Returning Students

It is extremely important as an F-1 student to maintain your status while in the U.S. Failure to maintain the regulation of your F-1 student status will lead to an interruption of your studies or loss of your current immigration status and/or having to return to your home country prior to the completion of your studies. 

Federal regulations require all non-immigrant international (F-1 visa) students to maintain lawful status while in the U.S. Below are the students’ responsibilities for compliance with federal laws and regulations: 

  • Enroll at the school that issued your current Form I-20 
  • Attend school FULL-TIME (with a minimum of 12 credits, at least 9 credits should be face to face classes)
  • Inform the ISSO prior to a leave of absence or termination of study at OCC 
  • Obtain approval from ISSO prior to dropping below Full-Time (12 credits) 
  • Consult with the ISSO about any obstacles in completing your academic program 
  • Update the ISSO about any name changes for you or your dependents within 10 days
  • Update the ISSO of any local and permanent address changes for you or your dependents within 10 days 
  • Update the ISSO of any passport changes for you or your dependents within 10 days
  • Notify the ISSO of your graduation date prior to the program end date on your I-20 
  • Meet with an ISSO Advisor prior to accepting any form of employment
  • Limit employment to a total (all jobs) of 20 hours per week while school is in session (you need to speak with the ISSO if you are interested in on or off-campus jobs)
  • Receive Authorization for ANY and ALL Off-Campus Employment 
  • Submit your request for employment in Academic or Practical Training at least two months prior to completion of study 
  • Request an extension of your I-20 30 days prior to its expiration date 
  • Make Satisfactory Academic Progress (see OCC college catalog) 
  • Before transferring to another school, you must follow IMMIGRATION TRANSFER REGULATIONS by notifying your current school and following your new school’s procedures 
  • Have an UNEXPIRED passport and I-20 at all time.     

Employment Options

Work on Campus

All F-1 students are eligible to work on campus for 20 hours per week during the academic year and full time during school and the summer breaks. You do not need to apply to for work permission from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once you find a job on campus, you need to complete several forms with the International Student Services and Human Resources Office. Therefore, you are eligible to apply for a social security number as well. For Further questions, please contact the International Student Services Office.  More info at HTTP://WWW.ICE.GOV/SEVIS/EMPLOYMENT/FAQ_F_ON1.HTM

Practical Training

Practical Training is one of the benefits of F-1 status and offers the opportunity to F-1 students to gain work experience towards their study.  To be eligible fo practical training you need to be enrolled full time for at least one full academic year and the job you do must directly relate to your major of study.  More info at HTTP://WWW.ICE.GOV/SEVIS/PRACTICAL-TRAINING/

Curricular Practical Training 

CPT is employment pursuant to an internship requirement or internship elective which is an integral part of the established curriculum at OCC, which will be counted towards completion of your degree. CPT work must be part-time (less than 21 hours per week) during the academic year and full time during school breaks. If you engage in FULL-TIME CPT for 12 MONTHS OR MORE, you will lose your Optional Practical Training (OPT) benefit when you graduate. Please visit the ISSO if you are interested in applying for Curricular Practical Training.

Optional Practical Training 

OPT is employment related to your field of study before or after your completion of all degree requirements. This employment must be authorized by USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services). OPT is permitted for a period of up to a maximum of 12 months per educational level. There are many rules and strict application deadline for the application, so it is very important to notify the ISSO about your decision at least 45 days before your graduation date. Please visit the ISSO if you are interested in applying for Optional Practical Training.Form I765 & Instruction: 

Economic Hardship 

Economic Hardship is the employment authorized by the USCIS. It will allow you to work part-time (less than 21 hours) during school session or full-time during school breaks when only in cases of severe economic hardship occurring during your enrollment in an academic program or in emergent circumstances defined by Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Emergent circumstances are established when a world event impacts a group of non-immigrants and the Secretary of DHS publishes a special notice in the Federal Register to grant special relief to the group. If you think you may be eligible to apply for Economic Hardship, please contact the ISSO for detailed information. A recommendation for severe economic hardship is granted on a case by case basis by the ISSO and the academic department.   


If you plan to travel abroad during school session, please notify the ISSO about your returning date. When traveling during school vacations, please make sure to bring the following documents with you:  
  • Valid Passport (at least valid for 6 months)
  • Valid visa to the country other than your own. Embassies in the U.S. can be found at: 
  •  Valid I-20 form with accurate program start and end dates.
  • Valid Travel Signature. You will need a 12 months valid travel signature on the 3rd page of your I-20. For OPT and CPT students, you need a 6 months Valid Travel Signature.
  • All Previous I-20s. Carry all of your I-20s with you when you travel. The Immigration Official at the port of entry may want to see your F-1 history. This is particularly important if you have transferred from one school to another, changed program levels, or extended your I-20. Please remember it is very important to keep all your I-20s.
  • Valid F-1 Visa. Make sure your F-1 visa is valid. If your visa has expired or all entries have been used then you will need to apply for a new visa while you are abroad.  

For more information about F-1 students traveling abroad, please visit: 

Please remember to bring your new immigration documents to our office after you return from abroad, as we need to keep copies of them in your file.  Travel inside the U.S: We strongly recommend you to bring at least a set copy of each of the above documents with you. Transferring out F-1 Students, please do not use OCC’s I-20 to come back in the U.S. You must use your new I-20 issued by your new school to return to the U. S.  We will be happy to help you examine your travel documents before you depart. Please feel free to contact us at 498-7216, and give us notice at least two days in advance.  

New Rules about I-94:
From spring 2013, the CBP has stopped issuing I-94 when you enter the U.S. If you want a hard copy of the I-94, please visit:, where you can print a copy of an I-94 based on the electronically submitted data. Please remember to submit a copy of your new I-94 to the ISSO as well. 

Social Security Number

As of October 2004, F-1 students are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) for tax purposes. Which means you must have an eligible on/off campus job offer. 

A friendly reminder: All F-1 students are not eligible for federal work-study programs. 

Steps for obtaining a Social Security Number: 

  1. Look for a job on-campus. Employment sources are listed below:   
  2. Pick up an On-campus Employment Authorization Form from the International Student Office (C-202), when you have an on-campus job offer.
    • Note: The form must be copied on the official letter headed stationary of the employment office and filled in with blue ink
  3. After you and your employer filled out the authorization form, bring it back to the International Student Services Office. The ISSO will endorse your employment and give you further Social Security application instructions.  

Social Security Number Application Form:  


Even if you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, all F-1 students are still required by the Internal Revenue Service to file a U.S. federal income tax form for each year you were present in the U.S. The deadline for filing (except in certain circumstances) is April 15th each year. Even if you have had no income in previous year, you are still required to file an IRS form 8843; the deadline to file is June 15th. Dependents in F-2 status must also file a Form 8843. 

There are a number of things to be aware of as you prepare to file a tax return: 

  • It is a legal requirement that you submit a return. Not filing a return may have a negative impact on your future immigration and employment situation in the U.S. 
  • The tax laws and explanatory materials are quite complex, but most non-resident (non-immigrant) returns are fairly straightforward in nature. 
  • You should keep a permanent record of all materials and applications involved in a tax return.  

For legal reasons, the International Student Services Office can only provide you with general guidance and information. We CANNOT help you complete or verify the accuracy of your tax return.  Where to Mail your Tax Forms:
Federal Tax Forms State Tax Forms
If filing 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ, or 8843:
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX

73301-0215 State Processing Center
PO Box 61000
Albany, NY

If filing other federal tax forms: Consult form instructions, a tax professional, or access:

For specific tax questions, please visit the following web site:,,id=96431,00.html
You can download IRS forms at:,,id=97817,00.html  

Driver’s License

By New York state law, a valid driver’s license from another nation is also valid in New York State. Unless you become a NYS resident, you are not required to apply for a NYS driver’s license if you already have one from your home country. (

If you do need to apply for a NYS driver’s license, here is the procedure: 

  1. Complete an Application For Driver License Or ID Card MV-44, at the DMV office or the NYS DMV website: 
  2. Provide Proof for Items Necessary to Satisfy NYS Motor Vehicle’s 6-Point System such as (All documents must be originals or certified copies):
    • Passport
    • Visa
    • I-94
    • Social Security Number (with signature) or “Letter of Ineligibility” from the Social Security Administration
    • I-20 (original I-20s which with the U.S. Port of Entry Stamp and current I-20 which indicates you are continuing to attend OCC, you can request it from the ISSO)
    • Your personal bank statement
    • OCC student ID 
    • Your current academic schedule
    • Enrollment verification letter (you can request it from the Student Central)
    • A utility bill issued in the US.—water, gas, electric or “land telephone” bill issued in your name 
    • an ATM card, a valid major U.S. credit card or a debit card (which displays your pre-printed name and your signature) 
  3. go to a local DMV to take the Driver’s writing test: 
  4. Visit the Motor Vehicle Website for locations and hours: 
  5. After passing the written exam, practice your driving skills, then you can set up an appointment at the DMV for a road test.