Maintaining Visa Status

It is essential to be aware of the rights and responsibilities that accompany the F-1 Student visa status. Failure to adhere to these visa regulations, either due to lack of awareness or willful violation, will result in a termination of your student visa record. If the visa record is terminated, you will be required to depart the U.S. within or potentially be subject to removal proceedings. It is the responsibility of every international student to maintain their visa status. Students should be in continuous contact with the Office of International Education and reach out immediately with any questions or concerns.  

Regulations to Remember

The most important regulations to remember are the following.

  • You must maintain the validity of these three documents:

    • Passport;
    • I-94 form; and
    • I-20 form showing that they are authorized by USCIS to attend school in the United States
  • You must notify the OIE of any changes in: physical address, legal name, contact information (phone and email), and passport/visa renewal.
  • International students may work on campus (part time, up to 20 hours per week while school is in session). You cannot work off-campus in the United States during their first 12 months without special permission, which is given only by the USCIS and the OIE.
    • A Social Security number is required for employment. The identification number issued to students by the university is not a Social Security number; it is used internally for SCSU business only. Please do not present this university ID number to any outside agencies or employers as they will not accept it. If you need further information about obtaining a Social Security number after reviewing the information on this website, please contact the Office of International Education.
  • You must carry a full course load of study during your stay in the United States. If you need to deviate from full-time status, you must contact the OIE before dropping a class.
  • You must carry health insurance and comply with university health services requirements of a physical examination and proper immunization records.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorizes on-campus employment for F-1 students. You may only work on the campus of the school that issued the I-20, and the work may not exceed 20 hours per week when the University is in session and Full Time when the University is not in session (during spring break, summer session, etc.).

Practical Training

Practical Training is available to F-1 students who have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year. The employment for Practical Training must be in your field of study. There are two types of Practical Training, Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.

Curricular Practical Training

CPT is an alternate workstudy, an internship, cooperative education, or any type of required internship or practicum offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the University. Employment must be an integral part of an established curriculum.  F-1 students who engage in an aggregate of 12 months or more of full-time CPT become ineligible for OPT.

If you are interested in participating in CPT, you must complete the Cooperative Education Application before accepting a placement. This process, in collaboration with the Director of Cooperative Education and Career Services, will determine your eligibility to participate in CPT and will be used in determining which course you will be enrolled in.

The academic advisor must indicate to the OIE the reason for the CPT, specifying the dates, the location of the site, and the name of the company (Important Note: please contact Michael Schindel at (203) 392-5454.  All CPT authorization paperwork must be completed before the student begins the CPT employment.  If the student already engaged in a cumulative 12 month- or longer full-time CPT, he or she will become ineligible for OPT.)

Important: Engaging in CPT employment without the approval of the Office of International Education is a violation of F-1 status.


Cooperative Education Application

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is a period of authorized temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student's major area of study and commensurate with the student's educational level. 

You become eligible for an additional 12 months of practical training if and when you advance to a higher educational level. OPT may be granted for a total of up to 12 months per degree level. Thus, a student may be eligible for OPT associated with their Bachelor's degree, another OPT associated with their Master's degree, and another OPT associated with their PhD degree.  For those students majoring in specific STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors with designated CIP codes by the Department of Homeland Security, there can be an additional 17 months of OPT beyond the initial 12 months if all eligibility qualifications for a STEM extension are met. 

For more detailed information on OPT STEM extension, please refer to the F-1 OPT 17-Month Extension FAQ. This 17-month rule can only be applied once, not for each degree level, as is the case with the initial 12-month OPT.

There are two types of OPT :

  • Pre-completion OPT
  • Post-completion OPT

A job offer is not required at the time of OPT application as long as the employment is in your field of study.  All OPT applications must be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Check the USCIS website for information regarding the current processing time.  You may NOT begin OPT until an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) has been received from USCIS.


  • OPT automatically terminates when the student transfers to another academic institution or begins to study full time at another educational level.
  • Students who are enrolled in an English Language Training (ESL) program are not eligible for practical training.


OPT Checklist


For any additional questions about OPT not addressed on this website, please contact us.

There are some strict regulations international students keep in mind prior to entering the United States.

  • First, you may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the program start date on the I-20.
  • Second, SCSU requires certain immunizations prior to attending classes. Please visit the Granoff Student Health Services website for additional information. This information must be submitted to health services prior to beginning your degree program. You may submit your vaccination history using the health services form.
  • Finally, you MUST possess the following documents prior to traveling to the U.S.:
    1. Valid Passport
    2. Valid U.S. Visa
    3. I-20
    4. Original and current financial statements 

If you must bring medication, it should be in its original container(s), and you should bring a copy of the prescription(s) with you. In addition, you should keep copies of all original documents listed above, as well as required prescriptions, personal identification cards, and credit cards. Copies are best kept in a separate location from the originals in the event the originals are lost or stolen.

Upon arrival, all students must attend the mandatory international student orientation held by the OIE. You will be notified by email of the date, time, and location after admission to the university.

After Arriving in the United States, please remember the following:

If you decide to travel outside the United States during your time on an F-1 student visa, you will need to receive a travel signature from the OIE before you depart.

Before re-entering the U.S., you will need to show: a valid I-20 with a travel signature, a valid passport, and a valid student visa. If you do not, you may be asked to wait in deferred inspections or not permitted to enter the country.

Please make an appointment with the Office of International Education at least two weeks prior to any trip outside the country to receive a travel signature.

An F-1 student who is unable to complete a full course of study in a timely manner must apply for a program extension at least thirty (30) days prior to the expiration date listed on the student's I-20.  The student's academic advisor must indicate the reason for the extension on the Study Deviation Form.

Academic probation, academic suspension, and financial difficulties are not acceptable reasons for requesting a program extension.

An F-1 student who is compelled to request an extension by reason of an illness or a medical condition which interrupts their full-time enrollment will need to contact the Office of International Education to request an extension before dropping below a full-time course of study.

Study Deviation Form