Immigration Services

Here at the Center for Global Education (CGE), we understand that the information regarding student visas can be confusing or overwhelming at times. We are here to help. This page has information regarding visa status, employment, taxes, and post-program options. If you cannot find an answer to your questions here, please reach out to

Obtaining your visa

The I-20 form is used to obtain an F-1 visa and must be in the possession of the student at the time of entry into the U.S. To student must also pay the I-901 (SEVIS) fee prior to applying for the visa. To pay the I-901 fee, go to the U.S. Immigration and Customs website. This fee is currently $350. The I-20 form is dated for the period of time normally required to complete the specified program.

Students may enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start date of this form and may stay up to 60 days following the expiration date of the I-20, or 60 days following the expiration date on the EAD (Employment Authorization Document) for students engaging in Optional Practical Training.

Maintaining your F-1 visa

  • As an international student, you are responsible for maintaining your own visa status. You must be sure to adhere to all government guidelines. Please be aware that violation of federal regulations can result in the termination of your student visa status.
  • Your F-1 visa will be used to enter the United States. Once you are in the U.S. you may stay here past your visa expiration, as long as you are maintaining your F-1 status. However, you will not be able to leave the U.S. and return with an expired visa, even if your I-20 form is valid.
  • Always remain aware of your visa expiration date. Please follow these instructions to renew your visa.
  • Keep documents (I-20, passport, I-94 with d/s) valid at all times. You may visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to reprint a lost I-94 record.
  • Your international student advisor must sign your I-20 before any international travel. Please seek travel signatures at least 3 days prior to your travel. Travel signatures are valid for one calendar year.
  • Maintain a full course load: 12 credits per semester undergrad, 9 credits per semester for graduate students. Contact the Associate Director of International Student Services and Engagement before making any schedule changes that would drop you below full-time status.
  • U.S. law requires that international students must report any changes in name, address, or academic program (major, minor) to their international student advisor within 10 days of the change.


As an international student, you are generally not permitted to work off-campus. You may be employed on-campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week while courses are in session, and 40 hours per week during official school breaks.

*Government sponsored students may not work on-campus as mandated by their program.

You will need a social security number in order to begin work. If you have been offered a position on campus, please email for more information regarding obtaining a social security number. You may not begin work until you have received your social security number.

Unauthorized employment is a violation of program status. A student in violation of visa guidelines is subject to termination.

F-1 students may apply to Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) to engage in off campus work in some circumstances.  Before beginning any paid or unpaid work off-campus, F-1 students must obtain prior and specific work authorization from the Associate Director, International Student Services and Engagement and USCIS. Off-campus employment cannot begin without possession of the proper documents; a CPT authorized I-20 form or the OPT EAD card.  


If you are graduating from a bachelor’s or master’s program at North Central and have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year, you may apply for OPT no sooner than 90 days before and no later than 60 days after your program end date. OPT employment must be related to your major field of study and may last up to 12 months. In some cases, STEM students may apply for an OPT extension in which they may be employed an additional 12 months.

Applying for OPT costs $410 and must be done through SEVIS and with guidance from the Associate Director, International Student Services and Engagement. An OPT workshop will be held each semester. Any students interested in applying for OPT must attend this workshop and make an individual appointment with the Associate Director, International Student Services and Engagement to go over the application.


Allows eligible F-1 students to earn required course credit while completing an off-campus employment opportunity, such as an internship.

Enrollment in a required internship/elective course is mandatory for CPT authorization. The employment must be an integral part of an established curriculum and be directly related to the student’s major field of study.

CPT is not designed for long term, continuous employment. Please note that partaking in 12 months or more of CPT prohibits you from participating in OPT. 

Post Completion Options

  • J-1 students may remain in the United States for up to 30 days after their exchange program has come to an end. You may not work during this period and you cannot depart and reenter the country.
  • F-1 students may take up to 60 days after their program end date to depart the country. You may not work during this period and cannot depart and reenter the country.
  • F-1 students may also apply for another program at North Central or enroll in an academic program at another U.S. university.
  • F-1 students may work in their field of study, if authorized with OPT, as discussed above.

Additional Information

All international students are required to be insured with GeoBlue. This insurance must be maintained throughout the entire program participation period.

Remember to keep your passport valid for a minimum of 6 months into the future.

Click here to find more immigration resources.


Any international student present in the United States for any amount of time must file tax documents, even if you did not work.

A tax workshop is held every February of each year. 

CGE staff are not tax experts and cannot help you file your taxes. If you do not attend the tax workshop, you may use an online service to aid you in filing your tax documents.