This section guides you what are your rights and responsibilities as a non-immigrant visa holder. Also, SUNY Oswego provides various services which benefit international students academically, professionally and medically. Click each section to be better informed and to take advantage of available services. 

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Resources for Current International Students

1. My F-1 student visa is expiring, what should I do?

First of all, please keep in mind that you can remain in the United States with an expired F-1 visa as long as you maintain your student status. Please review this resource. However, if you are returning to your home country or traveling to a country where automatic revalidation does not apply, you must have a valid F-1 student visa to return to the United States. We strongly suggest applying for a new F-1 visa at the United States Embassy in your home country of residence.

Here are some of the documents that you should bring with you to your F-1 visa interview to obtain a new visa:

  • A valid Form I-20 from SUNY Oswego with a recent travel signature on page 2 (If the last signature under the Travel Endorsement was done less than a year ago, you should reach out to us at isss@oswego.edu
  • Any previously-issued I-20s
  • An unexpired passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
  • Recent financial documents showing evidence of continued financial ability
  • Receipt of your I-901 SEVIS fee payment
  • Your student transcript (found in myOswego)
  • Your certificate of enrollment verification
  • Visa application form, fees, and photographs (consult the instructions of your local U.S. Embassy website)
  • Copies of EAD card if you are participating in the Optional Practical Training (OPT). 

If you have any questions regarding the visa application process, don't hesitate to reach out to us at isss@oswego.edu.

2. I would like to visit Canada, what documents should I bring?

First, review the Canadian government's website to determine if you need a visa in order to enter Canada: Find out if you need a visa to travel to Canada.

Then, please review this website thoroughly for the latest information about COVID-19 requirements for travelling to Canada. You should take care to upload your COVID-19 vaccination details and negative COVID-19 PCR test results to the ArriveCAN system and carry your receipt of upload, your pre-arrival test results, and proof of vaccination with you when you cross the border. 

Finally, review 7. For students who are planning to travel internationally for a list of documents you need to bring to re-enter the United States.

3. How can I apply for a Social Security Number?

The steps to obtain your Social Security Number (SSN) can be found here. As you can see in the resource, the first step for you to take is:

  • Obtain an employment verification letter from your on-campus employer. This document should outline the on-campus employer that has hired you, along with when you will begin work, how many hours you are expected to work per week, and what your position is with this employer. Scan this letter and send it to the ISSS Office at isss@oswego.edu
  • You will then receive another employment verification letter from the ISSS Office as well as instructions to make an appointment with the local Social Security Administration (SSA).
  • Bring all the required documents (which you will be instructed via email) to the appointment with SSA

Please note that you can start working without a Social Security Number (SSN), but you cannot receive payment until you have received your SSN. If you are a new student, please allow 2 weeks from the semester start date before you go to SSA to ensure that your SEVIS record is in Active Status.

4. How can I get a Driver's License in the United States?

How to apply for Driver's License summarizes the information from the Driving in New York State by dmv.ny.gov. The Driver's License Application Process on the Study in the States website outlines the process and documents required to obtain a driver's license in the United States. When international students apply for a driver's license at their local Department of Motor Vehicles Office, they should bring original copies of the following documents. 

Additionally, when you look at Form ID-44 which is an application for Driver License in New York, you need to provide the following documents:

  • Proof of citizenship: You can find all acceptable proofs on form ID-44.
  • Proof of lawful status: You can find all acceptable proofs on form ID-44.
  • Proof of date of birth: You can find all acceptable proofs on form ID-44.

If you are a new student, please allow 2 weeks from the semester start date before you go to the local Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure that your SEVIS record is in Active Status.

5. What to do when I am sick or have medical emergency?

Students can download the summarized insurance coverage. Please review this document that will guide you on the following topics:

  • How to log into UHCSR
  • How to search for a doctor/medical services in-network 
  • What information you should provide the provider
  • What to do if I receive bills
6. How to retrieve I-94 arrival/departure record

Please review this document that will guide you how to retrieve I-94 arrival/departure record.

7. For students who are planning to travel internationally

First, please check the latest CDC guidelines and requirements for travel. Here are some helpful web pages for your information.

  1. Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19
  2. Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers
  3. Requirement for Face Masks on Public Transportation Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs

Here are the documents you need to bring to re-enter the United States:

Canadian students

The official U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Canada online webpage says "Canadian citizens do not need visas to study or participate in an exchange program in the U.S. ... When crossing the border to begin their study or exchange program in the United States, the student will need to provide the Officer at the port of entry:

  • A Canadian passport;
  • The original I-20 (or DS-2019) certificate; Make sure you have a valid Travel Endorsement - this is a signature from the International Student and Scholar Services Office in the Travel Endorsement section of your document (located on page 2 of the I-20, or on the bottom half of the DS-2019). A Travel Endorsement signature is only valid for 365 days (or 6 months if a student is on OPT), so be sure to complete the Form I-20/DS-2019 Request Form at least 3 days before your trip if you need a recent signature.
  • Proof that the SEVIS fee has been paid;
  • Proof of ability to pay school fees and living expenses in the United States; and
  • Proof of ties to Canada.

OPT students

Students on Optional Practical Training who plan to travel abroad will need to bring additional documentation (such as proof of employment and their Employment Authorization Document) with them when reentering the United States; students on OPT should contact the ISSS Office well in advance when planning for international travel.  

  • Unexpired passport valid until at least 6 months into the future
  • Unexpired I-20 with valid travel endorsement signature. The signature on page 2 must be less than 6 months old on the date you return. Be sure to complete the Form I-20 Request Form well in advance of your trip if you need a recent signature. 
  • Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)
  • Form I-94
  • A letter from your employer confirming employment and mentioning that you will be returning to the United States to resume employment
  • A copy of a few most recent paystubs
  • SEVIS I-901 fee, if you have
  • Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination status
  • Proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test if travelling by air

Students are encouraged to review the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website for more details regarding international travel. Please notify us at isss@oswego.edu when you plan to travel internationally to make sure you are aware of any travel restrictions and to obtain a Travel Endorsement signature on your Form I-20 or DS-2019, if necessary. 

Immigration Rights and Responsibilities

Medical Insurance

As an international student or scholar, your health insurance is provided by UnitedHealth Student Resources. You can access your account and obtain your health insurance card by downloading the UHCSR app. The app is available for android user, as well as iPhones users. A hard copy of insurance card can be also printed and downloaded.

Medical insurance and a completed SUNY Health Form are mandatory for international students and scholars attending SUNY Oswego.

  1. The State University of New York Medical Insurance Plan is mandatory for all F and J visa students and scholars attending SUNY Oswego. Exceptions apply only to those scholars and students officially sponsored, covered, and thoroughly documented by a national government or international agency.
  2. As long as a student or scholar remains in the USA on SUNY Oswego's F or J visa, medical insurance will be required.
  3. Students who do not have appropriate medical insurance prior to the start of classes may have their course registration blocked or cancelled. Subsequent registrations may also be blocked or cancelled unless students can show the appropriate and necessary coverage for any continuing semesters.

While you can download the summarized insurance coverage, we made some key points about the medical insurance fee and its coverage.

  1. The State University of New York Medical Insurance Plan is comprehensive, and it provides unlimited coverage. Insurance holder only pays a cerntain amount of money per year except the prescription in any circumstances. This includes ambulance services, vaccines, emergency visits, GYN visits and preventitive cares. Please note that dental and vision will be covered only when under the age of 19 and accidental. 
  2. You can get Telehealth services through UnitedHealthcare which means you can speak to the representative with your own native language about your mental health. 
  3. As long as the dates are within coverage dates, you will be covered anywhere globally.

If you can find comparable insurance coverage that is also ACA approved, you may apply for a waiver. You can download the waiver form. Please do not purchase the insurance before applying for the waiver, because there are lots of scams. If you have any questions on this matter, please contact amy.wallace@oswego.edu.

Are you looking for a primary care physician in and around the Oswego area? Review the list from UnitedHealthcare Student Resources for participating primary care physicians accepting patients within a 20-mile radius of Oswego.

(J visa) Maintaining Status

As an exchange student, your primary purpose for being in the United States is to pursue your course of study as a full time student, so you have the responsibility of ensuring that you maintain your status as a J- 1 student. Click here to learn more about Exchange Visitor's Rights & Protections. Failure to comply with the requirements is a violation of your J-1 status which may result in serious consequences, including termination of your student status and deportation. You must comply with the following requirements:

  • Your passport must be valid at all times.
  • You must be a full time student and make normal progress in your courses. If you are an undergraduate student you must be registered for a minimum of 12 credit hours during the semester. As a graduate student you must be registered for a minimum of 9 credit hours. You can register into only one online course to meet your minimum credit requirements.
  • You must ensure that the travel signature on the front page  of your DS-2019 is valid or signed each semester.
  • You must not work off- campus without employment authorization on your DS-2019.
  • You must notify the ISSS office of your change of address within 10 days of your relocation. Complete the SEVIS Record Update Form to notify us of your change of address and/or phone number.
(F visa) Maintaining Status

As an undergraduate or graduate degree student, your primary purpose for being in the United States is pursue your college degree as a full time student, so you have the responsibility of ensuring that you maintain your status as an F- 1 student.  Failure to comply with the requirements is a violation of your F-1 status which may result in serious consequences, including termination of your student status and deportation. You must comply with the following requirements:

  • Your passport must be valid at all times.
  • You must be a full time student and make normal progress toward your degree. If you are an undergraduate student you must be registered for a minimum of 12 credit hours during the semester, except during winter and summer vacation. As a graduate student you must be registered for a minimum of 9 credit hours, except during winter and summer vacation. You can register into only one online course to meet your minimum credit requirements.
  • You must ensure that the travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 is valid or signed at least once a year.
  • You must NOT work off- campus without employment authorization on your I-20.
  • You must notify the ISSS office of your change of address within 10 days of your relocation. Complete the SEVIS Record Update Form to notify us of your change of address and/or phone number.
(F visa) Extension of Stay

If you are not able to complete your degree by the expected program completion date due to the reasons stated below, you must submit an ISSS application and file for an extension of stay to receive a new I-20 with a new program end date. You must file for an extension of stay BEFORE your current I-20 expires. Failure to do so will result in loss of your F- 1 status.

To be eligible for an extension of stay you must demonstrate that:

  • You are currently in valid F 1 status AND
  • You have maintained F-1 status and continually been a full time student
  • You are making normal progress towards completing your course of study AND
  • The delay in completion of your studies was caused by compelling academic or medical reasons such as change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, loss of credits upon transfer to SUNY Oswego, documented illness. 
  • You are not on academic probation or suspension
  • The final course you require to satisfy degree requirements is not an online course

To apply for an extension you must submit the following documents to the ISSS office:

  • Academic advisor's recommendation form (available at the ISSS office)
  • Financial documentation to show sufficient funds
  • Full time registration into courses for the next semester
(F visa) Off-campus Employment

ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) webpage outlines basic guideline regarding the off-campus employment. 

On-campus Employment

Students holding F or J visas may work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during extended holiday periods. Students should be aware that this employment is not guaranteed, and that income derived from this work may not be enough to have any major impact on campus costs. Off-campus employment for F and J visa students is permitted only under restricted circumstances defined by INS regulations. Illegal employment may result in deportation. Students should pay close attention to this fact.

On-campus work includes employment in the dining halls, restaurants, residence halls, bake shop, computer centers, tutoring center and campus technology. Graduate students may waive some of their tuition costs through a limited number of assistantships, which are occasionally available in the second year of study. No student should count on the availability of on-campus work to pay tuition, fees, room, or board.

Links for Each Visa

The U.S. Department of State sites on each visa are listed below.

Taxes

All F and J visa holders are required to file tax papers, even if you have earned no income in the United States. The Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Tax Form 8843 is required of each student, whether or not s/he has found work. Here are some of the forms that you may have to complete:

Federal forms

  • For tax purposes: http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html
  • For employment purposes:
    • Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement - Gives you a tax receipt of your earnings and taxes and benefits paid out from your check.
    • Form W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate - Must be completed prior to receipt of your first pay check from any employer. Claim "1" in lines A, B, and E.
    • W-9 Request for ITIN Number - Required for tax purposes if you have no Social Security Number.
    • Form I-9 Department of Justice - Employment Eligibility Verification

New York State forms

Need help filing your taxes? Reach out to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or use the Power Point presentation below:

Special thanks to:  
Barbara A.J. Dawkins, Senior Tax Consultant, 201 Como Park Blvd.
Buffalo, NY 14227

International Student Services

Academic Services
Writing Center

Writing in your second language is not easy. Thankfully, the Writing Center provides free writing assistance for SUNY Oswego students across the disciplines. You can choose a writing tutor, make an appointment and check Write Ways, writing-related workshops, from the Writing Center page.

Tutoring Center

If you find some courses are challenging, check this list to see if Tutoring Center provides tutoring on that subject. You can check walk-in tutoring hours and make an appointment from the Tutoring Center page.

Career Services/EXCEL Office

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 visa holders is authorized by the ISSS Office upon review of certain requirements. This authorization is necessary for international students who seek to participate in any internship, cooperative program, student teaching period, or other training experience at any point during the course of their degree program. Please contact the ISSS Office well in advance to assess your eligibility for CPT authorization. The ISSS Office will provide you with all of the necessary documents.

Please keep in mind that the CPT authorization review process is performed in conjunction with the EXCEL Office  - who will assess the experience for course credit - and may take 2-3 weeks to process. It is important to remember that you must be formally authorized by the ISSS Office to participate in Curricular Practical Training before you start participating in any training experience. If approved, this authorization will be noted directly on your Form I-20. 

The steps required to apply for CPT are outlined in the How to Apply for CPT online resourceAs noted in that document, all students seeking CPT authorization must complete  International Internship and Co-op Acknowledgement Form and CPT Checklist. Additionally, students should coordinate with their academic advisors to receive an  Academic Advisor Recommendation Letter for CPT. Please contact the ISSS Office at isss@oswego.edu once you are ready to schedule a review of your CPT materials.  

Review the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website as well as Study in the States for more information about Curricular Practical Training. An overview of basic CPT requirements can also be found in this CPT Overview . Contact the ISSS Office at isss@oswego.edu if you have any questions.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training (OPT) for F Visa holders is authorized by the ISSS office upon satisfaction of requirements. Please read the following information carefully, if you are interested in applying for the optional practical training. 

Here's how the OPT process works: First, please click How to Apply for OPT online  where you can find all the information you need to apply for OPT. You can also find all the documents that you need to complete that include application instruction, academic advisor's recommendation letter, photo requirements, health insurance waiver, and Form I-765 (OPT application). Once your OPT application and other documents are ready to be reviewed, scan all the documents and send them to us at isss@oswego.edu.

Then, you will have a mandatory online meeting with us. Again, all the OPT process are well outlined in How to Apply for OPT online.

IMPORTANT: Students are responsible for updating the employer information on SEVP portal. When changing employers, students should edit the end date for the existing employer and add new employer to record. Do NOT edit the previous employer, if you would like to change employers.    

*Check out USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) webpage for more OPT resources.

STEM OPT extension

OPT participants who obtained STEM-OPT eligible degrees can extend the OPT period for 24 months. Click here to learn how to check your eligibility and when is the earliest you can apply for STEM OPT. OPT students who are eligible for STEM-OPT extension must complete Form I-983 with their employers and send it to the ISSS Office at isss@oswego.edu before starting the online application. 

Find an Internship or Job

From discovering majors and goals to searching for an internships, co-op or job or applying for the grad schoolCareer Services here at SUNY Oswego will help you to be equipped well professionally. Especially if you are planning to apply for OPT, make sure you take advantage of Career Resource Center to go over your resume, Cover Letter and practice your interview.

Health Services
Counseling Services

SUNY Oswego provides a wealth of resources for students to thrive. Some of Health Services are summarized below:

  • If you need urgent/emergency care, call University Police at 315.312.5555, or simply 5555 if you are on a campus phone. If you are off campus call 911.
  • Hours of operation: 8:30 am to 4 pm clinic on Monday through Friday during academic year.  For after hours care, you can call FONEMED at 877-617-9538 (toll free number)
  • Counseling Services Center is located on campus at 202 Hewitt. Please call 315.312.4416 to schedule an appointment at health and counseling services. If you’re not ready to make an appointment for counseling, but want to meet with a counselor stop by Let’s Talk!

Frequently Asked Questions about Optional Practical Training (F-1 students)

(F-1 students) How can I apply for OPT?

Here's how the OPT process works: First, please click How to Apply for OPT online  where you can find all the information you need to apply for OPT. You can also find all the documents that you need to complete that include application instruction, academic advisor's recommendation letter, photo requirements, health insurance waiver, and Form I-765 (OPT application). Once your OPT application and other documents are ready to be reviewed, scan all the documents and send them to us at isss@oswego.edu.

Then, you will have a mandatory online meeting with us. Again, all the OPT process are well outlined in How to Apply for OPT.

(OPT) How do I report my employment?

OPT participants are required to report employment information includes employer name, start date, whether the employment is full-time or part-time, and employer address on SEVP portal. When changing employers, students should edit the end date for the existing employer and add new employer to record. Do NOT type the new employer information over the previous employer directly. 

Also, students will be asked to fill a text field, titled "Relation to Field of Study: Explain how this job relates to the degree that qualified you/or this OPT." Click following thread if you are not sure how to discern the direct relationship between the job and the degree. 

(OPT) How can I determine the direct relationship between my job and the degree?

If you are not sure about the relation between the job that you are interested or offered and the degree, we sugget consulting with your academic advisor. Since your academic advisor has deeper understanding of your curriculum, your advisor will be the best person to discuss.