice.
If the ISA Office establishes that you are in violation of status due to willful or negligent failure to act or comply with regulations, immigration regulations require Designated School Officials (DSOs) to terminate your SEVIS record.
Violation of status could also result in accrual of unlawful presence and serious lasting immigration consequences including, but not limited to temporary or permanent bar to re-enter the USA.
Examples of violations of status are:
- dropping below full-time enrollment without following the immigration procedure;
- changing majors without notifying ISA;
- unauthorized work/employment;
- violation of university policy that results in failure to enroll in the next term;
- failure to report OPT employment;
- unauthorized withdrawal from classes;
- and otherwise failing to maintain status.
Accrual of Unlawful Presence
Any violation of status could result in an accrual of unlawful presence.
F-1 and J-1 students who fail to maintain status begin to accrue unlawful presence when:
- Student no longer pursues the course of study or the authorized activity, or the day after the student engages in the unauthorized activity;
- The day after completing the course of study or program;
- The day after the I-94 expires, if the student was admitted for a date certain;
- The day after an immigration judge orders the student excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).
When certain thresholds of unlawful presence are reached, the student generally cannot obtain a new US visa, cannot enter the USA at a port of entry, or obtain an immigration benefit (e.g., adjustment of status) without first obtaining a waiver or another form of relief.
Accumulation of unlawful presence is a very serious matter and in cases of such students are encouraged to consult an experienced immigration attorney.
Permission to Travel
If you are planning to travel outside of the US, you will need to make sure that you demonstrate you have permission to travel by getting a valid travel signature on the second page of your I-20 or the first page of your DS-2019. The travel signature is valid for one calendar year or at the end of your program, whichever comes first.
If you are on OPT, the travel signature will only be valid for 6 months at a time.
For more information on how to receive a new signature, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure to keep all previous signed immigration documents for record keeping.
Leave of Absence
A student in good academic and social standing may be granted a Leave of Absence for up to two semesters.
Students must fill out the appropriate ISA paperwork and consult with ISA prior to pursuing a Leave of Absence, in addition to pursuing the process required of all students.
Students should refer to the Student Affairs Leave of Absence information for the full guidance.
Returning from Leave of Absence
It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Office of the Registrar of their intent to return as well as International Student Affairs (ISA).
Steps to Retuning from a Leave of Absence
- Complete the Leave of Absence Return form at least one month prior to the term of intended return. It is to the student’s advantage to complete the process prior to registration for that term. As the form must be received before the student may register or arrange for University housing. The form is available on the Web and in the Office of the Registrar (email@example.com).
- The Registrar, in consultation with the Vice President of Student Academic Life or designee, processes the form and notifies the student that they are approved to return. The student must have met all financial obligations to the University before returning. The student is held to the same behavioral standards as current students while on a leave of absence.
- Reach out to International Student Affairs to complete all necessary immigration procedures prior to travel and arrival to DePauw
- Submit an official transcript if you have studied elsewhere and the Dean of Students Recommendation (form available from the Registrar’s office) are required prior to taking formal action.
- The Office of the Registrar notifies the student and campus offices of the returning student. Information services/Registrar’s office changes the student’s status to ‘L’.
The student contacts:
- Their advisor for the RAC number for registration
- Housing and Residence Life Office or the president of their fraternity/sorority for housing arrangements
- The financial aid and loan offices, if appropriate*
- The Payment Services Office. Any unpaid balance due on the student's account must be resolved before their return to DePauw University.
If the student decides not to return to DePauw, they need to notify the Student Affairs Office. If nothing is heard from the student by the beginning of the semester of intended return, the student’s status will be changed to a regular withdrawal.
International students can take advantage of a variety of employment opportunities, but they must work closely with International Student Affairs to ensure that they always comply with US Department of Homeland Security regulations.
Failure to follow these important rules can lead to serious consequences, such as fines, ineligibility for future visas or deportation. All employment must always be approved in advance by International Student Affairs staff before students begin any internship or employment (even if the student will not be paid or will only receive academic credit for the internship).
On Campus Employment:
International students in F-1 Degree-seeking or J-1 Exchange status are eligible to work up to 20 hours per week on DePauw’s campus when classes are in session as early as the first semester on campus.
During official break periods, students are allowed to work full-time (40 hours per week) on campus. Students should discuss any new on-campus employment opportunities with International Student Affairs to ensure that all work is authorized.
Common on-campus employment opportunities include: Academic Resource Center tutor positions, departmental tutor positions, International Student Ambassadors, First Year Mentors, Resident Assistants (RAs), Intercultural Conversation Facilitators (ICCF), Modern Languages tutors, DePauw School of Music, Dining Services, DePauw's Bookstore "Eli's Books", the Phonathon, the Information Technology Associates (ITAP) Program, and DePauw's HelpDesk.
Please note: Students are not permitted to work at Starbucks, The Inn at DePauw, The Fluttering Duck or 2 West Bistro, as these do not count as "on-campus" employers. International students are not authorized to work at local establishments in Greencastle, such as restaurants or shops, as these experiences do not provide training in their field of study.
We suggest that students apply for skills-based or student leader positions in their first or second year at DePauw in order to gain valuable professional and leadership experience and to build their resume.
Internships for F-1 Students
Curricular Practical Training:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment authorization that allows eligible F-1 degree-seeking international students to engage in off-campus work/study or internship. In other words, it allows you to accept off-campus employment as part of the curriculum of your degree program. CPT must be directly related to your major area of study.
Students must apply for CPT authorization through DePauw’s International Student Affairs online CPT form. Once the application is approved, ISA staff will provide students with a new I-20 Certificate of Eligibility immigration document. Students must receive the new, original I-20 authorizing them for CPT before they can begin working, even if the internship is only for academic credit (unpaid, but academic credit will be earned). Students can only work on the specific dates and in the specific locations authorized for CP, which are listed on page 2 of your I-20
Working without CPT authorization can result in the termination of the student’s academic program and departure from the United States.
To be eligible for CPT, a student must:
- Have completed one full academic year of study in legal F-1 status,
- Be enrolled at DePauw
- During the fall or spring term as a full-time student (3.0 credits), unless it is the final semester of study,
- During Winter, May, or Summer for 0 credit Extended Studies
- Be in good academic standing
- Must have declared a major,
- Have secured an opportunity (internship/practicum) that is integral to or required by the student’s academic program
- Have a signature from a major advisor (related to the major) confirming the opportunity is an integral part of the student’s major area of study.
The dates of the internship/practicum and the CPT authorization must fall within the dates of the internship course (if applicable). Exceptions are possible only within clear, academically based parameters and require prior approval from the major department and International Student Affairs. In addition, CPT dates may not extend into an adjoining semester without additional enrollment for an Extended Studies course in that semester. If a student wants to make changes with their CPT (for example, internship dates) they have to submit a new CPT request. CPT authorization cannot be backdated. Please make sure your CPT work dates are in the future.
F-1 students who have used more than 11 months of full-time CPT during their undergraduate degree program at DePauw will not be eligible for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation.
Volunteering vs. CPT
International students are permitted to volunteer in the United States without special authorization from DePauw. When students receive any form of compensation (academic credit, pay, stipend, housing, meals, transportation, scholarship/grant funds, etc.) in exchange for their work in an internship or practicum, this qualifies as employment and requires CPT authorization.
CPT During the Semester
When classes are in session during the fall or spring semesters, CPT can only be authorized when the internship or practicum is either required for an academic program or is an established option for course credit. Students must be approved in advance for any off-campus employment for which they receive academic credit, pay, or other forms of compensation (such as free housing, meals, etc.). Students authorized for CPT while classes are in session are allowed to work no more than 20 hours a week (part-time).
CPT During Break Periods
Eligible students may apply for either part-time (up to 20 hours per week) or full-time (21 or more hours per week) CPT during official University break periods, including Winter Term and Summer Break. In addition to the CPT application documents, students requesting CPT during break periods must submit documentation that they have been approved to engage in DePauw’s Extended Studies Internship non-credit) program.
Part time and full time CPT
Part-time CPT: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. You must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time and be physically present on campus in order to maintain lawful F-1 status during fall and spring terms.
Full-time CPT: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is full-time. Students are limited to part-time CPT (20 hours or less per week) when classes are in session. Students can work full time during breaks. If a student will also hold on-campus employment while pursuing part-time CPT, the total combined hours cannot exceed 20 hours per week.
Required Steps to Apply for CPT
- Submit your internship for Extended Studies on Handshake and receive a confirmation of enrollment email from the Registrar's Office
- Submit a CPT authorization application that also includes the following information:
- The name of your major advisor that is aligned with the internship position
- An offer letter with the company letterhead from your internship host that includes the following information (template sample letter here):
- Your name as it appears on your SEVIS record
- The internship title and brief description
- Start and end dates of the internship
- Number of hours worked per week
- If the internship is paid, and if so, how much
- The address of where you internship will take place
- The name and contact information of your direct supervisor
- The name of the company where the internship will take place.
- A letter from the Registrar confirming you are enrolled in Extended Studies for the duration of the internship
- After you have submitted the CPT application, an email will be sent to your major advisor, asking for their electronic signature.
You may not begin work until you have received an updated I-20 and CPT authorization from me. Keep in mind you are limited to up to 12 months of full time CPT over the duration of your undergraduate program. 12 months or more of full-time CPT will eliminate your eligibility for OPT.
Optional Practical Training (OPT):
Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a post-graduate opportunity for F-1 Students to put theory into practice, develop professional skills and build their networks in the United States. OPT is initially granted for a period of 12 months and allows students to work in one or more positions related to their major field of study. OPT also serves as a valuable gap year when students can transition to graduate school or to an H-1B work visa. Visit our OPT webpage to learn more about OPT and how to apply.
OPT STEM Extension:
Students with qualifying Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) majors may be eligible to extend the initial period of Optional Practical Training (OPT). The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently expanded OPT regulations to provide the opportunity for STEM students to apply for up to two, 24-month STEM extensions per lifetime. This new rule takes effect on May 10, 2016. Visit our OPT STEM Extension webpage to learn more about eligibility and application requirements.
DePauw graduates currently on OPT STEM Extension should use the Report OPT Updates online form to notify International Student Affairs within 10 days of any change in employment, address or contact information. (Coming soon.)
Internships for J-1 Students
The US Department of Homeland Security allows sponsoring universities to authorize J-1 degree-seeking and non-degree seeking students to engage in off-campus Academic Training, which is practical training (employment, internship, practicum, etc.) related to J-1 Students’ field of study. Eligible students can use Academic Training either during the academic exchange program (while classes are in session or during official break periods) or upon completion of the academic program. Apply here.
Applying for the US Study Visa
Students can refer to the "Applying for a US Study Visa" page for expanded guidance.